25 Cruise Packing Tips All Cruisers Need to Know

25 Useful Cruise Packing Tips

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Are you wondering what to pack for a cruise? Cruises are such easy vacations, but cruise packing takes some planning.

In this post, I share the very best cruise packing tips you need to know. If you’re a first time cruiser (and even if you’re not), this cruise packing list will help you to avoid forgetting any necessities.

If you’re looking for a full list of Amazon cruise essentials, I’ll include some resources at the bottom of this post.

25 Cruise Packing Tips and Tricks

cruise packing tips - what to pack for a cruise

5 Things to Consider When Making Your Cruise Packing List

Before I share the top cruise packing tips, these are some things to think about as you create your own cruise packing list. All of these things will make a difference to what you decide to pack for your cruise vacation.

  • What will the weather be like? (hot or cold, or both?)
  • What’s your cruise line dress code? (for cruise wear planning)
  • Will you be flying or driving to the cruise port?
  • How many people are in your cruise cabin? (for cabin organizing)
  • What excursions and cruise ship activities do you have planned?

What to Pack for your Cruise – Cruise Packing List Must-haves

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1.Passports and Government ID

passports and identification for cruise

Firstly, have your cruise documents and your passports on you (in your purse or wallet) as you board your cruise, and not packed in your suitcase! You can be declined boarding if you do not have the proper ID and documents, so do not under any circumstances put them anywhere in your suitcase!

Cruise tip: As soon as you get to your stateroom, put your passports in your small cabin safe, along with any other valuables and cash you’ve brought on the trip.

2. Cruise Documents

After you complete your cruise online check-in and fill in any questionnaires, make sure to print out your documents. While you may be using the cruise line app for boarding, it’s always a good idea to have your cruise boarding documentation on hand.

As well, print out any shore excursion reservations, hotel reservations etc. to pack for your cruise. 

Cruise Packing Tips 25 Items Not to Forget
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3. Bring a Carry-on bag, Backpack or Beachbag

One of the things that first time cruisers often forget, is to pack an embarkation day carry on bag. Basically, you’ll want to pack anything that you may need for the first day of your cruise, as it will take several hours for your luggage to be delivered to your stateroom.

Personally, I like a big beach bag (see on Amazon) or tote bag with a zipper, so I can use it when I get off at the various islands during the cruise.

Now for the fun stuff! Pack this bag with the following items for embarkation day.

Make sure you pack a bathing suit and cover up (if this is a Caribbean cruise), flip flops, any medications you will need, sunscreen and any valuables.

Read more: 23 Essential Things to Pack in Your Cruise Carry-On Bag

Cruise Tip: Do not pack a towel as they will be provided to you on the ship and can even be used in the ports of call.

4. Keep your Cell Phone Handy

While having a mobile phone isn’t a necessity, it’s a good idea with you as you travel. Many cruise lines are now using apps for check in and even for new muster drills. 

These apps are free and a great addition to the paper daily planners that cruise lines put in your cabin each night. You can see what you want to do any any given hour of the day, and plan ahead for activities and reservations. You may even have a messaging service that can be used between guests, like with Princess Cruises Ocean Medallion.

Cruise tip: Remember to put your phone on airplane mode, as soon as you sailaway from the cruise port.

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5. “Cruise Approved” Power-bar (non surge protected)

While there’s a whole list of cruise accessories you could pack and bring with you, one thing not to forget is a non-surge protected “cruise approved” power bar.

Most cruise ship cabins just don’t have enough outlets. Although newer build ships may have a couple of USB outlets, most do not. Given all our electronic equipment and chargers, most cruisers would agree that packing a power bar is a must.

Note, for safety reasons, you cannot use a surge protector, iron or steamer. Click here to see my recommendation for a Cruise safe power bar (amazon).

6. Cruise Outfits and Comfortable Shoes

Overall, pack what you are comfortable wearing, but do check your cruise line’s dress codes. Some are more casual (ie. Norwegian) and some are more formal (ie. Cunard), while others are somewhere in between.

