10 Unusual Laws You Could Break While Cruising Without Knowing It!


10 Unusual Laws You Could Break Cruising Without Knowing It!

Discover the 10 Unusual Laws You Could Break While Cruising!

A look at unusual laws that you may end up breaking without even realising it when you’re on a cruise. Some of which can have incredibly serious consequences.

Wearing camouflage

The first of these unusual laws is around camouflage. Many countries (about 11 countries around the world) ban the wearing of camouflage clothing. A large majority of those are in the Caribbean. So, if you’re cruising in the Caribbean, you can’t wear anything that’s camouflage designed or looks like a military uniform. In the Caribbean, camouflage is banned in Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. You’ll also find it’s banned in some places in Asia. This includes the Philippines, and many countries in the Middle East. Plus, if you were to go on a river cruise in Africa, you’d find that it’s banned in Zimbabwe, too.

Leave your camouflage clothing at home, that’s the safest option.

Prescription drugs

The second unusual law involves drugs. Taking over-the-counter drugs, which are legal in your country, can be an issue. Prescription drugs legal in your country may be illegal in the country you are visiting and could land you with a fine or even a serious jail sentence. Obviously, if you’re on a cruise, the chances are that they’re going to be in your cabin, so you should be okay. Just bear in mind that there are a lot of rules and regulations around what you can take. Some of them are quite surprising.

The key group of medicines to be aware of are painkillers, particularly strong painkillers like codeine or tramadol. And sleeping pills like temazepam. This could even apply to things that you might not consider harmful, like cough mixture. Codeine is banned in many countries, including Greece, Japan, and some other countries in Asia. Even some well-known brand names can get you into trouble, including Sudafed, Benadryl and Vicks Inhaler. in Japan, Tylenol arthritis pain capsules are an issue. The key places to worry about would be Japan, parts of the Middle East, and some parts of Asia.

If you’re taking prescription medicine, make sure you keep them in the original bottles and have a prescription or note from your doctor. If you’re going on a cruise, particularly somewhere a little bit exotic, it’s important that you are 100% sure that you can take those drugs in. Most governments have a list of the things that you can and can’t take. If in doubt, just search the name of what you’re taking in and the country or countries that you’re visiting.

Smoking and vaping

If you are a smoker or vape user, you may find there are strong restrictions in some countries. It’s important to understand the rules around smoking or vaping in the countries that you are visiting. Many countries ban vaping totally, and even bringing vaping equipment into the country could get you fined. At the time of writing, vaping is banned in Brazil, Singapore, Seychelles, Uruguay, Thailand, and India. In Singapore, fines can be as much as $2,000 (about £1000) for possessing one. It’s important to be clear if vaping equipment is allowed as you head ashore. Also, with smoking, many countries have become more strict. In Thailand you cannot smoke on the beach.

Public displays of affection

The fourth area is public shows of affection. This tends to be in more religious countries, particularly in the Middle East, but certainly into parts of Asia, too. In these countries, public displays of affection are not just frowned upon, but actually not allowed, and could lead to serious consequences. For LGBTQ couples there could be some issues around whether it’s even legal to have those kinds of relationships. I remember recently we were cruising into Dubai. There was a big briefing, not only about clothing, but also warning against public shows of affection. So, bear in mind if you’re heading out, you may want to keep your hugs and kisses for the ship.

There are some cultural areas where you need to be careful. For example, in Japan, where public shows of affection are really not well thought of. If you’re on a cruise to the Baltics and into Russia and you’re a same-sex couple, beware of showing any signs of affection.

Queen Mary 2 docked in St. Thomas Caribbean

Taking photos

The next unusual law centres around the taking of photographs. When you’re heading out on excursions, particularly if you’re going with a tour guide, check if there are any restrictions. Avoid taking photographs anywhere in or near airports, military or government buildings. I have been on various excursions in different countries where the guide has said to us, ‘don’t take pictures of those buildings’.

In the Middle East, plane spotters who’ve been out taking pictures of aeroplanes have found themselves in prison for days on end. Even being treated as spies. Just be cautious, especially around anything that’s government or military.

Very importantly, avoid taking pictures of military personnel, or even people like monks or religious figures. If you’re unsure, ask, or just don’t take pictures. On a cruise in Vietnam and Cambodia, we were told not to take pictures of monks, but that it was OK to approach them and ask. It’s seen as incredibly offensive otherwise.


This unusual law centres around the flying of drones. Taking a drone on a cruise ship is pretty much a nightmare anyway, as most cruise lines ban the use of drones completely. At the time of writing, Royal Caribbean and Carnival are pretty much the only cruise lines that will even let you take a drone on board. You can’t actually use it when you’re on board, but they will let you take it out into the port to use.

There are many countries that have not only severe restrictions, but some total bans on using a drone.

You’ll often find in certain places that you have to apply for permits before you go. Of course, if you use a drone, you’ll know that there are a lot of apps you can check. But drone flying can be a big issue.

MSC Cruises MSC Preziosa in Hamburg for Hamburg Cruise Days. For more: https://www.tipsfortravellers.com/hamburg


A lot of laws where you can get into trouble revolve around the clothing that you wear. Many places have introduced restrictions around going shirtless or wearing swimwear off the beaches. Even in places that you would think were quite liberal because they’re beach-focused can surprise you. Turkey and Spain have the facility to fine you if you wear that clothing anywhere but the beach.

If in Croatia, in Dubrovnik, going shirtless in a town could get you into a lot of trouble. you could even get a on-the-spot fine. Really, the key rule is to keep your clothes on unless you’re on the beach.

If you’re visiting religious places, that you need to have your shoulders and your upper arms covered. And you need to have long trousers on, or certainly cover your knees.

The spoken word

One of the most serious laws in Thailand should always be observed. If broken, you could face a decade in jail and that law is being overheard criticising the Royal Family. Even standing on a banknote which has the Royal Family on it is a big NO. There are very strict laws around defaming the Royal Family, and they are rigorously enforced. Bear this in mind when you’re in any country. Be cautious and don’t criticise the government or leaders in public spaces.

Windstar Cruises Star Breeze in Katakolon Greece

Eating and drinking

There are also a surprising number of rules and regulations around eating and drinking in public. In some countries it’s culturally seen as unacceptable, but more places are starting to introduce laws and regulations. Sometimes just in local towns or municipalities, where you can get some quite big fines.

Good old Europe features a lot of restrictions on eating and drinking in some public spaces. Particularly around religious or Holy sites. In Florence and Venice, it’s an offence to eat and drink near churches, historic monuments, and public buildings. There was a story about backpackers who were fined almost 1,000 Euros for brewing coffee near the Rialto Bridge.

Many countries also have restrictions on drinking in public or on public transport. In Singapore, chewing gum is a big no-no, and particularly the disposal of chewing gum. There’s even a bizarre rule in Singapore where if you don’t flush a public lavatory, you can risk an on-the-spot fine.

It’s worth being really disciplined about where you eat and drink, and a good tip is to look around and see what the locals are doing. If they’re not walking around eating a sandwich or drinking, you probably know it’s not appropriate. And it’s possibly a law or at the very least, a cultural issue.

As you can see from any of these rules, regulations, and laws, it’s often things that we could innocently do at home that could land you in a lot of trouble when you’re on a cruise. Always be over cautious, watch the locals, ask guest services or check with your tour guide if there’s anything you should be aware of.

I hope you found that interesting. I have loads more videos packed full of tips and advice about cruising, so why not watch another of those right now.

Subscribe to Tips For Travellers YouTube Channel (click image):

Follow Tips For Travellers:

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply