50+ Must-have Cruise Essentials from Amazon in 2024

50 Must-have Cruise essentials 2023

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If you’re cruising in the near future, you may be creating a list of Amazon cruise essentials to bring on your cruise. These cruise accessories and travel gadgets can be really useful for space-saving and more!

Cruising is the type of travel experience, where you want to be prepared with everything you need in advance. I’ve learned from experience, if you think you might need it, you better bring it from home. 

In this post, I share some of the most useful things to bring on a cruise, from things that help with packing for a cruise to genius items that will organize your cruise cabin space.

In addition, I’ll include a few items you may not have thought of bringing on a cruise, but really should be on your cruise packing list ! You may even have some of these things at home already.

Cruise Essentials Packing List – Amazon Must-haves

50 cruise essentials you would not think of

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Here are some of Amazon’s most popular cruise travel essentials and accessories that pro cruisers swear by!

Before we get started, you might be wondering if you need all 50 items on this list. Of course, you’ll want to pick and choose. Not every travel item needs to be packed for every cruise!

However, the items that are included, are some of the most popular and well reviewed cruise essentials sold on Amazon.

As well, this post has been updated to include some new cruising essentials for 2024.

Many of these items are things that I bring and use on my own cruises. I’ve included a couple YouTube videos below, if you’d like to see the items and have more information.

Recommended Cruise Accessories to Pack for a Cruise

These items are useful to organize your cruise stateroom , for packing and to use onboard your cruise ship.

best selling amazon items for your cruise

1. Cruise Approved Power Bar

It’s surprising, but most cruise ship cabins have only 1 or 2 electric plugs. If you’re bringing electronic items like phones, pads, speakers, go-pros and anything else, you’ll really want more plugs, and even USB’s.

Very important – Cruise lines don’t allow you to bring a regular surge-protected power bar from home (they will confiscate). It’s very important to have a non-surge protected one that is “cruise approved” .

cruise ship travel items

2. Non-Surge Power Cubes with USB-C

A new cruise accessory I’ve found is smaller travel size power cube which includes a USB-C plug.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: No-surge power bar cube with 6 outlets (check 5* amazon reviews)

3. Over the Door Hanging Organizer 

Cruisers are masters at using small cruise cabin space efficiently . An over the door organizer is very practical to store items you and your family will use often. You can hang this on your bathroom door or even use magnet hooks to hang on a cabin wall.

Pro tip: Pack your over the door organizer at home and place it in your suitcase, ready to hang. It will save so much time on your embarkation day .

cruise ship travel items

4. Magnetic Cabin Hooks

One of the best ways to add storage space to your cruise stateroom is to use magnet hooks to hang backpacks, sunhats and bathing suits to dry. Cruise cabin walls are metal, so using magnets is an awesome cruise cabin hack !

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: 6 pack Magnetic Hooks (these are “heavy duty”)

magnetic hooks

5. Magnetic Clips

Another cruise essential that really won’t be on other types of travel packing lists, are magnetic wall clips . Funny but cool cruise fact – cruise cabin walls are metal.

Why bring magnet clips? On a cruise, you’ll 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. Use some magnetic clips to hang these items on the wall.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Magnetic clips (see 4.5* Amazon reviews)

50 Must-have Cruise Essentials

6. Cruise Luggage Tag Holders

Plastic reusable luggage tags holders are so practical. If you get nothing else, buy luggage tag holders ! Not only are they reasonably priced, but they can be reused again and again.

cruise ship travel items

Cruise Line Luggage Tag Holders

  • Royal Caribbean
  • Holland America
  • MSC Cruises

7. Packing Cubes

It’s official. I’m a packing cube convert. While I wrote a blog post about the pros and cons of packing cubes , the fact is, there are very few cons.

In fact, I’ve now found even more cruise packing hacks and ways to use packing cubes to keep organized on my cruise. I recommend getting at least 2 packs of these packing cubes , with the various sizes, in different colors. This way you can have cubes for each member of the family.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: 5 star rated Packing Cubes

Read more:   The Pros and Cons of Packing Cubes for Cruise Vacations

8. Luggage Set with Spinner Wheels

Ilana with hard side luggage

If you’re anything like me, you might be due for some new luggage. Make sure it’s lightweight and has 4 spinner wheels so that it’s easy to board your cruise ship and disembark (even if you do self-disembarkation).

Recently, I got new hard side luggage and I’m loving it!

cruise ship travel items

Pro tip – If you have a neutral or common color suitcase, like black, blue or grey, make sure to tie some colored yarn or ribbon around a handle so that it stands out and you can find it easily at the airport or cruise terminal.

