My Little Booze Smuggling Experiment

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On this past cruise I decided to conduct a little experiment on how hard it is to bring alcohol on board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. My target was the Adventure of the Seas and my goal would be to bring on board alcoholic beverages to enjoy in my stateroom. When I decided to attempt the experiment I had no idea what I would try to bring on board, however I did know that it would not be wine. My reasoning was because if I wanted to have wine in my room I could just pre-order a couple of bottles for the week. I’m not out to rip off any cruise lines but I do like to make things as convenient as possible for myself. In fact, I actually did have a wine pre-order up until a week or so before the cruise, but that’s another story.

Now onto the alcohol smuggling experiment

What I did was try to bring alcohol on board the Adventure of the Seas using three different methods. I didn’t do anything too radical such as filling shampoo bottles with whiskey or anything. In fact, none of them required much effort to set up. I also didn’t want to bring actual bottles along since it would greatly increase the weight of my luggage. What I decided on were three methods that friends have used but I have never tried. Now, lets see if any of them worked.

The Rum Runner

The first method involved me using the Rum Runner bags to smuggle alcohol onboard the cruise ship. These kits get incredible reviews on all the cruise websites but I had never used the Rum Runner kits before and wanted to see for myself if they really worked. I filled a pouch with Grey Goose packed it away in my luggage and honestly forgot all about it.

When we got up to the room our bags weren’t there, which was alarming. Many of our neighbors had already received their bags, which only made me more nervous. My first thought was they found the hooch and would be calling me down to the naughty room at any moment. Luckily after about 20 minutes our baggage arrived, embarrassment averted. I always like to have the room set up as early as possible so I opened up the suitcase to put my clothes away before the muster drill would commence. When I reached in to pull out the Rum Runner bag I was happy to see they arrived fully intact. I flipped and squeezed the bag to verify all was well and it was. There were no scratches or leaks whatsoever. The rum runner flask passed the test with flying colors.

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Box O’ Booze

 

The second method involved those pre-mixed drinks they sell in the local liquor store. In the liquor store near my home, they sell boxed drinks such as margaritas, martinis and boxed wine. I chose to pick up a box of apple martinis (which btw don’t taste very good) to pack into my suitcase. I had toyed with the idea of wrapping the box up like it were a present, thinking that even if it were discovered I would have plausible deniability. In the end I decided that was too devious and underhanded, so I decided just stash the box in my friends bag sandwiched between clothes.

When are luggage finally arrived I was really anxious to see how the Box O’ Booze made it through the trip. I know it contains a bladder similar to what the rum runner has but since it’s not designed to be reused, I wondered about durability. Upon opening the bag, I didn’t get a whiff of alcohol, which was a good sign. The next step was to look for green liquid, which I didn’t find. Finally, I pulled out the box and was happy to see it too arrived intact. I will say the box was a bit damaged (probably due to the airline) but the contents were perfectly fine. So, the Box O’ Booze also passed the test.

Carry It On

The third method I chose was to simply carry aboard an alcohol purchase from the duty free in the cruise terminal. I figure the people that work there are always mislead passengers by telling them they can carry their purchases onboard, so I may as well put it to the test. I purchased two bottles of rum as well as one of those huge cigarette cartons (I know it’s a bad habit). I stashed the two bottles in my backpack and then proceeded to walk onto the ship.

I have been on Carnival ships where they just allowed me to walk right onboard with bottles in plain site, so I never really got the feeling I was doing anything underhanded by placing the bottles in my pack. When I got to the check-in before I put my bag onto the scanner I stated there was alcohol in my bag and said the duty free said it was okay. They didn’t acknowledge anything I said and just motioned me to put the bag on the scanner, so I did. I will assume they saw the alcohol because he told me to step aside and directed me to another gentleman. This is where it gets strange. When I go over to see the gentleman he asks for the duty free bag I am carrying which contains my cigarette cartons. He then looks inside the bag and sees there is no alcohol. After that, he just motions me through not knowing that I still have the bottles in my bag. I cannot call that test a success since it was likely a fluke. Instead, I will say it was inconclusive.

