Updated August, 2011 with new suggestions! The feedback on the Rum Runner Flasks have been great, but the binocular flasks suggested be a reader also seem to be a great idea. Lastly I have added The Booze Belly which is another great way to sneak alcohol on to your next cruise adventure. Thanks everyone for your thoughts on how best to sneak booze on to a cruise ship, this guide is now packed full of great tips & ideas!
Trying to sneak some alcohol onto a cruise ship? I don’t blame you – drinks on cruise ships are very expensive! Sneaking liquor onto a cruise ship can be a bit tricky, especially for first-time cruisers or anyone that has never tried it before. The cruise lines all state what their alcohol policies are and warn you that if they find anything else, it will be confiscated. In reality, not everyone gets searched – my girlfriend and I walked on board our last cruise without anyone bothering to look through our carry-ons, and we could have easily snuck more liquor on, but other people we spoke to weren’t so lucky, and got a thorough searching and all of their prohibited alcohol taken away. Based on my personal experience, as well as the experience of other cruisers I have spoken to, here is my best advice for anyone thinking of sneaking extra booze on to a ship.
- Sneak on booze you’re willing to lose – the worst that will happen is that they take it and not give it back, so don’t bring your fanciest, most expensive type of liquor. Leave the bottles of 21 year old scotch at home, and opt for cheaper liquor that won’t upset you terribly if it gets confiscated.
- Check what you are allowed to bring on the Cruise ship’s website. For instance with Carnival, you can bring two 750 ml bottles of wine, plus 12 non-alcoholic drinks 20 ounces in size or less.
- Figure out what container or bottle you are going to funnel your liquor into. This is very important, as you don’t want to bring it in something super obvious, but you don’t want something that will spill or leak either.
- Split the extra alcohol upon each bag you’re bringing – both your carry-on and your checked bag. That way if they check your carry-on, your checked bag might still be okay, and vice versa. Minimize your risk by spreading the liquor across different bags.
The real trick is figuring out what kind of container you’re going to sneak the booze in. My girlfriend and I tried shampoo bottles – bad idea! The vodka we snuck on smelled & tasted like shampoo, despite our best efforts of washing the bottles out in scalding hot water multiple times. Plastic bottles, especially ones that housed cleaning chemicals or hygiene products, will be difficult to rid of the previous liquids stored in them. Instead, avoid plastics or anything that previously contained something you wouldn’t want to eat or drink, such as shampoo, and opt for these instead:
- Rum Runner flasks – they’re stealthy and you can hide them just about anywhere, and they won’t change the taste of your liquor at all. They’re also very safe to travel with and won’t spill or leak. I’ve found the kit to the right to be great for a variety of purposes. The only downside to this one is that if your luggage does get searched, they will know what these are and are likely to take them (and return them at the end of your cruise), but assuming your luggage doesn’t get searched (or if you put this in your carry on) then this is a cheap & safe way to bring liquor onboard without risking it spilling or making noise, and you can cram them in just about any pocket or inside of something so they’re harder to find if your bags get searched but not searched very thoroughly.
- The Booze Belly – This item was suggested by readers and is a great idea! You sneak all of the booze on your person, so even if your luggage gets inspected, you still won’t lose your booze. Obviously it isn’t something I’d want to wear all day long, but generally you’ll only wait in line 30 minutes to an hour to get on board the cruise ship, so it’s a relatively short amount of time that you’ll actually need to wear it. You can even pour drinks directly out of the Booze Belly while your wearing it (it looks a little funny), although I’d recommend doing this somewhere privately (like a bathroom) so as to not arouse suspicion or tip off any cruise employees that you have a concealed flask you’re hiding.
- Wine bottles with screw caps – find one that is dark in color, empty out the wine (or drink it), an then refill it with your liquor of choice, and screw it shut. The ship security will think its wine, and allow you two bottles. If you aren’t a big wine drinker, this is a great way to sneak on booze with very little risk.20 ounce Coke bottles – dark rum or whiskey looks a lot like Coke or Pepsi, so another route for you to consider is to consider emptying out Coke bottles and filling them up with a dark liquor. If you want to get extra fancy, you can even reseal them by holding a lighter to the seal and melting it back together. This is another great way to sneak liquor on without anyone being the wiser.
- Binocular Flasks – flasks such as this double sided binocular flask are great to sneak booze on a cruise, as they look like a legitimate item you’d carry on a cruise, and are realistic enough that even a visual inspection of your luggage shouldn’t be an issue – to a reasonable human who has to scan hundreds of pieces of luggage, they’ll just see a set of binoculars and move on. I have also seen flasks that look like cell phones or cameras, although the binoculars seem to have the greatest holding capacity, so that would be what I’d go with. The added advantage of the binocular flask is that you can carry them around on the cruise ship and not look suspicious or sketchy – you’ll blend right in and can fix yourself a drink by the pool, or wherever you please, without any of the cruise ship staff being any wiser as to what you’re up to. Be sure to make sure the screw cap is extra tight when packing this to avoid any accidents, and pack a set of legitimate night vision googles or binoculars next to them so you seem like the birdwatching type.
- Travel sized bottles (un-used) – ever since the 3-1-1 rule outlawing any liquids on your carry-on over 3 ounces, most pharmacies and convenient stores started selling travel-sized bottles that you can pour your favorite shampoo, soap, and other liquids into, creating your own travel-sized containers. You can also buy them on Amazon at the link to your right – they’re very cheap and best of all, reusable. Run them through the dishwasher and then reuse them for whatever you like, be it sneaking alcohol onto a cruise ship, or bringing your favorite toiletries on your next business trip or vacation.
Those are my top suggestions – let me know what you think! Do you have any other tactics to successfully smuggle booze onto a cruise ship?