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Carnival Cruise Line Has a Cannabis Solution (You May Not Like It)

The question of marijuana on ships has become tricky, and Carnival has a clear answer on enforcement.


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Cannabis consumption and where exactly that can take place has become a bit of a problem in the travel industry. People may be traveling from a state where recreational marijuana consumption has been legalized to a place where it hasn't been.

That means that they have a product in their possession that was purchased legally in one place that can get them arrested in another. Even in cities where cannabis sales are legal, consumption remains a challenge, at least for smokable products.

In Las Vegas, for example, you can buy cannabis at dozens of legal dispensaries, but legally it can only be smoked in a private residence. You can't smoke in your hotel room (and the hotel operators will hit you with big fines if you do) so many people end up smoking outside in parking lots and sometimes openly on the Las Vegas Strip.

Cruise lines have been swept into this problem, but Carnival Cruise Linee (CCL) - Get Free Report, MSC, Royal Caribbean (RCL) - Get Free Report, and every other major operator sailing from the U.S. bans cannabis consumption on board. That's because the cruise lines follow federal law, even though their ships are not flagged in the U.S.

It's complicated, but you can't smoke pot on your Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) - Get Free Report cruise, or any other cruise line sailing from U.S. ports. You're not supposed to smuggle liquor onboard ships but that doesn't mean that it never happens. The same is true for marijuana, which can be somewhat prevalent on cruise ships.

Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald did share how his company handles people who attempt to bring marijuana on its cruise ships.

Carnival does not allow marijuana on its cruise ships. Image source: Shutterstock

Carnival Wants to Sniff Out Pot Smokers

While the cruise lines have banned marijuana consumption and there are stories shared on social media of people getting kicked off for smoking, enforcement seems rather spotty. If you walk around the pool deck smoking area after dark, it's not uncommon to smell the aromas associated with cannabis.

Heald made it clear that Carnival takes some steps to enforce its rules including one that may surprise you.

"As for the drug detection dogs, well let me say that they have, along with our no tolerance rules and enforcement, made a massive difference to the problem of people thinking it is legal and allowed to use marijuana on their cruise. It isn’t," he posted on his Facebook page.

People have seen those dogs in the cruise terminal, and while it's unclear if they are looking for edibles and other forms of marijuana, they are very clearly looking for smokable cannabis. Heald also shared that dogs are not only used when ships are in port.

"These uber intelligent and highly trained dogs are used at embarkation and occasionally, not every cruise on every ship. will sail as well with their handlers," he shared.

Some of Heald's followers responded to his comments on drug-sniffing dogs.

"They really need more drug dogs when we are getting back on the ship because people pick up drugs in ports and that is when I smell marijuana on the balconies," write Janet Buckingham Stoda on Heald's page.

Cruise passengers are not allowed to smoke anything on their balconies (but, of course) that rule is widely broken.

"I am actually allergic to marijuana and greatly appreciate it if the drug dogs can keep my neighbor from smoking it on the balcony right next to us," shared Brenda K. Pike in response to Heald's post.

Passengers caught with cannabis onboard are generally kicked off the ship at the next port.


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