Cruises are a fun way to see a lot of different places easily. You only have to worry about packing for a cruise once and then don’t have to worry about packing up until your cruise is over. Each day you wake up at different location. We love cruising because there are so many options on the cruise ship with fun activities, entertainment, and unlimited food. We always enjoy a caribbean cruise, because there are so many great places to see. Cruises also are super family friendly! But it can be stressful to know what to take on a cruise. We’ve put together a huge cruise packing list with all our cruise essentials, including a cruise packing checklist. If you’re going on a cruise for the first time, this cruise packing list will help you to not stress about your cruise packing. Don’t forget to print your own cruise checklist for your next cruise!
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What to pack for a cruise
Before you start packing for your cruise, think about what you will be doing while on the cruise. If you choose to do any cruise excursions while at the ports, make sure to pack some active clothes and shoes. There will be at least one formal night, if you wish to participate, bring a nice outfit for the dinner. Also bring some non-formal dinner wear for the other nights on the cruise ship. You’ll probably be walking around on the cruise ship a lot, so you’ll want some swim cover-ups or sundresses. Since most cruises tend to be about a week, we’ll make this packing list based on a 7 day cruise, but if you are going on a 10 day cruise or even 14 day cruise, you can adjust the quantities as needed. We tend to pack very light, as we have found we don’t need as much as we think, but we know some people just like to be prepared so here is everything you need for a cruise.
Ultimate Cruise Packing List
You are going to want to pack a bigger checked bag, that will get delivered to your stateroom later on the first day, and also a carry on or day bag. The day bag will have all your cruise essentials in it, as you most likely won’t be getting your bigger bag until later. You’ll want to explore the ship right when you board, so make sure to pack the cruise essentials in your carry on bag.
- Backpack or tote – Pick a smaller bag that you can pack all these cruise essentials in. We like to use a tote or a backpack as our day bag, as we use it again when we get off at different ports.
- Walking shoes – If you plan on enjoying the cruise ports and going on some excursions, you’ll need walking shoes. You’ll end up walking a lot and you’ll hate yourself if your feet start to hurt or get blisters, so make sure you get comfortable shoes.
- Dramamine – Because of how big cruise ships are, most people don’t feel any seasickness on the cruise, but we always recommend to bring some dramamine just in case. For first time cruisers, we recommend packing this in your dag bag, in case you’re having trouble acclimmating to the boat.
- Bug repellant – If you’re going to some warmer climates, it’s important to bring some bug repellant with you. You can also use these bug repellant bracelets if you don’t like using a spray.
- Toiletry bag – You don’t to have to buy any toiletries on the ship because its all overpriced. So make sure to bring your toothpaste, toothbrush, seasickness pills, face cream, medications… in your toiletry bag. Fill up your small reusable travel bottles.
- Reusable water bottle – We carry our hydroflask with us everywhere we travel. We like to fill up our bottle with some ice and water before we head out to explore the port to enjoy some ice water while it’s hot.
- Swimsuit – we recommend you either wear your swimsuit or pack it in your day bag, so you can use the pool once you board.
- Sunscreen – If you’re heading to the Caribbean or somewhere warm, definitely bring your sunscreen with you in your day bag. You’ll be getting lots of sun and you don’t want to burn the first day
- Hat/sunglasses – Definitely a cruise essential especially for the tropical cruises. Pack a hat or sunglasses in your carry on bag.
- Important paper work and travel docs – including id/passport, cruise documents, printed baggage tags…
- T-shirts/Tank tops – We think 4-5 is a good amount for the week. The nice thing about a cruise is you don’t. have to carry your luggage once you’re on the ship. But you’ll probably be amazed at how little you actually need.
- Shorts – Usually 2 or 3 shorts is enough, as you can mix and mash throughout the week
- Casual pants or crops – pack 1 pair of pants that can go with a few different tops. We like to bring a pair of light linen pants like these since theyll be lightweight and easy to pack.
- Cardigan/sweater – It may get a little chilly at night on the ship, so having a light sweater or cardigan is smart.
- Casual dresses/sundresses – Bring a couple dresses that you can wear throughout the cruise. I found that I generally wore sundresses for dinner.
- Formal night dress – You don’t have to participate in the formal dinner but if you choose to, you’ll want to have a nice dress/pants for that. Read the rules on your cruise lines elegant attire.
- Workout gear – It’s nice to get a workout on the cruise ship while you’re sailing to the next destination. We generally bring 3 pairs of workout tops/shorts (or bring less and plan to wash them). Our workout gear can also be used when we go on adventurous excursions (like ziplining or hiking).
- Swimsuits – You’ll be doing a lot of swimming and/or sunbathing either on the cruise ship or when you’re exploring the cruise ports, so we recommend bringing a couple swimsuits.
- Swim cover-up – Having 1 or 2 swim coverups are easy to wear around the boat.
