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Is water free on cruise ships?

When booking a cruise, one of the most common questions travelers have is whether water is included for free or if there is a charge. With the high costs of cruising, passengers want to know where they may be able to save some money. Understanding the cruise line’s policy on free water can help travelers budget accordingly.

Quick Answers

The quick answer is that policies on free water vary by cruise line. Most major cruise lines do provide complimentary water in dining rooms, buffets, and sometimes in staterooms. However, there may be limits or exceptions. For example, room service may charge for water deliveries. Some cruise lines also charge for bottled water, while others include it for free. Policies can also differ for specialty dining venues versus main dining rooms.

In summary:

  • Most dining venues on ships offer free tap water.
  • Bottled water policies differ between cruise lines.
  • Some charge for room service water delivery.
  • Free water is often limited to meal times in dining venues.
  • Passengers are advised to check individual cruise line policies.

Tap Water Policies by Cruise Line

Here is a breakdown of the tap water policies for some major cruise lines:

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line provides free tap water in all main dining rooms and buffet areas. Tap water is also free via room service. However, there is a charge for bottled water purchased on the ship.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean follows a similar policy to Carnival, with complimentary tap water offered in main restaurants, buffets, and via room service. Bottled water does come with a charge.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line offers free tap water in all complimentary dining venues. This includes the main dining rooms, buffets, and room service. However, bottled water, specialty dining venues, and private islands may charge for water.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises provides free tap water in the main dining rooms and buffet areas. Tap water is also free from room service. Bottled water comes at an extra cost.

Disney Cruise Line

On Disney ships, tap water is free in rotational dining restaurants, buffets, quick service locations, and via room service. Bottled water is not included.

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises offers free tap water in the main dining rooms, buffets, and room service. Bottled water is not complimentary.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises provides free tap water in all main dining rooms, buffets, and room service. There is a charge for bottled water.

Policies on Bottled Water

In addition to tap water policies, cruise lines also differ in their policies on bottled water:

Cruise Line Bottled Water Policy
Royal Caribbean Charge for bottled water
Norwegian Cruise Line Charge for bottled water
Carnival Cruise Line Charge for bottled water
Princess Cruises Charge for bottled water
Disney Cruise Line Charge for bottled water
MSC Cruises Charge for bottled water
Celebrity Cruises Provide bottled water in staterooms for free, otherwise charge
Holland America Provide bottled water in staterooms for free, otherwise charge

As shown in the table, most major cruise lines charge extra for bottled water purchased on board. The exceptions are Celebrity Cruises and Holland America, who provide bottled water in staterooms for free. Otherwise, bottled water comes at an additional cost with those cruise lines as well.

Paying for Bottled Water

For cruise lines that do charge for bottled water, there are a few options on how passengers can pay:

  • Beverage packages – Some cruise lines offer beverage packages that include bottled water for a set price per day.
  • A la carte – Bottled water can be purchased a la carte around the ship for a per bottle price.
  • Room service – Bottled water ordered through room service comes at an extra charge per bottle or container.
  • Onshore – Passengers can purchase bottled water during port stops rather than on the ship.
  • Bring own – Travelers can bring their own reusable water bottles and fill them up for free with tap water.

The average price cruise lines charge for a standard 500mL bottle of water is $2 to $4 per bottle. Larger 1 liter bottles may range from $4 to $6 each. Purchasing individual bottles from room service usually comes at a higher price point.

Saving Money on Water

To save money on water when cruising, travelers can:

  • Drink tap water – Tap water is free in dining venues, so drink up!
  • Refill reusable bottle – Carry on an empty reusable water bottle.
  • Ask for tap – Request tap water instead of bottled with meals.
  • Check for deals – Look for beverage package deals that include water.
  • Buy onshore – Purchase bottled water during port days if needed.

