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Cruise Travel: What You Can...
 & Can't Bring Home

by Linda Coffman

Nearly every passenger would like to pack up the cabin steward after a week of enjoying his services during their cruise, but that's a bit unrealistic. Souvenirs are a great way to remember a trip, but which ones are okay to bring home and what should you refrain from taking away from the ship?

Naturally anything you purchase is fine, but if something is there for your use while on board and you take it with you, is that stealing? Well, yes... and no. Most cruise lines recognize that logo-emblazoned pool towels and bathrobes are prized as souvenirs and offer them for sale. If you take the ones left in your cabin for use during the cruise your onboard account will be charged for them. If you want them, just tell the steward and you may purchase brand new ones. On the other hand, logo slippers provided in some suites are okay to keep. No cruise line would recycle used slippers.

However, there are a lot of things you can take home guilt-free, as well as for free. For instance, those chocolates you find on your pillow. Take those with you, as well as any packaged snacks that might be tucked into the fruit basket you received as a bon voyage gift from friends or your travel agent. You can also take the actual basket if you want it, but don't try to take the fruit ashore. That's a big no-no.

Take home the used products,
but not the container

Many passengers save the daily programs from their cruise and use them in scrapbooks, or simply as a remembrance of what they did while at sea. You can certainly take those home, but if you find a hard cover book in your cabin--the onboard "magazine" that details ports of call--that's not meant for you to take. In fact, there will probably be wording to that effect on the cover, such as "please leave me here for the next guest."

As much as we all love to find the towel animals on our beds at turn-down, we realize they aren't meant to keep. Take a photo and leave the towels behind. If you must have a towel animal at home, some cruise lines offer a towel animal folding class or sell instruction books in their gift shops. Or, on Carnival shops you can buy a stuffed towel pal that won't fall apart when you pick it up.

Bath amenities are nice to have immediately when you arrive on board and make packing your own unnecessary. Plus, some high-end cruise lines offer a choice of luxurious designer toiletries. On most contemporary ships these days you'll find dispensers with shampoo and shower gel in the bath instead of little containers, but when your bathroom is stocked with the traditional bottled toiletries, can you take the partially used products home? My reasoning is, yes. I can't imagine using the leftovers from the previous occupant of my stateroom and I imagine the next passenger would expect fresh, unopened containers. If I haven't used something, I leave it. Cruise lines like Holland America donate what's left behind to charities. However, if the products are displayed in a container, that's not meant to be taken. As much as you like the shell-shaped soap dish, it's not yours to keep.

The souvenir glass that the drink-of-the-day was served to you in is definitely yours. Feel free to take as many of them home as you want because you've paid for them. On the other hand, the Versace china cup and saucer you used at afternoon tea belong to the ship. You didn't pay for those.

Photos, either those you take yourself with your own camera or the ones you buy from the ship's photo studio are certainly yours. Remember that the photographs on display taken by ship's photographers aren't yours unless you purchase them--it's not okay to line up those pictures and use your digital camera to "copy" them. Yes, people actually do that. It's cheap and tacky, not to mention embarrassing when they get caught.

It might not surprise you that ashtrays are one of the items most often spirited off by cruise passengers and that explains why you seldom see them with the cruise lines' logo printed on them anymore. Even the cheap, clear glass ones disappear with regularity, which is why they aren't often put out on tables until the lounges and bars actually open.

While complimentary decks of cards are no longer placed in cabins upon arrival, you may find stationary and a pen with the cruise line's logo tucked into the cabin information binder. Those are meant for your use and even if you don't write a note, you may keep them. The cabin binder and its information contents aren't meant for you to take home, though. If you simply must have a logo souvenir for free, ask for a book of matches at the bar or go to the reception desk where you might be able to get a free postcard.

The best souvenirs of our cruise travels are the memories that stay with us. We hope yours are as lasting as the remembrances  cherished by the Cruise Diva team.


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