5 Things That Used to Be Legal on Cruise Ships

used to be legal cruise ships
Believe it or not, this is not photoshopped. - Photo by Cruiseline.com

We spend plenty of time talking about the amazing things you can do on modern cruise ships, but here are a few old cruise traditions you won't see any time soon.

1. Hitting Golf Balls into the Ocean

golf cage

Some ships, like Norwegian Spirit, have replaced this pastime with golf cages. - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

When It was Legal: You could, well, hit golf balls into the ocean.

Why It’s Illegal Now: In 1990, the International Maritime Organization banned the dumping of plastic waste into the sea.

A Good Alternative: You can find golf courses in dozens of ports like Antigua, Aruba, Cozumel, and just about every stop in Jamaica. And it may not be quite like the real thing, but plenty of ships also have golf simulators, golf cages, and mini golf onboard.


2. Smoking Everywhere

norwegian bliss humidor cigar bar

Cigar bars like the Humidor Lounge are the only places you can still smoke indoors. - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

When It Was Legal: In the early days of cruising, you could find someone smoking in just about every area of the ship.

Why It’s Illegal Now: Much like all public areas on land have become smoke free, so have most places on cruise ships. First it was the restaurants, then it was the cabins, and now most ships have even outlawed smoking on balconies.

A Good Alternative: There are always designated smoking areas, and plenty of ships have cigar bars equipped with special air filters where you can smoke in comfort.


3. Skeet Shooting

skeet shooting cruise ship

It's hard to imagine now, but this was not an uncommon sight many years ago.

When It Was Legal: You could get in some target practice on the lido deck after brunch. Seriously.

Why It’s Illegal Now: We’re not entirely sure, but we’re guessing that not every cruise ship passenger was thrilled with the idea of weapons being fired on deck. The lines probably didn’t like the legal liability either.

A Good Alternative: You can find some shooting themed excursions, like a trip to Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic.




4. Streamers

streamers cruise ship

It was a nice tradition, but not exactly an environmentally friendly one. - Photo by Wikipedia Commons

When It Was Legal: During the sail away party you could throw streamers and confetti off the sides of a ship. One tradition was to have your friends on the dock hold onto another end of the streamer as the ship pulled away until the streamer broke.

Why It’s Illegal Now: Due to increased security, visitors aren’t allowed in the port. Plus the whole pesky law about throwing plastic into the ocean. (We're starting to see a theme here.)

A Good Alternative: Some ships today use fireworks to celebrate the sailaway party. We’d call that an upgrade.


5. Messages in a Bottle

message bottle cruise ship

It's a romantic idea, but kind of a strange one when you think about it. - Photo by Maria Mylnikova

When It Was Legal: You could put a little note into a bottle. Why you would want to put a bottle with your name and contact information into the ocean in the hopes a complete stranger would reach out to you years later is beyond us, but you could.

Why It’s Illegal Now: One last time, you can’t throw anything overboard, as 1) it might not make it all the way overboard and hit someone on a lower deck, and 2) it's littering. 

A Good Alternative: Find a random person while in port, then give them your name and home address. The end result is basically the same.

Join the discussion

What now banned tradition do you miss?

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