How to Sneak Alcohol on a Cruise Ship

Going on a cruise is an exciting experience, but the cost of drinks can quickly add up. A survey by Cruzely found that 41.0% of passengers spend at least $100 on drinks during their cruise, but what’s surprising is that 19.1% admit to sneaking alcohol on board. This tactic isn’t officially endorsed and carries its own set of risks, but it’s clear that many passengers want to enjoy their favorite drinks without the hefty price tag.

It’s important to note that no method is fool-proof, and there’s always a risk of getting caught. But there are methods that have been tried and tested by many. Ahead, we’ll talk about the best ways to bring alcohol on a cruise ship, the potential consequences, and tips to ensure you’re well-prepared.

Can I Bring Alcohol On a Cruise Ship?

The answer isn’t straightforward, as each cruise line has its own set of rules. Some allow a limited amount of wine or champagne, while others might be more restrictive. It’s essential to understand these policies to avoid any surprises once you’re on board.

In the table below, you’ll find a summary of the alcohol policies for various cruise lines:

Cruise LineAlcohol Policy
Azamara CruisesAllowed to bring own liquor, beer, or wine for consumption in suite/cabin. $10 corkage fee if consumed outside.
Carnival Cruise LineOne 750 mL bottle of wine or Champagne per person at embarkation. $15 corkage fee outside cabin.
Celebrity CruisesTwo bottles of wine or Champagne (max 750 mL) at embarkation per cabin. $25 corkage fee in restaurants/bars.
Cunard LineOne bottle of wine or Champagne per adult. $25 corkage fee in dining venues.
Disney Cruise LineBeer, wine, or Champagne allowed on embarkation day and at each port. Limits apply. $26 corkage fee in dining rooms.
Holland America LineWine or Champagne allowed in carry-on. $20 corkage fee.
MSC CruisesNo alcohol allowed at embarkation.
Norwegian Cruise LineWine or Champagne allowed, corkage fees vary.
Oceania CruisesUp to six bottles of wine or Champagne per cabin. $25 corkage fee in public areas.
Princess CruisesOne bottle of wine or Champagne allowed. $20 corkage fee.
Regent Seven Seas CruisesNo restrictions or corkage fees.
Royal CaribbeanOne bottle (750 mL) of wine or Champagne per passenger. $15 corkage fee in dining room.
Seabourn Cruise LineNo limits or corkage fees.
Silversea CruisesNo limits or corkage fees.
Viking Ocean CruisesNo limits or corkage fees.
Virgin VoyagesTwo bottles of wine or Champagne (750 mL) per cabin.
Windstar CruisesUp to two bottles of wine or Champagne (750 mL) per cabin on embarkation day. $15 corkage fee outside cabin.

Remember, while some cruise lines might allow you to bring alcohol on board, there are often restrictions on where you can consume it. Always check the specific cruise line’s policy before packing your bags.

How to Sneak Alcohol On a Cruise Ship — 8 Best Ways

Travelers have come up with some really creative ways to sneak alcohol on a cruise. Let’s talk about some of the best methods:

1. Fake Shampoo Bottles

One popular way you can sneak alcohol onto cruises is by using fake shampoo and conditioner bottles. You can buy these bottles online on sites like Amazon. They look like regular hair care products but are meant for storing drinks. The best part is they’re made of a type of plastic that won’t change the taste of the alcohol.

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When you’re getting ready to fill them, use a funnel. This helps you pour the drink without making a mess. And remember to leave a little space at the top so they don’t leak. After you fill them, pack them with your other toiletries. But be careful. Cruise security has seen this trick before. So, it’s essential to make sure your bottles don’t look tampered with or out of place.

2. Rum Runners

Rum Runners are another favorite among cruise-goers looking to sneak in their drinks. These are essentially flexible, reusable plastic pouches designed to hold liquids. They’re quite popular because of their ability to evade detection during X-ray scans. Unlike hard bottles, which are easily identifiable in luggage scans, Rum Runners easily blend in and are less noticeable. They’re also lightweight and can be easily packed without taking up much space.

