How to Sneak Booze onto a Cruise Ship

Sneaking Booze on to a Cruise

Booze in a Shampoo Bottle - Bad Idea!

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
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  3. 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.
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  5. 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.
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  7. 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.
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  9. 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?

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63 Responses to “How to Sneak Booze onto a Cruise Ship”

  1. I think that might be a little suspicious, but worth a shot. You’re not supposed to drink Listerine though, so be sure to wash it several times through the dishwasher…

  2. Hey, does anyone know what the security is like in Galveston, TX? (Princess cruise, if that makes a difference…)

  3. Not off the top of my head, but I’ve been on several Princess cruises out of San Diego and the security was consistent with above…

  4. Booze boobs work too! If you happen to be a girl or bringing one with you. Just get a bra that’s a couple sizes bigger than what you normally wear. and fill 2 bags with booze and insert. Its like chicken cutlets but filled with liquor! just avoid any sharp objects and I suggest you double bag them :)

  5. Ann Thomas March 8, 2013

    What about pocket shots? I was told to put them in pockets of clothes, then fold all clothes and put in luggage, can they see them through scanner between clothing and luggage? Also if u got empty bottles of wine, (750 ml with label ect) filled them with liquor, and recorked them with liquor, are they ok to take on?

  6. Ann – both of those are good ideas. Liquor in wine bottles is a good idea, and pocket shots are worth a try although I don’t know if it’d work or not in regards to being x-ray proof…

  7. How is the security in the Baltimore port? I’m leaving out of there on Sunday on carnival.

  8. Just purchased 2 rum runner bags for a cruise in april leaving out of new orleans. Anyone have any experience with these bags at this port?

  9. Has anyone tried the Shapoobooze yet? Leaving on July 7th from New Orleans on Carnival…

  10. My boyfriend and I traveled on Royal Caribbean in May. We scoured every site looking for a way to save on alcohol by sneaking it onboard. RC allows 2 bottles of wine per stateroom. We watched a youtube video about how best to replace alcohol in a wine bottle. Our first try we broke the bottle trying to get the cork back in. The second time we were successful. We thought the screw cap wines looked too suspicious. It was hard to find a corked bottle without the foil around the top but eventually we did. We replaced the chardonnay with vodka and brought a bottle of real champagne through carry-on as well. The security did not look at us twice. My mother filled a water bottle with rum and put it in the center of a twelve pack. She was caught because the security shook the water and noticed not all of the bottles had bubbles. So it can be done fairly easily but replace alcohol with alcohol not water with alcohol.

  11. Using G2 Gatorade bcuz it’s more clear, vodka plus food coloring, then resealusing the boil cap method so u will need an extra case of Gatorade, you can find technique on YouTube, always works for me, out of Galveston, anybody try the booze belly out of new Orleans port? Any xrays or pay downs for people or just bags? Help we leave soon

  12. Good point on the Water bottles, so normal bottled water has bubbles and water bottles filled with water do not. Interesting. I think i may try the wine bottle filled with vodka. If I get a screw top and take it in my carry on, do they check to see if the screw top is actually on?

  13. It’s VERY unlikely they’d test it, but if you’re worried use a little dab of super glue to hold the seal to the top of the cap and it will both look and feel to be sealed/unopened :)

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