Next to food, sun and fun, few things go hand-in-hand with cruising like alcohol does. From buckets of beer and the "Drink of the Day" to cocktails in keepsake drinkware, boozing is a huge part of life onboard. But, whether you buy a pricey drink package or purchase adult beverages a la carte, your bill for imbibing can quickly go from "Fun!" to "What have I done?!"
To combat the high cost of alcohol on cruise ships, many risk-taking passengers try to bring their own drinks -- a practice that's banned by most major cruise lines' alcohol policies. We don't recommend trying it, but if, hypothetically speaking, you're wondering how to smuggle alcohol on a cruise, here are some of the tools and methods we suspect might work best (not that we have any firsthand knowledge, of course).
We couldn't kick off our list of recommendations without mentioning an old standby, which (we're told) has proven to be one of the best: rum runners. Able to hold all sorts of liquids, these flexible, bendable and reusable plastic bladders allow passengers to stealthily stash alcohol in their checked bags, carry-on luggage or even pockets.
This pack of eight plastic Booze Cruiser brand rum runners includes four 32-ounce pouches, two 16-ounce pouches and two 8-ounce pouches, as well as a funnel for filling them. Tip from Amazon reviewers: Secure the pouch tops with plastic wrap or duct tape, and put them in sealed gallon-size zip-top bags before packing them to keep them from leaking.
If you're contemplating how to bring alcohol on a cruise without arousing suspicion, this hairbrush might be just the thing. Featuring a built-in mirror and a paddle brush design that really functions, this hairbrush flask holds about 6 ounces of booze. For those who don't drink and just want to save space in their luggage, the brush can serve dual purposes as a personal grooming tool and a place to store shampoo, shower gel or any other liquid needed for travel.
We've read the best way to smuggle alcohol on a cruise is to keep it close to you. For decades, women have augmented their appearances with water bras, which means The WineRack alcohol bra shouldn't throw up any red flags during a pre-cruise security screening. Ladies can fill the flexible, removable polyurethane bladder with 25 ounces of their favorite beverage, pull on the sports bra-style supporter and, hopefully, step onboard with no hassle.
Another ingenious way to sneak alcohol on a cruise would be by hiding it in with your other liquids. This highly rated set of fake toiletry bottles will tell security personnel "Hey, I just need a lot of shampoo and two different types of sunscreen, ok?"
The six BPA-free food-grade plastic containers -- claiming to hold shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, aloe and two kinds of sunblock -- can accommodate a total of 80 ounces of liquor. (Hey, that's enough shots to make sure you don't feel the sunburn when you realize you forgot to pack actual sunscreen.) The set also comes with eight safety seals to make the bottles look even more convincing.
We're told another good way to smuggle booze on a cruise is to veil it with something many people are too embarrassed to question -- like feminine hygiene products. This pack of fake tampon flasks by Smuggle Your Booze offers five 1-ounce BoozeTubes that can be disguised as tampons. (A two-pack -- 10 flasks -- is also available.) On your next cruise, these little numbers will help to ensure that you have the time of your life, even if it's not your time of the month.
Most umbrellas are designed to keep the moisture off, but this one proudly keeps it in, hiding 9 ounces of your favorite liquor, beer or wine. The Smuggle Your Booze umbrella is made from food-safe plastic, and it's compact and discreet enough to fit in carry-on suitcases, backpacks and larger purses. The best part is, nobody will look twice when you bring this flask along on your shore excursion (not recommended for tours where you'll be operating vehicles).
Wondering how to hide alcohol on a cruise in plain sight? Try wearing it. We admit these stainless steel bangle bracelet flasks by Qingo aren't the most fashionable, but they are pretty genius, and they hold 3.5 ounces of drink -- enough for a respectable two shots. Each bracelet is sealed with a crystal-encrusted cap and comes with a funnel for easy filling, as well as a black velvet storage bag.
Perhaps the best way to bring alcohol on a cruise is to conceal it as something relevant to the itinerary. If you're on an expedition sailing or a voyage to someplace exotic or picturesque -- think Alaska or the Galapagos -- you'll definitely want a cruise alcohol flask that's a bit more utilitarian so it will fly under the proverbial radar.
Try this version, designed to look like a set of binoculars. It comes with a funnel for easy filling and a strap for a more realistic look. Each side holds 8 ounces of liquid. Bonus: This flask is also ideal for sporting events, concerts and music festivals, so you can use it even when you're not at sea.
Finally, just to be clear, we want to repeat that sneaking alcohol onto your cruise goes against cruise line's policies, and you shouldn't do it. We make no guarantees that any of these gadgets or methods are foolproof; if you're caught, your booze will be confiscated and likely not returned to you. Here are five reasons why you shouldn't smuggle alcohol onboard.