No matter the dress code, make sure to pack cruise wear for the weather. If cruising in a cool climate, pack layers for the day if spending time outdoors. When cruising in the Caribbean, light clothing can be worn most of the time.

Don’t forget to pack shoes for daytime activities and evenings. You don’t need a pair of shoes for every cruise outfit, but you do want to pack comfortable shoes for the activities you plan to do.

Recommmended: How to Pack Light for a Cruise

7. Formal Wear

Not all cruise lines have formal nights, however most do have an evening where passengers tend to dress up. For instance, Celebrity Cruises has “evening chic” and Norwegian has “Norwegian night out“. 

While you don’t need to attend or dress up, if you would like to participate, plan on bringing some fancier outfits. For men this can be a tuxedo, suit or dress pants and dress shirt. For ladies an evening gown, cocktail dress or “little black dress” are all appropriate.

Read more: What to Wear on a Cruise Formal Night (and frequently asked questions)

8. Wine

Check with your cruise line, however many cruise lines allow you bring a couple bottles of wine on board. There is a corkage fee of 15$, however when you consider what a bottle of wine will cost on the ship, this is likely worth it!

9. Travel Corkscrew

If you drink wine, I suggest you bring a small travel corkscrew (TSA approved), and keep it in your luggage for next time too. This really saves some time and energy for me when cruise packing!

Cruise tip: You can ask your room attendant to keep ice in your ice bucket every day and also for wine glasses to be kept in your cabin. Alternatively, you can also pick up glasses at any bar.

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10. Refillable Water Bottles

The water on board the ship is filtered and totally safe to drink, so bring refillable water bottles to sip from while on the ship by the pool and especially in port when going to the beach.

Keep in mind that you will not want to drink the water in most ports of call so this item is a must on your cruise packing list. At about 3$ a bottle, you’ll save a lot of money by bringing your own.

11. Packing Cubes

One of the best packing advice I ever received was to use packing cubes to pack for a cruise. They keep clothing organized, mostly wrinkle-free, and are especially helpful if you’re cruising with kids

You can pick up packing cube sets in various colors and sizes. Here is a set I’ve used and recommend: packing cubes (5 piece set on Amazon)

12. Wrinkle Release Spray and Tide To Go

These 2 laundry items are very useful when traveling, but especially on a cruise ship when you don’t have easy access to laundry facilities.

Make sure to pack travel sizes of Tide to Go stain removal stick and Downy Wrinkle Release.

tide to go and downy wrinkle release

13. Bring a Pop up Mesh Laundry Bag

Put away dirty clothes as soon as possible, by placing a mesh pop up hamper in your cabin closet.  Here’s an extra tip – get 2 mesh hampers so one can be put away halfway through your cruise.

Cruise tip: Save cruise cabin space by putting suitcases under the bed, and out of the way.

14. Pharmaceutical Items

Some of the most overpriced items on a cruise are often pharmaceutical or health products sold in the cruise ship convenience store. So, avoid buying these items onboard, and pack them from home instead.

You’ll need; waterproof bandaids, polysporin, immodium, pepto-bismal or tums tablets, re-hydrate tablets, pain reliever, throat lozenges, allergy medicine like benadryll, calamine lotion and cough candies.

This is what I bring and include on my cruise packing list, but I suggest you write out your own cruise first-aid kit packing list. 

Read more: 31 Cruise First Aid Kit Essentials You Need to Have

15. Lanyards & Waterproof Phone Case

Putting a cruise key card on a lanyard is a convenient way for cruisers to be a bit more hands free on a cruise. You may also want to bring a waterproof phone case (great to pack for shore excursions) on a lanyard makes it a must-have cruise essential!

 

16. US small bills

Why bring small bills on a cruise? You won’t need cash to pay cruise ship tips or gratuities, as this can be charged to your credit card during your cruise. For your convenience, you can even prepay gratuities before your cruise if you like.

