Do cruise lines search luggage before boarding?

Last updated on May 7th, 2024 at 01:46 pm

This depends on your boarding experience, but in general they “can” search your luggage, although they often don’t. At least not physically, by a person unless they are suspicious of what’s in your suitcase.

Boarding a cruise ship is similar to boarding an airplane. You can check your luggage and it will be delivered to your stateroom in a couple of hours. During the process, your carry-on baggage will go through a scanner just like the airport and anything prohibited will be confiscated. 

Checked luggage goes through a scanning process as well before it gets to your stateroom. While many passengers claim to have success bringing restricted items onboard their cruise, it’s not advisable to try. Cruise lines have policies in place for the protection of your fellow passengers. 

Items like guns, other weapons, alcohol and illegal drugs should be left at home.

Items that now seem commonplace, like CBD oil and products, are not allowed on a cruise ship. Neither is marijuana, even if you have a medical marijuana card. 

If you disembark on an excursion while on a cruise, be aware that there are items, like knives, that you will not be able to bring back on board. Most legitimate dealers onshore will offer to send your purchased items back home for you. If you attempt to bring them back on ship, they may be confiscated. 

People can innocently bring items onboard without realizing they are prohibited. A mother and daughter attempted to bring a small portable washing machine onboard. Small and lightweight, the pair boarded their Carnival Cruise ship without realizing that the item was considered a fire hazard. The portable washing machine was confiscated during a security check.

While having your CBD oil or curling iron confiscated may seem inconvenient, the ramifications of inadvertently bringing prohibited items can be life-changing. 

In today’s global world, having the cruise lines check your bags could turn out to be a huge blessing for you. Each country that you visit has their own set of rules and regulations. All visitors are expected to adhere to those rules, and leniency for visitors is by no means a given. 

In April of 2024, a U.S. man, Tyler Wenrich, on a cruise to Turks and Caicos was arrested after four rounds of ammunition was found in his backpack when he disembarked from a Royal Caribbean cruise. He had used the backpack on a recent hunting trip in the U.S. and had not been diligent in his inspection of the pack before using it for his cruise. 

Possessing a gun or ammunition is prohibited in Turks and Caicos, and in February of 2024 a court order mandated that even tourists are subject to prison time.  Tyler Wenrich, an EMT from Virginia, now faces the potential of a mandatory minimum sentence of up to 12 years in prison. 

While his wife was able to fly back to the United States, Wenrich is being held on the island awaiting trial. 

Make sure you check your luggage carefully before packing it, check out what items that are prohibited by your Cruise Line, and if in doubt, leave it home. It is better to be safe than sorry. 


luggage security checkpoint


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