The Dos And Don’ts Of Bringing Food Aboard A Cruise

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Taking a cruise can be an exciting and enjoyable experience, filled with delicious food and a wide range of dining options. However, when it comes to bringing your own food aboard a cruise ship, there are certain rules and guidelines that you need to be aware of. In this article, we will explore the dos and don’ts of bringing food aboard a cruise, ensuring that you have a smooth and hassle-free culinary journey while traveling the high seas. Whether you are a food enthusiast or simply want to have some familiar snacks on hand, understanding these dos and don’ts will help you navigate the rules and regulations, allowing you to fully enjoy your dining experience on board.


Check the cruise line’s policy

Before embarking on your cruise, it’s essential to check the cruise line’s policy regarding bringing food on board. Each cruise line may have its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to bringing outside food. Some may have strict guidelines, while others may be more lenient. By familiarizing yourself with the policy beforehand, you can avoid any surprises or potential conflicts during your trip.

Pack non-perishable snacks

One of the most straightforward ways to ensure you have a variety of snacks available during your cruise is to pack non-perishable items. These include snacks like granola bars, trail mix, dried fruits, and nuts. Non-perishable snacks are convenient because they don’t require refrigeration and can be easily stored in your cabin. They are also a great option for when you’re on shore excursions or simply want a quick snack between meals.

Bring a reusable water bottle

Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during a cruise when you may spend a lot of time under the sun. Instead of relying solely on purchasing bottled water on board, consider bringing a reusable water bottle. Most cruise ships have water refill stations, allowing you to fill up your bottle whenever needed. Not only is this environmentally friendly, but it also saves you money in the long run.

Consider dietary restrictions

If you have specific dietary restrictions or allergies, it’s essential to plan accordingly when bringing food aboard a cruise. Research the available dining options on board and inform the cruise line in advance about your dietary needs. By doing so, they can make the necessary accommodations and ensure you have a safe and enjoyable culinary experience during your trip.

Inform the cruise line in advance

In addition to informing the cruise line about dietary restrictions, it’s also a good idea to let them know if you plan on bringing any outside food on board. While some cruise lines may not require prior notification, others may have specific protocols in place. By informing them in advance, you can ensure a smooth embarkation process and avoid any unnecessary delays or complications.

Research local food regulations at ports

If you plan to explore various ports of call during your cruise, it’s essential to research the local food regulations at each destination. Different countries may have different restrictions on bringing food ashore. Some may have strict rules prohibiting certain items, while others may simply require declaration or inspection. By familiarizing yourself with the regulations, you can avoid any penalties or confiscation of food.

Keep food properly sealed and labeled

When bringing food on board, it’s important to keep it properly sealed and labeled. This helps prevent any spills or contamination and allows for easy identification. Use airtight containers or resealable bags to ensure the freshness and integrity of the food. Labeling the containers with the contents and date of preparation can also be helpful, especially for perishable items.

Use insulated containers for perishable items

If you plan to bring perishable items such as fruits, vegetables, or dairy products, it’s advisable to use insulated containers. These containers help maintain the optimal temperature and prevent spoilage. Insulated coolers or thermal bags can be particularly useful, especially if you have a long journey or if you anticipate delays in getting your food to proper refrigeration.

Follow proper hygiene practices

Maintaining proper hygiene is crucial when handling food, regardless of whether it’s brought from home or purchased on board. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling any food items. Use hand sanitizers when soap and water are not readily available. Additionally, ensure that any utensils, cutting boards, and surfaces are clean and sanitized before food preparation.

Ask for assistance if needed

If you have any questions or concerns about bringing food aboard a cruise, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance. The cruise line’s staff is there to help and ensure your safety and satisfaction. Whether it’s regarding specific dietary accommodations, storage options, or any other related matter, the staff will be more than willing to address your needs and provide appropriate guidance.


Bring open containers or cans

To prevent spillage and maintain food freshness, avoid bringing open containers or cans. The cruise ship’s policy may also prohibit the entry of open food items due to safety and sanitation reasons. Opt for sealed containers or resealable bags to keep your food secure and avoid any potential mess in your cabin or public areas of the ship.

Pack excessive quantities of food

While it’s important to have enough food to meet your needs, it’s advisable not to pack excessive quantities of food. Space may be limited in your cabin, and bringing too much food can result in unnecessary clutter. Consider your cruise duration and dining options on board before deciding how much food to bring. Remember, part of the cruise experience is enjoying the culinary offerings provided by the ship.

