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Can You Bring a Drone on a Cruise Ship? (Explained)

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To many vacation-goers, there is nothing like being on a cruise ship, as cruises are comparable to floating, all-inclusive resorts, that change locales daily.

Because cruise ships travel to beautiful, and oftentimes tropical, destinations, those wanting “photos and videos of a lifetime” hop aboard to get lasting memories.

For drone enthusiasts, that also want to capture these memories, there is oftentimes one question that stands out:

Can you bring a drone on a cruise ship?

While permission to bring drones aboard cruise ships varies by cruise line, there are a few cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Carnival that allow drones aboard, while other lines, like Disney and Princess, prohibit drones entirely.

We will take a look at 10 of the more popular cruise lines and see if drones are indeed permitted or instead prohibited on their fleets of ships.

Royal Caribbean #

According to Royal Caribbean, guests of the cruise line are permitted to bring drones on their cruise. However, there are indeed restrictions that need to be headed.

Drones can be used on land only and outside of the port area. 

For those intent on getting cool footage of the ship, while aboard the ship, drones are not to be operated onboard the ship at any time.

Furthermore, drones must be stored safely in the stateroom.

Although drones are permitted to be flown in port areas, drones are not permitted on any of Royal Caribbean’s privately owned destinations, being: Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas or Labadee, Haiti.

The penalty for flying drones while aboard the ship or at the Royal Caribbean-owned destinations is confiscation of the drone until the end of the cruise.

Not only this, a Guest Conduct Policy warning will be issued and guests may be subject to early disembarkation (removal from the ship) at their own expense for onboard drone usage.

The following is a direct quote from Royal Caribbean regarding Guest Responsibility:

Guests assume full responsibility for understanding all local authority rules related to drone usage and for obtaining any required permissions for drone operations. Different countries may have different rules. Any liability, including environmental damage from drone usage is the guest’s responsibility. Royal Caribbean assumes no liability for guest drones that may be confiscated by local authorities for violating local laws or for any accident or injury resulting from a guest drone flight.
Royal Caribbean

Carnival #

Over the years, there has been a fair bit of confusion as to whether drones are allowed aboard Carnival Cruise ships.

For a time, drones were allowed on board, for use when disembarked. Then in 2022 their policy changed and drones were on the prohibited list.

Carnival’s policy has been recently updated and, as of this article writing, according to the cruise lines website’s “What to Pack and Bring” section for cruise-goers, drones are now under the “Items for Port Use Only” section:

“Drone(s) are allowed, but must be held in the custody of the Chief Security Officer and must be checked out/in by the owner for PORT USE ONLY.”

The Brand Ambassador for Carnival Cruise Lines went into further detail in a Facebook post:

“This will be done on the morning of the arrival into port and handed over and then collected at the gangway when you return. Please though, remember you must check with the ports you go to and see what their restrictions are about flying a drone in their airspace,”
John Heald, Carnival Brand Ambassador

Like with Royal Caribbean, Carnival insists on drone operators learning about the local laws of the Islands and Countries in which they’d like to fly.


Rounding out the 3rd largest Cruise Line in the world, next to Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines is MSC.

MSC has a short list of prohibited items and, sadly, drones are one of these items:

Port Security has the duty to search Guests and luggage to confiscate any article internationally known as dangerous for the safety and security of Guests, Crew, and ship. Such items will be confiscated and not returned…drones. 
Items Forbidden Onboard – MSC

If you are planning on getting great Island footage while aboard an MSC ship, bring your camera or cellphone, as bringing a drone aboard is not only subject to confiscation, but the owner can be denied boarding the ship.

Norwegian #

Sadly, like MSC before it, Norwegian likewise has a no drone policy as found in their prohibited items list (number 22):

Any remotely controlled or autonomously flying devices, toys or drones.
Norwegian Cruise Lines Prohibited Items List

According to Norwegian, prohibited items will be confiscated and not transported aboard.

Additionally, when a prohibited item is determined to be illegal the appropriate authorities will be informed.

Disney #

Like with so many cruise lines in this list, Disney, likewise, has a no-drone policy. Drones are listed in their prohibited item list, for safety purposes.

The consequences of bringing drones aboard a Disney cruise:

Disney Cruise Line reserves the right to seize and secure any item deemed to be dangerous or pose a security or safety risk.
Disney’s Prohibited Items List

Drones being prohibited items on Disney comes as no surprise, as Disney World in Florida, USA has a 3-mile radius No-Fly zone around its area attractions. This has been in place for decades, even prior to drones.

» MORE: Can You Fly a Drone at Disney World?

Virgin Voyages #

As of the writing of this article, Virgin does not permit its guests to board with drones.

