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Cruise Packing List: Your Ultimate Guide

Do you have your cruise booked and it’s getting closer? We’ve got your cruise packing list so you can make sure you have everything you need for your trip!

Maybe you’re so excited that you’ve already pulled out your suitcases, maybe weeks in advance, but you need a little guidance on exactly what to pack for a cruise…

I’m an avid cruiser and I can help!

image of cruise ship at sea for cruise packing list introduction

 

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Cruise Packing List: Your Ultimate Guide

image of cruise stateroom - packing list for cruises

In case you didn’t know, your stateroom WILL be smaller than you’re probably used to at home! 🙂

Cruise lines work smart with their small amount of space, however, and have TONS of creative storage places.

I’ve never felt crowded once I have everything unpacked.

However, I will note that I am realistic about what I need to take along and don’t usually overpack as you can see in the photo below…

two different piles of clothing and cloth bags for cruise packing
Two different people packing for the same 4-day adventure

 

You don’t want to overpack, but you don’t want to forget any essentials either, because you can’t just run to a well-stocked store.

While the ship will have some things, their inventory is quite limited, and you might pay double or triple what you would at home.

If you bring 2 suitcases, make one of them smaller than the other, so you can nest them together and put them in the closet or under the bed to get them out of the way.

Now let’s get to the list…

 

Paperwork, Cards and Cash

passports with a lot of stamps inside

Don’t even think about leaving home without these things…

  • cruise paperwork (printed or on your phone)
  • driver’s license
  • passport
  • vaccine card (if required)
  • credit/debit card
  • health/travel insurance info 
  • cold, hard cash

You don’t want to rely on the ATM onboard actually working, like we did, for your source of funds to pay for tours not booked with the cruise line!

We were so happy our BFFs were well stocked with cash and trusted us to pay them back.

 

Electronics

person tapping on tablet with laptop computer in background

Be aware that there’s usually only 1 outlet in a stateroom.

You’ll absolutely want to bring a small power cord with multiple outlets and a multi-USB charger.

If you’re used to having a ceiling fan at home, purchase a small portable fan to bring along. It’ll help circulate the air and serve as a sound machine.

Booked an inside cabin? It’s going to be dark, really dark…

Toss a small nightlight into your suitcase, so you can see when Mother Nature calls at 2 a.m.

Banging toes and shins on unfamiliar furniture won’t add to the enjoyment of your trip!

For taking photos, bring along your phone and a power bank.

A GoPro-type camera is perfect for underwater beach fun, snorkeling or scuba diving.

Need to stay connected to do some work while on vacation?

You might if you work for a travel company like I do! Don’t forget your laptop, case, charger and earbuds.

To organize all those miscellaneous cords, you might want to spring for an electronic organizer packing cube with all sorts of straps and pockets to store everything in one place.

For those times when you can just totally relax, have some books loaded onto your e-reader.

 

Toiletries

hand sanitizer bottle

Warm weather cruisers will want to stock up on sunscreen and lip balm and use them liberally.

Going to the jungle or a beach known for deer flies or some other pesky flying, biting thing?

Bug spray or some bug spray wipes or a bracelet are crucial.

You don’t want to be scratching your way through the rest of your trip!

For the bathroom, it’s a good idea to have a product like Poo-Pourri, which you spray into the toilet, to keep odors at bay and all cabin guests speaking to one another.

I always bring a bottle of hand sanitizer to keep Norovirus far from me.

They’ll have stations all around the ship and tell you repeatedly to “washy, washy” with it before entering restaurants.

Do yourself a favor if you can and avoid handrails and the elevators, wash your hands thoroughly back in your cabin and use sanitizer.

So far, with those steps, I’m happy to report I’ve eluded Norovirus so far! 🤞

You can most likely buy the below essentials at the ship’s store, but why spend the money when you have them at home?

  • medicines like pain relievers, TUMS, motion sickness, etc.
  • toothbrush/paste
  • deodorant

If you do get sick onboard, the ship has a medical facility that can treat a lot of things, so you can put your mind at ease.

And, of course, don’t forget any prescriptions you need to take. 

We advise packing them in a carry-on with proper labeling just in case your checked luggage should get lost.

 

Clothing

folding clothes to pack for a cruise

Which clothing to pack is going to depend entirely on if you are going to Alaska or the Caribbean and if you will attend your cruise line’s formal night/themed dinners.

A swimsuit is an absolute MUST on any type of cruise.

If you’re cold in Alaska, hit the solarium pool or the hot tub.

In the Caribbean? You might actually have your swimsuit ON most of the time.

But note that you won’t be allowed to enter restaurants in your swimsuit alone, so make sure you have a full-coverage, modest cover-up to pull over it.

Be sure to bring a wet bag or big Ziploc bag to take home anything that’s still wet.

Believe me, it happens!

I got poured on in Nassau, and it took my tennis shoes DAYS to get dry! 

It’s super nice to have a packable hat of some sort to protect you from the sun or when you have that “vacation hair, don’t care” attitude! 

We love sun hats that fold so they don’t take much room in your bag.

woman wearing floppy hat that says "vacay" at cruise ship pool

You might think you won’t be cold, especially on a warm weather cruise, but they’ll have the a/c blasting away to keep everyone cool, so be sure to bring something to layer for when you feel nippy.

Check to see if you’ll be having a formal night (think Sunday best) or themed dinner party that you’ll want to participate in and bring along the appropriate clothing.

Pick up a small spray bottle to fill with water and spritz any wrinkled clothing since no irons or steamers of any kind are allowed.

We also like Downey Wrinkle Release to do the trick without an iron!

