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9 Things You’re Agreeing to When You Book a Cruise Without Realising

When you book a cruise, you automatically agree to the terms and conditions of the cruise line – but most people say they have never read about or even knew of many of these conditions.

You certainly can’t blame passengers for not sifting through the dozens of pages of legal jargon – I certainly never do.

Normally it is just a case of ticking the box online to say you have read and understood the terms and conditions – but who actually bothers to read them?

Cruise contracts outline your rights and liabilities as a passenger when onboard, and tell you the circumstances in which a cruise line can change what you’ve paid for.

In this article, we list a few general items that appear in the contracts for mainstream cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean.

Emma Cruises and Celebrity Infinity

Some rules are just common sense – while others might surprise you.

#1 You Can Be Confined To Your Cabin

Cruise lines have the right to “confine to a stateroom or quarantine, search the stateroom, property or baggage of any Guest”

This would normally be if the guest has caused a problem onboard, or if the guest is sick and needs to be kept away from others to avoid anything contagious from spreading.

This does make sense.

If a guest is a risk to themselves or those around them, they need to be “contained.” Some ships have “Brigs” or jails for this purpose! Find out more about this below:

Cruise Ship Jails and Security (A Security Officer Reveals All) – What Are They Like?

Midway 2 brig

Royal Caribbean’s Terms and Conditions state they can:

Restrain any Guest at any time, without liability, at the risk and expense of the Guest when, in the sole opinion of Carrier or the Master, the Guest’s conduct or presence, or that of any minor for whom the Guest is responsible, is believed to present a possible danger, security risk or be detrimental to himself or the health, welfare, comfort or enjoyment of others, or is in violation of any provision of this Agreement.

Royal Caribbean International

#2 You Won’t Bring Anything Illegal Onboard

There is always a huge list in the cruise ship terms and conditions of things you can’t bring with you.

Common sense would prevent most people from bringing things like this onboard – but by the fact they have been mentioned in the Ts&Cs, I would assume that guests have tried to smuggle these things onboard!

Banned Items include:

  • Crossbows, crossbow bolts, and long bow arrows
  • All firearms including replicas, imitations, non-firing weapons, starting pistols and their components
  • Air, BB or pellet pistols or rifles
  • Any remotely controlled or autonomously flying devices, toys or drones
  • Spears or spear guns
  • Bicycles
  • Kayaks, canoes and rafts
  • Metal detectors
  • Restraining Devices (i.e. handcuffs, leg, and head restraining straps)
  • Fireworks, flares, and pyrotechnics
  • All illegal narcotics/drugs
  • Martial Arts Weapons
  • Stun devices (i.e. Tazers and Stun Guns)
  • Fresh flowers
  • Walkie-talkies

#3 You Won’t Try To Bring Animals Onboard

It is common sense not to try and smuggle your pets onboard – well so you would think!

Assistance dogs can be brought on board, as long as you have prior approval from the cruise line.

Cunard allows you to bring dogs on Transatlantic sailing, but they must be kept in specially designed kennels.

This is aimed at people relocating to another country, and the kennel spaces sell out quickly.

Someone did recently smuggle a cat onboard Ovation of the Seas – and then left without taking the cat with them.

Find out what happened in the article below:

Cat Smuggled onto Cruise Ship in Sweatshirt – Discovered by Authorities

#4 Taking of Photos, Video and Audio

They Can Film You

When you sign your cruise contract, you are allowing the cruise line to take and use photos, video and audio wherever and whenever they choose to – “throughout the universe” – which sounds rather dramatic!

They might be filming an advert onboard, or a staff training video – you can’t ask to be left out of it. If you are accidentally filmed, that is just hard luck.

When we were onboard P&O’s Arvia last year, they were filming a commercial which is now showing on British TV – I’m not in it!

#5 To Take Only “Reasonably Necessary” Items Onboard

Cruise line contracts state that you can only bring things that are “reasonably necessary” onboard.

Of course, that is open to interpretation. What some people consider “reasonably necessary” others would not.

Many people pack multiple suitcases with many pairs of shoes, but for me, that isn’t necessary.