Bring food that requires cooking

Unless you have access to a kitchenette or have made arrangements with the cruise line, it’s best not to bring food that requires cooking. Most cabins on cruise ships do not have facilities for cooking, and they also have strict policies regarding cooking food in cabins due to safety concerns. Opt for ready-to-eat or easily prepared food items instead.

Store food in the cabin without permission

Before storing any food in your cabin, make sure you have received permission from the cruise line. Some cruise lines have specific policies regarding food storage in cabins for safety and sanitation reasons. If you’re unsure about the regulations, check with the cruise line’s staff to avoid any misunderstandings or potential penalties.

Ignore the cruise line’s guidelines

The cruise line’s guidelines and policies regarding bringing food on board are put in place for a reason. It’s important not to ignore or disregard these guidelines. By following the cruise line’s rules, you contribute to the safety, comfort, and overall experience of all passengers on board. Failure to comply with the guidelines may result in confiscation of the food or other consequences.

Disregard local customs and regulations

Just as it’s important to respect the guidelines set by the cruise line, it’s equally important to respect local customs and regulations at each port of call. Different countries may have varying regulations regarding the entry of food items. Disregarding these regulations can lead to penalties or even legal issues. Familiarize yourself with the local customs and restrictions to ensure a smooth experience during your cruise.

Forget to dispose of waste properly

Proper waste disposal is essential for cleanliness and hygiene. Remember to dispose of any food waste or packaging in designated areas or containers provided on board. Littering or leaving food waste in public areas can attract pests and create an unpleasant environment for fellow passengers. By disposing of waste properly, you contribute to the cleanliness and enjoyment of the cruise for everyone.

Share food with fellow passengers

While it may be tempting to share your delicious snacks or homemade treats with fellow passengers, it’s advisable not to do so. Sharing food can risk cross-contamination and can be a potential health hazard. Additionally, some passengers may have specific dietary restrictions or allergies that they need to strictly adhere to. Respect personal boundaries and avoid sharing food to ensure a safe and enjoyable cruise experience for all.

Leave food unattended

Leaving food unattended can lead to spoilage, contamination, or attract unwanted pests. Always keep an eye on your food and store it properly when not in use. If you need to step away from your food temporarily, make sure it is sealed and stored appropriately. By being mindful of your food and its storage, you can prevent any issues and maintain the quality of the items you brought on board.

Ignore any unusual odors or spoilage

If you notice any unusual odors or signs of spoilage in your food, do not ignore them. It’s important to prioritize food safety and avoid consuming anything that may be spoiled or contaminated. Discard any items that exhibit signs of spoilage, even if it means disposing of the entire container. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food safety.

Dos and Don’ts for Specific Types of Food

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

When bringing fresh fruits and vegetables on board, select ones that are ripe but not overly ripe to avoid spoilage during your cruise. Wash them thoroughly before consumption and keep them properly refrigerated or stored in a cool, dry place. If possible, choose fruits and vegetables that have a longer shelf life, such as apples, oranges, and carrots.

Meat and Poultry

If you plan to bring meat or poultry on board, ensure it is properly packaged and stored in airtight containers or sealed bags to prevent contamination. Consider freezing the meat or poultry before your trip to keep it fresh for longer. Thaw the meat or poultry in a refrigerator or using proper techniques and ensure it is cooked thoroughly before consumption.

Dairy Products

Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt can be enjoyed aboard a cruise if they are properly stored and handled. Opt for individual-sized portions or pre-packaged options to minimize the risk of spoilage. Store them in a refrigerator or cooler to maintain their freshness. If you’re unsure about the conditions, consult the cruise line’s guidelines for storing dairy products.


If you’re planning to bring seafood on board, ensure it is fresh and properly sealed to maintain its quality. Consider freezing the seafood before your trip to prolong its freshness. Seafood can be particularly susceptible to spoilage, so it’s essential to store it in a refrigerator or cooler and consume it as soon as possible.

Bakery and Deli Items

Bakery and deli items such as bread, pastries, and sandwiches can be a convenient option for onboard snacking. Ensure these items are properly sealed and stored to prevent them from becoming stale or moldy. Consider choosing bakery items with longer shelf life and avoid delicate pastries that may crumble easily during your cruise.

Frozen Foods

Bringing frozen foods on board can be a viable option, especially for those with dietary restrictions or particular food preferences. Ensure frozen foods are properly sealed and stored in insulated coolers or thermal bags to maintain their frozen state. Pack them tightly to minimize any thawing during transportation.

Canned Goods

Canned goods are a reliable option for bringing food on board due to their extended shelf life and easy portability. However, ensure the cans are properly sealed and undamaged. Avoid bringing cans with dents or bulging lids, as this may indicate spoilage or compromised integrity.