However, it’s a good idea to have small bills to tip the luggage porters as you drop off your luggage on embarkation day, or if they assist you for disembarkation. You may also want to tip tour guides in a cruise port and make small purchases in a shore side market.

Keep in mind that US dollars are welcome in most Caribbean cruise ports. However, when you cruise in Europe or outside of North America, make sure to use the local currency.

Cruise tip: Avoid using your credit card in cruise ports, unless it’s for larger purchases. Even then, keep an eye on the currency being charged and that the amount is what was agreed upon.

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17. Seasickness Medication

Make sure to be prepared for possible motion sickness on a cruise. While we all hope not to get seasick, seasickness medication or prevention should be on your cruise packing list just in case.

Years ago I used to bring scopolamine or motion sickness patches, although we never used them. If you are prone to seasickness, I do suggest bringing them as people report that they work really well. You can also bring seabands as well as some dramamine or non-drowsy ginger gravol.

Nowadays, I  bring some candied ginger which can be found on Amazon or in health food stores. A few years ago we were cruising through the Windward Passage on the way to Aruba and we all felt a bit of the motion. It really helped! Now I bring it with me on every cruise.

Read more: How to Prevent Seasickness on a Cruise: 10 Effective Remedies

18. Water bottles or Soda

Some cruise lines will allow you to bring a small amount of cans of soda or even a case of water bottles on your cruise. Make sure to check your cruise line’s policy, but if you don’t have a beverage package, this is a great way to spend less on a cruise.

Here’s a YouTube video with more cruise packing tips

If you enjoy cruise tips and cruise vlogs, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel, Life Well Cruised on YouTube.

 

19. Sunscreen/after sun lotion

While packing sunscreen may seem obvious if you’re going on a Caribbean, Bermuda or other hot weather cruise, it’s important enough to mention.

Years ago my husband and I were on a Caribbean cruise in the summer and he insisted he had a “base” and didn’t need sunscreen. He was wrong!!

A sunburn and some heatstroke later – he learned his lesson ;-). 

So make sure to pack sunscreen, even if you don’t usually burn at home. In case you do get too much sun, something to add to your cruise packing list is an after-sun or aloe based lotion as well.

20. Lip balm

 Protection from the sun goes beyond our skin. Don’t forget to pack lip balm with an SPF for each member of the family, to avoid unwelcome swollen lips on a cruise.

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21. Ziplock Baggies

Even though I love packing cubes and hanging toiletry bags, sometimes, a good old ziplock baggy is what you need. 

Pack a few bandaids in a baggy and throw them into your cruise shore excursion bag. Use baggies to pack a few snacks for your children from the buffet. You may even want to put wet bathing suits in large ziplocks after a beach excursion.

22. Water shoes

I’ll leave that up to you. You definitely need sandals or flip flops, but you may or may not need water shoes. Some people like bringing water shoes for beach days and water excursions.

On a past cruise, we did an excursion to Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica, and they were a must! Our friends found the quite useful at a Caribbean beach, when they snorkeled and found the beach a little rocky.

23. Children’s Items

If you’re traveling with young children, bring what you would need for any trip: diapers, wipes, rash creams. Bring some children’s tylenol or your preferred medication as well. Do check with the cruise line as to what will be provided as food, and what you may need to bring and add that to your own cruise packing list.

24. Sand Toys

There really isn’t much of a limit on what you can bring on a cruise, so if you’re cruising with young children, why not pack sand and beach toys? These can really keep the kids busy on beach days, and having fun on your cruise!

25. Towel Clips

cruise towel clips cruise

Boca Clips Beach Towel Holders

I bought these towel clips a few years ago. Not only are they probably my favorite cruise accessory, but they are so useful! When it’s breezy on a cruise ship on sea days, or even on our beach days, I simply clip my towels to the lounge chairs and they stay in place.

There are a few options such as cute flamingo clips, or parrots and more!

Useful Cruise Essentials

If you’re looking for add to your cruise packing list, here are some of the best selling cruise accessories on Amazon, that may be useful to pack for your cruise. 