Recommended : 2 Piece Luggage Set (check price & reviews on Amazon here)

9. Portable Luggage Scale

Make sure to bring along a portable digital luggage scale when you’re flying to and from your cruise. This handheld digital scale includes batteries and is a customer favorite.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended:   Handheld digital luggage scale (see product details & Amazon reviews here)

10. Lanyard and Keycard Holder

Cruise lanyards are one of the most popular cruise essentials. If you want to stay hands free or keep organized, putting your cruise key card in a plastic water-proof lanyard is super practical both on the cruise and as you get off the ship at a cruise port.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Cruise Lanyard and Cruise Card Holder (waterproof)

11. Cruise Card Holder Phone Pouch

This new cruise accessory, a cruise card holder , is now my husband’s favorite! He used this to hold his cruise key card on our last cruise, and has raved about it ever since.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Cruise car holder phone pouch wallet (stays on cell phone case)

50 brilliant Amazon items to Bring on a Cruise

12. Refillable (and collapsible) Water Bottles

I love these space-saving roll-able and collapsible water bottles . While obviously convenient on the cruise ship, more than that I love how they don’t take room in my luggage or beach bag when not being used.

cruise ship travel items

13. Insulated Tumbler Travel Mug

cruise ship travel items

14. Towel Clips

It’s very hard for me to hold in my enthusiasm for pool and beach towel clips . The ship is so breezy and towels would never stay put for me. It used to drive me crazy as I would try to read or relax.

This is honestly an item I’m so happy we bring on our cruises! We bought some towel clips with different styles (flamingo, margaritas, flip flops) and they’re adorable!

cruise ship travel items

15. Adjustable Towel Bands for Beach Chairs

Some cruisers prefer towel bands to clips, as they’re easier to pack and take up less room. I love these, as they are adjustable and have a convenient clip cruisers are loving.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Towel bands with clips

16. Poo-Pourri Bathroom Spray

Poo-Pourri bathroom spray is a cruising essential that may not be talked about much, but it works. Cruise cabins and bathrooms are small, and the space is tight. A useful bathroom hack is to spray a little Poo-Pourri before you go. 

cruise ship travel items

17. Cabin Alarm Clock

If you like to know the time during the night or don’t want to rely on your cell phone, consider a simple travel battery operated clock . A lot of cruisers swear this is one of their favorite cruise accessories.

cruise ship travel items

18. Motion Sensor Nightlight

This portable nightlight gets great reviews by cruisers and is one of the best-selling Amazon cruise accessories.

If you’re in an inside cabin especially, it will be pitch black. So having a touch of light for when someone has to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night will be appreciated!

cruise ship travel items

19. Portable Fan

If you’re someone who finds that small spaces can get hot and stuffy, consider bringing a small fan  to make your cabin more comfortable. I like this one as it’s battery operated, but rechargeable  – plus it’s quiet.

cruise ship travel items

20. Ladies Carry-on Bag

I love the size and practicality of his weekender style carry-on bag . It’s perfect to carry over your shoulder, but also fits right over the handles of your luggage.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Carry-on bag with nautical stripe (see details & style options on Amazon here)

21. Hanging Toiletry Bag

These hanging toiletry bags are so practical to keep you organized in a tight cruise cabin bathroom, so it makes sense that this is quickly becoming one of the popular items to bring on a cruise.

This one in particular is my favorite and has over 35,000 5* reviews (you can see it in my video at the bottom of this post).

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Hanging toiletry/cosmestic bag (different colors available – read 35,000+ 5 star reviews)

22. Travel Laundry Hamper (pop up mesh)

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Travel laundry hamper (check price and see Amazon reviews here)

Related:  Do Cruise Ships Provide Irons and Ironing Boards to Guests?

cruise ship travel items

23. Downy Wrinkle Release Spray

Make sure to bring along a travel size Downy Wrinkle Release spray to get any wrinkles out of your cruise wear .

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Downy Wrinkle Release Spray (travel size available on Amazon)

Read more:   How to Pack Wrinkle Free for a Cruise

24. Tide to Go Stain Remover Stick

Tide to Go instant stain remover sticks will save your cruise outfits! Make sure to pack one or more for your cruise.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Tide To Go stain remover stick (verify price on Amazon)

50 Best Selling Amazon Items for your Cruise

25. Jewelry Organizer Travel Bag

If you like to pack jewelry for your cruise, this jewelry organizer bag keeps necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets separated so they won’t tangle. The clear pouches make it a cruise essential favorite! 

I have the small size, and find it perfect, however it’s available in 3 different sizes so it can suit your needs.

cruise ship travel items

Cruise Shore Excursion Must-haves

26. beach bag.

I love a good beach bag on a cruise. You can use this one as a carry on bag on embarkation day , as well as on shore excursions .

This one is large with a zipper closure, and looks great too.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Beach Bag (see price & different colors on Amazon here)

27. Mesh Tote Bag

This mesh tote bag is one of my favorite cruise essentials. I love to use it to keep my sunscreen, book and other items both on the cruise ship and off.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Mesh tote bag (check price & 5000+ Amazon reviews here)

28. Trendy Knit Beach Bag

This stylish knit beach bag is super cute for the lido deck or to use in cruise ports of call.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Large mesh knit beach bag (3 colors – check excellent reviews)

29. Magnetic Sunhat Clip

One of the best inventions ever is the magnetic hat clip ! Never lose or squish your sunhat again.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Magnetic hat clip (check price & different colors on Amazon)

This wide brim beach hat is great for Bahamas, Caribbean or even Mediterranean cruises!

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Wide brim sun hat (see over 13,000 Amazon reviews here)

31. Waterproof Drybag

If you plan on doing any kayaking or other water excursions, you’ll get good use out of this waterproof drybag .

cruise ship travel items

32. Portable Lock Bo x

This portable lock box safe is great for placing your id, phones, cash and other valuables and keeping them secure while on an excursion.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended:     Portable lock box for beach and pool

33. Water Shoes

Water shoes will be useful if you’re going to a rocky beach or an excursion where water shoes are recommended. We made the mistake several years ago of going to Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica and needing to buy the shoes on site.

