The Naughty Room- What is it? and How Can You Avoid It?

The Naughty Room- What is it? and How Can You Avoid It?

The Naughty Room is the frequent cruiser’s nickname for the room where the cruise line security sends suit cases that might have forbidden item tucked away in side them. These types of items can range from something as seemingly innocuous as a power strip or something more serious like a diving knife or a bottle of liquor. Probably the most popular reason that people get sent to the naughty room is the smuggling liquor, but first Cruise Talk will address the other forbidden items.

Forbidden Household Items

Most cruise lines list on their information common house hold items that passengers should not bring on their cruise. These most often include coffee makers, power strips, candles, extension cords, regular irons, travel irons, and other items that might be deemed dangerous or hazardous. Any of these items could cause a heat or electrical related fire, and fire prevention is a high priority and safety issue on cruise ships.

Alcoholic Beverages

Some cruise lines do permit at least a  bottle or two of wine to be brought aboard for consumption, but nearly all cruise lines except the ultra luxury all inclusive lines, prohibit liquor and beer from being brought on board. The reason for this may not be as obvious as you would think. Conventional wisdom would say that they are prohibited because the cruise lines want maximize alcohol sales on board.  Beverage sales provide the profit margin for a cruise ship.  When a ship leaves port on the first day it is loosing money and the liner must make it up through all the extras it sells on board,  including alcohol.

However, I just read a report from a man claiming to be a former beverage manager with a major cruise line. He reported that the cruise line had tried an experiment with  strict luggage searches on one cruise and then let smuggled booze through on the next and so on.   The results were that the beverage sales remained the same, but the alcohol related problem incidents were significantly fewer on the cruises where the line confiscated smuggled booze.   Fewer complaints about loud passengers, fewer drunks falling down the stairs, fewer alcohol related assaults were reported on the cruises where the line confiscated smuggled alcohol.

He claimed that upon advice of their lawyers, cruise lines began practices like confiscating smuggled booze and training bartenders to cut off intoxicated patrons,  so that they that could  demonstrate that were attempting to control the amounts of alcohol that the guests consume.  These practices would serve them well in court when patrons who had gotten really drunk and injured themselves sued the cruise line.  If they demonstrated a concerted effort to avoid the situation, the suits would be less likely to end a judgement against the cruise lines.     Simply put, they could avoid or have dismissed many frivolous law suits by confiscating liquor.   He claimed that it is the legal department that recommended this policy rather than the revenue department.

Finding the Naughty Room

Most passengers find out about the naughty room when their bag with prohibited  or suspicious items doesn’t show up at their room. They usually inquire at the hotel desk and are directed to security. If one doesn’t notice the missing bag they might receive a note or phone message directing them to go to the security room.

How to Avoid the Naughty Room

Read the information provided by your cruise line regarding what to pack and what not to pack.

Here’s the list from my cruise line of choice, Celebrity:

For the safety of our guests and crew there are certain items that are not allowed on board. If these are found they will be confiscated. Alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, flammable liquids, explosives, and dangerous chemicals will not be returned.

Firearms & Ammunition, including realistic replicas
Sharp Objects, including knives and scissors*
Illegal Drugs & Substances
Candles & Incense
Coffee Makers, Clothes Irons, & Hot Plates
Baseball Bats, Hockey Sticks, Cricket Bats, Bows and Arrows
Skateboards & Surfboards
Martial Arts Gear
Self-Defense Gear, including handcuffs, pepper spray and night sticks
Flammable Liquids and Explosives, including lighter fluid and fireworks
HAM Radios
Dangerous Chemicals, including bleach and paint
Alcoholic Beverages**

*Personal grooming items such as safety razors are allowed. Scissors with blade length less than 4 inches are allowed.

**Two bottles wine per stateroom are allowed on embarkation day, subject to corkage fees.

Few, if any, cruise lines restricted any personal grooming items like electric razors, hair dryers or curling irons. Flat irons for straightening hair are also usually permitted. Many people pack power strips and I have heard some reports of these being confiscated, along with travel irons and some coffee makers. If you must make your own in room coffee from a special brew brought from home, Non-electric french press coffee makers that work with hot water from a porter supplied kettel are usually OK.   However, some of these item may have to be explained to the security personnel,  so they might land you in the naughty room for an explanation. If your household item is confiscated, they will label it and return it to you the night before your departure.  I get by with out an iron by either steaming clothes in the bath room or with my travel size bottle of Downy Wrinkle Release.   If those methods don’t work then I can send an item out to be pressed.

Diving knives are generally confiscated and held for you by security but you can pick them up before a diving excursion and then return them to security upon your return to the ship.   Celebrity’s guest conduct policy states the following:

Certain vacation related items such as dive knives may be allowed, but will be held
in safe custody by the ship’s Security Staff when not in use ashore.

Be sure to check out your cruise lines specific policy regarding how they handle dive knives.   (Keep in mind that the answer you get from Customer Service on the phone may be completely different from how security actually handles it on board, simply because all cruise lines seem to have a disconnect between the people who answer phones calls and the people who actually work on the ships.)  It is best to check with security when you are boarding if you have a dive knife so that you can check it in with them.  You can also research the issue on diving and cruise related message boards on the internet.

Liquids of any kind packed in your suit cases might also land you in the naughty room. Usually the cruise lines X-ray a bag and if they see something suspicious they will hold it for the owner to comes and explain what the suspicious item is. If you have packed your favorite bottled water, then you just need to explain what it is. If your cruise line permits wine, then you just to show them that your bottle is wine and not liquor. Some cruise lines might even require you to pay the corkage fee for the wine and then hold the wine for you in the dining room area. Be sure to read your cruise line’s policy so you know what is expected in regards to wine. Personally, I like to put my permitted bottles of wine in a carry-on.  That way I just show it to security as I’m boarding the ship and know that it won’t be broken through mishandling.

If you thought you could maybe sneak a fifth of booze on board and your line strictly prohibits it, they will most likely confiscate it and dispose of it. On holiday voyages like Spring Break, cruise lines are known to be especially vigilant when it comes to confiscating booze, and they reserve the right to kick you off the ship, though I have never heard of them actually doing this, just confiscating the booze.  Keep in mind that this policy differs from in port purchase liquor.   They usually reserve the right not to return to you your embarkation booze, even if they will hold and return to you booze purchased in port.

Closing Thoughts

Most people don’t like the idea that the cruise lines feels the need to restrict alcoholic beverages or certain house hold items. My initial reaction to these controls was that they were overstepping personal boundaries, however after much thought and reflection I have come to the conclusion that if it makes for a safer and less disruptive cruise, I support the policy. Nobody wants to board a life boat at 2:00 am because some idiot left an iron on and started a fire. Nor do I want to woken up at 2:00 am by some drunk yelling, falling, or knocking about in the hall way. Cruising is still one of the best vacation values even after paying a little extra to have a suit pressed or the ship’s prices for alcoholic beverages.