- Other necessities like bras, underwear, socks…
- Flip flops – You’ll want a pair of flip flops to walk around on the cruise ship. We wore sandals most of the time, minus for dinner.
- Dressy shoes – It’s smart to bring a pair of dressy shoes for formal night
- Tennis shoes – Bring a pair of tennis shoes that can be used for both working out and for exploring the ports, especially if you are doing active shore excursions.
- Water shoes – We end up doing lots of water activities at the cruise ports so we bring our water shoes with us.
- Toiletry bag – We love having a toiletry bag that hangs so its out of the way in the bathroom. Cruise rooms can be small, so anything you can do to expand the space is helpful.
- Shampoo/conditioner – Like all other toiletries, bring small travel sizes
- Hand sanitizer – Make sure to bring a small travel size. We love this one that is a spray, as it dries fast and isn’t sticky
- Downy wrinkle release – This travel size bottle is great for getting wrinkles out if you don’t want to iron. Its small and easy to use to keep your clothes looking nice
- Makeup and skin care
We always have a small first aid kit anytime we travel, just in case. Here are some things you should have if you need them.
- Mosquito repellent – Always smart to have bug repellant with you. We also like to bring the bands so we don’t have to worry abouy spraying all the time
- any medications you take
- Probiotics – We take probiotics all the time when were home, so we travel with them too. It’s smart to continue taking probiotics for your gut, as you’ll usually be eating different than you do at home
- Activated charcoal – activated charcoal is great if you’re feeling sick, or have a stomach bug. Activated charcoal helps flush out the toxins in your body. It’s also great for preventing hangovers
- Antibioitic ointment – just in case you have an open wound
- Aloe vera – you never know when you might get too much sun!
- Power bank and cords – We take this portable power bank with us everywhere. You can charge your electronics wherever you go. This powerbank is compact and charges fast.
- Camera – You’ll want your camera to take lots of awesome photos of your cruise
- GoPro – for any water activities or shore excursions, having a action camera that is also waterproof is awesome. You can take underwater photos of you snorkeling, or while ziplining, without worrying about ruining your camera.
- Gorilla pod – a small, compact tripod that helps your photography while your cruising
- Power strip – there aren’t that many power outlets in your cabin, so having a power strip is useful to bring if you have a lot of electronics. We like this one because it also has usb outlets to charge your phone.
Things that make cruising easier
- Swim goggles – If you like to swim, bring some swim googles to do some lap swimming on the cruise or on the beach
- Snorkel mask – If you plan on visiting any beaches, theres a good chance you’ll be doing some snorkeling. Save yourself some money and bring your own snorkel mask
- Packing cubes – Packing cubes making packing so much easier and more organized. Not only can you fit more things in your bag, but you will know where everything is
- Beach blanket – When heading to the beach, its nice to have a compact blanket for the beach. This one folds up small, has anchors, and dries quickly.
- Small bills – Cash is important on the cruise and for cruise excursions, but you want to make sure you have small bills for tipping
- Lanyard – They sell lanyards on the cruise, but they can be very expensive. You’ll be carrying your sign and sail card around with you all the time, and if you don’t want to carry a purse or wallet, a lanyard is the easiest.
- Magnetic hooks – There aren’t many places to hang things in the cruise room. There is lots of metal in the rooms, so these magnetic hooks work perfectly.
- Dry bag – If you plan on doing excursions on a boat or even just hanging at the beach, a dry bag will be a lifesaver. You can put all your electronics inside and it will protect it from the water.
Important Travel Documents
- Passport – Americans don’t need a passport, but its always wise to bring one just in case
- Goverment issued license or drivers license
- Cruise documents (itineraries, booking reciepts, excursion papers, luggage tags…)
- Credit card/debit card/cash
- Travel insurance policy – it’s smart to always have travel insurance, especially if you are traveling during hurricane season.
Cruise Packing Tips
- Use your beach bag or tote as your carry-on onto the ship. The tote or backpack will also be useful for exploring the cruise ports each day. Put your cruise essentials (swimsuit, book, sunscreen, sunglasses…) in your beach bag, so once you check in you can go enjoy the cruise ship. It will be a little while until your checked luggage will arrive at your room and you don’t want to miss the fun!
- Don’t pack too much! Remember, it’s ok to wear some things again, or to mix and match. You don’t want to have to carry extra stuff!
- Pre-print and attach your luggage tags. You will need to have your luggage tags on your checked bag before you board the ship. You can do this online before you get to the cruise port, and it makes things much easier and faster once you board.
- Each cruise line has its own rules on amount of alcohol you can bring, make sure to read the rules before you bring too much. If you don’t follow the rules, it will get confiscated when you check into the ship.
You are all ready for your next cruise vacation! Hopefully this cruise packing list will all the cruise essentials you need and tips for packing for a cruise helps you prepare for your cruise. Don’t forget to download your printable checklist! Do you have anything you think we should add to our cruise packing list? If we missed something, comment below, so we can add it!
If you liked this cruise packing list, check out these other packing lists:
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