Sex, drugs and rock and roll might fly elsewhere, but not on board a cruise ship.
You may be surprised to learn that getting kicked off a cruise is actually easy to do and something that happens more often than you think. Cruise ships are private property, managed and operated by big businesses, and they have legal contracts you agree to when booking. In these agreements (that you most certainly have never read one word of) are some of the broad stipulations for expected passenger behavior and the rules all cruise guests must follow. These rules are designed to not only keep passengers, crew, and the ship itself safe, but also to ensure that everyone on board is comfortable for the duration of the cruise.
Here are 13 things that will get you kicked off a cruise and abruptly end your glamorous vacation at sea.
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Missing or Incorrect Paperwork
Having incorrect or flat-out missing important documents and paperwork can be a non-starter for your cruise. You won’t so much be kicked off but not permitted to board the ship at all. Because nearly every single cruise visits at least one foreign country, you need a valid passport to step on board. If you cannot produce a passport at check-in, you will not only hold up the long line queuing behind you; you won’t be allowed to climb on board and take your dream cruise. Have your paperwork and documents in order before arriving at the cruise terminal to ensure you get on board, and then make sure you stay on board by not doing any of the following things.
Miss the Mandatory Muster Drill
No one enjoys the muster drill, but you aren’t special and don’t get to miss this mandatory aspect of setting sail on any ship, big or small. Nothing is compulsory during a cruise, save for having a good time. You don’t need to eat in the main dining room, won’t have to attend the sail away party, and if you aren’t into musical theater, no one is checking attendance at showtime. The crew, however, monitors muster drill attendance like a hawk. The muster drill is the one thing on a cruise where attendance is mandatory. In fact, the cruise cannot begin until everyone completes the drill. If you don’t show up or perform the fundamental requirements on the newest ships, you can and will likely be removed from the ship.
Having or Bringing Drugs on Board
If you try to bring drugs on board or are caught with them on the ship, you will be kicked off the cruise. While you may think that you need drugs to have a good time at sea and may be approached by unsavory types in some ports offering to sell you drugs, trying to bring them on board is a surefire way to have a shorter vacation than the one you booked. If you get caught smuggling drugs and other illegal substances onto the ship, your cruise will end, and you could also have an extended stay in a foreign police station. Instead, rely on the ship’s drink packages, great food, and live entertainment to give you a good time at sea.
Tossing Trash (or Anything) Overboard
Whether through ignorance or carelessness, people still litter on land. Tossing trash or anything at all into the water (including yourself) while at sea on a cruise is one of the things that will get you kicked off a cruise ship. Unlike if you get COVID during a cruise, no one will have sympathy if your cruise in Alaska, the Caribbean, or the Mediterranean is cut short because you polluted the ocean. There are plenty of trash cans on board cruise ships; use them.
It’s not only COVID, but if you contract other highly contagious diseases during a cruise, you will be sent home. While this may seem harsh and unfair, it is done to protect yourself and the health of other passengers and the crew. If you become seriously ill during a cruise, you should receive the kind of medical attention not always available on board. If COVID is the culprit, many cruise lines (at the time of publication) will cover treatment costs, isolation, and travel back home.
Starting a Fight
We’ve all seen the videos of violent outbursts on cruise ships over the past few years. The perpetrators of those fist-fights and physical abuse were kicked off their cruises, and rightfully so. While the crew tries their best to ensure everything goes smoothly, not everything will—that’s just life. Alterations to the itinerary, unexpected weather, medical emergencies, and other issues never give passengers the right to become physical with each other or the crew. No one expects to be in danger during their vacation at sea, so if you cause or help to escalate a fight or physical altercation on a cruise ship, you can, should, and likely will be kicked off. You can then fight to find your way home on your own dime.
Far too many passengers in the air, at sea, and in hotel lobbies are going from 0 to 60 with fits of rage, physical attacks, and verbal abuse. Cruise contracts will broadly outline a policy on guest behavior that will allow the crew to kick passengers off a ship should they become abusive toward crew members or their fellow passengers. Things don’t even need to get physically violent for you to be removed. If words become harsh and harmful to crew or guests, you can and will be booted from the ship at the next available port and then will have to find and pay for your own way back home. Keep cool, be kind, and stay on the ship—it’s simple, really.
Beyond fights and verbal abuse, one of the things that will promptly get a person kicked off a cruise and, hopefully, cause them to face criminal consequences, too, is to make a threat against the ship. Calling in or posting a bomb threat will be taken seriously by the cruise line and the FBI. Even joking about causing harm to the pools, hot tubs, or any other part of the ship could see your cruise vacation end abruptly.
Impersonating a Crew Member
While we cannot fathom why anyone would feel the urge to pretend to be a crew member, some people have and do. If and when they are caught impersonating a crew member, these imposters will be promptly removed from the ship at the next port of call. Depending on what you do while playing this kind of illicit game, you could face additional consequences, including penalties, criminal charges, and jail time.
Underage Drinking or Buying Alcohol for a Minor
It doesn’t matter one bit if your teen is responsible or if you allow them to drink alcohol at home. Cruise lines will not tolerate an underage guest acquiring and consuming alcohol on board, not even while docked in a country with a lower legal drinking age than the United States. If you provide alcohol to a minor, both of you could have your trip come to a quick end, which will not be something you’ll ever want to raise a glass and toast to.
There are many retail shops on board most cruise ships, selling everything from branded cruise line sweatshirts, magnets, and pens to high-dollar watches, sunglasses, works of art, and bottles of alcohol. Stealing anything from a cruise ship is a crime, just as it is on land, and will not only cause you to get kicked off a ship but will come with the same kind of criminal charges you would face if you chose to steal from a store on land.
Extreme Instagram Photography
We get it; everyone wants to be an influencer and get free stuff, but going to extremes “for the Gram” on a cruise is not only dangerous, it’s something that can get you kicked off. Additionally, hanging over the edge of the ship, being reckless in pools or on decks, or any other behavior deemed harmful to yourself, others, or the ship could get you a one-way ticket home.
Having Sex on Your Cabin Balcony
While it doesn’t have a catchy name like the “mile-high club,” you may be tempted to have risky, semi-public sex on your stateroom’s balcony. For many reasons, it simply is not safe to have sex on a cruise ship balcony. For one thing, you could be seen or heard and be found to be breaking decency laws—especially if children witness your intimacy. If caught in the throes of passion, you could be kicked off the ship, which will probably not be the climax to the vacation you were hoping for.