Magnet hooks

Over the door organizer

Cruise lanyards

Cruise luggage tag holders (short – Carnival, Princess, HAL)

Cruise luggage tag holders (long -Celebrity & Royal)

Cruise luggage tag holders (Norwegian Cruise Line)

Cruise cabin night light

Cruise power strip (non surge protected)

Hanging toiletry bag

Planning a cruise? You may enjoy these related posts next:

50 Must-have Cruise Essentials from Amazon

What To Wear on a Cruise – The Ultimate Guide

21 Essential Things to Pack in Your Cruise Carry-On

What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise

What Toiletries to Pack for a Cruise – The Ultimate Guide

20 Healthy Cruise Essentials for Post Pandemic Travel

Final Thoughts: 25 Cruise Packing Tips All Cruisers Need to Know

In this post we went over what to pack for a cruise as well as 25 useful cruise packing tips first time cruisers need to know. I’ve also included some of the most useful cruise essentials many cruise travelers find useful on a cruise.

I hope this post has been helpful to give you a good idea to know what to pack for your cruise vacation.

If this your first cruise or have you cruised in the past? What are your cruise packing tips or must-haves items you bring on a cruise? Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!!

Ilana 

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28 Comments

  1. Becky C
    April 13, 2018 / 1:07 am

    I’ve read from a lot of travelers to use packing cubes. I myself haven’t used them YET. I just bought some for our next months cruise. They really help avoid wrinkled clothes, and they keep everything organized.

    • April 13, 2018 / 1:27 am

      I just googled those. What a good idea! I know I’ve tried the plastic packing bags (ziplock I think), but since I pack my shoes in between my clothes I preferred my clothes more “flexible”. Perhaps I’ll try these. If you cruise shortly please pop back and let me know how you like them πŸ™‚

    • Janine Jensen
      April 23, 2018 / 2:35 am

      I love packing cubes!! Rolled clothes pack with ease. Check out YouTube for folding techniques.

      • April 24, 2018 / 1:54 am

        Seems I have to try these!! Next cruise for sure πŸ™‚

        • Lynda
          June 18, 2019 / 11:39 pm

          LHaggard I have cruised a dozen or more times. Last year the Celebrity Equinox and this year on the Carnival Freedom is booked. Enjoyed several different lines and never disappointed.

          • July 1, 2019 / 2:48 pm

            Hi Lynda,

            It’s great that you enjoy the different cruise experiences on different cruise lines.

            Have fun on the Freedom!

            Ilana

      • Chrissie
        June 3, 2018 / 11:31 am

        I always use packing cubes, they work really well for me πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜Š

        • June 3, 2018 / 12:28 pm

          Well I will 100% be trying them for my cruise next month! Thanks for the tip :-)!!

        • Judith Barr
          August 18, 2018 / 2:24 pm

          I used packing cubes for the first times on my last cruise. I loved them. You can leave all your clothes in them and just put the cubes on a shelf or in a drawer. Just unzip and leave open in the shelf or drawer. So much quicker to unpack and pack now. I love them.

          • August 19, 2018 / 12:50 am

            Really? That sounds like such a time saver!! I actually hate packing up to go home, so especially for that! Thanks for the tip Judith πŸ™‚

  2. Janine Jensen
    April 23, 2018 / 2:31 am

    Just returned from the Eastern Caribbean. I definitely overpacked. I must say, I brought 4 swim suits and wore all of them and lived in light weight board shorts, flowy tank tops and flip flops. Didn’t need the fancy shorts at all. All you need is one LBD and play it up with accessories if you have 2 formal nights. Long summery maxi dresses were perfect for evenings and don’t forget a light weight sweater. The ships air conditioning can be quite chilly.