In fact on a recent cruise, we brought some new water shoes for an excursion to Virgin Gorda. These were awesome, and I’ll be bringing my water shoes on all future Caribbean cruises !

cruise ship travel items

34. Snorkel and Mask

If you’re going to be snorkeling more than once, it really pays to buy your own snorkel gear. These are two Amazon cruise items that are both recommended, but really depend on your preferences.

Check out the Amazon review for this full face mask style snorkel set (to see why people are loving it).

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Snorkel Set with Snorkel full face MASK and swim fins (check price & over 5000 4.5* Amazon reviews)

This snorkel set is more traditional, but also very popular with cruisers.

cruise ship travel items

35. Reef Safe Sunscreen

If you’re going on a Caribbean cruise , it’s really important to pack reef friendly sunscreen , as this is safer for the coral reefs. Many Caribbean islands (such as St. Thomas), have laws against using chemical sunscreen, and can issue fines.

It’s best bring the reef friendly sunscreen from home, as it will be less expensive than buying it on site.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Reef friendly sunscreen (see price & Amazon reviews here)

36. Aloe Vera After-Sun Gel

Always be prepared in case you get too much sun. A good quality pure aloe vera gel will actually be able to be worn under your clothes, as it won’t be sticky like some gels with fillers.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Pure Aloe Vera Gel (see over 60,000 reviews on Amazon)

37. Lip Balm with SPF

So many people forget to bring lip balm with SPF on a cruise. However, if your lips swell up like you had bad lip injections, you’ll regret not packing lip balm (ideally in your cruise carry on bag ).

cruise ship travel items

Get The Ultimate Cruise Planner

Regular price: $27 now just $17.

cruise ship travel items

Tech Items & Electronics Accessories to Bring on a Cruise

38. portable phone charger.

one While a cruise power bar might be the most important tech item to have on a cruise , a portable phone charger is super practical.

We used this one on our last cruise to charge two phones at a time! It was awesome and long lasting!

cruise ship travel items

39 . IWalk Portable Phone Charger

Convenient on the go Iwalk portable chargers are great when traveling! I always have one in my purse, even for everyday use.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Iwalk phone charger (check price & amazon reviews here)

40. Waterproof Phone Case

These waterproof phone cases with lanyards are great to keep your phone dry, and keep the sand out when you’re at the beach. I love these in particular as these also have a touch screen (so important when cruising and traveling).

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Waterproof Phone Case with Cruise Lanyards

41. Electronics Organizer Case

Stay organized by keeping your chargers, cables and plugs, and phone accessories together in one electronics bag. I love the Bagmart products – they are well made and sections are well thought out.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Electronics organizer bag (see color options)

42. Apple Airtags

If you are taking a flight to your cruise, get a set of Apple AirTags (if you have an iphone). If not, a tile or another similar product can work well for you.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended : Apple AirTags (check price & 40,000+ 5* Amazon reviews)

43. Folding Travel Mirror LED

A best seller, this folding travel mirror ia a favorite Amazon find.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Folding LED travel mirror (see price & almost 5000 reviews on Amazon)

These days, many cruise travelers are leaving their books at home and opting for a space saving Kindle. When we asked cruisers for their top cruise must-haves, the Kindle made the top 10!

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Kindle Paperwhite (check price & over 20,000 4.5* reviews on Amazon here)

45. Sunrise Alarm Clock

A cruise essential that’s gaining popularity this year is the sunrise alarm clock . This is one of the most useful cruise accessories for anyone cruising in a windowless inside cabin .

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Sunrise alarm clock

Wellness Items to Pack for a Cruise

46 . cruise first-aid kit.

Having a travel first aid kit is one of the most important things you can pack for your cruise. Whether you use this one below, or put together your own, do make sure you bring the medications and general first-aid items with you on your cruise.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Cruisepaks Cruise Essentials First Aid Travel Kit – 150 Pieces

cruise ship travel items

47. Seabands

If you’re worried about getting seasick on a cruise , Seabands are a great, natural product that many frequent cruisers love.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Seabands (available for adults and children)

48. Bonine Motion Sickness Tablets

Please don’t make this common first time cruiser mistake. Even if you’ve cruised before, you can still be affected by the “motion of the ocean”. Bonine really works well for my husband and I, without drowsy side effects.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Bonine seasickness tablets 

Read more: Cruise Toiletries Packing List

49. Ginger Candies

Ginger candies are a natural remedy for motion sickness. If you have a touch of queasiness on a cruise, a ginger tummydrop can really help.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Ginger candies (organic)

50 Cruise Travel Essentials - Amazon items

50. Disinfecting Wipes for Travel

It’s a good idea to bring disinfecting wipes for your travels – in the airplane or even for the car ride if you’re driving to the cruise ship.

Once on the ship, you may find having these healthy cruise essentials useful as well.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Disinfecting wipes (check reviews on Amazon)

51. Liquid IV

Liquid IV hydration multiplier and immune support is on the cruise packing list of many! It’s easy to get dehydrated and even a little worn down during a cruise, from the sun and fun ;-).

Liquid IV is a good item to have handy just in case.

