Anyone who has ever been on a cruise knows that packing for the trip can be quite challenging. There are so many things to consider: what to bring, how much you need, and where it will all fit. This blog post is designed to help make your life easier by providing you with a list of essential items that you should take when embarking on a cruise getaway.
Cruise ship vacations are popular with people the world over, with tens of thousands of bookings every year. Exploring various locations while on one trip can be a once in a lifetime experience for many, but packing for this can be a somewhat daunting task.
Whether an experienced traveller or a novice, deciding what should go in the suitcase can prove to be stressful for some, but it doesn’t need to be. Knowing what to pack is half the battle, and here is a list of must-have items to pack for a cruise ship vacation.
Without further adieu, let’s check out
1) Wheel Spinner Suitcase
First things first, ensure the case is up to the task. Even the fittest of people don’t want to be lugging numerous suitcases and chunky bags around. The distance that passengers typically walk to board the ship can be enough without cumbersome luggage. Picking the right wheel spinner suitcase will ensure belongings are transported fashionably, hassle-free, and without too much effort.
2) Carry Cash for Tipping
It is always worth packing some cash for tipping or for a quick trip to the local dollar store. From excursion tour guides to bus drivers, many appreciate a tip, and it can feel pretty awkward not to have any tip money to hand over to show appreciation for the service received. Some loose change and small notes in the local currency, wouldn’t go amiss.
3) Key Lanyard
Deciding a safe place to keep the cabin key can cause some anxious travellers to worry. A perfect solution to this is to buy a lanyard in advance of travelling. The room key can be stored safely on it and hung around the neck or wrist to ensure it remains safe.
4) Copy of Passports
Keeping a copy of a passport is something that can prove to be very handy, even if only to ease a nervous tourist’s mind. Printing a copy of the front and middle pages of a passport are worth doing before travel and keeping it separate from the real thing in case of an emergency.
5) Cell Phone and Passport Dry Pouch
Whether it is by the pool, at the beach, or in a rainstorm, keeping phones and passports safe and dry is a priority for everyone. Dry pouches are a fantastic solution. Pop both phone and passport into one of these to give peace of mind.
6) Travel Plug & Night light
Another item that is a must for any trip abroad a travel plug. Be sure to check before travelling what type of sockets are on board and buy the corresponding plug. There is nothing worse than arriving on the ship to find no electrical appliances can be charged or used due to mismatched plugs.
Most cruise cabins come with bedside lights so carrying your own night light is not really necessary
7) Formal Attire
Formal nights are a little more difficult for light packers, but the good news is that fewer people dress to the nines these days. Many cruise ships can be extremely strict with their dress code. It’s good to check the cruise line’s dress policy to be sure that the correct attire can be brought along. The majority of them require formal wear and dress shoes when dining and are not known to relax the rules.
8) First Aid Kit
While there are medical facilities available on all cruise ships, it can still be convenient to pack a first aid kit. Pack with plasters, sterile wipes, sea sickness medicine and pins to help with any small emergency that may creep up. Blisters and other ailments are not something that ship’s medics typically want to see.
Whether heading to the Caribbean or Alaska, sunscreen is a critical item to include when packing. Using sunscreen will help protect your skin from the sun’s dangerous rays, and be sure to check the SPF when purchasing; the higher, the better, particularly when travelling to sunnier destinations.
10) Phone Charger
Typically one of the last things that are packed, and probably the most forgotten item when travelling. It may be a good idea to invest in a second charger to pack and have as a backup. Without a charge, phones really don’t hold much use to any of us.
11) Slip-Resistant Flip Flops
Slip-resistant flip flops are perfect items of footwear to have when going on a cruise. While many cruise line operators ask that flip-flops aren’t worn inside, having them for beach trips or poolside is excellent. Much easier to dry and clean the sand than ordinary footwear.
12) Cabin Nightlight
Cabins can become a very dark place in the middle of the night, and some may find this too claustrophobic. Having a small cabin nightlight can help relieve any anxiety and also help provide some light for those making their way to the bathroom during the night.
13) Portable Cabin Fan
It can become very warm inside a cabin on a cruise ship, particularly in sunnier climates, so it may be worth investing in a small portable fan to take with you. One of these will help bring a little coolness to the air and is perfect if it gets too hot to sleep properly.
Most cruise liners and cruise ships offer their guests complimentary toiletries, and while they can certainly be luxurious brands, it’s not the same as having the products that we all know and love. Bringing what is familiar will remove the possibility of disappointment, even if the brands on offer are fabulous in the end.
15) Poo Pourri
Sharing a cabin even with those nearest and dearest can put a strain on any relationship. Bathroom habits are best to stay in the bathroom and not waft into the main cabin. Adding Poo Pouri for bathroom breaks can be much more pleasant for all of those sharing space.
