If you’re taking a cruise you may be wondering why the majority of cruise lines don’t allow you to bring a power strip on board.
Many cruise ship cabins will only have 2 or 3 plug sockets so it’s no surprise that many people want to bring a power strip when they cruise in order to charge multiple devices at once. A power strip isn’t the only way to charge multiple devices from one plug socket.
(For the purposes of this article when referring to a power strip this can also mean an extension cord/lead depending on where you are from and what you call the below item).
Why don’t cruises allow power strips and what are the alternatives?
Many cruise lines have banned bringing power strips on cruise ships due to the chance that the surge protector will overload the circuit and cause potential electrical damage or fires. Alternatives include USB charging stations, multi-socket outlets, or outlet adapters which don’t contain a surge protector.
In this post we explore the best alternatives to power strips, we look at what would happen if you tried to bring a power strip on a cruise and why they are banned.
Surge Protectors and Power Strips – What is The Difference?
A surge protector is designed to defend against surges of electricity, or voltage spikes, that may potentially damage plugged in equipment (including phones, appliances, and other electronics).
Since the majority of power strips include a surge protector, most cruise lines recommend against bringing power strips. It is always best to check with your cruise line before you travel.
Why are Power Strips Banned on Cruise Ships?
The wiring used in houses, or on land, is normally an asymmetric system. This means that there is one 120V live, or hot, wire while the other is neutral, or a ground. If there is a surge of power or an overload, there may be a power outage but no serious damage. Wiring on a ship on the other hand is symmetric. Both wires are lower voltage, usually 60V, using a split-phase wiring system, together the voltage becomes 120V and doesn’t contain a ground.
Surge protectors and power strips commonly include a ground. Since the ship has a different way of connecting power, this may cause the power strip to overheat and catch on fire in some cases.
The risks may cause:
- Increased risk of fire
- Melting/Burning of wiring
- Damage to the device which is charging
Many cruise lines include back-up plans if the ship were to lose electricity. In this situation, there are usually emergency generators that will power essential items until the issue is fixed.
Alternatives to Power Strips
USB Charging Stations: Charging stations do not usually include plug outlets but have multiple USB options. They are usually used to charge things like phones, tablets, and cameras. This is my personal favourite option and I’d recommend a charging station for most cruisers. They’re relatively cheap, small and work very well.
Multi Socket Outlets: Outlet taps plug into the plug socket and are used to provide additional outlets, most of them include USB options. You may have seen either long or cube-shaped outlet taps which provide 2 or 3 extra sockets.
Outlet Adapters: Due to the different types of outlets in different countries, outlet adapters provide different types of plugs, and may contain USB options. An outlet adapter may convert a US plug socket to a UK one for example and provide extra USB sockets. An outlet adapter eliminates the need for a separate adapter which you would need if using an outlet tap or charging station.
Power Banks: This isn’t so much of an alternative to a power strip as just another thing that you can use to keep your things charged. I’d always recommend bringing a good power bank with you on your cruise, that way you can charge multiple things from the bank and only have to charge the bank up instead of multiple other items. There are many types of power banks and I’ve tried a lot of them over the years. At the moment I am using an Anker power bank which you can find on Amazon here, unlike other banks, it hasn’t lost any capacity as I’ve been using it: Anker Power Bank*
Note: Some devices will have other names including power port, outlet extender, and wall mount but may still be used onboard as long as there is no surge protection.
Below are some examples of charging stations, outlet taps, and outlet adapters that would be allowed on cruise ships.
|Accessory||Voltage||# of Plug Socket Outlets||USB Options||Additional Info|
|Anker USB Wall Charger*||100-240V||0||10||Contains 10 USB A ports|
|Anker USB Charging Station*||100-240V||0||6||Contains 6 USB A ports|
|Bototek USB Charging Station*||100-240V||0||5||Contains 4 USB A ports and 1 USB C port|
|TROND Outlet Extender*||100-250V||3||2||Contains 2 USB A ports,|
|Omoton Travel Wall Tap*||100-240V||3||2||Contains 2 USB A ports|
|JMFONE Wall Mount*||100-240V||3||2||Contains 2 USB A ports|
|Cruise & Sea Wall Tap*||125V||3||2||Contains 2 USB A ports|
|One Beat Power Adapter*||100-250V||3||2||Does not convert voltage, comes with 4 adapter plugs, 2 USB ports|
|Poweradd Travel Adapter*||100-240V||2||2||Does not convert voltage, comes with 5 adapter plugs, 2 USB ports|
|Tessan Wall Adapter*||110-240V||3||2||Contains 2 USB ports, adjustable nightlight|
If you are from the UK you will need travel adapters on all cruise ships.
If you are from the US or a country which uses an EU plug socket it can still be a good idea to bring an adapter. If you’re cruising in a cabin that has 3 plug sockets, 1 of which uses the plugs that you have and two that don’t you might as well bring a couple of the other adapters.
Travel adapters are one of the most important things that you’ll bring on a cruise.
Depending on where you are in the world, there may be different types of plug sockets that work on either 120V or 240V outputs. Most cruise ships will offer both 120V and 240V outlets.
In theory, if you plug in an item designed to charge at 120v into a 240v fault it will charge quickly and could overheat/damage the item. I personally do this all the time and haven’t had any problems with it, but that doesn’t mean that you should do it.
Some charging accessories are capable of handling 120-240V and will work in either plug, depending on what is available.
Remember: Not all accessories are capable of handling 120V and 240V. Before plugging in your device, make sure that your charge station, or tap, is capable of the outlet’s voltage.
Always check what type of voltage your device is capable of handling and if the charging accessory converts voltage. If you are unsure, you can contact the manufacturer before using it.
What Happens if You Try to Bring a Power Strip on a Cruise?
On embarkation day all luggage is scanned and the cruise lines are looking for banned items such as power strips. If these are found in your luggage they will be taken away from you and returned on the last day of your cruise. The cruise lines confiscate many items including irons, power strips, alcohol, and dangerous items
Some cruise lines do allow you to bring on a certain amount of alcohol but anything over this limit will be removed from you. To find out which cruise lines allow you to bring on alcohol, including some that allow you to at every port, check out this guide: Can You Bring Alcohol on a Cruise? (Cruise Line Guide)
You cannot bring a power strip on a cruise because the built-in surge protector is a fire risk. Alternatives include a variety of USB hubs, socket outlet hubs, and adapter hubs. Guests caught trying to bring a power strip on a cruise will have it confiscated.
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