Are you a rule follower or do you like to cross the line when it suits you? Some travelers are good at doing what they’re told, while others see vacation as a time to live as they see fit, regardless of any official policies. On a cruise ship, rules abound—from what you can bring on board to how and where you can have fun. Some rules will seem restrictive, and you will be tempted to break them.

Please don’t. Most cruise ship regulations were designed with your health and safety in mind. Hitting them can put you and your shipmates in danger or ruin your cruise with heavy fines and possibly forced debarkation.

If you’re tempted to get a little naughty, familiarize yourself with the consequences of your actions first. Here are 15 cruise ship rules you shouldn’t break — and what can happen if you do.

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Do not smoke indoors or on the balcony

Rules are strict when it comes to Smoking on cruise ships. Cruise lines prohibit the use of cigarettes in most indoor areas as well as on cabin balconies and public exterior decks. You may smoke only in designated areas, usually one or two spots on the top deck or outer promenade, and perhaps one side of the casino or the cigar bar.

Why? Lighter and cigarette ash are fire hazards, and fatal cruise ship fires have been started by sparks from cigarettes. No cruise line wants to take that risk. Get caught breaking this cruise ship rule, and you’ll be fined $250 or more, with the possibility of debarkation.

No minors drink alcohol

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The drinking age on cruise ships is either 18 or 21, depending on the line and sailing region. With so much cruise ship entertainment centered around drinks, it’s tempting for your responsible teenager to grab a fruity daiquiri or a cold beer. Enterprising minors have also been known to find ways to obtain alcohol when their parents aren’t paying attention.

You might not think a drink or two is harmful, but drunk teens can become victims of sexual predators or engage in reckless behavior that could cause them to fall and hurt themselves — or fall overboard. Even if the drinking itself does not result in bad consequences, underage drinkers or adults who supply alcohol to minors may find themselves thrown from the ship at the next port of call if caught.

No sneaking drugs or alcohol on board

Whether you are a minor or not, on a large ship cruise line, you are also not allowed to bring alcohol, beer or drugs on board; Policies on wine and champagne vary. If contraband is found it will be confiscated and you may not get it back.

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Bring illegal drugs on board, and you risk fines, landings, and jail time. You are not allowed to bring marijuana on a cruise, even if it is legal in your port of departure or port of call. In those cases, you can enjoy some recreational use on land, but don’t try to bring back pot or food items as souvenirs.

You must attend a safety drill

Avid cruisers roll their eyes when asked to attend another safety drill, often called a Muster drill. On the first day of every cruise you take, you must attend a safety briefing in person or by video before reporting to your muster station—the place where you will assemble in case of an emergency. The drill sometimes interrupts the fun flow of the first day’s cruise, and everyone grumbles about leaving.

Don’t think you can hide in your cabin and avoid chores. Public areas on some ships are closed, and staff members personally check cabins during muster. Those who do not attend will be forced to attend a makeup drill – or disembark the ship at the next port of call.

Report your symptoms on the health form

Before you board any cruise ship, pier-side staff will give you a health questionnaire, asking if you’ve experienced any symptoms or been exposed to COVID-19 in the past few days. You can lie about your itchy throat or itchy stomach, and chances are nothing will happen to you.

However, you could be responsible for making someone else sick—perhaps someone whose immune system isn’t as strong as yours and whose vacation will be derailed by a few days of being sick in bed. An outbreak of norovirus or COVID-19 on board may mean that certain areas are closed or activities are reduced for the entire ship. No one wants that.

All return through time aboard

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Are you always running late? Do you see deadlines as suggestions? You will need to change your mindset on a cruise.

The captain is strict when setting the time on all ships, when everyone needs to be on board before the ship departs. After that time, the crew begins to pull in the gangway and prepare to leave the ship. Occasionally, the captain holds up the ship for a few guiding passengers, but more often than not, runs down the pier to find late-arriving passengers. Without them the ship sails away.

No guests in crew areas

Binge-watch old episodes of “The Love Boat” and you may arrive on your cruise vacation hoping for shipboard romance. On a modern cruise, don’t expect a tryst with a cute bartender, a smart officer or a gorgeous lounge singer. Crew members are not allowed to fraternize with guests or invite them into crew quarters.

An illicit affair with a crew member may not leave you more than heartbroken, but crew members can lose their jobs for breaking this serious cruise ship rule.

No children in diapers in the pool

When the sun is shining in the Caribbean, everyone wants to cool off in the cruise ship pool. But read the sign: Your diapered baby or toddler is not allowed.

Why? A diaper containment failure and the pool or hot tub must be closed, drained and disinfected, taken out of use for several hours, if not all day. Instead, if you’re traveling with a little one, look for ships with designated splash areas for babies in diapers, or bring an inflatable bathtub for bathroom-based water play.

There are no reserved lounge chairs

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Want to bear the wrath of your shipmates? Show up early on the pool deck, reserve some lounge chairs with your book or flip-flops, and don’t come back until after lunch.

It is against the rules Claim the loungers if you are not using them, as this prevents other guests from using them. Unless you believe in karma, the worst that will happen to you from breaking this rule is that the ship staff may remove your items if left too long. However, you will get nasty looks from your onboard neighbors.

Do not climb the railing

Do not climb your balcony steps like a ladder or perch on top of the railing. Don’t lean out of open windows in search of the best photo op. Don’t play Jack and Rose from “Titanic.” Don’t try to swing from your balcony to a side door while swinging over the side of the ship. All of these actions are against the rules because they put you at risk of being sidelined. It’s not worth it.

No violent behavior

A cruise line has codes of conduct in the contract that every passenger signs when booking a cruise. Start a bar fight, harass the people next to you on the pool deck, or assault a crew member, and you might find yourself thrown in. Brig (ie, cruise ship prison). You may also be fined, kicked off the ship, or banned from the cruise line. Better watch your manners.

No taking food from the ship

Some ports of call have regulations preventing the transportation of food (typically produce and meat, not sealed, pre-packaged food) off the ship and onto their shores. This is usually to prevent the spread of harmful insects and diseases. Some ports employ food-sniffing dogs, and workers will confiscate the sandwich you made for lunch or the apple you brought for breakfast. You may also be fined.

No open flames or fire hazards

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Remember the no smoking rule on cruise ships? This restriction also applies to other fire hazards. You may not light candles on a cruise ship (even for religious holidays) or bring electronics with heating elements, such as tea kettles, coffee makers, or certain hairstyling devices. Explosives and firecrackers are also not allowed. Power strips with surge protectors are also a no-no. bring Prohibited items on board, and will likely be confiscated for the duration of your cruise.

Not a drone

Tech-savvy photographers are all about drones these days, and anyone with a love of electronic gadgets has jumped on the craze and flown them over beaches or parks. You can see how a drone would make for great cruise ship footage, but you’ll need to curb your enthusiasm.

Most cruise ships have Rules prohibiting drones from coming aboard ships, or if they are allowed, they can only be used outside the ship in port in compliance with local regulations. Try to sneak a flight from your balcony, and your drone will be confiscated.

No weapons

Cruise lines are clear that they do not want any weapons on board. These include firearms, pellet guns, Tasers, knives, open razors and ammunition. Your dive knife and large scrapbooking shears are allowed on board, but ship security will hold them, and you can check the items at your convenience. Any dangerous items found on board will be confiscated and disposed of and you will not receive any compensation.

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