With the legalisation of marijuana in more states and the prevalence of medical marijuana, more people than ever are asking the question, "can I bring marijuana on a cruise?" The answer, according to the cruise lines, is a resounding no. And there are no exceptions, even for medicinal use, low potency strains, and edibles.
Pot being legal in your home state, or the state you're sailing from doesn't change the legality for cruise ships who follow federal law -- and marijuana isn't legal on the federal level. In some ports, pot is legal, and in those locations you can buy and use it -- but it is illegal to bring it onboard your cruise ship.
Online forums are filled with people who make it sound easy and hassle free to bring marijuana on a cruise. Truthfully, having been on a number of cruises, the smell of pot is always present onboard which makes me believe people are more willing to take risks and get away with it.
What goes unmentioned in these online posts is the stories of people being caught with marijuana at the airport, while getting on the cruise (and being denied boarding), or after a room search and being escorted off the ship. There's always the question of how foreign countries handle possession, too.
The question of whether or not to take pot on a cruise is really: is the reward worth the risk?
What risks are involved beyond missing part or all of your cruise? If you are denied boarding (or taken off during the cruise) for possession of marijuana on a cruise ship, you won't be getting a refund for any of the associated cruise costs. This includes the cost of the actual cruise, excursions, drink packages, etc. and you'll also have extra costs for airfare to get back home. There is also the possibility of legal issues in foreign or domestic ports where possession is a crime. None of these financial losses or expenses would be covered by any type of trip insurance.
Should you decide to take the risk, getting the pot onboard is only the first hurdle. There are cameras everywhere and the odds of being seen is pretty high. Using marijuana on a cruise in the designated smoking areas lessens the threat of cameras, but it only takes one person to get a whiff of the distinctive scent and mention it to a crew member. In the stateroom is a big no-no (and carries hefty cleaning fines), and on the balcony you run the risk of being seen or otherwise caught due to the nature of the smell drifting on the ocean breeze.
Everyone has their own risk threshold -- how much risk they're comfortable with -- but by the letter of the law, taking marijuana on a cruise ship is illegal and in general, a bad idea.
About the Author
Joel is a co-owner of JJ Travel Associates (a Dream Vacations franchise), blogger-in-chief at JoelKnowsTravel.com, lover of all things travel (especially UNESCO World Heritage Sites), wannabe comedian, and the person you should call if you're thinking of planning a vacation.