 

Conclusion

So, there you have it. I attempted to carry alcohol onboard the Adventure of the Seas three separate ways. All three methods were successful but I have confidence in some more than I do others. Personally I would rank them in the following order, Rum Runner, Box O’ Booze and the Carry On method. In fact, I can honestly say I will probably never cruise without a rum runner flask again as it was so easy and seemingly foolproof. Besides the fact that the Box O’ Booze didn’t taste very good I was also put off by how damaged the box was when it arrived. The contents didn’t leak at all but I have no way of knowing if I was just lucky and I am not sure if I will be trying that method again. The Carry On method worked, but not as I had intended. I would think under normal circumstances I would have been caught but lack of communication caused me to slip through the cracks. Later on in the trip, I did try the Carry On method when coming back from port but that is a subject for a different write-up.

Update: This is a bit of a follow-up to my first post about sneaking alcohol onboard a cruise ship.  If you missed it, check the archives (there are lots of good posts there) or simply click here.

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51 Responses to “My Little Booze Smuggling Experiment”

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  1. Todd says:

    Great story. Thanks for sharing it. I got married on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas in 2005. I don’t know if it was our wedding party boarding early or what, but being my first cruise and not knowing what I was doing, I loaded up a spare suitcase with 2 cases of beer, and got it on board no problem. The only run-in I had with security was when our neighbors called the ship’s mod squad on us on our wedding night (I’m proud to say). The boat was rocking that night. Then the very next year, 2006, I cut back to a box o wine and thought I was being smarter and conservative. But no, they found the box and bladder bag of wine. I had to take the walk of shame down to that conference room, open my luggage, and hand it over till the end of the cruise. So I’m not so sure the Rum Runner flask is a sure thing anymore. On our 08 cruise, I did the 16 oz. water bottle in the carry on backpack with clear tequila and/or rum with no issues. They scan the backpack at every port on return and I’m sure they see it. But everyone’s got water bottles. It’s the Caribbean. You’d look suspicious if you didn’t. And they’re not going to open everyone’s water to smell it. Size probably matters. Liter and larger bottles probably look a little out of place in a back pack or checked luggage. But I wouldn’t place any liquids in checked bags anymore. Liquids are now an increased security threat according to homeland security guidelines. I will say they really seem to be taking security seriously and they’re looking out for our safety not just busting us small time bootleggers. Last year they held my suitcase up because of a small 2″ blade NRA pocket knife in it. It’s my favorite tool and it’s always in my left pocket. I didn’t think it was a big deal. The rules say you can take up to a 3″ pocket knife but maybe that’s measured open, handle and blade. And it wasn’t in my carry on. It was checked. But I guess on a ship, checked bags are no less of a security risk than carry on. Have a safe and happy cruise. That’s what it’s all about.

  2. T.I. Cruiser says:

    The reason I did the smuggling experiment was to see if these methods that I read so much about worked. While things like water bottles and boxes of wine do work at times the rum runner was by far the most endorsed method that I ran across. I just wanted to see if it actually worked, since I didn’t want to endorse anything I hadn’t tried myself.

  3. Marcella says:

    What port did you leave from?

  4. T.I. Cruiser says:

    San Juan, Puerto Rico

  5. trace says:

    I have been on over 15 cruises from Princess to Royal Carribean, Celebrity and lastly Norwegian. Each time, I take a 6 pack of propel (blue bottles)empty it but leave it in the 6 pack holder. Then I fill each bottle with whatever booze we want. We pack this in our regular luggage and have never been caught. I have also done the stop in port and fill a water bottle with any clear alcohol to walk on board with no problems with any cruise line EXCEPT believe it or not a short 3 day bahama cruise on Norwegian. They had a guy shaking water bottles!!! He took my water bottle (Stoli’s) and said You cannot take this on board. He shook my husbands-and said you can take this.(Water) APPARENTLY, vodka bubbles-water does not. WHO KNEW? So, lesson learned. Lost a nice bottle of vodka too. Before anyone judges me too harshly, I buy drinks every day on board…I just like sitting on my balcony enjoying the peace and tying one on without any hassles!

  6. T.I. Cruiser says:

    Thanks for the tip, I had no idea about the vodka bubble thing. Don’t worry about anyone judging you, you’ll just end up driving yourself crazy. I almost always carry alcohol on board the ship and still manage to rack up a small fortune in bar bills. I buy drinks in the lounges, at the pool and in the casinos but drink my preferred beverage in my cabin. In the end we all win.

