As winter continues to cover the Northern Hemisphere in a chilly, smothering hug, travelers eagerly seek out warmer spots. And the way they’re doing it? By cruise ship.

The cruise industry is the fastest-growing category in the leisure travel market. According to Statista, the global cruise industry is expected to grow to more than 36 billion in revenue by 2028. according to the Cruise Industry Overview and Statistics. Per Reuters, more than 35 million people will cruise in 2024, up from 31.5 million in 2023.

As more and more people seek out cruising as their travel method of choice, it’s important to understand what is and isn’t allowed on cruise ships. 

As maritime lawyer Brett Rivkind says: “When something happens and [a cruise line] wants to kick you off the ship, they are not only the police. They are the judge and the jury.” 

Here are nine acts of pure demagoguery that are very likely to get you booted from your adventure at sea: 

Bringing drugs on board

Pretty basic stuff, really: don’t smoke weed in your room, and don’t put roofies in a girl’s drink–two things that, according to this Reddit thread, have gotten people kicked off cruises before. 

Being excessively vocal whilst in the throes of carnal love

One couple reportedly got booted off a TUI Caribbean Cruise ship for having loud sex in their cabin with the balcony door wide open. The couple were kicked off at 1 a.m. in Barbados and left stranded. This seems to be an exceptional case, but just to be safe, keep the shrieks of euphoria to a minimum. 

People partying on a cruise ship, including man in magic speedo.
The middle of the day when everyone’s out of their rooms is your best bet for unrestrained passionate expression.

Throwing an object (or yourself) overboard

One misfortunate Aussie was kicked off a P&O cruise ship for flicking a cigarette overboard. In a far more extreme case of overboard lobbing, an American passenger was banned from Royal Caribbean International for life after jumping from a Symphony of the Seas’ 11th-story balcony for a “good laugh.” As you can see, the spectrum of behavior that can get you kicked off varies drastically. Best to just remain poolside and try not to throw anything overboard. It’s not, after all, very much to ask.    

Buying a minor a drink on board 

Just a decade ago, writes Heidi Sarna for Frommers, underage passengers could easily wrangle a drink (or twelve) from adults on board their cruise. Today, however, cruise liners have strict rules about alcohol consumption on board. Although sailing through lawless international waters may seem like a good time to bend the rules, buying a minor a drink could get both parties kicked off the cruise. Make sure you check your cruise line’s drinking restrictions before trying anything mischievous.  

Drinks on a cruise ship
Parents cruising with their not-yet-legal children may think it harmless to sneak a drink for them onboard, but there’s little payoff for the risk.

Refusing to attend the muster drill

An elderly couple was kicked off a luxury cruise ship when for some reason they refused, even after multiple explicit warnings, to attend the ship’s “muster drill.” A muster drill is a mandatory information session in which passengers gather at assigned lifeboat stations and learn what to do in an emergency. It seems like common sense, but attend these

An easy way to get kicked off a cruise is to skip the muster drill!
The muster drill is most certainly in the best interest of your cruise fare, but also that thing called your life.

Missing the cruise ship 

If you arrive late for departure time, cruise lines reserve the right to not like you back on the ship. Apparently it’s something of a cruising hobby to stand on the Lido deck and watch as people sprint to try and catch their cruise. Although, fun fact: if the ship’s captain agrees to it, late passengers can jump in a small lifeboat that will pull them up alongside the cruise ship; staff on the cruise then lower a walkway between the boats, and the latecomers can walk over. This seems intense, and more like an exception than a rule. Ships are very punctual for departure times: suck back your margaritas, pick up your souvenirs, and if your departure time is 5:00 p.m., arrive by 4:30. 

Stealing anything

In another entertaining story from Reddit, someone describes a man he knew who scaled the outside of the ship, climbed into people’s balconies, and stole from the mini-fridges. They were caught and promptly kicked off the ship. It’s the same at sea as it is on land: thou shalt not steal. 

Reckless picture posing 

In October 2019, an Instagram model traveling onboard the Royal Caribbean ship Allure of the Seas was banned for life for climbing onto the railing of her balcony to pose for a photo. She clearly didn’t read Royal Caribbean’s guest policy, which states that “sitting, standing, laying or climbing on, over or across any exterior or interior railings or other protective barriers” is not permitted. Do it for the ‘gram, but not to that extent. 

Lady looks out at sea posing for picture on cruise ship.
There’s no shame in getting that perfect photo op, just don’t go overboard for it.

Abusing staff members 

If you call a crew member an “idiot” because you say you made a reservation for a show but your name isn’t on the list, or go ballistic when salon staff can’t accommodate you when you show up three hours late for a manicure, expect consequences. Cruise crew are there to protect and serve you—treat them well. 

In conclusion: be a nice, rational person, don’t be too loud in the sack, and don’t throw yourself or anything else overboard, and you should be golden. Happy cruising!

Whether you partake in alcohol on your flight or not, there'll be a day use room to rest or recharge in the city you touch down.

Image Credits: 

Featured image by Jonathan Leonardo via Unsplash

“Speedo Magic” by Jay Bergesen via (CC BY 2.0)

“Drinks” by JD Lasica via (CC BY 2.0)

“Muster Drill Mayhem” by kellinahandbasket via (CC BY 2.0)

“Looking back at the sea” by Ben O’Bro via Unsplash

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Molly Gelpke

Molly is a writer and traveller currently based in Montreal, but who will probably be somewhere new by next month. Find her—with a coffee in one hand and a book in the other—at your local, free-WiFi-supplying café.