Am I Allowed to Sunbathe Topless on a Cruise Ship?

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While on a cruise to a tropical destination, you may choose to spend hours by the pool.

Part of why we love going on a Caribbean cruise is getting the opportunity to relax by the pool with a drink in hand and soak up the sun. The pool deck on a cruise ship is no stranger to people showing some skin. But what about sunbathing topless?

The “European” bathing style isn’t a new trend for travelers, but are you allowed to turn your vacation into a topless cruise?

Man and woman lying on loungers by the pool on a cruise ship

History of Topless Cruising

Topless sunbathing was once common on cruise ships – and not just European voyages.

Fun fact, on Carnival ships, the top deck around the funnel was the go-to location for women to take their tops off and work on their tans.

But in the current era of family-friendly cruising, topless cruising tends to be frowned upon by cruise lines and passengers. However, some ships have designated areas for topless sunbathing.

Cruise Lines Rules on Topless Sunbathing

Most major cruise lines don’t allow topless sunbathing on their ships.

Carnival has removed its top deck-designated sunbathing spots, and Norwegian explicitly states that “topless sunbathing is not permitted.”

Panoramic shot of open decks and red funnel on Carnival Freedom. Saint Vincent island and blue sky with white clouds in the background.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival doesn’t mention topless sunbathing specifically; however, their code of conduct states that:

Carnival will not tolerate any behavior affecting the comfort, enjoyment, health, safety or well-being of other guests or our crew. We reserve the right to to refuse or discontinue passage to anyone who, in Carnival’s judgment, is conducting themselves in a manner that adversely affects the cruise experience of others.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean has stated in their Guest Health, Safety, and Conduct Policy that:

Topless sunbathing is not permitted except on selected itineraries, and in those itineraries will only be allowed in designated areas. For more details on our Dress Code, please contact Guest Services

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises has a Conduct Policy similar to its sister cruise line, Royal Caribbean. Unlike Royal Caribbean, Celebrity’s Policy makes explicit reference to topless sunbathing. The cruise line does not permit toplessness except on select itineraries and only in designated areas.

In their Policy, the cruise line states that:

Pool, deck, and theater chairs may not be reserved, except in cases of disability. Public nudity is not permitted. Guests must be appropriately attired, including while on stateroom balconies if visible to others onboard, other vessels, or the shore. Topless sunbathing is not permitted except on select itineraries and for those itineraries, only in specifically designated areas. For more details on our Dress Code, please contact Guest Relations.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the few cruise lines with an explicit ban on toplessness. As part of their Guest Conduct Policy, the cruise line states:

Pool, deck and theatre chairs may not be reserved. Topless sunbathing is not permitted. Boom boxes or loud radios are not permitted.

Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages is one of the only cruise lines that allow topless sunbathing. Virgin’s cruise ships have a small, designated area for passengers who wish to sunbathe topless.

According to the cruise line:

Is there a topless/nude area on board?

Yes, because we find tan lines to be kind of vintage (not in a good way), there will be a designated area for you to go topless.

Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises does not have a policy that explicitly mentions topless sunbathing. Although there is no specific mention of whether it is allowed, many passengers have reported going topless or seeing topless sunbathers while on a Costa cruise ship.

What to Do If You Want to Sunbathe Topless on a Cruise

Girl relaxing on holiday with cruise ship in the background

While some cruise lines explicitly state whether topless sunbathing is allowed, and others avoid the issue entirely, you may be wondering how common it is in the real world.

We have never seen anyone bare it all out on the pool deck on the many cruises we’ve been on, including sailing with many of the major cruise lines. We can safely say that it is rare that anyone shows any nudity on most cruises. That said, we have seen many people lying on their stomachs with the back of their tops untied.

But what if you want to get some sun and work on your tan, sans lines?

If you intend to sunbathe topless on your cruise vacation, we recommend upgrading to a balcony cabin and soaking in the sun from the relative privacy of your balcony. It’s not as glamorous as the top deck, but it offers seclusion, and you won’t need to worry about the rules.

One little-known option is to participate in chartered sailings dedicated to nude cruising. Popular nude cruise charters even take place on some popular mainstream cruise ships. If that sounds interesting to you, check out our article on everything you need to know before going on a nude cruise.

Balcony view from a cruise ship

While some people seem to think that the top decks and adult-only areas of the ship permit topless sunbathing, but we don’t recommend testing your luck. If you want to go topless, it never hurts to ask the staff first.

Bottom line: Topless sunbathing isn’t as popular as it once was, and many cruise lines have outright banned passengers from going topless on the sun decks. Suppose you want to go topless on a cruise ship; we recommend doing so from the relative privacy of a balcony stateroom or asking a crew member for clarification on the rules. Finally, laying on your stomach with your top untied should not be an issue on any cruise line.

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I love to travel, see new places, and meet new people. I have been lucky enough to travel on multiple continents, as well as several cruise lines. I am passionate about sharing my experience with readers.

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Get the latest travel tips, news, and advice to get the most out of your next cruise vacation.

Vector Image of a Cruise Ship