Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise

I was driven to make this after I saw a series of issues blow up on cruise ships after people did not come clean with their cruise line. Sometimes intentionally, but more often because they hadn’t realised they needed to. The consequences of some were so severe that I’ve seen cruisers banned for life, refused embarkation, or being kicked off their ship during the cruise.

I want to start with where not telling the cruise line can have the most serious of consequences.

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise – Legal Drugs

Recently a Texas woman called Melinda Van Veldhuizen was banned for life by Carnival Cruise Lines for trying to take CBD gummies on board to help her sleep. She was going through security at Port Miami when a security guard spotted a bag of CBD gummies in her backpack. She’d bought them legally online as they are allowed in the State she lives in, so assumed she could bring them on the cruise.

Cruise lines have a no tolerance for drugs policy, which includes any cannabis related products. So, despite being a loyal Carnival cruiser, she was banned for life for contravening the policy. Even if you’re sailing out a state where those products are legal, they are illegal on board a cruise ship.

So, if you use any cannabis related items or other drugs considered illegal unless for medical reasons, you must let the cruise line know in advance and get their medical clearance with a note from your doctor to avoid her fate.

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise!

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise – Pregnancy

Cruise lines also have strict rules around pregnancy, as I saw play out in an unfortunate way recently for an Australian Gold Coast resident, Kaylee Farrington.

She excitedly was checking in for a Carnival Luminosa cruise in Brisbane, but she was denied boarding as during check-in the line discovered she was 26 weeks pregnant. She had not thought to tell them in advance.

To make matters worse, they refused to refund her trip as she had broken the conditions of carriage.

Most cruise lines only accept passengers that are less than 24 weeks into pregnancy. With your expected due date certified by a doctor or midwife in writing before they will let you travel.

Even if you are not showing and do not look pregnant, do not hide it from the lines. They will usually allow no penalty cancellations if you find you will be over that time for a future cruise you have booked.

Staying quiet to cruise is a bad idea as if anything happens, you have complications, or go into labour, cruise ship medical facilities are not equipped to help you or a premature baby.

To illustrate this, just as I was working on this a pregnant woman had to be medevaced from a Disney cruise ship as she was having problems, and the ship was very far from a port.

Although river cruise lines often allow pregnant women to travel beyond the 24 weeks because they’re closer to land-based medical facilities.

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise!

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise – Getting Off Mid Cruise

Another thing I get asked about often and encourage people to not hide from the cruise line is if they hope, or are planning, to leave the cruise at a port other than the final disembarkation port.

For example, just this week, someone wanting to do a repositioning cruise on Holland America Nieuw Statendam from Europe via Iceland, Greenland, and Canada to New York, told me they planned to simply leave in Canada, as it was closer to home. I’ve also seen people talking about jumping off in a particular Caribbean Island to stay in a resort.

Sometimes it is possible to leave a cruise ship before the end of the scheduled sailing. However, it all hinges on the regional and country rules, and the cruise line must make sure that you are cleared by the relevant immigration authorities.

If they are working with immigration perhaps to embark and disembark crew, it may be a little bit easier because they’ve already made the arrangements and covering any cost of having immigration agents available to also clear any passenger that wants to leave early. But it’s crucial to not hide this from the line and just get off. It could create major problems for you and the line.

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise!

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise – Illness

Another thing not to hide from the line is illness. When we check in for a cruise, we normally fill out some sort of medical declaration, and some cruise lines get us to do that before we get to the port on their App or online.

The two critical things that they’re screening for are for passengers who have had or been in contact with anyone who’s had Covid recently. Or if anyone is suffering from any sort of gastro issues like vomiting or stomach upsets.

Don’t hide these from the cruise line because you’re getting onboard a cruise ship which is full of many people, and they can spread. In most cases you will be screened by the Medical Team and allowed to board, but they may ask you to stay in your cabin for the first few days to check you get the all clear.

I see every now and then cruise ships having outbreaks soon after a major embarkation day, particularly of Norovirus which suggests someone has brought it on.

Now while I know some passengers will not agree with me on that declaration issue, there are three conditions that are crucial to not hide from the cruise line before you go because I have seen and heard of passengers being refused boarding without any compensation.

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise!