Virgin, being an adult-only cruise line is intent on its guests’ privacy and, of course, safety.

Viking River Cruises #

Viking River Cruises detours from the standard “Island Hopping” of most of the cruises in this list, instead focusing on River Cruises that run through various countries.

Viking does allow drones on their river cruises, however, as with Royal Caribbean and Carnival, the drone must be stored in the guest’s stateroom and can only be used when docked.

Guests are tasked with learning the local drone laws when wanting to fly in area destinations.

Holland America #

Like a few of the previous cruise lines in this article, Holland America likewise prohibits drones from being brought aboard its ships and will confiscate them if located.

Drones also referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicle (RPA), and any other remote-controlled aerial devices/toys.

Confiscated prohibited items are to be returned to Guest(s) ONLY on the actual day of disembarkation/end of voyage and ONLY after guest has scanned off at the gangway. Item(s) to be returned at a designated location shore-side (whether this be inside the terminal, a tent or table on the quay …) against and after verification of Confiscated Items Receipt and Guest’s Signature confirming return.”
Holland America’s Prohibited Items List

Celebrity #

Here we have another cruise line that allows drones aboard its ships.

If you are bringing a drone aboard a Celebrity Cruise, the drone must be stored in your cabin and cannot be flown while on the ship.

Drone flights are permitted when onshore, however, they must be operated outside of the port area.

If a drone operator is caught using a drone aboard the ship, they are subject to a guest conduct warning, confiscation of the drone, and possible early disembarkation from the ship.

Princess #

Princess Cruise Lines prohibited items lists resembles Holland America’s, when it comes to drones. Drones are prohibited from being taken aboard Princess Cruise Lines.

Drones also referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicle (RPA), and any other remote-controlled aerial devices/toys. (The exception is when permitted for company-sponsored events when approved in advance by Fleet Security).
Princess Cruise Lines Prohibited Items List

An interesting note for those who love drones is that Princess Cruise Lines has a choreographed drone show. Although not able to fly them, guests can at least watch them.

Cruise Lines That Allow Drones #

  • Royal Caribbean
  • Carnival
  • Celebrity
  • Viking

Cruise Lines That Prohibit Drones #

  • MSC
  • Norwegian
  • Disney
  • Virgin Voyages
  • Holland America
  • Princess

Important: Like with the preparation for any trip, it is advised/encouraged, that the Cruise Line of your choice is contacted, prior to setting sail, for any updates to their drone policies and prohibited items lists.

Drones on the Prohibition Lists #

Why do so many cruise lines prohibit bringing drones on their vessels?

There are very specific reasons for this:

  • Safety
  • Privacy

Safety is a top priority for cruise ships, as they are self-contained vacation ecosystems, with thousands of guests in limited space.

Many Cruise Lines feel that having drones of any size, with their rotating propellers and weight, can be potential hazards to their guests, especially in the hands of untrained hobbyists.

Damage to guests and cruise line property is also a high concern. Because of this, certain Lines would rather not have drones aboard.

Privacy is also a main concern for many Cruise Lines, especially those with guests paying top dollar to experience everything the Ships offer.

With the advancement in drone technology and camera capabilities, advancements we appreciate, drones are sadly considered by many as an invasion of privacy.

Drone-Friendly Port Locations #

If you are planning on taking a cruise on any of the Cruise Lines here that allow drones, below is a partial list of ports that allow drones, as of the writing of this article.

Prior to flying at these port locations, it is suggested to research the area/country to ensure you are flying in compliance with said country’s drone laws and regulations:

  • Key West, Florida, USA
  • San Juan, Porto Rico
  • Cozumel, Mexico
  • Ocho Rios, Jamaica
  • Aruba
  • Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
  • Roatan, Hunduras

Again, this is just a partial list of some of the more popular destinations that allow drones.

If you do not see the areas you will be visiting, it is best to contact those countries’ flight authorities for more information. This information can oftentimes be found online.

» MORE: Can You Bring a Drone to Bali?

Best Drones to Bring on a Cruise #

If you are going to be cruising on any of the Lines mentioned that allow the boarding of drones, what is the best type of drone to bring?

When choosing to bring a drone with you on your cruise, there are two very important factors to consider:

  • Size
  • Weight

Generally when at a port of call on a cruise there is limited time to get out and about at the location. Having a lightweight and easily manageable drone can be key to enjoying the surroundings in a timely fashion.

Any of the DJI Mini-series drones would be a good choice due to their small footprint, packing ability, and, if a Mini 3 series, their relatively quiet presence.

Likewise, some countries require drones to be under 250g, so packing a DJI Mini checks off that requirement.

Regardless of the drone that is being brought on the cruise, flying in a safe and responsible manner is appreciated by all.


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