  7. Carnival cruise/Harri says:

    Just came back from are cruise from January 10th-17th, 2010 I purchased the RumRummer Flasks and was able to bring on 3.5 liters of vodka and 1 liter of rum with my rumrunner flask. We packed them in are checked luggage and in are carry on and walked right though with out being questioned. Well worth the investment. My Broher went the week before on NCL and had the same results. GREAT PRODUCT.Drinks on Carnival are 6.00 for a beer and approm 8.75 mixed drinks.

  8. T.I. Cruiser says:

    Thanks for the report. I definitely thing Rum Runner are one of the best investments a cruiser can make, they pay for themselves 10 times over in just one cruise.

  9. gurumichael says:

    First time cruiser leaving in a couple weeks… What about carrying bottles in a pocket of cargo pants/shorts? If a bottle is small enough to fit in a large pocket, would that work? Or do you get scanned like an airport?

  10. JT says:

    T.I. & trace, thanks for the great info. Leaving on Carnival next Sunday out of Galveston and will take the Rum Runner and Propel six-pack. Any advice on darker booze, like Jack Daniels? That’s my drink of choice and I’m not sure if it makes a difference in the high tech scanners or not…

  11. Tagerinator says:

    Should I put my alcohol in water bottles or just put the whole bottle just into my suitcase?

    But I like that rum runner idea, where can I get that?

  12. T.I. Cruiser says:

    It really shouldn’t matter what you put in the Rum Runner. The scanners will be looking for bottles so any booze you use will be fine.

  13. T.I. Cruiser says:

    I wouldn’t bother with the alcohol in water bottles. If for some reason they found them it would make you look far shadier than if you just shoved the entire bottle in your luggage. The best way to avoid any detection is to use the Rum Runner since it would avoid detection altogether unless for some reason they decided to do a manual search, which shouldn’t happen unless they detected something else (like a full bottle) in your luggage.

  14. jsb77 says:

    Im leaving in 3 days for a 6 day 5 night cruise on gradeur of the seas with Royal Caribbean. Im 22 and im going with 5 other 22 and 21 year olds, do you think they will be more likely to check our bags for alcohol as seeing we are younger and would probably more willing to try and sneak alcohol on? Also, I have already thuroughly cleaned out an Axe body wash bottle (which is black) to try and bring some whiskey on board. I figure if I packed it with my other toiletries it will be less noticable and less likely to be checked. Does this sound like a good idea? Im, also interested in using the rum runner but I heard that some cruises are starting to implement alcohol scanning devices when checking luggage (however that should work, sounds kind of impossible to detect to me) that would make using the body wash and rum runner inefective. Whats your thoughts?

  15. DB says:

    No one is mentioning Carnival Cruise lines!! Im going on a cruise in June and i need to know if anyone has tried to sneak anything on board with them, and how it went. My BFF got away with a bottle of Vodka in 06 or 07 in her luggage but that was Royal Caribbean.. Althought, someone above did mention that a mixed drink on Carinval is $8.75, which isnt bad considering i pay about 12 or so in clubs/lounges.

  16. DB says:

    (its me again..) BUT my co worker went on a cruise and her liquor bill was $500.00!! Im not trying to spend that much on alcohol.. LOL

  17. T.I. Cruiser says:

    I smuggled a fair amount of booze onboard my last cruise and still ended up with a total bill over 1000 dollars. Although, I didn’t break down how much of that was alcohol and how much was spent in the casino.

  18. T.I. Cruiser says:

    Yes, drink prices have gone up. I just got back from a Carnival cruise about a week ago and brought booze onboard with me. I will posting about that smuggling experience tomorrow, so stay tuned.

  19. AA says:

    DB,

    I have been on several Carnival Cruises out of Long Beach and San Diego and the rum runners have worked every time. It is by far the most effective and least problematic way to do it. Like anything else in life, as long as you don’t overdo it with the amount of booze you try to sneak on, you should have no problem at all.

    Happy sailing.

  20. Jimmy Graham says:

    I’m going on royal caribbean next month and was thinking about trying the rum runner flask. Is there something special you are suppose to do to make sure it isn’t detected, like wrapping it in clothes?

  21. T.I. Cruiser says:

    I wrap everything in clothes. I never really did it as an additional measure to avoid detection, I do just in case something would happen to the Rum Runner itself. They seem to be pretty indestructable but on the off chance that a bag would puncture I’m hoping that a few layers of T-shirts would at least partially mitigate any damage. Haven’t had to test this theory as of yet but I do it anyway.