Recommended: Liquid IV (see variety of flavors on Amazon here)

Cruise Items You Didn’t Know You Needed

52. binoculars.

If you’re cruising to Alaska , bringing a set of binoculars is a must! Whether on the cruise ship or on a whale watching tour , travel binoculars should be on your Alaska cruise packing list .

However, we’ve cruised in the Caribbean and have actually seen whales and even dolphins a couple of times from afar. Of course flying fish are more common – but there’s a lot you can see and appreciate sitting at a quiet spot on deck or on your balcony with your binoculars.

cruise ship travel items

53. Travel Corkscrew

Are you bringing wine bottles on your cruise ? If so, make sure to pack a small affordable travel corkscrew to bring on your cruise vacation.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Small travel corkscrew (see Amazon reviews)

54. Stainless Steel straws

In an attempt to use less plastic, most cruise lines have eliminated plastic straws on board. This means that either the drinks are served “strawless”, or you may get a paper straw.

If you think a soggy paper straw will bother you, consider bringing along a set of your own reusable straws .

cruise ship travel items

Recommended:   Stainless Steel Reusable straws (this one has over 50000 5* reviews – Amazon)

55. Highlighter and post its

Bringing simple items from home like a highlighter and post it’s can be useful. You can leave notes for your cabin steward or highlight activities on your cruise planner.

56. Cruise Staff  Thank-you Cards

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Cruise staff thank you cards 

Video: The Most Popular Cruise Essentials Cruisers Love

57. Extra Reading Glasses

If you wear reading glasses, make sure to bring along an extra pair , in case they break or get lost.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Reading glasses (set including blue light)

50 Must have Amazon Cruise Accessories

58. Emergency Dental Repair Kit

I’ve actually heard this tip from another cruiser, who pointed out that there aren’t any dentists on board a cruise, and how handy an emergency dental repair kit could be.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: Temporary dental repair kit 

59. Convertible Garment Duffel

If you’re packing a suit and/or cocktail dress for your cruise, the best way to pack them, wrinkle-free for a cruise , is by using a garment bag. This convertible duffle style garment bag is perfect!

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: convertible duffle style garment bag ( see pricing & Amazon reviews here)

60. Travel Hairdryer

The hairdryers in cruise ship cabins aren’t very powerful. This small travel hairdryer was recommended to me by my hairdresser. It’s the best travel hairdryer I’ve ever had!

cruise ship travel items

Recommended: BaByLiss travel hairdryer

61. Water Bottle Tote Pouch

For the cruiser who has every cruise accessory, this is something new. How convenient is this water bottle tote pouch ? Finally, a place to put that refillable water bottle while walking around on the cruise ship on a sea day , or even on an excursion.

cruise ship travel items

Recommended:   Water bottle tote pouch (verify pricing on Amazon)

YouTube video: 30 Amazon Cruise Essentials (and new finds!)

Recap: 50+ Must-have Cruise Essentials from Amazon

These are the some of the most popular and best-selling cruise essentials that cruisers buy for their cruise. I hope this has been helpful as you plan and prepare for your cruise.

While you may not need all the items, consider which cruise gadgets and accessories would make things most convenient while you’re cruising.

Do you have Amazon Prime?  Amazon Prime comes with many benefits, including faster, free delivery, movies and TV shows (Prime TV) and even borrowing Kindle books. If you don’t already have Amazon Prime, check out the FREE 30 day trial .


The ultimate cruise planner.

Do you need cruise packing lists, to-checklists, shore excursion forms and more? Check out the Life Well Cruised Ultimate Cruise Planner .

See details here: Ultimate Cruise Planner -What’s Included

Need more cruise packing tips?

Here are 5 of the most useful cruise packing posts so you’ll be sure to have all the essential things you need for your cruise.

  • What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise
  • What to Pack for Your First Cruise (Packing List & Tips)
  • 23 Essential Things to Pack in Your Cruise Carry-On Bag
  • 21 Best Cruise Luggage and Packing Accessories
  • Cruise Wear over 50: Flattering Cruise Outfits for Women (plus packing list)
  • Cruise Toiletries Packing List

Note: Keep in mind that you cannot bring your own power bar from home, as it must be a cruise approved, non-surge protected power bar.

I recommend one with 2 USB outlets – click HERE to verify price on Amazon.

Are you a new or seasoned cruiser? What items do you most recommend people bring on a cruise? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!

P.S. If you’ve found this post helpful, please share it with others on Facebook or save it for later on Pinterest (share buttons at the top).


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Great call with the snorkel and mask! It’s something I wish we had thought to bring while in Bermuda.

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Glad you liked the tip. I know so many people love to have their own snorkeling equipment.

I’ll actually add your tip to my Bermuda and Horseshoe Bay post, so thanks for pointing that out!

Enjoy your next cruise!

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I live in Toronto, Canada. I have almost all the items listed above. The one thing I don’t have and was interested in … was the collapsible water bottles. I checked your Amazon site. Well … on the US Amazon site, a set of these 2 collapsible water bottles are $15.97. Are you ready for this? On the Canadian Amazon site … the exact same set of 2 collapsible water bottles by the same manufacturer are $46.54 … see below. I copied & pasted it here. The difference in price is obscene.

