a couple snorkeling around fish

Should You Bring Snorkeling Kit For A Cruise?

It seems like a perfect fit doesn’t it? The thought of a cruise, sailing through the water from tropical location to tropical location and snorkeling in several different world class aquatic experiences..

There’s a lot to pack if you’re going on a cruise, mostly sun screen, but what about some snorkeling kit. Can or should you bring snorkeling kit for a cruise?

Yes, you can take a snorkeling kit on a cruise. No cruise companies forbid the use of personal gear. What a lot of regular cruisers do is take a mask and snorkel and use the company’s fins if they are available. This saves packing space, but an alternative is to take ‘sporting’ or ‘travel’ fins.

This blog post isn’t going to be an experience piece. I have very little experience of snorkeling from a cruise, but rather it’s from the point of view of collated research.

If in doubt, check with a representative of the cruise company to get a more authoritative opinion.

a man snorkeling in crystal clear water

Can You Bring A Snorkeling Kit On A Cruise?

The reasons for bringing your own kit are obvious. Not only do you know it fits you, but many people aren’t too keen on putting a snorkel in their mouth, or a mask around their face that has been used by many hundreds of people before them.

So the urge to bring your own kit is pretty obvious, and it’s a natural question to ask.

Looking around any cruise ship website, it becomes apparent they have independent contractors that will rent you gear, so you can certainly go, but many prefer their own gear.

Not unreasonably either from either a health or a cost basis.

The answer is yes.

There are no known regulations, or expectations from a cruise company that you must rent gear before you snorkel.

It’s perfectly well allowed to bring your own gear,

Carnival cruises even make this known on their website.

What I actually did is contact 10 cruise lines known for cruises around beaches or tropical sands where snorkeling might be an activity that a customer may want to partake in.

I asked them either via email or on a contact message page on their website whether it was OK to bring my own snorkeling gear.

The 10 cruise lines were;

  • Disney Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Seabourn Cruise Line
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Carnival Cruise Line
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • Oceania Cruises
  • Silversea Cruises

Essentially I got positive affirmations from all of them. They all said it would be OK to bring my own gear.

They steered me to their own FAQ pages, and a ew said what I wasn’t allowed, namely dive tanks, and knives, but that would be fine.

If you just want to bring a mask, snorkel, and fins set aboard, you are going to be fine.

Here’s the replies (in no particular order) if you want to judge for yourself.

If you sign up for a snorkeling Port Adventure, there will not be a reduction in price if you choose to bring your own equipment. Please contact the tourism offices in the ports of calls you will visit for information on snorkeling on your own. At our private island of Disney Castaway Cay, please feel free to snorkel at the designated location with your own equipment for no additional cost. Snorkeling vests are required, and available free of charge – Disney Cruise Line

Guests are welcome to bring their own snorkel gear on the cruise. Should you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us – Seabourn Cruise Line

If you are doing a Galapagos sailing, all equipment will be provided for you. (Reply -Yes this is absolutely fine! – to my follow up question can I still bring the kit to Galapagos) If you are sailing any other cruise you are more than welcome to bring your own gear along with you – Celebrity Cruises

Yes, you are allowed to bring it – Norwegian Cruise Line

That won’t be a problem – Oceania Cruises

Of course you can bring your own snorkelling gear if you prefer. We also have cruises where we provide the snorkelling gear, however you are always welcome to bring your own if you prefer – Silversea Cruises

What A Cruise Line Won’t Allow

Snorkeling can mean different things to different people, and there are some items that aren’t allowed.

There are some aquatic items of equipment 

As an email exchange I had with Oceania Cruises in research for this article pointed out, they have a FAQ page where they tell you what you aren’t allowed to bring.

The list is pretty standard for any cruise line I would guess with respect to snorkeling like equipment.

They are;

  • Knives with a blade longer than 4 inches/10.16 cm
  • Spears for spearguns
  • Compressed gas tanks, bottles, cylinders including dive tanks, propane tanks and large aerosol cans

That seems pretty sensible. So with regards to snorkeling you are fine to take gear, but for scuba and spearfishing, you’d have equipment not allowed by the cruise lines.

a man snorkeling in a crystal clear rock pool

Can You Rent Gear If You Need Something?

Yes, you can, but not usually from the ship.  From the ship you will probably find you have to buy.

If you forget something, or break something then it’s possible to rent gear. I’d always email the cruise representative for better clarification, but looking around the websites, they often steered you towards rental at dive shops.

Many of the cruise companies partner with rental suppliers of snorkeling gear and can direct you.

Many cruise companies don’t actually rent on the ship so you will have to find a dive shop locally in many places, but there will be one if there is worthwhile snorkeling available.

Quite often there is one in the port.

The cost vs time factor is something you will have to decide upon. Rental costs can be as much as reasonably priced gear in some places, so it’s better to buy and take it with you before you go if you can.

Not only is it easier, but you won’t have to visit a shop or organise the rent. The other plus is that you will have it again for another location.

The best solution is to take the gear with you if you want to snorkel in the desired locations, although in very well known snorkeling locations, you may find you can rent easily from the port of arrival.

How Long Does A Cruise Ship Dock For?

This seems like a critical factor when deciding whether to bring your own gear.

A cruise ship will list an itinerary, of which the time docked so you can go ashore is listed.

A cruise ship will spend between five and nine hours at a port for you to disembark. In other words you have either half a day or a full day at any given location.

It probably makes sense to maximise that time. For the sake of bringing a mask, do you really want to spend time trying to rent or buy some equipment if you know you want to snorkel.

The advantage to buying before you go is that you know the equipment will fit.

What Snorkeling Kit Should I Bring?

Like going anywhere the best advice may be to travel light.

So taking your own snorkel and mask seems pretty sensible, especially if you already own one you know fits.

For most the fins are the sticking point as they are large and bulky. They take up a lot of room, and indeed, many people leave them at home for just that reason. If you need any you can always buy some, or rent some.

However, as it’s always possible to snorkel without fins that’s an option as well.

Another option for you to consider are ‘sport fins’ or ‘travel fins’. These are fins with smaller blades so that they are easier to travel and snorkel with. Specifically designed for those who travel and snorkel.

They are an ideal solution if baggage may be an issue.

Additional few items might be

  • Rash guard
  • Sun cream
  • Beach towel

Parting Waves

So, if you want to go on a cruise, you are pretty safe bringing along your own mask, snorkels, and fins. Along with a few accessories.

Where cruise companies draw the line is if bringing in equipment more to do with scuba, such as knives, and scuba tanks.

So, probably best just stick to basic gear.

If you are stuck for space you can leave the fins, and do without them. Alternatively go for ‘travel fins’ or ‘sport fins’.

You’re certainly allowed to bring them on board, so what’s the worst thing that can happen? 

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