6 Reasons They Won’t Let You on the Ship

can't refuse board cruise ship illegal
There are a number of reasons you may not be able to board your cruise ship. - Photo by Shutterstock/Ekaterina Pokrovsky

When it comes time for our cruise vacation, we excitedly pack our suitcases and make sure that everything is in order for our big trip. Not only do we need to ensure we have all of our essentials packed, but that we have the proper documents, are fit for travel, and aren’t bringing anything that isn’t allowed. There are actually some items and situations which can prevent guests from boarding their cruise ship at all. We’ve put together a list of things that can keep you from cruising, so that you don’t find yourself in one of these predicaments.

1. Having a Criminal Record on Sailings to Canada

handcuffs prevent boarding cruise criminal felony

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The Situation: If you’re looking to take a cruise that stops in Canada (such as an Alaska or Canada/New England cruise), you’re going to want to know this important rule. According to the Government of Canada’s website, “Under Canada’s immigration law, if you have committed or been convicted of a crime, you may not be allowed into Canada. This includes both minor and serious crimes like theft, assault, manslaughter, dangerous driving, and possession of illegal substances." In other words, the DUI you got 10 years ago when you were young and dumb may be enough to keep you from even boarding a cruise ship bound for the Great White North.

What can you do about it? According to the Canadian government, depending on the offense, how long ago it was, and how you’ve behaved since, you may still be allowed to visit under one of these stipulations: convince an immigration officer that you meet the legal terms to be deemed rehabilitated, applied for rehabilitation and were approved, were granted a record suspension, or have a temporary resident permit, which costs $200. To find out for sure, and to get more information, contact the Canadian government


2. Pregnancy & Newborn Babies

pregnant newborn baby prevent cruising boarding

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The Situation: Because of liability reasons, medical facility limitations, and general safety, cruise lines have restrictions for both expectant mothers as well as newborn babies. Most cruise lines welcome guests who are up to six months pregnant, although some require a doctor’s note that says you are cleared for travel. Those who are further along have a higher risk of certain complications or premature births, which cruise ship medical centers are not equipped to handle.

Similarly, all guests have to be a certain age to travel on a cruise ship. Most lines require infants be at least 6 months old on embarkation day. For transatlantic and other various exotic/lengthier itineraries, the standard tends to be that they are at least 1 year (12 months) old. Check with your cruise line for their specific rules before you book.

What can you do about it? Not much. If you’re pregnant or will have a new baby around the time you’re looking to book a cruise, just make sure to only consider cruises that are within the acceptable time frame to sail.


3. Forgotten Passport

forgotten passport prevent boarding cruise documents

Photo by Yungshu Chao 

The Situation: Forgetting your passport can cause a slight hiccup in your travel plans.

What can you do about it? Again, there's not much you can do once you're at the cruise port. While not all cruises require a passport, standard photo identification is not going to cut it either. When your vacation date gets closer, leave multiple reminders for yourself so you don’t forget it. Add it to your packing list, set a reminder on your phone, and leave a sticky note on your suitcase when you begin to pack it. If you do forget it, hopefully you’re cruising from close to home and have time to retrieve it before your ship sails, or have a friend or neighbor drive it to the port for you.




4. Sickness

sickness illness cruise prevent boarding vacation

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The Situation: Before every cruise, you’ll be required to fill out a medical form asking if you’ve been experiencing symptoms like a sore throat, coughing, or an upset stomach. If you answer yes to one of these questions, or if terminal personnel notice someone that seems especially ill, a doctor or nurse from the ship’s infirmary will check you over before you’re allowed to board. While it's not common, travelers have been turned away based on their symptoms and what kind of threat they might pose to the ship, usually for gastrointestinal-type symptoms. However, there are many times where symptoms aren’t deemed a big threat and guests are allowed to board.

What can you do about it? There’s not a whole lot to do if you’re sick on the day of your voyage. But as a preventative measure, be sure to eat healthy, wash your hands often, try to keep away from people you know are sick, and get plenty of sleep. Also, if you have a history of getting sick before a vacation, be sure to buy travel insurance and check the fine print to ensure you have coverage to cancel because of illness. Each policy and company varies and canceling for illness may be an optional add-on. When in doubt, a cancel-for-any-reason policy works, too.


5. Weapons

taser stun gun cruising weapons prohibited

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The Situation: The list of prohibited weapons on a cruise ship is pretty standard across all cruise lines. Obviously firearms, ammunition, explosives, and large knives aren’t allowed, but items such as tasers, brass knuckles, and flammable substances are also on the restricted list.

What can you do about it? Each line goes into a lot more detail on what’s not allowed (for example, here’s Carnival's and Royal Caribbean's prohibited items lists), but use your judgment and common sense. If an item could pose a large threat to you or anyone else on the ship, don’t bring it.


6. Drugs

illegal drugs prohibited cruise ship medicine

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The Situation: As with weapons, this is a no-brainer. Illegal drugs and substances are not allowed on any cruise ship, ever. Drug laws vary from state to state, but keep in mind that state laws don't matter here, federal laws do. Generally, medicinal marijuana is prohibited too, even if you have a prescription.

What can you do about it? Don't bring any illegal drugs. As a quick tip concerning prescription or over-the-counter medication that is necessary during your trip, pack it in the bag you will be carrying onboard yourself. It’s best to keep it with you at all times in the event that your suitcases get misplaced or you need it before your luggage arrives at your stateroom. It’s also advised that you keep your medicine in its original containers.


Join the discussion

Have you ever made one of these cruise vacation mistakes?

1 Comment

Posted by Gislaine

The same misdemeanour rules apply for Canadians entering the U.S.

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