Condiments and Sauces

Dressing up your meals with your favorite condiments and sauces can enhance your dining experience on board. Ensure bottles and jars are tightly sealed and properly packaged to avoid leakage or breakage. Consider transferring them into smaller, travel-sized containers to save space and minimize the risk of spills.


Bringing your preferred beverages on board can save you money and provide you with the comfort of enjoying familiar drinks during your cruise. Pack beverages in unopened, factory-sealed containers to comply with the cruise line’s policy and prevent spillage. Avoid bringing glass bottles to minimize the risk of breakage.

Homemade or Packaged Meals

If you prefer to bring homemade or pre-packaged meals, ensure they are properly sealed and stored in airtight containers or resealable bags. Label the containers with the contents and date of preparation to keep track of freshness. Consider using vacuum-sealed bags for longer shelf life and superior food preservation.

Dos and Don’ts for Food Storage

Use airtight containers

When storing food on board, it’s important to use airtight containers to maintain freshness, prevent spills, and minimize odors. Airtight containers help preserve the quality of the food and prevent cross-contamination with other items in your cabin.

Pack food in a cooler or refrigerator

If you’re bringing perishable items, consider packing them in a cooler or refrigerator to maintain their freshness and proper temperature. Most cruise ships provide refrigerators in their cabins, but it’s advisable to check with the cruise line in advance. Ensure that the cooler or refrigerator is set to the appropriate temperature to prevent spoilage.

Avoid placing food near chemicals

When storing food in your cabin, avoid placing it near chemicals or cleaning supplies. Certain chemicals may emit strong odors or fumes that can contaminate your food. Keep food in a separate area away from any potential sources of contamination.

Keep raw and cooked food separate

To prevent cross-contamination, keep raw and cooked food separate during storage. Raw meats, poultry, and seafood should be stored separately from ready-to-eat foods. Consider using separate containers or resealable bags to minimize the risk of contamination.

Store perishable items in designated areas

If the cruise ship provides designated storage areas for perishable items, utilize these spaces to ensure proper storage. Follow the instructions provided by the cruise line and store perishable items in the designated areas to maintain their freshness and prevent spoilage.

Regularly check and maintain storage temperatures

Monitor the temperature of your storage area regularly to ensure it remains within the safe range for perishable items. Refrigerators and coolers may require adjustments depending on the ship’s temperature and your specific needs. If necessary, consult the cruise line’s staff for guidance on maintaining proper storage temperatures.

Dispose of any expired or spoiled items

Regularly check your stored food for expiration dates or signs of spoilage. Dispose of any expired or spoiled items immediately to prevent any potential health risks. It’s better to err on the side of caution and discard any questionable food items.

Follow any specific instructions given by the cruise line

Different cruise lines may have specific instructions or guidelines regarding food storage on board. It’s important to follow these instructions to ensure food safety and compliance with the cruise line’s policies. If you’re unsure about any specific instructions, consult the cruise line’s staff for clarification.

Refrain from repackaging food once aboard

Avoid repackaging food items once you’re aboard the cruise ship. Repackaging can increase the risk of contamination and compromise the integrity of the food. Pack your food in properly sealed containers or resealable bags before boarding the ship.

Consider using vacuum-sealed bags

Vacuum-sealed bags are a great option for prolonging the freshness and shelf life of food items brought on board. By removing the air from the bags, vacuum-sealed packaging helps preserve the quality of the food, preventing spoilage and reducing the risk of freezer burn.

Dos and Don’ts for Dining Onboard

Enjoy the ship’s dining options

Cruise ships often offer a wide range of dining options to cater to various preferences. Take advantage of the onboard restaurants, buffets, and specialty dining venues to experience a variety of cuisines and culinary delights. Exploring the ship’s dining options can be a highlight of your cruise experience.

Respect dining etiquette

When dining onboard a cruise ship, it’s important to observe proper dining etiquette. Be mindful of table manners, such as not talking with your mouth full, using utensils appropriately, and being considerate of fellow diners. Following proper dining etiquette enhances the overall dining experience for everyone.

Inform the staff about food allergies

If you have any food allergies or sensitivities, inform the ship’s staff before dining. Cruise ships typically have protocols in place to accommodate dietary restrictions. By notifying the staff in advance, they can guide you to suitable options or make necessary adjustments to ensure your safety and enjoyment.

Follow the cruise line’s dress code

Some cruise lines have specific dress codes for certain dining venues or events. Familiarize yourself with the dress code requirements and adhere to them when dining. Whether it’s formal attire for an elegant dinner or casual wear for a relaxed meal, following the dress code enhances the ambiance and atmosphere of the dining experience.