Collapsible Silicone Water Bottles – Sports Camping Canteen 20 Oz. – Easy to Clean and Store 4.2 out of 5 stars 966 CDN$46.54

Wow, that’s crazy! I wonder if it has to do with where that company is and where it’s shipped from. That’s obviously not worth it at all.

Perhaps the product is available through another distributor? If I see it I’ll let you know.

Thanks for taking the time to let me know.

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Great tips. We just returned from our first cruise to Alaska. We used most of these with exception of …. We didn’t bother with the night light. We just left the bathroom light on with the door cracked open. Also our cruise line had a safe in the room. You use your own four digit code and whatever code you lock it with, opens it. So change the code whenever you want. Just remember what you used last. Didn’t use the beachy stuff but will in the future. Thanks.

Thanks so much for your comment. It sounds like you had a great first cruise!

Excellent tip about leaving a light on in the washroom. Simple but does the trick 🙂

Good point too about the safe – I should put this in my first time cruiser tips.

When’s your next cruise? LOL

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I actually like the bring your own safe idea. Workers can easily reset your code.

I hadn’t considered that, but it’s a good point if that’s a concern.

Thanks for your comment,

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We used the magnet hooks, towel clips and outlet. So glad we did. Next cruise I am adding the collapsible bottle and the folding clothes hangers (bought them before cruise and forgot to pack them 😥). These are all great suggestions. Thank you!

Glad to hear that those items worked out so well for you! I probably should try the folding clothes hangers on my own next cruise, lol!

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We cruised to Panama last year and that is in a rain forest. We forgot our rain gear in cabin. We got soaked on our shore excursion. Got back changes hung them to dry. Next day it smelled really bad in our cabin. Next port we got a couple of car air fresheners tree things. They saved the rest of the trip. Water proof case. Went down the water slides on ship. Got great video of inside the slides. Also, we bought a power adapter to fit in European electrical plug. It has four USB ports. Gives us more plug in for our electronics.

Thanks Russell for the great tips. Great point about having rain gear too! I’ll have to add a few items to this list soon I think. I appreciate the useful suggestions!

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Instead of plastic towel clips (which are bulky and can be difficult to use), try Towel Bands. I got mine from Cruise On

That’s awesome Robin. I actually have some and will give them a try as well next cruise. I like the practicality.

Thanks for sharing!

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We love cruising and thanks to your list it has made it more enjoyable. I would like to add to bring a small bottle of Listerine Blue mouthwash. In case you have to rent or borrow snorkel gear, you can rinse it with the mouthwash to kill any bacteria that might be left behind. It’s not always washed well by the vendors. Also, combined with wipes, the mouthwash completely eliminates the sting of little jellyfish or other small “biters” that often cannot be seen in the water or on a hike. It has helped us more than once.

What a great idea Bo! It’s quite smart to be prepared for jellyfish, which I hadn’t ever considered. I’ll include this tip in my first aid kit list.

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Husband and I are going on a 14 day cruise Jan. 2023 Eastern Caribbean. Not sure how much to pack. I do plan to do laundry at east once. Do you have a list for 14 day cruise?

Hi Irene, I have a packing list for a Caribbean cruise. If you plan to do laundry you could bring enough for 7 days or so and wash, plus formal night outfits can be worn more than once if you like.

There is a clothing list for men and women in this post: https://lifewellcruised.com/what-to-pack-for-a-caribbean-cruise/

Have an amazing cruise!

Thankyou for the information on the Caribbean cruise. This was very helpful. I will be able to check off some of the thing on my check list.

John and I will celebrate our 45th Anniversary 7/16/ 2023 . Our plans are to renew our vows on the beach of Galveston, Texas on a Friday afternoon. Then on Saturday, get on the Carnival Dream for a fourteen day cruise. We have belated celebrating our 45th till we cruise. It has been a long stressful year with water damage from a pipe in the attic. When 2022 comes I will toast 2021 good by and never look back. Look ahead to 1/14/2023 of fourteen days of the beauty of the sea and islands I have never seen. Thank you Irene

Sounds wonderful Irene! What a blessing to have spent 45 years together. Happy anniversary & vow renewal!Enjoy every minute of your amazing cruise.

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One of the things I noticed you left out is, masks, just in case you might have to use them on the ship or in port. I keep one in my purse just in case the place I have to go to requires it. I also have most of the things in your list and have set it up for our needs on the cruise. We set sail for Alaska next year!

Oh Joyce you’re so right. I think I need to add this (at least for now).

Thanks for noticing and have an awesome Alaskan cruise!

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We used the motion detector night light on our December cruise and learned the best place to put it was on the ground. It was so sensitive that it kept picking up our movement in the bed and turning on. When I put it on the ground it only turned on when we needed it and the light was perfect to navigate the room.

Wow Melissa! This sounds brilliant – thanks so much for the tip!

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Hi Ilana. Thank you for the very informative post. My family and I will be traveling on Carnival Vista in August and one thing I did have to order is a daily travel pill container. We ordered two just so we can carry extra (vitamins and ibuprofen) instead of the bulky bottles. They store easily my purse and take up hardly any space.

I look forward to reading more of your posts!

Great idea! I should add this to my own list as well. Thanks for the suggestion & have an amazing cruise!

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#36 “Bonine”. Amazon also sells the generic of this “meclazine”. I last bought some 2 years ago – 300 for about $10. That’s a lot of cruising!

That’s great! Thanks for sharing.

