Best Alternative to Wet Wipes Not Allowed on Cruise Ships October 2, 2016 18:44

no wet wipes on cruise shipIn recent years, cruise lines have become increasingly aware of how their operations impact the environment and the importance of proper environmental stewardship as part of their business plans including the management of what passengers flush down the toilets. This is why wet wipes are not allowed on cruise ships. So, what is one to do? Read on...

An item that should not be flushed on a cruise ship - or on land, for that matter - are wet wipes. But not to worry, Etiquette has the flushable alternative to wet wipes that you can use on your next cruise and at home. 

The cruise industry depends on the oceans, seas and other waterways. It understands the need to protect these waterways from undue harm as a result of the cruise ship and the activities of passengers. People do some crazy stuff in while on those ships; like flushing wet wipes into the ship's plumbing system even though many know that wet wipes are not allowed on cruise ships.

There have been reports of flooding on board ships because someone thought no one would really know if they flushed their bathroom wet wipes. Not only is this not good for the ship’s plumbing, there can also be environmental issues from this practice. And guess what, it can often be traced to a particular cabin.

Princess Cruise Lines was an early proponent of environmental stewardship. In 1993, Princess started "a holistic environmental program" called Planet Princess to encourage both the crew and passengers to think about the environmental impact of life on board a cruise ship.

Nowadays, all of the cruise lines are committed to pursuing environmental practices that set a high standard towards helping to preserve the environment. Here at Etiquette, we think that is great just like our Toilet Paper Moistener products that allow you to maintain great bathroom hygiene and skin care!


While the cruise industry understands that its customers expect it to operate in an environmentally-conscious way, the industry is also highly-regulated. Cruise lines work closely with regulatory and enforcement agencies - such as the International Maritime Organization - which oversees environmental protection regulations.

Most cruise lines also belong to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). All CLIA members must comply with international standards set forth in the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from both the ship's normal operation as well as the result of an accident out at sea.

The cruise industry must also comply with the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, which sets out monitoring and auditing practices for environmental standards.

One aspect of “normal operation” involves the ship’s toilet facilities, plumbing and waste management. Can you imagine how much toilet waste is produced by people on board cruise ships?

Cruise lners are like little floating neighborhoods. Think about this information paraphrased from the Princess Cruise Line Website:

Fresh water aboard a cruise ship comes from two different sources:

  1. Water that is produced onboard the ship from seawater
  2. "Bunkered water" purchased from port communities and stored in special holding tanks aboard ship.

Water is a precious commodity in the “floating neighborhood,” of a cruise ship.

When you are aboard a cruise ship you should certainly enjoy yourself while having a conservation mindset. There are simple things you can do to conserve water when aboard a cruise ship:

  • Turn off taps when not in use
  • Report leaking taps
  • Reuse towels and linens when able

The crew is also encouraged to:

  • Wash full loads in galley and laundry washing machines
  • Save water during shower, shaving, and brushing teeth

Treating Waste Water on Cruise Ships

All water that is produced or loaded onto a cruise ship is used for its intended purpose and then discharged in accordance with — or often exceeding — local, national and international laws and regulations.

This wastewater is separated into three broad categories: 

  1. Gray water - from showers, sinks, and dishwashers; this is water that has been used, but not highly polluted
  2. Black water- from toilets; highly polluted
  3. Bilge water - collected in the lower part of the ship, known as the bilge. "This water contains oils released from equipment in engine compartments. All ships accumulate water in the bilge so they take steps to eliminate any inadvertent release of oil into the bilge and therefore the marine environment. These include reducing the amount of water in the bilge to the lowest practical level, providing adequate holding tank capacity for the bilge water and a means to discharge it ashore, eliminating oil leaking from machinery so far as is practically possible, replacing equipment with state-of-the-art separators. To treat bilge water the ships oily-water separators process the bilge water until the oil content is reduced to below 15 parts per million. Treated bilge released into the sea is done so in accordance with all international, regional, and national laws and regulations."

We are particularly interested in cruise ship black water where there should be no wet wipes since they are not to be used on cruise ships, right?

An often unwelcome component of black water are wet wipes that passengers have flushed down the toilet.

This is not helpful to the operation of the ship.

The potential problems with wet wipes on board a cruise ship can be even worse than the problems wet wipes cause on land because the plumbing on a ship is so much smaller and vulnerable to blockage.

Black water containing wet wipes can also be more difficult to treat in preparation for discharging the black water into the waterway.


There are very specific ways that sewage and other flushed products need to be separated and treated prior to being discharged from the ship.

Water that is discharged from the ship needs to be treated in a very specific manner to meet legal requirements meant to protect the waterways.

Cruise ships are equipped with treatment plants that are certified by the U.S. Coast Guard as approved marine sanitation facilities.

All sewage must be treated to international, regional, national and local standards prior to any discharge at sea. 

The sewage treatment facilities on board a cruise ship break down and disinfect black water. After processing, the waste water is discharged into the sea at least 12 miles off shore, which exceeds the distance required by law. Federal law requires that cruise ships only dump treated wastewater if they are within three nautical miles of shore - More regulatory infomation here -

Gray water may be mixed with black water and treated through an advanced waste water treatment plant. Alternatively, gray water is held on board until the ship is underway and out of a port, and then is discharged into the sea in full compliance with all laws and regulations.

It is reported that in the near future some cruise lines will begin using more advanced water treatment systems which employ membrane filtration and ultraviolet light to achieve a higher level of waste water treatment, a level they claim is the “highest that is technologically feasible.”

So, what does all this mean for your bathroom personal hygiene since wet wipes are not allowed on cruise ships?

Take a bottle or two of Etiquette’s effective toilet paper moistener on your next cruise for best personal hygiene that will not clog up the ship’s plumbing and flood your room and the rooms of others. :-)

Also great for Motor Homes and other RVs...

fanny clean flushable wipe for cruise ships