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.

 

    1. 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.

 

    1. 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.

 

    1. 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.

 

  1. 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?

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

  1. Instead of lighting your plastic bottle caps on fire to reseal them just buy some with the seal intact. http://www.camocaps.net

  2. Alcohol on board cruise ships ends up being one of the major expenses one incurs. Here is an article (http://theintelligentcruiser.com/foolproof-way-to-sneak-alcohol-onboard-a-cruise-ship/) with suggestions on another method of sneaking alcohol on board a cruise ship. This method is pretty successful and doesn’t change the taste of your alcohol one bit.

  3. Great suggestion! I will add it to my post as well.

  4. Kay Hutchins May 19, 2011

    Wow, I second that emotion. Drink prices on cruise ships are outrageous, but my husband and I found a really neat product that does the trick. It’s called Camo Caps and I see someone else just mentioned it here in this blog. Here’s the deal: these special bottle caps make your already-opened water bottles look like they’re factory-sealed. So easy – and it’s foolproof!

  5. Got a cruise coming up this friday. I gotta find a way to sneak some on… freaking alcohol is way high on the boat.. maybe ill check royal carib and see what their wine policy is.. that might work.

  6. The rum runner flasks have been popular too, but yeah sneaking it in a wine bottle is pretty easy to do as well :)

  7. 100% foolproof: 32-oz size hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol bottles. One is transparent for your clear liquors and one is solid brown for your dark liquors. Empty, rinse, and refill with spirits. To reseal, simply stretch some plastic wrap tightly over the opening and screw the cap on – you will hear the plastic wrap “pop” which is the cap cutting the wrap and sealing into place. Place these containers in your checked luggage.

  8. Greg, I’m not sure hydrogen peroxide is such a great idea, you’re really not supposed to swallow that and I’d be afraid any remaining hydrogren peroxide if not cleaned completely could make someone sick. Rubbing alcohol would work but if your bags are visually inspected it would appear odd to the inspector that you have a boatload (pun intended) of rubbing alcohol with you ;)

  9. I tried the rum runner bags on two Carnival cruises in my checked bag. The bag was locked but I was asked to come down for inspection and unlock it. Somehow they knew the two small bags were in there although they did not leak. They gave me the option to retrieve it after the cruise but I just had them trash it. The guy who I spoke with said they are aware of these bags but would not give me any information on how they detect them. Other methods like water bottles, mouthwash, shampoo, soda bottles, etc are now known and being detected as well. They did show me how they can take a bottle and submerge it in water to determine if there is water or something else in it. They said that vodka is flammable and therefore prohibited as well.

  10. Ouch, sorry to hear that. It’s kind of luck of the draw, I’ve talked to plenty of people who didn’t even have their bags inspected. Did your carry on bag get inspected? Personally I would have split them up (one in the checked bag, one in the carry on) to improve your chances.

  11. Just got off Norwegian Jewel out of NYC.
    NCL lets you bring sealed water on board. Here’s what to do…
    Purchase a case of Kirkland/Costco water 35 pack of 500 mL for $3.59.
    Then bought (2) 1.75 liters of clear rum, went cheap as it will be used as a mixer, $35.00 and did not want to spend alot if taken away. This will refill 7 water bottles, try not to spill, dry of excess, as they have to pass through security.
    Next carefully pull out some water bottles, careful not to over stretch shrinked wrap plastic. I put a small dot on the “rum” bottle as not to confuse them with others water bottles. Replace the “rum” water bottles in the center of the case, as not to be seen.
    Either carry on yourself or put a luggage tag on it. I checked it with a luggage tag and was at my cabin door several hours later. On the ship, purchased soda card/mug for $50 for mixing drinks.
    As cruise ships have lots of cameras, I mixed in my cabin, bathroom or discreetly by my poolside lounger.
    Average rum & cola was $7.18 with auto tip and tax.
    As a result, with a heavy pouring hand, saved around $500, total out of pocket, about $89.
    Good Luck & Happy Cruising!!!