Of course, you’ll want to include all the essentials such as…

  • underclothes
  • socks
  • pjs
  • shorts/capris/pants
  • shirts

Don’t forget to toss in various types of shoes like…

  • tennis shoes
  • dress shoes
  • sandals
  • flip flops
  • water shoes if you’ll be getting in the ocean or kayaking/white-water rafting

 

Miscellaneous

folded towel with green sunglasses on cruise ship bed

Bringing an extra lightweight bag or foldable backpack along is a great idea for going down to the pool, for beach day and to bring souvenirs home that won’t fit in your suitcase.

I also bring my fanny pack with water bottle for excursions or while onboard, walking the track or going to non-formal gatherings.

A hanging organizer for the closet is also handy.

I have one that has several semi-sturdy shelves and holds tons of miscellaneous stuff. 

Extra reading glasses are a MUST for me!

While being trip navigator once, I lost mine and couldn’t see a thing. Ha!

SO, needless to say, I have 2-3 pairs along just in case, including 1 pair of sunglass readers.

Lest I forget to mention sunglasses, do bring those also.

They might come in handy for your room steward to use as well!

I’m never without a water bottle, some sandwich baggies and packaged snacks on a trip, even if there are endless buffets and pizza at all hours of the night.

When getting off the ship, I like to have some food with me, just in case, heaven forbid, it’s been more than 2 hours since I last ate!

Like to do laundry while on vacation so you don’t have to lug home a suitcase of dirty clothes?

Take a laundry bag, detergent and coins for the onboard laundromat, though many now accept credit cards.

Be sure to check with your cruise line in advance about their laundry system so you’re prepared.

Either way, the laundry bag comes in handy.

A good set of binoculars are great for scanning the ocean or sky for wildlife or watching an iceberg calve.

Possibility of rain? An umbrella or rain poncho will fit easily into your suitcase.

Speaking of things being wet, if you’re headed out to the beach, you’ll want to have a dry pouch of some type for your phone and anything else that needs to stay dry.

 

What NOT to Bring 

lit candles and wine glasses on wooden table

The list of things you can’t bring is long, so you’ll want to check with your individual cruise line if you think that your item is iffy.

Definitely no weapons or illegal substances of any kind along with items that have heating elements other than personal grooming items, such as flat irons can be brought on board.

I even read on one cruise website that drones are not allowed.

Want to create a romantic atmosphere?

Open flame candles are a no-no but feel free to bring battery-powered candles if you must have them.

They also look down on fireworks, party poppers and helium-filled balloons, so plan something else for your marriage proposal ;-)!

And lastly, check with your cruise line for their rules on what drinks you can bring onboard: alcoholic or otherwise.

 

Arrival Day Bag

small backpack filled with cruise arrival day essentials

When you get to the cruise terminal, the cruise porters will take your larger suitcases and you’ll see those in your stateroom later.

If you want to keep your carry-on size suitcase with you, just know you won’t be allowed into your stateroom until after 1 p.m. or later, and you’ll want to grab lunch and explore the ship in the meantime.

Dragging a suitcase around for a couple of hours is not my idea of fun.

Personally, I drop my bag off with the porter and have my backpack or tote bag along with me which has my swimsuit, sunscreen and a book.

After a full exploration of the ship, I’ll change into my suit, grab a towel from a deckhand, find a quiet place and start my vacay off with a good book. 

Are you ready to get packing for your cruise?

You should be able to do it now with ease.

Bon voyage!

Full Cruise Packing List

Paperwork

  • Itinerary
  • Travel Books
  • Maps/Apps
  • Driver’s License/ID
  • Passport and copies
  • COVID Vaccination Card

Cards/Money

  • Priority Pass Lounge Pass
  • SW Companion Pass/drink coupons
  • Credit/Debit cards
  • Cash
  • Insurance card

Electronics

  • Phone, Charger, Case
  • Power bank
  • Go Pro
  • Selfie Stick
  • Laptop, Case, Charger
  • Headphones/Earbuds
  • E-Reader
  • International converters
  • Walkie Talkies w/batteries
  • Short power strip
  • Multi-USB charger
  • Small portable fan
  • Small nightlight
  • Electronic organizer packing cube

Miscellaneous

  • Reading glasses
  • Extra bag for souvenirs
  • Water bottles
  • Laundry detergent/bag/coins
  • Raincoat/umbrella
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Seasickness band/medication
  • Dry pouch for phone
  • Wet bag/big Ziplock bags
  • Packaged snacks/small sandwich baggies
  • Small spray bottle or Downy Wrinkle Release

Toiletries

  • Medicines
  • First Aid kit
  • Sunscreen/Lip balm
  • Hand sanitizer/Wipes
  • Kleenex
  • Bug spray/Wipes/Bracelets
  • Toiletries – toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
  • Makeup
  • Hair clips/Hair ties/Headband
  • Poo-Pourri

Clothing

  • Face masks (if needed)
  • Underclothes
  • Socks
  • Pajamas/Robe/Slippers
  • Clothes (shirts, pants, shorts)
  • Formal night clothes
  • Jacket or Sweatshirt
  • Belt
  • Hat/Cap
  • Swimsuit/Cover up
  • Sunglasses
  • Tennis shoes/Dress shoes/Sandals/Flip flops

Cruise Items

  • Binoculars
  • Backpack/Fanny pack
  • Beach towel
  • Water shoes
  • Cruise Card holders
  • Books
  • Swim goggles/pool toys
  • Hanging organizer for closet

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2 thoughts on “Cruise Packing List: Your Ultimate Guide”

  1. Very good. I feel like you talk too much about travel in the US and Europe but I’d like to hear more about traveling to South America and Africa !!

    Reply
    • The cruise packing list works for all destinations! I’d love to take a cruise in South America someday. We really specialize in US, Caribbean and Europe only.

      Reply

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