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However, while they might dodge X-ray detection, they’re not foolproof. If cruise staff decide to manually check your bags, there’s a good chance they’ll spot these pouches. And since they’re well-known among frequent cruisers, the staff is often on the lookout for them. So, while Rum Runners offer a higher success rate than some other methods, there’s always an element of risk involved.

3. Umbrella Flask

An umbrella flask is essentially an umbrella with a hidden compartment in its handle for storing alcohol. It’s a discreet method, especially if the weather forecast suggests you might need an umbrella. However, its success can depend on the cruise’s itinerary. Carrying an umbrella on a cruise to regions known for unpredictable weather, like the British Isles or the Pacific Northwest, wouldn’t seem out of place.

On the other hand, if you’re sailing to consistently sunny and dry destinations, such as the Caribbean or the Greek Islands, having an umbrella might seem odd and could raise eyebrows. It’s always a good idea to match your sneaking methods with the context of your journey.

4. Liquor in a Wine Bottle

Many cruise lines allow passengers to bring a limited amount of wine on board. For instance, Carnival Cruise Line permits one 750 mL bottle of wine or champagne per person at embarkation, and Princess Cruises has a similar policy. This provides an opportunity for those looking to sneak in their favorite spirits.

All you have to do is empty a wine bottle and refill it with a liquor of choice. The bottle is then resealed using a wine sealer to give it an unopened appearance. This method banks on the assumption that security personnel won’t be able to distinguish between wine and other spirits just by looking at the bottle, especially if it’s a darker glass that obscures the contents.

But any signs of tampering, such as a broken seal or mismatched cap, can be a giveaway. So, it’s important to be meticulous. 

5. Binocular Flask

A binocular flask is just what it sounds like. It looks like a regular pair of binoculars, but you can store alcohol inside. On a cruise, many people have binoculars to look at far-off sights, so they don’t seem out of place in your luggage. They can often get through X-ray checks without any issues. Even if someone looks at them, they might not realize they’re not real.

But if someone picks them up, they’ll notice they’re lighter than they should be. That’s the only real giveaway. Nevertheless, they’re one of the best methods to bring alcohol on a cruise. 

6. Mouthwash Bottles

Mouthwash bottles are another common method people use to sneak alcohol onto cruises. The idea is to fill them with clear liquors, like vodka or gin. To make it look like actual mouthwash, you can add a few drops of food coloring. This gives the liquor that signature blue or green tint, making it less suspicious at first glance.

However, this is an old trick, and many cruise lines are onto it. One giveaway is the size of the bottle. It’s rare for someone to need a full liter of mouthwash for a cruise trip. So, if you’re considering this method, it might be a good idea to use a smaller bottle to make it seem more believable.

7. Wine Rack Bra

This is essentially a sports bra equipped with a hidden bladder system that can be filled with wine or any other beverage. Once filled, it not only serves as a secret storage for your drink but also gives a little lift, making it look like a regular padded bra.

Wearing the Wine Rack Bra allows you to have your favorite drink right under your clothes, making it one of the least suspected methods. However, comfort can be a concern, especially when it’s filled to capacity. Plus, as you drink from it, the bra’s shape can change, which might raise some eyebrows.

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It’s a fun and novel approach, but it’s best suited for those who prioritize discretion and are okay with the potential for some light-hearted humor if discovered.

8. Tampon Flasks

Designed to look like regular tampons, tampon flasks are actually small tubes that can be filled with alcohol. They’re typically packed in wrappers, making them blend seamlessly with genuine products in a purse or luggage.

However, there are some downsides to consider. The primary limitation is the amount of alcohol each flask can hold. Given their small size, they’re only suitable for bringing in minimal amounts. If you’re hoping to have more than a few shots, you’d need to pack multiple tampon flasks, which could become impractical and increase the risk of detection.

While they offer a unique way to sneak in a drink, it’s essential to weigh the effort against the actual volume of alcohol you can bring on board using this method.

Do Cruise Lines Check for Alcohol?