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I love Alaska in September so the beach items don’t apply but one essential for me in a waterproof backpack. My pack with rain cover got soaked so this year I ordered a waterproof backpack for those rainy day hikes. Another trick is bring large ziplock bags to put items in you bag to either prevent from getting wet or to hold wet items, they are a life saver.

On a trip to Germany I picked up a euro plug that goes to 3 USB, we now have plenty of plugs for everything in our cabin. Traveling solo I don’t need it but it might come in handy on my next cruise.

Good tips!! Thanks for sharing

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Cruise Packing Tips

Cruise Packing Tips

  • >> Cruise Essentials – 50 Brilliant Things to Bring on a Cruise

Cruise Essentials – 50 Brilliant Things to Bring on a Cruise

Cruising is so much fun and thinking about what to bring on a cruise is one of the best ways to create some excitement before your trip. Putting together your cruise essentials can start a few months before you set sail. Allow yourself enough time to get all the things to bring on a cruise ordered online, out of storage and packed up ready to go.

Whether you’re a new cruiser wondering what the essential items for a cruise are or an experienced cruiser looking to freshen up your cruise essentials packing list, we’re sure you’ll find something useful on our cruise essentials list! What to take on a cruise depends somewhat on the destination, how light you prefer to pack and the duration of the cruise. All of the things to take on a cruise we’ve listed below are useful items but it’s up to you to decide what cruise travel essentials you’ll pack for your trip.

Start thinking about cruise essentials to pack and laying them out on a spare bed or in a storage box in a quiet corner of your house. Use our cruise essentials checklist to mark off items as you find or purchase them.

You don’t need to purchase every single one of the cruise ship essentials we’ve mentioned but a lot of these items are very helpful. We have covered cruise packing essentials to organize your luggage, useful items for organising your stateroom, essentials to take on a cruise to avoid seasickness

  • 1.1 Our Top 10 Cruise Essentials
  • 1.2 More Essential Items to Take on a Cruise
  • 1.3 Essential Cruise Accessories for Organizing Your Cabin
  • 1.4 Cruise Wardrobe Essentials
  • 1.5 Cruise Packing Essentials

Cruise Essentials

Top 10 Cruise Essentials - What to Bring on a Cruise

Our Top 10 Cruise Essentials

These are the top 10 essentials to pack for a cruise. Everyone should have these items (or a variation of them that suits your needs):

  • Waterproof phone case – FFor keeping your phone, cash and sailing card safe when you’re swimming or at the beach
  • Lanyard – For wearing your cruise card around the ship
  • Seabands / Seasickness medication
  • Highlighters – For highlighting your daily cruise schedule
  • Lysol disinfecting wipes or Lysol to Go spray – For sanitizing your cabin on arrival
  • Powerstrip without surge protector – Surge protectors are not allowed on board
  • Conditioner – You’ll be swimming a lot and they often don’t have it in cabins
  • Sunscreen / Aftersun  – Bring a spray sunscreen for your body, a face sunscreen and aftersun lotion
  • Bathing suit coverup / UV swim vest
  • Packing cubes – For organizing your suitcase

More Essential Items to Take on a Cruise

  • Ginger candy
  • Downy Wrinkle Release (travel size)
  • Travel coffee cup
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Earplugs or portable sound machine – If you’re a light sleeper or in case of noisy neighbors
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Wine bottle – One 750 ml bottle per adult depending on cruise line you’re with
  • Wine bottle protector
  • Soda – 12 cans per person depending on cruise line you;re with
  • Tide to Go – Stain remover pen for emergencies
  • Tide pods – Carnival has laundry rooms on board if you need them
  • Travel laundry sheets – For handwashing laundry in your room if necessary
  • Hand sanitzer – Travel size
  • Beach towel clip
  • Rain poncho
  • Travel umbrella
  • Anti-chaffing balm
  • Small first aid kit
  • Portable speakers
  • Refillable perfume atomizer
  • Tea bags or instant coffee if you’re fussy about what you drink
  • Antacid tablets
  • Download a few Netflix shows or movies to your ipad

Tip: These cruise essentials make great gifts for your travel companions or to give to cruise lovers over the holidays.

Essential Cruise Accessories for Organizing Your Cabin

  • Small dry erase board – Magentic ones are useful for the outside door of your cabin
  • Magnetic hooks
  • Ziploc bags
  • Plastic document wallet
  • Bungee cord – For holding open your balcony door
  • Overdoor shoe organizer – For adding additional storage in your room
  • Post It notes

Tip: Keep all these items to take on a cruise packed in a storage box for any future cruises you take. It will make packing for a cruise easier next time!

Cruise Wardrobe Essentials

  • Aqua shoes – If planning on an excursion that requires them
  • UV swim vest
  • Bathing suit coverups
  • Packable sunhat or sunvisor
  • Cheap sunglasses you can wear in the ocean or pool

For a full list of cruise clothing essentials for your specific cruise type, check out our cruise packing lists . We go into great depth on the cruise essentials clothing you’ll need for the various cruise types.

Tip: Read our guide to  fun things to bring on a cruise for more ideas!

Cruise Packing Essentials

These packing essentials to bring on a cruise will help you organize your luggage.