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise – Special Needs

The first of these is around mobility and other impairment issues. It’s important if you have mobility issues to first make sure that you’ve discussed with the cruise line at booking, so you chose a suitable cabin that meets your issues and needs fully. Including if you require one that a wheelchair or mobility scooter will fit in it.

Also, by declaring all your issues, the cruise line will assess whether you can travel solo if that was your plan or must travel with someone who can assist you. The crew at most will only assist you at the gangway to get on and off. They won’t assist you with excursions, nor getting around the ship.

They will also confirm which equipment they will and will not provide, and who their partner is to deliver equipment you may need to order to the ship, such as Mobility at Sea.

If you leave it until you check in, you can be refused embarkation at your own cost if the line decides you are not capable. The lines have a “special needs” team that you can work with before the cruise.

Hearing & Sight Issues

If you have severe hearing issues, many cruise lines can help if they know in advance. For example, Cunard has hearing loops, to use with guest services and in the theatre. They will install visual alert systems so that if there’s any issues or any important emergency announcements then you are visually alerted that these are taking place.

They will provide a transcript of the songs or the dialogue in shows and even written commentary about the sites on excursions if pre-advised.

If you have very poor sight or are blind, they will not let you travel solo. For example, my mother was registered as blind, so she could only cruise with us. With advance notice, cruise lines will usually provide things large print information or even braille programs and documents.


Next, if you need any sort of medical equipment let the line know in advance to see if you are allowed to cruise and secondly, whether you need to bring it yourself.

For example, at the time of making this I am boarding a Cunard cruise soon and I noted that in their documents they stress that people who need oxygen provided through oxygen tanks or are going through any form of dialysis cannot cruise.

Most cruise lines will allow you to bring a CPAP machine onboard, but you need to notify them advance to check voltage, need for extension cords, and importantly if they will provide distilled water. Cunard, I noted, for example, say they will not.

Also, importantly, if you have kids that have any special needs or behavioural issues, or are on the autism spectrum, you need to let the line know in advance so they can ensure they have the right programs for them to join the Kids Clubs.

For example, Royal Caribbean that I was on recently, offer autism-friendly options for kids, like films, and toys, and they have some staff that are specially trained.

Before I discuss the next issue, if you enjoy my content and tips, consider becoming a YouTube channel member or Patreon Patron. It costs from just $2 a month, and you’ll get exclusive bonus content like on-cruise and channel behind-the-scenes videos, group cruise priority booking, eBooks to download, and bonus cruising tips. Click “join” on YouTube below any of my videos or visit to find out more.

Now back to the things not to hide from the line.

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise!

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise – Banned Items

It always amazes me when I’m getting off a cruise, like my recent Symphony of the Seas Caribbean one, at the massive table piled high with all sorts of items that people have tried to bring on board that are not allowed and got spotted in the baggage screening.

Cruise lines have strict rules around what you can and can’t bring, with a list of banned items on their website. However, by talking to the line in advance there are some cases where you can agree exceptions.

The most common items that people try and bring onboard, often without realising that it’s an issue, are items with naked flames, like candles or incense, and equipment with a heating element, like travel irons, although many do allow curling irons.

Of course, you can’t bring on board dangerous items like weapons, replica weapons or anything that looks or could be used as a weapon, like a baseball bat.

But if you need some equipment for plans you have in port, discuss in advance and I have heard cases where they agreed for them to be handed to Security to hold who then hand them over and collect after a port visit.

No Drones

So, linked to that one thing you should not try and bring is a drone. Drones are banned on most cruise lines. Although some like Carnival and Royal Caribbean do allow you to bring them onboard and Carnival has Security store them who will hand them to you and collect when in port, but Royal Caribbean (at time of recording) allows you to keep them in your cabin.

In the past I have been successful in negotiating before a cruise with the cruise lines that ban them to let me bring a drone onboard. So, for example, I went on a Seabourn Mediterranean cruise, and they agreed that I could bring it on the basis that I left it with the security team, and they would give it to me to take into a port, and hand it back on return.

However, I find increasingly cruise lines are saying no, and without clearing it up front they confiscate it and won’t hand it back until the end of the cruise.

Is there anything else that you wish you’d told the cruise line up front because it’s had unintended consequences? If so, leave a note in the comments so I and other people can find out about that? Don’t sink your cruise!

Not Telling Your Cruise Line These 6 Things Could Sink Your Cruise!

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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.

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