Are Guns Allowed on Cruise Ships? (Firearm Rules for Guests)

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Security Guard on a Cruise ship with a gun

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  • No Guns on Cruise Ships: Passengers cannot bring guns or other weapons on cruise ships.
  • Legal Risks and Restrictions: Bringing a firearm on board can result in severe legal consequences, including arrest or fines.
  • Enforced Security Protocols: Cruise lines employ rigorous security screenings to prevent weapons on board and have a zero-tolerance policy for violations.

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?

Cruise lines DO NOT allow passengers to bring guns or weapons on the ship. Firearms and other weapons are banned as a safety measure for passengers and crew. If you bring a gun on a cruise, you may violate maritime laws and the federal law of the ports you visit.

Are Guns Allowed on Cruise Ships?

Security screening at a cruise port terminal with metal detectors and baggage screeningPin

Guns are not allowed on cruise ships. As a passenger, you cannot bring a gun on a cruise ship.

Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruises, Virgin Voyages, and Disney Cruise Line have explicitly stated their zero-tolerance policy regarding weapons onboard their ships. Any form of firearm, ammunition, and even realistic replicas are banned, and possession of such items can lead to serious consequences, including legal actions.

The enforcement of these policies is part of the cruise industry’s commitment to ensuring the safety of its passengers and crew and compliance with maritime law.

As a general rule, cruise lines prohibit weapons of any kind. The list of banned weapons commonly includes:

  • Firearms (authentic or replica)
  • Ammunition
  • Sharp objects (including knives)
  • Pepper spray
  • Tear gas
  • Batons
  • Brass knuckles

Why Do Crusie Lines Ban Firearms?

Carnival Valor and Mariner of the Seas are docked together in PHILIPSBURG SAINT MARTINPin

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.

As 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. As ships enter and exit different jurisdictions, the legalities surrounding firearm possession can become very complex.

A cruise ship would need to navigate an array of international laws, making the management of firearms on board impractical. A blanket ban on firearms simplifies the legalities of travel and keeps the ship safe and secure.

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

Woman with a concealed carry permit putting a gun into her pursePin

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 bring a gun on a cruise ship. Taking a gun on a cruise ship is a serious offense that may violate cruise ship guidelines, maritime laws, and local port laws.

Bringing a gun on a cruise ship can result in serious consequences for the individual found in possession of the firearm. These consequences may include:

Cruise Line Punishments

During embarkation, the cruise line or port authority scans your luggage for items that pose a safety risk. You’ll also pass through metal detectors at the cruise terminal 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.

You won’t be allowed to board if you have weapons on you or in your luggage. If the cruise line allows you to continue on your cruise vacation, they’ll confiscate your prohibited items. And it’s up to the cruise line if they’ll return the items when you return from the sailing.

Depending on the severity of the offense, the cruise line may ban you from future sailings.

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 if they believe a crime has been committed.

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.

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 local laws when visiting another country.

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.

Maritime Law

Cruise lines follow maritime law when sailing in international waters. 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.

Do Cruise Ship Security Carry Guns?

Security Guard on a Cruise ship with a gunPin

Cruise ship security does not carry guns.

While cruise ships don’t have armed guards, 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. The guns are safely stored in the ship’s armory and only used when absolutely necessary.

The guns consist primarily of sidearms. The ship’s armory is in a secured location and cannot be accessed without the captain’s orders.

Other Prohibited Items on a Cruise Ship

Oasis of the Seas docked beside Serenade of the Seas at Cozumel MexicoPin
(Photo Credit: PortMiami)

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
  • Hoverboards
  • Laser pointers
  • Radios
  • 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

Article by

Marcello De Lio

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