    • April 24, 2018 / 1:56 am

      You’re right. A LBD really works! I too love my sundresses. I am a sucker for shoes though. One cruise I brought 17 pairs for 7 days… but that included flip flops, fancy sandals, heals, running shoes. In any case I know that was too much, even for me, lol. I’m better now!! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

  3. April 24, 2018 / 12:30 am

    Great info. I love to travel but have not yet been on a cruise. What would you say is the best part of taking a cruise? Thanks Nina

    • April 24, 2018 / 1:53 am

      Hi Nina,
      A cruise is definitely worth a try! Personally, I like so many things. It fits my need to have fun, relax, reconnect with my loved ones and travel and explore. If you love to travel but cruising makes you a bit nervous, perhaps try a cruise that leaves out of a destination you always wanted to visit. I this way you can plan 2 or 3 days in that city to explore more deeply. After that each day in a port is about 10 hours, so you can decide what you want to do. Perhaps browse my site for the Cruise Misconceptions post, as there is a cruise for everyone and one size does not fit all. Let me know if you need advice or have questions πŸ™‚

  4. Kathryn
    April 25, 2018 / 10:23 am

    Thanks for your practical tips, one of the best I’ve read so far. Going on my first cruise around the Med for 14 days in a July and this will help a lot..

    • April 28, 2018 / 12:04 am

      Thanks for your comment Kathryn! I’m so glad to hear that you found the tips helpful. I have another post with Med Cruise tips that you might like too. Shoot me any questions about your Med ports if you like :-).

  5. April 26, 2018 / 9:28 am

    I rarely drop comments, however i did some searching
    and wound up here Cruising this Year? Simple, Easy and Practical Packing Tips for the Best Cruise –
    LifeWellCruised.com. And I do have a few questions for you
    if it’s allright. Could it be only me or does
    it look like a few of these responses look like they are
    coming from brain dead visitors? πŸ˜› And, if you are writing on additional sites, I’d
    like to keep up with everything new you have to post.
    Could you list of the complete urls of your social pages like your
    Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile? https://www.silicone-wristbands.co.uk

  6. June 12, 2018 / 12:27 pm

    I always have to make the packing list for my family, this makes life a lot easier! Great information!

    • June 15, 2018 / 1:27 am

      Hey Jessica, I am so glad it was helpful for you! Thanks for taking the time to comment xoxo, Ilana

  7. Jody
    June 16, 2019 / 9:29 pm

    Please do to leave a case of water with the porters if you are cruising Disney Cruise Line. All drinks must be carried on.

  8. Sandy
    July 25, 2019 / 12:56 am

    I have been using packing cubes for a few years now. They are a must! You can pack more and keep everything super organized!

    • July 25, 2019 / 1:15 pm

      Thanks Sandy for sharing that. They definitely see to make life so much easier when packing for a cruise.

      I’ll have to take your advice and try and find some I love!

      Ilana

  9. Jen
    December 6, 2019 / 9:38 pm

    I finally bought packing cubes before our last trip to Arizona last year…what a difference! I’m cruising next month on a mother/daughter birthday trip with my mom, and can’t wait to see how efficient I can be for our cruise πŸ™‚
    Thank you for all of your hacks and tips. I feel very prepared….now to get all of this stuff packed into a small suitcase!

    • December 10, 2019 / 2:32 am

      Hi Jen,

      That’s awesome! Great to hear the packing cubes work so well!

      Thanks for your kind words – I’m glad you’re feeling prepared for your mother/daughter cruise. It sounds really special!

      Have an amazing cruise!

      Ilana

  10. Debra Stansfield
    May 14, 2021 / 10:00 pm

    Hi;

    I am a light sleeper and I need complete darkness when I sleep. I never travel without this as I find this works on cruises as well as in hotel rooms. My discovery?

    I take 10 to 12 large “chip bag” clips with me and use them to keep curtains tightly closed thereby keeping out ALL light.

    So for all you light sleepers out there, try this hack.

    • May 16, 2021 / 1:32 pm

      Hi Debra,

      That’s a smart hack! It could definitely be used on cruises (for ocean view & balcony cabins) as well.

      Thanks for sharing

      Ilana

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