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GUIDE: Taking A Knife On A Ship (Ocean & River Cruises)

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Traveling with knives can have some complexities on any public transport, making it important that you know the regulations for taking a knife on a ship. Ocean cruises and river cruises are run by cruise operators that may pose additional restrictions on taking a knife aboard in addition to the restrictions by the local government.

Many cruise operators prohibit knives completely, and you are not allowed to take them aboard. Other operators allow knives with blades below a certain length or knives for a specific activity, such as scuba diving. These knives may have to be checked into security until they are needed.

Many knife owners feel naked if they are without a knife since they carry a knife every day as part of their daily routine. Traveling on a cruise may require knife owners to compromise on their everyday carry or adjust the type of knife they normally carry to one that complies with the rules. In some cases, you may have to leave your knife at home.

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Can You Take A Knife On A Cruise?
Can You Take A Knife On A Cruise?

Can You Take A Knife On A Cruise?

Some cruise ship operators are more strict than others regarding taking a knife on a cruise. The rules are enforced differently from operator to operator, port of departure and destination, and whether the Cruise crosses international borders.

Most cruise ship operators ban knives completely, but the levels to which this rule is enforced vary. Some cruise passengers report they have never had a knife confiscated as long as it is in the checked-in luggage and not in the carry-on luggage.

Other passengers have reported that they boarded the ship with a pocket knife on their person and were not stopped by the ship’s security.

River cruises generally follow rules and regulations similar to sea cruises, especially if the cruise line operator offers both options. The same rules apply whether the Cruise is an ocean cruise or a river cruise.

Does this mean that certain knives are permissible on a cruise while others are not?

Can You Take Pocket Knives On A Cruise?

Most cruise operators do not allow a pocket knife of any size to be brought aboard any of their ships. This rule applies to all pocket knives, irrespective of the size of the blade.

Swiss army knives are also included in the pocket knife classification and are included in the prohibited items list.

TIP: A Swiss Army Knife is an iconic pocket knife and one of the predecessors to the modern pocket multitool. Find out more about why you should buy a Swiss army knife in the article below:
Buyer’s Guide: Why & Which Swiss Army Knife You Should Buy

Can You Take Diving Knives On A Cruise?

Can You Take Diving Knives On A Cruise?
Can You Take Diving Knives On A Cruise?

Some cruises offer diving excursions as one of the attractions for the adventure. Some cruise operators will allow a diving knife to be taken along, but it must be handed into the security office for safekeeping until the diving excursion.

Once the diving excursion is over, the knife must be returned to the security office, where it will be stored for the rest of the Cruise. The owner can retrieve the knife when the Cruise is over, and the passengers disembark.

Can You Take Other Knives On A Cruise?

Most cruise ship operators ban knives of all kinds in their official policy, with the possible exception of diving knives in some cases.

The enforcement of the rules is erratic at best, which may allow some passengers to “get away” with taking a knife on the ship.

There is always the risk that you may be the passenger that is searched or has their luggage searched, and have the risk of your knife being confiscated. Whether you get your knife back at the end of the Cruise depends on the cruise operator’s policy.

The bottom line is that cruise ship operators revise their policies regarding taking knives on a cruise ship, which can result in the rules changing from time to time. Check with your cruise operator before packing your knife in your luggage.

TIP: Traveling with a knife in the USA requires forethought, planning, and research to stay on the right side of the law. Find out more about taking knives on a bus in the article below:
Complete Guide: Taking Knife on a Bus in the United States

Knife Policy By Differences Cruise Lines

Knife Policy By Differences Cruise Lines
Knife Policy By Differences Cruise Lines

Most cruise ship operators have strict rules regarding taking knives on board their ships. The rules vary from operator to operator and sometimes depend on the destination of the Cruise.

If you typically carry a knife with you, it is necessary to find out from your cruise operator the rules regarding taking a knife aboard your particular ship or cruise route.

We have detailed the policies of some of the more popular cruise operators to indicate the regulations typically imposed on these trips for carrying knives.

Carnival Cruise Knife Policy

Carnival Cruises depart from the US and offer cruises to various local and international destinations, including Mexico, the Caribbean, Australia, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

The policy regarding knives on Carnival Cruise ships is that all knives are considered prohibitive items. The only knives allowed are scuba diving knives, which must be handed in and kept in custody by the Chief Security Officer or Guest Services manager.

The knife can be checked out to the owner for dive excursions during the Cruise, but the knife must be checked back into security immediately after the dive.

Royal Caribbean Knife Policy

The Royal Caribean Cruises operate from a wide range of departure and destination ports, including multinational cruises where the ship may dock in several different countries as part of the journey.

Some cruises may operate on the shoreline of a single country, but the rules for carrying a knife have been standardized across all the cruise ships and routes.

All sharp objects, including all types of knives and scissors, are prohibited items and are not allowed onboard the ship. Scissors less than 4 inches long and with rounded points are allowed in your luggage.

Guests’ bags are scanned for these items, and if your bag is found to contain a knife of any sort, the knife may be held in security for the duration of your Cruise. You will only be allowed to retrieve the knife once the cruise is over.