  22. ruso says:

    Going on Princess cruise next April.
    Would someone tell me how tight
    Security is at Ft. Lauderdale port and
    best method to bring some alcohol on
    Board.
    Thanks

  23. Jason O. says:

    I am planning to go on a 7-day cruise in June (2011). I am planning to use the Rum Runner flasks. I have forgotten what kind of security checks (Metal detector’s, X-ray, pat-down…) there are on cruises, but I am planning on using the Beer Belly as well. Has anyone ever used this device before, or one like it?

    For the record, it’s not about being cheap. It’s about getting the most for your money. Last I checked, there is nothing wrong with that!!!

  24. T.I. Cruiser says:

    I don’t think you are being cheap I think you are being smart. Its important that we all maximize our incomes as much as possible and this is something many of us do. I have never used the beer belly since the rum runner has been effective for me.

  25. Sue Potter says:

    I sailed the Mariner of the Seas, Royal Caribbean July 2010. I am a diamond member and felt I was pretty seasoned how to get away with smuggling! Simply put the bottles in your check bag! Never failed.. Until this ship! They Xrayed EVERY bag! I did not know until about 8 pm the night we sailed. I asked my room steward what was up with my bags. He asked if I had alcohol in them and if I did I could get them in deck 1. Sure enough, they Xrayed it again in my presence. Made me take out the bottles. They took them and kept them! Now, I am planning another cruise and will be trying the rum runner! Thank you for your input!

  26. T.I. Cruiser says:

    I’m sorry that you had to go through that hassle. I just wish you had found this blog sooner.

  27. Lily says:

    I’m going on a cruise in July to the Bahamas for three days. It’s a carnival cruise line. What’s the best way to sneak alcohol in? It’s going to be my first cruise and it’s also mine and my bff birthday.

  28. T.I. Cruiser says:

    I use different methods depending on my mood. I’ve taken rum runners and I’ve also taken my chances just bringing bottles. I’ve never been caught doing either but the reported success rate of rum runners is through the roof.

  29. brandee says:

    We are planning a cruise on the Royal Car. in November… interested in the rum runner, just would like to know what it is about it that does NOT get detected… why does it work… and now that there are so many posts about it will they be looking for them? thanks

  30. gagirl says:

    I am going on a Carnival ship for a band cruise I’m def interested in trying the Rum Runner. Do you just pack it like normal in either your carry on or regular luggage? The band is a party band for sure, do you think security will be even worse?

  31. T.I. Cruiser says:

    You just pack them in your suitcase as you normally do. One thing you have to be careful of is to not put anything in that case that may raise their level of suspicion. With it being a party band security may be heightened but at the end of the day they still have to get over 5000 bags loaded onto the ship in a matter of hours. I would worry more about security at the actual point of where you board.

  32. cat says:

    I thought maybe we could pay our cabin steward to by a few six packs when we get to port. I was thinking that the crew might be able to bring their own on board. Has anyone done this?

  33. T.I. Cruiser says:

    LOL.. doubtful. First of all this is their job why would they jeopardize that for a few dollars.

    Secondly, there is no guarantee that your steward will have a day off at the beginning of your cruise. Those guys work a tremendous amount of hours and probably don’t want to run errands during their time off.

    For example on my last cruise when we were in Barbados my stewards wife and daughter flew in for the day. If you worked a job where you only got to see your family for one day every couple of months how much money do you think it would take for you to cut into that time? It would probably be cheaper to just pay the ships prices.

  34. adrian says:

    im going on a cruise from miami to mexico next week..should i tak a bottle on the carry on and the rum runners in my other bag?

  35. T.I. Cruiser says:

    I’ve put bottles in my carry on in the past but it probably wasn’t the smartest way to do things. Carry-ons have to go though the scanner so I doubt you will get them through. I usually try to keep actual bottles as far away from rum runners as possible since it may draw attention to them.

    These days I don’t really bother with actual bottles but when I do I just try to carry them through. Once again its probably not the smartest way to do things but sometimes I have a devil may care attitude.