  12. marissa August 19, 2011

    Have you ever thought to try resealing a wine bottle with hard liquor in it? A beer making store by my house sells corks and the foil shrink wrap to easily rewrap the top of a used wine bottle. was wondering if they give the wine bottles that good of a look when you carry them on.

  13. Yeah you could totally do that, you’re basically describing option #3 above only using corks instead of screw caps. If the cruise line allows you to bring 1-2 wine bottles, just make sure it isn’t too obvious (clear liquids in white wine bottles and dark liquors in red wine bottles) and either screw back on the cap or re-seal the cork. I’ve never tried resealing a cork, that sounds difficult!

  14. The easiest way is to keep it out in the open! Last May I bought a bar liter of clear captain morgan rum and put it into my camelback. The screeners thought it was water and I was on my way to a cheaper vacation without having to pay for any mixed drinks.

  15. The best way to get away with is is to use a wine bottle with a cork, and a seal over the cork. You can buy the same heat-shrink seals the wineries use on eBay or from home wine-making supply stores.

  16. The way they can detect that there is alcohol in the bottles is because it turns a different color on the X-rays, haven’t tried it but would assume that pouring the liquor into wine bottles would work because they expect the wine to change colors as well?

  17. I think a combo of wine bottles in you checked bag plus smuggle something aboard on your person using the rum runner flasks or binocular flasks is still the best way to go…

  18. Great ideas everyone, this site is awesome…and informative.

  19. Thanks for all these great ideas. I’m going on my first cruise next month on Carnival and will use the screw top wine method for vodka. My only question is how do I get mixers on board (ie: juice) to mix with the smuggled liquor?

  20. Melissa, they should have juice/mixers on board included in your meal plan, so you shouldn’t need to worry about smuggling those on-board. Some cruise lines like Carnival do free juice/lemonade/coffee/tea then charge extra for a “soda plan” that gets you soda….but the free stuff they had included OJ, cranberry and a few others, so you should be fine for mixers there.

  21. I’m going on a cruise in a month and I am desperately going to try to sneak on alcohol the reason being is its for our friends 21st bday but the rest of us our only 20 still i just wanna have a good time and not have to worry on how are we getting drinks I rather just easily make drinks in our room and then head out for the night Ive been doing nothing but reading up on how to sneak the rum runner flasks because they look like the most legit anyways what i need to know is whats the best way to pack these rum runners and if iwas to get caught would i not be allowed to board im going on a royal carribean, thanks.

  22. That’s a good question, but not one I’m equipped to answer. I’d suggest sneaking it on the luggage of the guy who is actually 21 and taking it from there.

  23. Ncottone October 26, 2011

    Heading on NCL next month and am concerned about getting booze on board. I’m unfamiliar with how “carry-on” bags work and putting liquor in them. Do they go through a scanner as in airport security? I’m local in Miami and won’t be flying so putting liquid in a carry-on won’t be a problem. Do they search the carry-ons individually? Also thinking about wearing cargo pants and putting smaller bottles in all my pockets. Do they make you empty pockets like at the airport? Thanks!

  24. They do NOT make you empty your pockets, so the cargo pockets is a good idea.

    I think it depends on the cruise line if they X-ray your bags or not. I dont think they did on my last Carnival cruise…

  25. Just got back from a NYC Norwegian cruise. Rum Runners worked great. 32oz Rum. 16 oz Kaluha. 16 oz Amaretto. Packed them In 2 checked bags and saved a fortune. Just poured them on the rocks or mixed with OJ. I could have brought soda but didn’t bother

  26. Glad to hear that, Dave!

  27. Beware! Security personnel in San Diego are shaking all water bottles (even those with capped lids) to determine if it’s water or not. Water and alcohol do not ‘bubble’ the same. Urrr! Lost my rum and my camocaps.

  28. Sounds like they’re getting smarter. At the very least, I’d say trying to sneak it in using empty water bottles is no longer a good idea…

  29. Just put a plastic flask in your pocket when boarding. They aren’t metal, and won’t show up. No one makes you empty your pockets.

  30. The way they can detect that there is alcohol in the bottles is because it turns a different color on the X-rays.
    False, alcohol dose not have a different color under x-ray because the images are in black and white.
    Putting it in a wine bottle works every time.