Many cruise ships now allow passengers to bring their wine on board. If lucky enough to have a balcony, sipping a glass of wine while watching the ocean go by can be the highlight of any cruise, so be sure to include some in that suitcase.
17 ) Medications
Probably one of the most essential items on any traveller’s list is medications. Whether it is for existing ailments or just being prepared, make a note of what medications should come on the trip. Motion sickness tablets and some Pepto Bismol could come in handy on a cruise.
18) Over the Door Shoe Organiser
Taking an over the door shoe organizer can be pretty handy and not just for shoes! With all the little pockets, these are excellent places to store the smaller items without cluttering cabin space. Deodorants, medicines, and sunscreens are among some of the things that can be tidied away here.
There can be a lot of downtimes when on a cruise, and some days can be spent entirely at sea. Live streaming is not ideal and, in some instances, frowned upon; however, Netflix gives the option of downloading movies and TV shows in advance. Take advantage of this and be prepared to watch your favourite shows comfortably, without any buffering.
20) Beach Bag
Whether it is just lying by the pool or there is a planned trip to the beach, a beach bag or tote is a handy item to have. From towels to flip flops, things can easily be carried around hassle-free using this item.
21) Bathing Suit & Underwear
No packing is complete without a bathing suit. Facilities onboard the cruise ship ensure their guests are never bored. Many offer both indoor and outdoor pools, so the guest can use either whenever the mood takes them. No need to worry about the weather – rain or sun, a bathing suit will come in handy. Carry varieties of underwear and bathing suits to keep the excitement of cruise pools into the cabin. A set of your favourite thongs, bikinis and comfortable panties are more than sufficient
22) After Sun Lotion
Most people remember to put their sunscreen on at relevant points throughout the day, but many overlook the healing and soothing properties of after sun lotion. If there is a fridge in the cabin, pop some lotion in there to keep cool and apply liberally to regenerate skin after a day in the sun.
23) Bug Spray
Bug spray can be fantastic for keeping the little blighters away. No one on vacation wants the be feasted on, so bringing along bug spray may be one of the best packing decisions made. Many different varieties are available, from spray on to roll on, so there’s sure to be something that suits.
24) Beach Blanket
Whether planning an excursion to the beach or not, a great addition to a suitcase. It can be used spread out on beautiful sands next to the ocean, on a lovely hillside in the mountains or, simply, poolside to keep belongings clean.
Popping some sunglasses into the carry on luggage is a great idea. It may be worth buying a couple of pairs to keep one as a spare. Too often sunglasses get sat on at the poolside or left behind somewhere. Keep an extra pair, so there’s always some to hand.
26) Mask and Snorkel
If any destinations include a beach visit, then a mask and snorkel are a must purchase. Take the chance to swim alongside beautiful multicoloured fish in clear blue oceans and see what is below the surface and make the most of this once in a lifetime trip. Having your own snorkel gear would add to the exhilarating experience
More and more people are travelling with a tablet. Whether it is watching movies, checking emails, or reading books while relaxing at the pool, a tablet is a handy device to have on vacation. A tablet is worth investing in, particularly for those partial to travelling with a suitcase full of books.
From wireless and earbuds to noise-cancelling and comfortable, headphones should be on every traveller’s list. Handy to have if flying to the cruise port or lying around on a sun lounger listening to music. It can also be great to just switch off from the world for a while.
29) Closed-toe Shoes
There may be occasions where closed-toe shoes should be worn. With some activities onboard and onshore not allowing flip flops, closed-toe shoes are the next step up. Choose something not too bulky, but comfortable and light to use, should the situation require it.
Whether cruising to colder destinations or having one packed for chilly evenings in warmer climates, a jacket is an essential item to have in the suitcase. From taking a stroll around the deck in the evening or just bundling up for an excursion, it’s best to be prepared for all weather.
31) Walking Shoes
Some day trips may require tourists to have practical shoes with them. From rugged terrain to uneven paths, pack a set of comfortable, supportive walking shoes to take on vacation; it may give more excursion options if suitable shoes are packed.
Interesting sights can be seen at sea. Whether it is another ship in the distance or some breathtaking views spotted while docked in a harbour, binoculars will provide some light entertainment for those who have a penchant for having a nosey. With many different styles out there, they don’t have to be big and bulky.
Hairclips are great when out at sea. With the wind whipping hair about, it can be a frustrating and constant battle pulling hair back, and buying a pack of hair clips before the trip can come in handy, avoiding the need to wrestle wild hair.
34) Sticky Notes
From leaving notes to let loved ones know where you are or popping little reminders on the mirror, sticky notes can be a great little bit of stationary to go in the suitcase. They can also come in handy, letting the maid know of any problems that arise. Most of the experienced cruisers swear by these!
