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Can You Bring a Drone on a Cruise Ship?

Updated in 2023 by Paul Posea
Drone on cruise

If you’re a drone pilot, especially someone who likes taking breathtaking footage and pictures with their drones, you simply can’t get on a cruise before packing your drone with you.

The sheer amount of views that you pass by on a cruise ship can make any photography enthusiast’s mouth water…

But, can you actually bring your drone on a cruise ship, at least legally?

Only a select few cruise lines allow drones onboard. Royal caribbean, celebrity cruise and carnival cruise are the most notable ones. These cruises however have their own rules regulating the use of drones, and prohibit certain models of drones.

In this article we’ll go over these special rules, and what they mean for you as a drone pilot.

Can you fly your drone from a cruise ship?

Like I said, while cruises like Carnival and Caribbean cruise do allow drones on board, flying them is a whole different matter.

Even in cruises that allow drones, flying them on board is usually strictly prohibited and can get your drone confiscated until the end of the cruise. The reason for that is to maintain the safety of those on board and protect their privacy.

Put simply, as long as you’re on the ship, your drone mustn’t leave your bag. Even after you land, you must be away from the port before taking your drone for a flight. I also don’t need to mention it, but whenever you land, make sure you’re familiar with the regulations regarding drone use in that country.

In some cases like Carribean cruises, you also can’t fly your drone in their private destinations (Perfect Day at CocoCay, Bahamas or Labadee®).

In their words: “While onboard, drones must be stored safely in the stateroom. Drones used on the ship will be confiscated until the end of the cruise. A Guest Conduct Policy warning will be issued and guests may be subject to disembarkation at their own expense for onboard drone usage.”

I’ll leave their official FAQ page here if you want to learn more.

Drones on Celebrity cruise

Celebrity cruise is pretty similar to Caribbean & Celebrity cruise. They’ll allow you to bring a drone on board but prohibit you from flying until you’re on land and away from the port. Likewise for the other cruises, your drone must be kept in your bag and in your room at all times, otherwise it’ll be confiscated (and who wants that!).

Are drones allowed on Disney cruises?

One of the most famous cruises in the world and also the most fun are the Disney cruises. Sadly though, drone’s are strictly prohibited. You can check this official list of prohibited items on Disney cruises.

Yeah… they actually put drones in the same list as firearms and knives. Shows you how serious they take this drone ban. 

Are drones allowed on Princess cruises?

This is another famous cruise where drones are strictly prohibited. Not just big drones, but any “toy” that can be remotely controlled and can fly is prohibited.

So you can sneak a toy drone in. While they haven’t released a reason for the ban, it’s probably because of safety and privacy reasons.

What to consider before bringing your drone on a cruise?

So you’ve made sure that the cruise you're traveling in allows you to have drones on board. There is still the matter of their specific drone regulations on board, as well as the drone regulations of the country you’ll land in.

Next time you’re taking your drone on a cruise, consider the following:

  • The specific drone policies of the cruise line you’re traveling in: Most cruise lines will have a website where they state what you can or cannot do with your drone. If you find that they don’t, simply give them a phone call and inquire about their drone rules.
  • The drones laws in the port you’ll land at, and the country in general: Just because you can bring your drone along doesn’t mean you can fly it wherever you land. Make sure you inquire about the countries you’ll be landing in and look up their drone regulations.

Why does the majority of cruise lines ban drones?

Drones and vast ocean spaces mash really well. We’ve all dreamt of taking a drone pic of ourselves and friends on a cruise… so why do most cruise ships seem to be against them?

For starters, there are privacy concerns that the cruise company needs to be wary of. No company wants to deal with lawsuits from clients simply because some drone pilot decided to film them onboard. 

There is also the matter of safety. Just because drones are small doesn’t mean they’re harmless, especially if they don’t have propeller guards. I’ve seen first hand the harm an active drone can do if it collides with a person… it’s not pretty.

All this considered, we can sort of understand why cruise lines will only allow the transportation of drones. IF they allow them at all onboard.

What’s the penalty for flying a drone in an unauthorized port or cruise line?

Let’s say you couldn’t resist the itch of filming the sun setting over the horizon, with the blue ocean on all sides… aaand you got caught. What now?

If you’re caught, your drone will most definitely be confiscated by the ship’s security. In some cases it may be returned to you, while in others it may not. To know how severe a ship’s security is it’s best to check their website first before deciding to bring your drone with you.

If you’ve landed and used your drone in a resurrected port, it’ll be confiscated by local authorities and chances are that you won’t get it back. You’ll also face fines and other penalties, depending on the drone regulations in place.

Can you fly a drone over the ocean?

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” – a timeless quote from Jurassic PArk and one that it's perfectly here.

Let’s say the cruise captain gives you permission to fly your drone over the ocean. Should you?

You can fly your drone over the ocean with certain safety measures such as weather checks and ensuring that your drone stays away from obstacles. Strong winds and massive objects like ships and lighthouses often cause navigation problems and make your flight difficult. 

The wind in the ocean is heavy and can easily cause your drone to crash in the water, never to be seen again. There is also the matter of the drone’s transmission and signal to worry about. A ship is mostly made of metal after all.

It’s a known fact that nothing messes with a drone signal more than metal…

If you do decide to fly anyways, be prepared for the risk of never seeing your drone again. Birds are also something you need to watch out for as seagulls have been known to react aggressively to drones

Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.

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paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.
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