Great Lakes cruises are fun and can be quite luxurious or uniquely adventurous, and since Lakes cruises are different that any others, people often wonder what to bring onboard for the trip. In researching an article on what to bring I found many lists of things to pack already on the web. In fact, I found so many lists that it seems that every website has one and they are often different. With so many lists already in print, I wondered how a list of things to leave at home might work. After all, we’ve all heard that the airlines have banned certain items from being carried onboard, but what about cruise ships? Are there any limitations as to what can be brought on board?

In fact, I found out cruise lines all have regulations about what can and cannot be carried aboard. Since the regulations are at least partly determined by the cruise line itself, the list of restricted items varies somewhat from company to company as does the disposition of the contraband. Most companies will simply confiscate the item and hold it until the cruise is over, then return it to the owners. In some instances, the goods may be destroyed or thrown away.

Perhaps the most common item to be confiscated is alcohol. Most Great Lakes cruise lines have a policy of some kind about bringing alcohol on board. Some allow it, and some do not. Along with alcohol is any kind of drugs other than prescription medicine. Remember, all prescription medicine should be brought in the original pharmacy bottles. In the eyes of someone searching a bag the difference between prescription medicine and illegal drugs is often only the label on the bottle–so, always bring the original bottle with the original label intact.

Other things to avoid bringing are anything that makes a flame other than a cigarette lighter and anything that produces heat. So, leave at home the candles, incense and hot plates. Some Great Lakes luxury cruises may also curtail the use of small appliances like irons and blow driers so be sure to check with the cruise provider before bringing these items.

Of course pets are usually not allowed on board Great Lakes cruises except for service dogs and even they require advanced permission to bring. Some people have been known to argue that the animals they want to bring are not pets and therefore fall outside the ban. Therefore, most cruise lines simply state “animals” and this is implied to include fish, birds, bug collections, etc. Likewise, plants, seeds, shrubs and other similar items are often banned. These last two categories are important especially to travelers who may go off on a shore excursion and want to bring something back on board with them. Check with the cruise line first.

Also banned on Great Lakes cruise liners and most other cruises are explosives, firearms, ammunition, fireworks, knives, axes, bottled gasses (except oxygen for breathing and again only with advanced permission), and anything else that might be considered a weapon in general.

Skateboards, roller skates, roller blades, pogosticks, bicycles, tricycles, unicycles and motorized carts or scooters (wheel chairs and scooters will again require advanced permission).

To round out the list, certain foods might not be allowed, fruits, vegetables, etc. This again can be a problem when visiting different ports.

The best advice is: When in doubt, leave it out.

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