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The cruise industry is enormous, bringing in billions of dollars annually. This can be seen in the wide variety of cruise lines operating worldwide, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and even Disney.
Unlike with other types of travel, cruise ships' luggage requirements are much more lenient.
Let’s look at cruise luggage policies, the items you can bring and how much luggage you can take on a cruise.
Cruise luggage rules
Are you an overpacker? Don’t worry; a lot of us are. While airlines may nickel and dime you for every pound or bag you pack, cruise lines are more relaxed. So, how many suitcases can you take on a cruise?
The policies for cruise luggage size and weight will vary depending on with whom you’re sailing.
For example, Royal Caribbean’s baggage policy is quite flexible: There is no restriction on the number of bags you can bring or the total weight allowance. However, its website recommends limiting your total quantity of luggage for comfort and convenience because you’ll have to haul it around.
The same can’t be said for Norwegian Cruise Line, which sets a limit on the weight and number of bags you can bring. On Norwegian, guests can bring two pieces of checked luggage weighing up to 48 pounds (22 kilograms) each. This limit is similar to the one often imposed by airlines for checked bags.
In short, how many bags you can take on a cruise will depend heavily on your cruise line. Some have no limits, while others restrict the number of bags and set weight limits.
Before packing, check with whichever cruise line you’re sailing to ensure you have the latest information.
What can you bring on a cruise?
Cruises are fairly liberal when it comes to items you’re allowed to bring. Almost everything you can think of — including personal-use aerosol items, hair dryers and snacks — is permitted.
There are restrictions on certain items, including weapons, perishable food and certain kinds of beverages. All bags usually go through an X-ray machine before you board to make sure there are no restricted items.
Can you bring alcohol on a cruise?
Cruise lines tend to be a bit tetchy when it comes to bringing your own alcohol on board.
Norwegian Cruise Line prohibits you from bringing any drinks on board. In contrast, Holland America allows passengers to bring wine and Champagne but charges a $20 corkage fee per bottle.
The Disney Cruise Line lets guests 21 and older bring two bottles of wine or six beers on board for no fee, with the ability to buy more at each port of call. This is a great way to avoid the upcharges of buying alcohol on the ship.
» Learn more: Norwegian vs. Royal Caribbean
Can you bring liquids on a cruise?
Packing luggage for cruises can be freeing, especially if you’re used to flying with limited liquids.
Happily for travelers, liquids are generally allowed on cruises if they’re to be used for grooming. This includes full-sized bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, gel, sunscreen and more.
You may also be allowed to bring some nonalcoholic beverages, though this policy will depend on your cruise line.
» Learn more: The best ways to book a cruise
Do cruises check your bags?
You have choices when it comes to checking your bags on a cruise.
Usually, you can check your large luggage during boarding, and it will be delivered to your stateroom. However, that can take a few hours, so you’ll want to keep carry-on luggage that includes items such as a swimsuit and sunscreen with you.
You’ll also want to keep any important paperwork, electronics and medication in your carry-on bag rather than sending that off to be checked.
Having your luggage sent to your room is not required. If you’d rather keep it with you, that is an option.
However, your stateroom is generally unavailable for several hours after boarding, so you’ll need to carry your luggage around on the ship — and that can be highly inconvenient.
» Learn more: Best credit cards for cruises
What do you do with your luggage when leaving?
Like with the boarding process, you can check your luggage or carry it with you during disembarkation.
On the final night of your cruise, you’ll be given luggage tags. You can then leave your bags outside your stateroom and have them delivered to the port for pickup in the morning.
If you choose this route, keep whatever you’ll need for the next morning in your carry-on because you won’t have access to your checked bags after they’re picked up.
Keeping your luggage with you when getting off the ship can be faster because you won’t need to wait to collect your bags after you disembark.
» Learn more: How to earn and redeem points on cruises
Cruise luggage rules recapped
By now, we’ve answered the question of how many bags you can bring on a cruise, but the short of it is this: Individual limits are set per cruise line, so you’ll want to do your research before you start packing.
This is true of the quantity and weight of your bags and the specific types of items you can bring on board.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to bring no more than two bags to check as well as luggage to keep on hand. Other than that, most items are allowed on board, though you should always double-check for items such as alcohol and nonalcoholic beverages.
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