  36. pburgh624 says:

    Everyone says rum runners work well in the checked luggage. But has anyone tried putting them in their shorts pockets(cargo pockets) and walked them through security at the cruise terminal? In other words, what are the secuirty measures for passengers upon boarding?
    Do you go through a metal detector or do you get a full body x-ray like at the airports now?
    I am going on a cruise next month and wanted to know. Please let me know! Thanks

  37. T.I. Cruiser says:

    It may be dependent on which port you cruise out of but I’ve never had to do the airport full scan at a cruise terminal. The reason I go for the checked baggage is the embarrassment factor. I figure if I am going to get caught smuggling booze I’d rather be called down to the naughty room than yanked out of line.

  38. Kristina says:

    I am trying the rum runner flasks on an upcoming Carnival cruise. I will report back on how they did. I have been thinking of how to smuggle booze on board for awhile. Two bottle of wine are not going to last 7 nights.

  39. T.I. Cruiser says:

    Please do let us know how everything goes.

  40. John says:

    So, worse case scenario and I get caught, then what? Do they just confiscate the alchohol and send you on your way? Do they threaten to kick you off the boat and leave you to beg to let you stay? I’m looking at Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas. I’m very interested because money is tight, and while I can save for the cruise I don’t want a hefty bar tab, and it’s my vacation and I don’t like the idea of someone telling me what I can and can’t do after I shell out thousands of dollars for a vacation.

  41. John says:

    To add to my first post: How much should one budget for drinks on the allure of the seas boat? My wife and I are 27, and not heavy drinkers, but I imagine that on vacation I will partake in quite a few beers during the afternoon/evening.

  42. T.I. Cruiser says:

    Yeah, they throw away your booze and rum runners if they catch you. They also give you dirty looks and may tell you that you are a bad person but they won’t throw you off the ship. If they catch with with rum runners they figure you must be a drinker so they would rather have you on board drinking than at home and disgruntled.

  43. WmFS says:

    My method is much less trouble.

    I buy a large bottle of Vodka in the duty free, then immediately before boarding I drink the lot. I don’t ever recall a time when this hasn’t worked – but to be honest I don’t recall very much about anything.

  44. T.I. Cruiser says:

    LOL that is truly foolproof.

  45. brad says:

    I just went on a carnival cruise last week to western Caribbean. 6 pack of waters with just the 2 inner bottles filled with bacardi…..taken. Took 2 listerine bottles washed them out with bleach and soap and filled them with hard alcohol and put in check in… not taken. Took 2 wine bottles with screw on caps, emptied them out, filled back up with hard alcohol, screwed the caps back on tight… not taken. hope this helps everyone. have a good vaca.

  46. WmFS, I have read HUNDREDS of ways to “sneak” alcohol on a ship, and that is the best I’ve heard yet! LMAO I will have to experiment with that at one of the ports :) My husband and I are going on our first cruise, and I was wondering about the small bottles of alcohol… do they search you pretty good before you board the ship, or would it be possible to stash some of the single bottles in pockets, carry-ons, etc. My husband and I are what I like to refer to as “Classy red-necks” and drinkers (especially on our once a year “adult” vacation), So we would really like to have some cocktails w/o racking up a huge bar tab! I’m going to try to experiment with a little bit of every method of getting alcohol on… I figure one of them is bound to work! But any info about the little bottles would be much appreciated!

  47. Joanna says:

    Ok so I’m going on my 1st cruise ever for my Birthday next month, I’m defitnetly going to get the rum runners, but how many should I pack? should I put a few in one checked bag & the other ones in a different checked bag or is it best to keep them all together? Do you think the time you start boarding will effect the number of bags they scan?

  48. T.I. Cruiser says:

    The most important thing you are going to want to do when packing the rum runner is keep them away from anything else that can arouse suspicion. Personally I pack them in a suitcase containing nothing but clothing. I usually tuck a couple in my packed shoes or cargo pockets of shorts.

    You will also want to practice moderation and not completely over do it. The key should be to mitigate your costs not necessarily completely eliminate those costs.

  49. mike says:

    I recapped a wine bottle with shrink wrap.

  50. Rebel Johnson says:

    We went on Carnival cruise last Oct to Cozumel. We had bought some tequila while in Cozumel and did not know that they take it from you and keep it until the last night of cruise…booo! Our tab for 7 days was around $500…that was not all alcohol. $50 was photos…that is another racket in itself! I suggest taking a collapsing tripod and take your own photos in each port! Thanks for all the tips, I will be taking some rum runners on next trip in Nov of this year! Granted I will still be buying some onboard, those ice cold tall aluminum cans of beer…soooo good sitting on deck! Dang I need to start saving NOW!!!

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