  • Travel wallet / organiser
  • Packing cubes
  • Cruise luggage tags
  • Hanging toiletry bag
  • Garment bag
  • Laundry bag or pop up hamper
  • Prescription medication organizer
  • Folding backpack
  • Cooler – 12 can, soft sided
  • Travel toiletry bottles
  • Wet-dry bag – For traveling home with wet swimsuits

What do you think the best items to bring on a cruise are? If you’ve got any questions about what to take on a cruise ship or want to share your ideas on the best things to bring on a cruise, leave us a comment below.

If you want to chat more about what to bring on a cruise ship, you can join our Facebook group to chat with other cruises. It’s a great way to get ideas on the best things to take on a cruise.

Still need help? Take our FREE email course!

If you still need help deciding what to pack for your upcoming cruise, sign up to take our short email course. You'll learn what to wear on a cruise, what little cruise essentials can really help, how to pack your bag, what the best suitcase to take is and what to leave behind. Sign up now. It's totally FREE!

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We created Cruise Packing Tips to share our extensive knowledge on how to pack for a cruise. As seasoned cruisers who loves to pack just the right amount for each trip, we will help you get your cruise packing list down to a fine art.

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Cruise packing list: The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise

Erica Silverstein

Packing for a cruise can be complicated, especially for first-timers who aren't 100% sure what to expect. The task is made even more stressful because you can't run to the nearest shopping mall to pick up something you forgot when you're sailing in the middle of the ocean.

What you need is a cruise packing list that accounts for cruise line dress codes for daywear and evening wear, the various activities you'll do on board and in port, the gear you need for travel and to enhance your cruise cabin, and the necessities you need for daily life and unexpected emergencies.

For more cruise guides, news and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

We've listed 103 essentials you should always pack for any cruise vacation. Follow our cruise packing list to avoid packing mistakes and be prepared for anything on your next sailing.

Daytime clothing

cruise ship travel items

When packing for a cruise, start with the basics: what you plan to wear each day.

On every cruise line, daytime clothing is casual, and on a big-ship cruise, nearly anything goes. On a more upscale or luxury cruise ship, casual daywear tends to be more fashion-forward and stylish, so you might feel out of place in your cheap tee from Target.

Of course, the destination and weather will dictate what exactly makes it onto your cruise packing list. For a Caribbean cruise , you'll want plenty of beachwear; for an Alaska cruise , you'll want rugged clothes for hiking and warm layers for the frequently changing weather. In the Middle East and Asia, you might need an outfit that covers the shoulders and knees for visiting religious sites.

Remember that any destination can be unseasonably warm, cold or wet, so pack a jacket for that Bahamas cruise or a short-sleeved top for an Arctic sailing — just in case.

If you want to stay fit on your cruise and plan to hit the onboard gym or go biking in port, pack activewear. I once forgot to pack socks on a short warm-weather cruise and was disappointed when I wasn't allowed on the ship's bungee trampoline.

Related: The 10 wildest attractions you'll find on a cruise ship

Cruisers traveling in a group should consider planning matching outfits, especially if they wish to take group photos on board. Group T-shirts are common, as are color-coordinated outfits for everyone from the kids to the grandparents.

Most important of all: Double-check that you've packed underwear. You're welcome.

Pack one outfit for every day, or plan to do laundry on your cruise ship . I like to look for ways to reuse pieces to save space. For example, I'll dress up a top with a skirt or dress pants for dinner, then wear the same shirt with jeans in port the following day. Or, I'll bring one solid color dress and wear it twice, but with different accessories.

Here's your daywear packing list (adjust numbers for the length of your sailing):

  • Casual tops
  • Workout wear
  • Bathing suits and swimwear
  • Cover-up or swim shirt
  • Sweatshirt or sweater

Evening clothing

cruise ship travel items

Some cruise lines, such as Norwegian Cruise Line , have a relaxed attitude toward dinner attire, and you can come as you are. Other lines, especially the more upscale ones, have strict dress codes for dinner. For cruises on those ships, you'll need to add some nicer outfits to your cruise packing list.

Evening wear on cruise ships tends to fall into two categories: resort casual and elegant. For casual nights, think of a date-night style. Some cruise lines do allow jeans in the evening; pair them with cute tops and nice shoes.

Elegant or formal nights bring out cocktail dresses, suits, ties and jackets. If formalwear is not your thing, choose room service, or go to the buffet or a casual restaurant for dinner to skip dressing up. Some luxury cruise lines will not allow underdressed passengers into certain restaurants or entertainment venues on formal nights.

Related: Cruise ship restaurant nirvana: The best meals you can have at sea

Pro tip: Many cruise ships turn up the air conditioning at night. Pack a light sweater or dressy shawl to keep you comfortable in cool onboard restaurants and theaters.

Don't forget to pack outfits for cruise ship theme nights. Popular themes include white night, pirate night and Halloween — and, yes, cruisers do go all-out with costumes. Check with your cruise line to see which parties or theme nights will take place, and then pack accordingly.

Consider an eye patch or swashbuckling hat for Disney Cruise Line 's Pirate Night, a white sundress for Norwegian Cruise Line's White Hot Night and some neon leggings for Carnival Cruise Line 's '80s night.

Definitely don't forget the ultimate evening wear — comfy pajamas — especially if you're sharing a cabin with family or friends.