TIP: Traveling with knives on a plane is becoming more difficult as stricter security measures are implemented in different countries and across airlines. Find out more in the article below:
GUIDE: Taking Knife On A Plane (Carry On & Checked Luggage)

Norwegian Cruise Knife Policy

Norwegian Cruise is another popular cruise line with international destinations and short weekend local cruises.

Norwegian Cruise is one of the few cruise operators that allow knives to be brought onboard by passengers with certain limitations.

A knife is permissible onboard Norwegian Cruise ships if the blade is less than 4 inches or 10.16cm. Knives with blades longer than this are prohibited from being brought onboard.

Princess Cruises Knife Policy

Princess Cruises is a well-established cruise operator that has been running since 1965 and has expanded its cruise destinations worldwide.

The Princess Cruise policy includes a prohibition of knives that do not fit certain characteristics. The company allows knives to be brought on board with a blade length of less than 2.5 inches or 6.35cm. The blade must not exceed ½ inch at its widest point.

While this policy is more restrictive than that of Norwegian Cruise, it at least allows passengers to carry a modest pocket knife.

TIP: Traveling by rail in the United States is very restrictive when carrying knives. Check out the complete guide on taking a knife on a train in the article below:
Complete Guide: Taking Knife On A Train In The United States

How To Carry A Knife On A Cruise

The cruise line operators that prohibit knives altogether do not allow knives on board, no matter how they are packaged or carried.

The cruise liners that allow a knife to be carried generally limit the knife size to a small to a medium-sized pocket knife.

These operators may allow you to take the knife aboard on your person, but others require it to be packaged in your luggage.

Your knife should always be transported in luggage in a manner that will not cause injury to baggage handlers or anyone searching your luggage. 

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Is It Safe To Take A Knife On A Ship?

Is It Safe To Take A Knife On A Ship?
Is It Safe To Take A Knife On A Ship?

When considering whether to bring a knife on a cruise ship, it’s crucial to weigh both the legal and safety implications. While some cruise lines may permit knives under specific conditions, the overarching question remains: is it safe to take a knife on a ship? 

Let’s explore the potential dangers and provide guidance on how to approach this situation safely.

Understanding the Risks

  1. Security Concerns: Cruise ships have stringent security measures akin to airports. Bringing a knife, even if allowed by the cruise line, can raise red flags during security checks, leading to potential delays or confiscation.
  2. Legal Implications: The legality of carrying a knife varies significantly depending on the cruise line, the departure port, and the countries visited. Unknowingly violating these laws can lead to serious legal consequences.
  3. Safety Hazards: On a crowded ship, possessing a knife poses inherent risks. Accidental injuries can occur in tight spaces, especially in turbulent sea conditions. Additionally, in the event of a dispute or altercation, a knife can escalate the situation dangerously.

Tips for Safe Transportation

If you decide to bring a knife on a cruise, following these guidelines can help mitigate risks:

  1. Check Cruise Line Policies: Before packing, thoroughly review your cruise line’s knife policy. This information is often available on their website or by contacting customer service.
  2. Choose the Right Knife: If allowed, opt for a small, practical knife that meets the cruise line’s specifications. Typically, knives with shorter blades (often less than 4 inches) are more likely to be accepted.
  3. Declare Your Knife: Always declare your knife during the boarding process. Transparency with security personnel can prevent misunderstandings and ensure compliance with ship policies.
  4. Secure Storage: If your knife is permitted on board, store it securely in your luggage or cabin safe. Avoid carrying it around the ship to prevent accidental injuries or security concerns.
  5. Use Only When Necessary: Use the knife only for its intended purpose, such as for a diving excursion, and return it to storage immediately after use.

Potential Dangers

  1. Confiscation and Penalties: If your knife is deemed inappropriate or dangerous, it may be confiscated. In some instances, this may lead to serious fines or other penalties, especially if the knife violates local laws at the cruise’s destinations.
  2. Accidental Injuries: In the confined and often crowded environment of a ship, the accidental misuse of a knife can lead to injuries, both to the carrier and others.
  3. Legal Consequences in International Waters: Laws can be more complex in international waters or when docking in foreign ports. What might be legal in one jurisdiction could be illegal in another, leading to legal issues.

While it’s technically possible to bring a knife on a cruise ship under certain conditions, it’s essential to consider the broader implications of doing so. Prioritize safety and legality over convenience, and when in doubt, opt to leave your knife at home. 

Remember, the primary goal of a cruise is to enjoy a safe and relaxing experience, and adhering to the ship’s policies is a key part of ensuring that for yourself and your fellow passengers.


Carrying a knife on a cruise is not always permitted, so you should not take it for granted that you will be allowed to bring your knife aboard. Some cruise operators allow knives of certain sizes or for specific activities, such as scuba diving, while other operators ban knives completely.

Always check with your cruise operator about their policy regarding knives before you embark with a knife and run the risk of having it confiscated.

TIP: Transporting knives requires some planning, which involves the safety of the packer, the transporter, the unpacker, and the knife itself! Find out a complete guide about packing your knives in the article below:
Packing Kitchen Knives For Moving (7 Proven & Safe TIPS)