  31. Actually your are wrong, the new x rays are in color i have seen many on the cruise message boards.

  32. Debbie March 3, 2012

    Cruising in a month Royal Caribbean do they frisk you or do you just walk though x-ray? Thinking about doing the rum runner idea in the cloth suitcase…. What about putting them in your pockets? What happens if you get caught? Just embarrasment? Thanks

  33. I believe it is x-ray only, I’ve never been frisked for a cruise before…

  34. Hey nick. Im out of Miami too, and going to be sailing out of Miami on a cruise.. The booze belly and a couple of rum runners in some cargo pockets along with some in your checked, and carry on luggage seems the best.. Im a little confused with the immediate boarding and the metal detector/ x-ray search. okay all bags go through x-ray, right? sometimes your carry on, like a girls purse wont be searched? And the most important question for me is are we as people getting the walk through x-ray, like at the airport? or is it just the metal detector for us? If its just a metal detector Im good with just wearing the booze belly and a couple rum runners in my pockets.. If weee walk through an x-ray, its pretty obvious im wearing the booze belly thing Im assuming lol thanks for the response in advance

  35. It depends somewhat on the port. When I took a cruise out of San Diego there was no x-ray for humans, only your bags.

  36. Jessica March 20, 2012

    Hey I am going on a cruise out of San Diego soon. What kind of security do they have for people then? (e.g. if it is not a metal detector,is it a body scanner, pat down, etc). Obviously they check for bubbles in your water bottles now but how could they tell is you had it on your person if they dont body scan and it is in a plastic flask or something to that nature? Any information would help!

  37. I thought San Diego security was pretty easy. Bring it on your person or your carry on…

  38. We are leaving out of Tampa on Norwegian and want to get beer on board (not a fan of liquor unfortunately) and our plan is to buy a few cases of Coke and Sprite, carefully open one end and fill the middle with cans of beer then using a hot glue gun to reseal the box. Does anyone know if they open up “unopened” cases to check the entire contents? We can check or carry it on, any idea which is a better bet? And if they find it will we have the option of taking it back out to our car?

  39. Carry on is a better bet, and yes they’ll either let you take it back to your car or they will give it back to you at the end of the trip, so don’t worry about it getting wasted :)

  40. donnie May 3, 2012

    nick i purchased the rum runners kit just wondering wear i should pack them in my checked bag, was thinking of rolling them up in beach towels and in my shorts pockets any ideals

  41. I’d recommend either way for your checked bag, and then also doing one in your carry-on, that way if one gets confiscated you’ve spread your risk across two bags and the other one should be fine.

  42. Jynne May 14, 2012

    Hi, Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise in July. Leaving out of Port Canaveral. Any idea of their boarding practices? I have the rum runners which I will divide between checked and carry-on luggage.

  43. Sounds like a good start, let us know how it goes and I can update my guide accordingly!

  44. Lynne May 15, 2012

    Can you tell me if anyone has ever tried taking the plastic container out of a wine box and used that? Would that not be the same essentially as the rum runner thing?

  45. I think that would work as well but make sure you clean it out really good and make sure the seal is tough. If the seal leaks at all you might be in trouble.

  46. Chris May 15, 2012

    Hi i was just wondering, people keep talking about difference in security at ports but id have thought the security would vary by ship regardless of which port youre at. Btw im sailing from Barcelona in August Carnival Breeze, and im 18 so can drink fine here but not on carnival, its crazy! So thinking of sneaking some on :)

  47. I think for the most part security is managed by a third party contracted through the cruise port, much like airport security isn’t managed by an airline but by the airport itself…

  48. I am planning to go on a Carnival Cruise. I purchased some wine bottles, a bottle corker and new corks. I also purchased some sealing wax. We have already filled the bottles with the liquor we want and have news corks in them. Do you think the sealing wax is going overboard (no pun intended)?

  49. It probably is going overboard, but if you already have it – why not? I’d say go for it…

  50. I’m going on a cruise out of Maimi I was thinking about using the Listerine bottle what are your thoughts

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