Absolutely, they do. Every cruise line conducts thorough checks on both checked and carry-on luggage during the embarkation process. They’re not just looking for alcohol, but also for drugs, weapons, irons, drones, and other items that aren’t allowed on board. These checks involve using scanners, and there are also manual spot checks to ensure nothing slips through.

While there are methods to sneak alcohol in, it’s important to question if it’s worth the risk. We’ve never attempted it ourselves and would advise against it. The stress of getting caught can overshadow the initial intent of having a relaxed and enjoyable cruise experience.

Where to Hide Alcohol When You Check-In

When considering where to hide alcohol during the check-in process, there are three primary options: on your body, in checked luggage, or in carry-on bags. Each comes with its own set of advantages and risks.

  • On your body. This is undoubtedly the riskiest method. When checking in, you’re often required to remove bulky items and pass through an X-ray scanner. If the scanner beeps, whether due to the hidden alcohol or even a random check, a pat-down is the next step. No matter how cleverly you’ve disguised the alcohol, a thorough pat-down is likely to reveal it, leading to an awkward situation.
  • Checked luggage. This is your safest bet. If alcohol is detected in your checked luggage, you’re not immediately present, which can reduce the direct confrontation. However, cruise lines might remove the prohibited items and leave a note, or in some cases, they might hold your luggage and ask you to claim it, explaining the contents.
  • Carry-On Bags: While this is less risky than hiding alcohol on your body, it’s still more detectable than in checked luggage. Carry-ons go through scanners, and there’s a higher chance of manual checks compared to checked bags.

What Happens If You Get Caught Sneaking Alcohol?

If you’re thinking about sneaking alcohol onto a cruise, it’s good to know what might happen if you get caught. Different cruise lines have different rules, so it’s best to read the policy of the cruise line you’re getting on. But here are some common outcomes:

  • Confiscation. Most of the time, they’ll just take away the alcohol. They might give it back when the cruise is over, or they might not.
  • Fines. Some cruises will make you pay extra if they catch you with alcohol. This can end up costing more than if you had just bought drinks on the ship.
  • Held at security. If they find alcohol in your checked bags, they might keep your bags until you come and open them up. This can be a hassle and delay your start to the vacation.
  • Not allowed on board. This is quite rare, but if you break the rules in a big way or more than once, they might not let you on the cruise at all.
  • Embarrassment: Getting caught can be pretty embarrassing, especially if it happens in front of other people.

It’s always best to think twice before trying to sneak alcohol on board. Saving a bit of money on drinks might not be worth the trouble if you get caught.

Alcohol on Cruise FAQs

Can cruise ship scanners detect alcohol?

Yes, cruise ship scanners can detect liquids. While they don’t specifically identify the content as alcohol, they are designed to spot the presence of liquids in luggage. This means that whether it’s water, soda, or alcohol, the scanners can pick up on these items. Once a liquid is detected, security personnel might decide to inspect the luggage more closely or even conduct a manual check to determine the nature of the liquid.

What’s the best way to sneak alcohol onto a cruise ship?

Many people swear by Rum Runners. They’re basically plastic pouches you can fill with alcohol. What makes them stand out is that they’re hard to spot on X-ray scans, unlike regular bottles. This means they can often slip through security checks.

Can you bring alcohol on a Royal Caribbean Cruise ship?

Yes, but there are rules. Royal Caribbean allows passengers to bring up to two 750 ml bottles of wine or champagne per stateroom on the day of boarding. This is meant for personal consumption, and if you want to drink it in a public area, there will be a corkage fee.

Any other alcohol, like beer or spirits, isn’t allowed. If you try to bring more than the permitted amount or other types of alcohol, they’ll likely take it away and either store it for the duration of the cruise or dispose of it.


Going on a cruise is all about having a good time. While sneaking alcohol might save you some money, it comes with risks. Every cruise line has its own rules about bringing drinks on board. It’s important to know these rules and follow them. If you decide to take a chance and bring extra alcohol, be prepared for the consequences if you get caught.

About the author

Sheryll holds an MA in Journalism and English from NYU. With over 7 years of experience in the cruise industry, she brings a blend of insightful reporting and firsthand cruising knowledge.

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