Drinking the free tap water saves money directly by avoiding bottled water charges. Filling up a reusable bottle also ensures access to water all day long without recurring costs. If bottled water is preferred, check if a beverage package makes sense or buy it only when in ports. Using these tricks helps cruise travelers stay hydrated on a budget.

Water on Cruise Private Islands

Several major cruise lines own private islands which serve as port destinations. Policies on free water at these private islands vary:

Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay

On Royal Caribbean’s private island CocoCay, free tap water is provided at all bars and restaurants. However, bottled water comes at an additional cost.

Norwegian’s Great Stirrup Cay

At Norwegian’s Great Stirrup Cay island, free tap water is available in dining venues. Bottled water carries a charge.

MSC’s Ocean Cay

On MSC Cruises private island Ocean Cay, tap water is free in buffet restaurants. But bottled water does come with a fee.

Disney’s Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island, provides free tap water at buffet locations. However, bottled water must be purchased.

The policies are similar to the main ships, with tap water available for free but bottled water costing extra. Since there are fewer dining options, finding free water may be less convenient on private islands.

Other Venues With Paid Water

In addition to bottled water charges, some cruise venues that may charge for water include:

  • Specialty restaurants – Some cruise lines charge for tap and bottled water in specialty dining venues.
  • Bars & lounges – Water often comes at a cost when ordered at a bar or lounge.
  • Pools – Pool bars frequently charge for bottled water and may not offer tap.
  • Shows – At theater performances, bottled water may be sold at an extra cost.
  • Excursions – During cruise-sponsored shore excursions, tap water may not be provided.

To avoid charges, passengers can ask about water policies before purchasing. Carrying a reusable water bottle also gives access to free tap water from dining venues.

Water on Other Cruise Ship Transport

Aside from the main cruise ship, passenger access to free water varies in these other transport locations:


On tenders ferrying passengers from cruise ship to shore, policies on free water vary. Some cruise lines may provide bottled water, while others do not. Bringing a reusable bottle is recommended.


Lifeboats are required to be stocked with emergency drinking water in case of an evacuation. However, this water is only for emergency use, not general consumption.

Private transportation

For cruise line sponsored buses, shuttles, trains, etc. providing port transportation, free drinking water may or may not be offered. Having water on hand is again advised.

In summary, while water on the cruise ship itself is mostly free in dining venues, other transport vessels may not consistently provide free drinking water.

Water at Ports of Call

When cruise ships dock at ports of call, access to free water depends on the specific port. In some ports, free drinking fountains and restroom tap water may be readily available. At other ports, it may be more difficult to find free water. Overall:

  • Modern ports in developed countries often provide free tap water.
  • Some less developed ports may not have safe tap water in restrooms or public fountains.
  • Passengers can ask the cruise line for guidance on tap water safety at each port.
  • Bringing a reusable bottle allows filling up where tap water is safe.

The quality and accessibility of free tap water can vary widely between cruise destinations. Being prepared with a water bottle helps ensure hydration during days spent exploring ports.

Drinking Water Safety

When drinking shipboard tap water, these tips help ensure it is safe:

  • Let it run – Let water run for a few seconds before filling a glass.
  • Check pipes – Avoid tap water that comes from flexible hoses.
  • Smell / look – Ensure water does not smell or look off color.
  • Filters – Ships use intensive filtration systems for onboard water.
  • Monitoring – Crew routinely tests and adds chlorine to the water.

Major cruise lines take drinking water quality very seriously. Reports of passengers becoming ill from ship water are extremely rare. The free tap water provided is treated, filtered and safe to drink directly from the galley or stateroom sinks on most contemporary cruise ships.


While cruise ships do not typically provide completely free bottled water, the good news is that passengers can stay well hydrated with complimentary tap water. Policies vary between cruise lines, but the majority offer free tap water in main dining rooms, buffets, and via room service. By drinking tap water and using a refillable bottle, cruisers can avoid the extra expense of bottled water on board.

Understanding where to find free water on a cruise ship allows travelers to save money and stay hydrated on their next cruise vacation.