They also state that you can’t bring “Household Items” or “Tools of the Trade.” Why on earth you would want to bring your drill or a saw on holiday is totally beyond me. You aren’t going to get any opportunities to practice your DIY…

#6 That Valuable Items Are Your Responsibility

It is sensible to keep important or expensive items with you and lock them in the cabin safe, once you are onboard.

Most Terms and Conditions say that cruise lines have no liability for the following lost or stolen items, when those items are packed in luggage and left in the care of the porters/cruise line.

  • Money
  • Jewellery
  • Medicines
  • Documents
    • Passports, Tickets etc
  • Electrical items
    • Phones, Laptops, tablets etc
  • Any valuables objects
man using a safe

Royal Caribbean states that they are not responsible for “Precious Metals” so maybe it’s best to leave your gold bars at home

#7 The Cruise Lines Aren’t Responsible For “Independent Contractors”

What many people don’t realise is many of the staff on board the ship don’t actually work directly for the cruise line – and so the cruise line takes no responsibility for their actions.

This can include people like hairdressers, spa staff, personal trainers – and more importantly doctors and medical staff.

Whilst getting a bad haircut isn’t the end of the world, being misdiagnosed by a doctor could be.

Royal Caribbean International (“The Carrier” mentioned below) will take no responsibility if anything should go wrong when independent contractors have been involved.

Carrier assumes no liability whatsoever for any treatment, failure to treat, diagnosis, misdiagnosis, actual or alleged malpractice, advice, examination or other services provided by such persons or entities. Guest acknowledges that the Vessel’s hairdresser, manicurist, art auctioneer, gift shop personnel, spa personnel, wedding planners and other providers of merchandise and personal services are employees of independent contractors and that Carrier is not responsible for their actions.

Royal Caribbean International

#8 You Will Accept Itinerary Changes

This is something that annoys many guests – but the cruise line can amend their itinerary at any time.

This might be for a whole host of reasons, including:

  • Bad weather where you are going
    • There may be high seas or Hurricanes forecast, the cruise line will want to avoid running into trouble.
  • Wars and political unrest
    • There is no way the cruise line would want to take their ship, crew and passengers into areas seen as unsafe.
  • Too many ships scheduled to be in a port at one time
    • This happened to me in Norway once, the cruise line changed Norwegian ports because of the number of ships docked in Bergen. I would much rather have that, than find the ports really overcrowded with ship passengers.

The Captain’s number one concern is always the safety of the ship, crew and passengers – which is the way it should be.

I have been on many many cruises that have had changed itineraries – and I accept it as part of the fun of cruising. You may end up visiting somewhere you never expected!

I have “Missed Port Cover” on my travel insurance. If a port is missed, I can make a claim.

Find out more about missed ports and missed port cover here:

Do You Get Compensation For Missed Cruise Ports?

When we sailed to the Mediterranean on P&O’s Arvia, we weren’t able to dock at Lisbon, Portugal because bad weather meant it was unsafe for the ship to enter the harbour.

We carried on and stopped at Gibraltar the following day – which was a much better port stop, in my opinion.

Find out about that very eventful cruise below. We had bad weather, medical emergencies and we even rescued a lost lift boat..

#9 You Won’t Enter Crew Areas

There are many areas onboard the ship that are designated as crew areas only.

These include the Kitchens, Laundry, Bridge and crew cabins – these areas are clearly marked “No Entry.

You are agreeing that you will not enter crew areas of the ship. (unless of course you are invited to do so as part of an organised Cruise Line tour)

If you were to be found in an area of the ship that you had no authority to be in, you would likely be disembarked at the next available port and would have to find your way home – at your own expense.

Symphony of the Seas Bridge visit
I was invited on this Symphony of the Seas Bridge Tour – don’t just wander into the Bridge uninvited!

Before You Go

Things have changed on ships over the past decades. Some things that used to be commonplace are no longer allowed – find out what they are here:

6 Things Once Allowed on Cruise Ships But Are Now Banned (For Good Reason!)

Find out about the cruise lines that will give you a full refund – just because you aren’t having a good time, here:

These Cruise Lines Will Give You A Full Refund (And Fly You Home!) If You Don’t Enjoy It.

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.