Having a pen to hand sometimes makes life much more straightforward. Whether filling out a crossword puzzle or signing a check, pack a few pens in case they are needed. It can be so frustrating looking for a pen only to find none around.
With this list of items to pack for a cruise vacation, the traveller can be assured that no object is left behind. Take the hassle out of the packing and tick the list off as items are added to the suitcase. Relax, unwind, and chill as adventure awaits.
36) Laundry bag
There is nothing worse than trying to pack with a full load of laundry in tow. Make life easier and take the time to sort clothes before packing, it will save so much time when unpacking. Laundry facilities in most cruise liners are far from rooms so you will appreciate a stylish Laundry bag when you need a trip or two with your dirty clothes nicely hidden
37) Luggage Locks & Tags
A useful and thoughtful gift that will make it easy to identify personal belongings at the baggage carousel, luggage tags and locks are often overlooked. Don’t be the one!
38) Travel or Beach towels
Lose those pesky terry pool towels in your suitcase by investing in a travel-sized, lightweight fabric version. The best part is that this essential also packs down small for when space is a tight onboard ship.
39) Hand Bag
You’ll need a day pack or tote bag to carry your sunscreen, books, wallet, and other sundries on shore excursions or even just an afternoon by the pool. Throw in some small zip lock bags in it and you will have a safe pouch that securely holds your essentials and all your electronics!
Cruise Essentials FAQ
What should you not forget on a cruise?
The simple answer to this million-dollar question is your passports.
What should you pack for a cruise?
Depending on the length of the trip, a cruise can be considered an extended vacation. Therefore, it is important to pack accordingly and bring enough clothing for any type of weather or occasion you might encounter during your voyage.
What should I wear on my first day?
We recommend packing jeans or khakis with comfortable walking shoes for exploring the city when disembarking from your cruise.
What should I pack for an extended cruise?
You’ll need to consider the climate, time of year and your personal needs when deciding what clothes you might want to bring on board. If you plan on doing a lot of excursions in cold weather or rain, we recommend packing layers that can be mixed and matched.
Should I bring my passport or driver’s license on board the ship with me if it is not required to do so?
Yes, It always is a good idea to bring your passport with you, especially when travelling internationally.
What should I pack in my carry-on bag?
You will want to consider the climate of your destination and what may be necessary for security screening.
How much cash will I need for food and other expenses while onboard the cruise ship?
You may be able to use your credit card onboard, but for peace of mind, you will want cash.
What type of clothing should I pack? You should plan on packing layers that can be mixed and matched with the temperature changes. The ship will have a laundry service so clothes won’t need to be washed often.
Is it safe to drink water onboard or will I need bottled water from home instead?
Yes. Cruise ships often have filtered water that’s clean and even taste better than most bottled waters, but remember to take a few bottles for your day in port if you’re not buying fresh water there.
Just enjoy the fact you are being served free beverages all the time… some ship menus will offer sodas, mixed drinks, juices… for example breakfast might come with a pot of coffee/tea and fruit juices or cereal/milk might come with milk… there are also souvenir bottles of bathrobes on deck 12 !!! drink up !! =)
What are major cruise lines?
There are many cruise lines operating in the U.S., Canada, and Europe that offer cruises ranging from one day to six weeks long. Some of these include Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., Princess Cruises (owned by Carnival Corporation) among others.
What is a sea pass card?
It is an identification card that provides passengers with the ability to eat complimentarily and buy discounted drinks, access ship amenities such as pools, spas (not all ships), fitness centres, restaurants/bars etc.
Can I bring my sports equipment to a cruise line?
Yes and No. All sports equipment is provided on the ship. You are not permitted to use your own, including pool noodles. However, if you want to go on a shore excursion, you can bring your own equipment if it isn’t provided.
Why bring magnet clips?
Most cruises will have some paper cruise planners, shore excursion tickets, and invitations to events on your cruise that tend to clutter up your desk and counter space while on a cruise.
Hang these items on the wall with magnetic hooks.
Pack light or pack tight, I hope you found these packing ideas that most cruisers prefer helpful. The cruise industry has been through some tough times in recent years so most cruise lines have discounts and sales all around the year. Checking out cruise magazines, a quick trip to the cruise terminal and speaking to the cruise staff about offers, allowed checked luggage, details about themed nights on their cruise liners are some of the thrifty things I have managed to do to get some great deals. They are on the ship constantly so from cabin walls to bathroom door decor, who better to answer your detailed questions!
Do you have any other suggestions for cruise packing?
If you have any additional or more cruise packing tips and tricks that I haven’t covered here, I’d appreciate it if you could leave them in the comments below to help future cruisers.