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11 Ways to Get Booted Off a Cruise Ship
11 Ways to Get Booted Off a Ship (Photo: Mike Brake/Shutterstock)

11 Ways to Get Booted Off a Cruise Ship

11 Ways to Get Booted Off a Cruise Ship
11 Ways to Get Booted Off a Ship (Photo: Mike Brake/Shutterstock)
Erica Silverstein
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Only drug smugglers or murder suspects get kicked off cruise ships, right?

Wrong! Ordinary people like you and me can also get the boot off our hard-earned, much-anticipated cruise holiday. Perhaps it's because we lose control and do something stupid. Maybe it's the result of a simple mistake or -- and this stings the most -- is actually through no fault of our own. While it's rare to be debarked mid- or even pre-cruise, it happens more than you think. And if you're the one escorted down the gangway, don't expect a refund for the days you missed onboard.

To make sure your cruise does not end prematurely, here are 11 things you absolutely should not do.

walk the plank

1. Get sick

We mean really sick, like a heart attack or stroke or a serious injury that shipboard doctors and medical facilities don't have the ability to treat. If you need hospital-level care, the ship's doctor will either have you whisked off the ship at the next port of call or organise for an airlift for you to be taken to the nearest hospital. It might not be the best hospital, and you might not be able to speak the local language, but if you're seriously ill or hurt enough for immediate surgery, you will be booted off quicker than you can say "travel insurance."

Getting Sick at Sea

2. Skip the muster drill

It's embarkation day. You're at the pool, cocktail in hand, and you just can't be bothered to get dressed, pick up your lifejacket and proceed to your muster station for a briefing on emergency procedures. You might have heard the spiel 100 times, but if you don't go to muster 101, you could be saying sayonara before you even set sail. Don't believe us? Ask the couple that was kicked off Seabourn Sojourn for failing to attend the second muster drill on their back-to-back sailing.

3. Bring drugs or other illegal items onboard

You might be approached by shady characters in Jamaica or Belize looking to sell you drugs, but they aren't cruise line-approved vendors. Get caught smuggling drugs, weapons or other illegal items onto the ship, and your glamorous cruise could turn into a drawn-out stay in a local police cell. We hope you didn't spend all your cash on the illicit articles because you might need money for bail, lodging (though jail stays are free, we hear) or a plane flight home.

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4. Refuse to go through screening

On a similar note, don't refuse the pre-embarkation security screening because you're worried someone will notice your contraband. If you don't comply with security officers, they do not have to let you board.

5. Make a bomb threat

No cruise line wants its ship to be the victim of a terrorist attack, and bomb threats are taken seriously. Don't joke about blowing up the ship or releasing harmful viruses into the swimming pool. Don't even let anyone joke about it pretending to be you: In 2012, Dr. Jack Kruse (a diet guru) was kicked off a Low-Carb theme cruise because someone posted on Twitter, pretending to be him, that he was threatening a bio-terrorist attack on the Carnival ship. Even after security staff realised it was a prank, he was still refused boarding.


6. Fail to show correct travel documents

Left your passport at home? Forgot to get a necessary visa? We're sorry to say that your cruise will end before it has a chance to begin. Cruise lines must abide by official rules regarding travel documents. While in certain cases the ship can procure a collective visa so you don't have to get an individual one, if it's your responsibility to have your papers in order and you don't, the only thing cruise staff can do is show you the door.

Travel Rules and Regulations

7. Buy a minor a drink onboard.

Your son or daughter might be turning 18 soon, but if you buy him or her a few drinks or let them borrow your ship ID to buy their own, your family holiday could come to a sudden end. Cruise lines don't tolerate anyone aiding and abetting an underage person to acquire alcohol. If caught, both the adult and minor involved could be debarked.

Cruise Line Alcohol Policies

8. Engage in disorderly conduct

Throw a punch, throw a fit, throw a deck chair overboard -- any unruly behaviour could potentially get you thrown off the ship. This applies to adults, teens and kids. All cruise lines have Codes of Conduct, and passengers agree to abide by them when they sign their cruise contracts. Misbehave onboard, and the lines reserve the right to end your cruise then and there.

9. Organise your own tours in public.

One of the things we love most about Cruise Critic's Roll Calls is meeting other travellers and teaming up to book independent excursions. While a cruise line doesn't mind if you book a private tour with a few friends, they do frown upon passengers booking a 30-person bus and advertising onboard for other cruisers to join them in shunning ship excursions. If you don't want to get forcibly debarked for soliciting, please be discreet in your tour arranging, and do not exchange money at Cruise Critic Meet and Mingles in front of senior officers.

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shop lifting

10. Steal items from the ship

We know that spa products are overpriced, but if you slip some unpaid-for body scrub in your beach bag or, worse, make off with some diamond rings or precious art from a boutique, the authorities will not be kind to you if you're caught. So if you'd rather not terminate your cruise mid-trip, we recommend exercising your sticky fingers in more harmless pursuits, such as sneaking another chocolate chip cookie from the buffet or grabbing one extra travel-size bottle of the ship's shampoo as a souvenir.

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11. Be abusive to the captain or crew members

The captain is the king or queen of his or her ship; the onboard world is not a democracy. Tick off the captain or abuse the crew, and he or she has the right to send you packing. So be polite. The ship's staff is there to ensure your safety and comfort; there is no reason not to be grateful for the work they do.

Updated April 24, 2020

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