Try local cuisine at ports

While onboard dining can be exceptional, don’t forget to explore the local cuisine at the ports of call. Each destination offers a unique culinary experience. Venture ashore and indulge in local delicacies, street food, or traditional dishes to immerse yourself in the culture and flavors of the region.

Adhere to designated dining hours

Respect the designated dining hours set by the cruise line. This ensures that guests can dine in an orderly manner and allows the ship’s staff to provide efficient service. Arrive at the dining venues within the specified hours to avoid any inconvenience or disruption.

Avoid excessive food waste

Conscious consumption is important when dining onboard a cruise ship. Avoid excessive food waste by taking only what you can eat and being mindful of portion sizes. If you’re trying a variety of dishes, start with smaller portions and go back for more if desired. By minimizing food waste, you contribute to sustainable dining practices on board.

Take necessary precautions when trying unfamiliar foods

If you’re adventurous and enjoy trying new foods, exercise caution when consuming unfamiliar dishes. Some cuisines or ingredients may not be suitable for everyone or may require special preparation. Ask the ship’s staff for recommendations or guidance if you’re unsure about certain dishes.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential, especially during a cruise when you may spend a lot of time under the sun. Take advantage of the beverage options available on board, including water, juices, and non-alcoholic drinks. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated and maintain your well-being.

Practice portion control

While it’s tempting to indulge in the abundance of food options on a cruise ship, practicing portion control can help you maintain a balanced diet. Enjoy the variety but be mindful of portion sizes. Opt for smaller portions of your favorite dishes and allow yourself to savor the flavors without overindulging.

Dos and Don’ts for Disembarkation

Properly clean and pack any remaining food

Before disembarking the cruise ship, ensure that any remaining food you brought on board is properly cleaned and packed. Dispose of any perishable items that have not been consumed. Clean and sanitize any containers or bags used for food storage, ensuring they are free from food debris or residues.

Dispose of perishable items

To avoid any odor or spoilage issues, dispose of any perishable items that cannot be consumed or repackaged for later use. It’s better to discard them before disembarking rather than risk contamination or spoilage during transportation.

Check for any local restrictions before leaving the ship

Before leaving the cruise ship, check for any local restrictions or regulations regarding the transport of food items. Different countries may have specific rules regarding the entry of food items into their territory. Avoid any potential confiscation or penalties by familiarizing yourself with the local regulations.

Respect customs regulations

When disembarking in different countries, respect the customs regulations regarding food items. Declare any food items if required and ensure they comply with the local regulations. Avoid bringing back any prohibited items that may be subject to confiscation or legal consequences.

Avoid bringing back prohibited foods

Some countries have strict rules regarding the entry of certain food items to protect their agriculture and environment. Take note of any prohibited foods and avoid bringing them back on board the ship. This helps ensure compliance with customs regulations and protects delicate ecosystems.

Be mindful of expiration dates

If you have purchased any local food products during your ports of call, be mindful of their expiration dates. It’s essential to consume or dispose of these items before they expire to maintain their quality and avoid any potential health risks.

Support local vendors by purchasing authentic products

When exploring the ports of call, consider supporting local vendors and businesses by purchasing authentic food products. This not only allows you to experience the local flavors but also contributes to the local economy. Be cautious of counterfeit products and choose reliable, reputable vendors.

Share culinary experiences with fellow travelers

Culinary experiences can be a great way to connect with fellow travelers. Share your food adventures, recommendations, and favorite dishes with fellow passengers. You may discover new cuisines, recipes, or dining spots through these interactions, enriching your overall cruise experience.

Reflect on your cruise food experience

After disembarking, take a moment to reflect on your cruise food experience. Consider the dishes you enjoyed, the flavors that stood out to you, and any memorable culinary moments. Reflecting on your experience can help you appreciate the journey and make future cruise food considerations easier.

Plan for future cruises with food considerations in mind

If you’re already thinking about your next cruise, incorporate food considerations into your planning. Consider the dining options, onboard culinary events, and any dietary preferences or restrictions you may have. By planning ahead, you can ensure a well-rounded and enjoyable food experience during your next cruise.

Additional Tips

Consider purchasing a dining package

If you’re planning to dine at specialty restaurants or enjoy a range of dining options onboard, consider purchasing a dining package. These packages often offer discounted rates and allow you to experience a variety of cuisines without the additional cost.

