Many people in the United States choose to own guns for protection or hunting. Gun laws vary from state to state, and they will be different in the port countries you visit.
That brings up the question, are guns allowed on cruise ships?
Most cruise lines do not allow passengers to bring guns or weapons on the ship. The ban on firearms is a safety measure. If you bring a gun on a cruise, you may violate maritime laws and the federal law of the ports you visit.
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Can I Bring My Gun on a Cruise Ship?
Most major cruise lines do not allow you to bring a gun on the vessel.
Cruise lines have security measures to ensure the safety of passengers. You cannot bring a firearm on a cruise ship even if you’re a licensed gun owner or have a concealed carry permit.
As a general rule, cruise lines prohibit weapons of any kind. The list of banned weapons commonly includes:
- Firearms (authentic or replica)
- Sharp objects (including knives)
- Pepper spray
- Tear gas
- Brass knuckles
Why Do Crusie Lines Ban Firearms?
The obvious reason cruise lines prohibit weapons is for passenger safety. Cruise lines cannot assume that every weapon owner is responsible, and there’s always the potential for accidental injuries.
With guests’ overall safety and security in mind, cruise lines do not allow passengers to bring weapons onboard cruise ships.
The second reason for the ban is a little less apparent.
Like gun laws vary from state to state, they also vary by country. On a cruise vacation, your ship may dock in several countries, each with different gun laws and regulations.
If you bring a weapon on the cruise ship and visit a port where it is banned, you may face legal consequences.
And it’s not a hypothetical scenario. In 2019, an American cruise ship passenger was arrested in the Cayman Islands after authorities found a gun and ammunition in her luggage. She was released on a $10,000 bail but could face up to ten years in prison.
Consequences of Bringing a Firearm on a Cruise
Cruise ship firearm restrictions surely disappoint gun enthusiasts. Though the rules are meant to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew members, there are people who feel safer carrying a gun.
You should never try to bring a gun on a cruise ship. It’s a serious offense that may violate cruise ship guidelines, maritime laws, and local port laws.
Below are the consequences you may face if you try to bring a gun on a cruise ship
Cruise Line Punishments
During embarkation, the cruise line or port authority will scan your luggage for items that pose a safety risk. You’ll also pass through metal detectors to ensure you’re not carrying weapons.
You’ll have to repeat the security screening when you board the ship after visiting a port.
Cruise lines have a zero-tolerance policy for passengers who try to sneak prohibited items onto the ship.
They may not allow you to board if caught with a banned item before the cruise. Security will confiscate the prohibited items if the cruise line allows you to continue onto the ship. However, it’s up to the cruise line if they’ll return the items when you return from the sailing.
They will confiscate the item if you’re caught with a banned item on the ship. If security decides the infraction is serious, the cruise line may disembark the offending passenger at the next port.
Cruise lines may hold the person in the cruise ship’s jail or under cabin arrest until they reach the next port.
Depending on the seriousness, the cruise line may alert local authorities.
Local Port Laws
If someone is able to sneak a gun past cruise security, they may face legal action when they visit a port. Each port country has different laws and regulations. Many of which are different from your home country or state laws.
In every case, the laws of the country you visit take precedence over your own country’s laws.
If you’re in a port with strict firearm laws, they have the right to punish offenders to the full extent of the law. Even if you’re a legal gun owner in your country or state, you must obey their laws when you visit another country.
The punishments vary by country but may include heavy fines or prison sentences.
In any case, it’s best to leave all weapons at home to eliminate the risk of legal consequences.
When sailing in international waters, cruise lines follow maritime laws. Maritime Law began as a set of rules created by the United Nations to govern vessels in international waters.
Generally, vessels sailing in international waters must follow the laws of the country it’s registered.
Most cruise ships are registered in foreign countries such as the Bahamas, Panama, or Malta.
As such, they must follow the laws of their registered country while sailing.
If the “flag country,” as it’s called, has strict gun laws, you may violate maritime laws by carrying a gun on a cruise ship. It’s rare for ships to enact Maritime Law, but it does not mean you are safe from law enforcement.
Cruise lines must often alert local port authorities to violations. As stated previously, local regulations come with stiff penalties.
Other Prohibited Items on a Cruise Ship
It’s not just firearms that are prohibited.
Cruise lines have a list of prohibited items to ensure the safety of everyone onboard. The list includes items for passenger and fire safety.
The list of prohibited items generally includes the following items:
- Firearms and ammunition, including replicas and stun guns
- Toy guns
- Sharp objects, including knives, open razors, and pocket knives
- All other weapons, including pepper spray, brass knuckles, nightsticks, and self-defense gear
- Illegal drugs and illegal substances
- Marijuana, CBD oil, and CBD products
- Hookah pipes
- Candles, incense, coffee machines, clothes irons, travel steamers, heating blankets, and hot plates
- Laser pointers
- Pool noodles
- Flammable liquid, fireworks, and explosives
- Helium balloons
- Surge protectors, extension cords, and power bars
- Homemade food items
- Meat or fish products
- Live animals
Do Cruise Ship Security Carry Guns?
While cruise ships don’t have police onboard, they employ highly trained security personnel. A cruise ship’s chief security officer is often a retired law enforcement officer or former military officer.
But, you likely won’t ever see security carrying a gun.
Cruise lines don’t share details of their security operations. But former ship security guards revealed that they carry guns onboard the vessel. However, security officers don’t carry guns unless it’s absolutely necessary.
The guns consist primarily of sidearms stored in the ship’s armory. The ship’s armory is in a secured location and generally cannot be accessed without the captain’s orders, who is responsible for the safe operation of its ships.
Cruise lines do not allow guns, ammunition, or weapons onboard the vessel. It is against the cruise lines’ policy, local port laws, and maritime law.
People who try to bring a weapon on a cruise ship may face serious consequences, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the list of prohibited items before sailing.
Cruise ships employ a highly trained security team to ensure the safety of passengers and crew. Though they carry guns in the ship’s armory, they are only used as a last resort.