Try specialty restaurants onboard

Cruise ships often have specialty restaurants that offer unique dining experiences. Treat yourself to a special meal at one of these venues. Whether it’s a fine-dining steakhouse, a sushi bar, or a gourmet seafood restaurant, specialty restaurants can provide a memorable and elevated dining experience.

Explore the culinary events and workshops

Cruise ships often host culinary events and workshops for food enthusiasts. Take advantage of these opportunities to learn new culinary skills, participate in cooking demonstrations, or attend wine tastings. These events can enhance your knowledge and appreciation of food while providing enjoyable entertainment.

Visit the onboard food marketplaces

Many cruise ships feature onboard food marketplaces where you can explore and sample various food options. These marketplaces often offer a range of international cuisine, fresh produce, and specialty items. Take a stroll through these marketplaces to discover new flavors and indulge in culinary delights.

Check reviews and recommendations for onboard dining

Before your cruise, check online reviews and recommendations for onboard dining options. Numerous websites and forums provide insights and feedback from previous passengers. These reviews can help you make informed decisions about which dining venues to prioritize and which dishes to try.

Ask for recommendations from crew members

Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations from the ship’s crew members, especially those working in the food and beverage department. They are often knowledgeable about the onboard dining options and can provide valuable insights and suggestions based on your preferences.

Keep an open mind and try new dishes

Cruises offer a fantastic opportunity to explore new cuisines and try dishes you may not have encountered before. Keep an open mind and be adventurous with your food choices. Embrace new flavors, textures, and culinary experiences to make the most of your cruise food journey.

Take advantage of room service options

If you prefer to dine in the comfort of your cabin, take advantage of the room service options available on board. Enjoy a meal or snack delivered straight to your door at your preferred time. Check the cruise line’s room service menu and policies for a delightful in-room dining experience.

Stay informed about the ship’s dining options

Keep yourself informed about the ship’s dining options, including opening hours, dress codes, and any dining reservations required. Understand the policies and procedures for each venue to ensure a smooth and enjoyable dining experience.

Enjoy the food-focused activities and entertainment

Cruise ships often offer food-focused activities and entertainment, such as cooking demonstrations, culinary competitions, or food tastings. Participate in these activities to engage and immerse yourself in the world of culinary delights. These events are not only entertaining but also provide an opportunity to learn and interact with fellow food enthusiasts.


Bringing food aboard a cruise requires careful consideration and adherence to guidelines and policies set by the cruise line. By checking the cruise line’s policy, packing non-perishable snacks, bringing a reusable water bottle, and considering dietary restrictions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable culinary experience on your cruise. It’s essential to inform the cruise line in advance, research local food regulations at ports, and keep food properly sealed and labeled. Using insulated containers for perishable items and following proper hygiene practices are also crucial. If needed, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance and guidance from the cruise line’s staff.

While there are dos, there are also don’ts when it comes to bringing food on a cruise. Avoid bringing open containers or cans, packing excessive quantities of food, and food that requires cooking. Respect the cruise line’s guidelines and local customs and regulations. Always dispose of waste properly, avoid sharing food with fellow passengers, and never leave food unattended. Be mindful of any unusual odors or spoilage that may indicate food is no longer safe to consume.

When it comes to specific types of food, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, dairy products, seafood, bakery and deli items, frozen foods, canned goods, condiments and sauces, beverages, and homemade or packaged meals, there are additional dos and don’ts to consider. Proper storage in airtight containers, coolers, or refrigerators, avoiding placement near chemicals, keeping raw and cooked food separate, and regularly checking and maintaining storage temperatures are important for maintaining food quality and safety.

When dining onboard, enjoying the ship’s dining options, respecting dining etiquette, and informing the staff about food allergies are vital. Following the cruise line’s dress code, trying local cuisine at ports, adhering to designated dining hours, and practicing portion control enhance the dining experience. It’s important to stay hydrated, practice portion control, and take necessary precautions when trying unfamiliar foods.

During disembarkation, properly cleaning and packing any remaining food, disposing of perishable items, and checking for local restrictions are necessary steps. Respecting customs regulations, avoiding bringing back prohibited foods, being mindful of expiration dates, and supporting local vendors are important aspects of disembarkation. Sharing culinary experiences with fellow travelers, reflecting on the cruise food experience, and planning for future cruises with food considerations in mind complete the cruise food journey.

In summary, by following the dos and don’ts outlined, being mindful of specific food types, storage guidelines, dining etiquette, and disembarkation procedures, you can make the most of your cruise food experience. Whether you’re exploring new cuisines, indulging in specialty restaurants, or enjoying food-focused activities, the dos and don’ts provide a comprehensive guide for an enjoyable and safe culinary adventure onboard a cruise.