Here's your eveningwear packing list:

  • Skirt and blouse
  • Wrap or sweater
  • Button-down shirt or polo
  • Dress slacks or nice jeans
  • Suit or tuxedo for formal night
  • Cocktail dress or gown for formal night
  • Theme cruise attire and costumes

cruise ship travel items

It's easy to fill a carry-on with footwear alone when packing for a cruise. The must-have basic is a comfortable pair of travel shoes for the flight, ship and walking in port.

Other types of footwear to add to your cruise packing list are sneakers for athletic activities, flip-flops for the pool and beach, and dress shoes for dinner. (Ladies, try to match your outfits, so you only need to bring one pair of heels.) You might also want casual or athletic sandals, hiking boots or water shoes for rocky beaches.

Related: 13 things you should do before every cruise

Pro tip: Lay out all the pairs of shoes you think you need for the cruise, and then decide which shoes can do double duty and which you can leave at home. For example, on a Caribbean cruise, a sturdy pair of waterproof athletic sandals (like Keens) can multi-task as travel shoes, beach shoes and rugged activity footwear. A comfy pair of flats can pair with your casual daywear and your fancy evening attire.

Here's your footwear packing list:

  • Sneakers or comfortable walking shoes
  • Water shoes
  • Hiking boots
  • Dress shoes for the evening
  • Slippers for in-cabin use

Accessories and gear

Once you've packed all the clothing, it's time to accessorize.

For sunny days, men and women will want to bring hats and sunglasses. On cold-weather cruises, you'll need a warm beanie, scarf, gloves and waterproof gear. (Antarctica and Arctic cruises have unique packing lists, so check with your cruise line.)

Related: 20 must-have cruise items — including a roll of duct tape

Don't forget belts, jewelry and ties for evening dress. Have a little fun with it — you're on a cruise.

Don't forget to add these accessories to your cruise packing list:

  • Wide-brimmed sun hat or baseball hat
  • Rain jacket and/or pants
  • Pashmina or shawl

Toiletries and medicine

cruise ship travel items

Like hotels, cruise ships typically provide soap and shampoo in your cabin. Some also offer conditioner and body lotion. However, it's hard to know whether your hair will respond well to the onboard products or if you'll hate the scent.

It's always safer to pack your own toiletries. Bring more than you think you'll need because it may be hard to find your favorite brands in foreign ports, and cruise ships sell necessities at inflated prices. (Here are a few more things you should never buy on a cruise ship or in port .)

Although you'll find hand sanitizer stations throughout your cruise ship, you'll still want to pack your own.

Sunscreen is essential; look for reef-safe versions if you plan on swimming in the ocean. Bug spray is also useful, especially in Alaska, where people joke that the mosquito is the state bird.

Related: 21 tips and tricks that will make your first cruise go smoothly

It's always smart to pack a first aid kit for your cruise; make sure it contains seasickness remedies if you're sensitive to the motion of the ocean. Over-the-counter medications are pricey on board, so bring the brands you most commonly use. If you take prescription medicine, bring enough for the trip and a few extra days' worth, just in case.

Pack these toiletries and medications for your cruise, preferably in your carry-on bag:

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hair-styling products
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Glasses, contacts and contact lens solutions
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Moisturizer
  • Body lotion
  • Lip balm (consider one with SPF protection)
  • Soap (if you're picky about scents or ingredients)
  • Feminine products
  • Hand sanitizer (gel or wipes)
  • Seasickness remedies (patches, pills, ginger candies and acupressure wristbands)
  • Pain-relief medication, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen
  • Allergy medication
  • Upset stomach medication

Travel gear

cruise ship travel items

Not all of us are lucky enough to live an hour or two from a cruise port. Many cruisers have to fly or road trip to their departure port and need to pack for this travel as well. Make sure your cruise packing list accounts for your pre- and post-cruise travel needs, as well as items useful for your time on board.

For long and overnight flights to your cruise, pack accessories for the plane. If you've scheduled a pre-cruise hotel stay, consider packing the necessities for that overnight in a separate bag so you don't need to unpack and repack your main suitcase.

Related: 10 must-have travel accessories for less than $15

You'll want to pack your tablet, portable video game system and e-reader for both your pre-cruise travel and the sailing itself. Don't forget all the related charging cables. Or, skip the tech and bring a few books, as many cruise ships no longer offer onboard libraries.

It should go without saying, but you are responsible for packing necessary travel documents, including your cruise/flight/tour tickets, passport book or passport card (or birth certificate) and visa paperwork. Do not put these items in your checked bags. Pack them in your carry-on so they're always on hand and less likely to go missing.

I'm a fan of bringing a day bag for carrying things around the ship (like toting my book, water bottle and cover-up to the Lido Deck pool) and a small purse for carrying my key card, lipstick and tissues at night. Some folks prefer to bring a lanyard to keep their cruise room key card close at hand.

If you like to walk about with your morning coffee or tea, you can't get a to-go cup at the buffet unless you're paying extra for a latte or espresso. Pack a travel coffee mug so you can fill up on the free stuff. I also recommend bringing a reusable water bottle and filling it up at the buffet or even a bar. It helps reduce plastic waste, and you don't bust your budget buying bottled water.

  • Neck pillow
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Regular headphones or earbuds
  • Tablet or laptop
  • Portable video game system
  • Playing cards or other small diversions
  • E-reader or physical books
  • Visa documents
  • Cruise ticket or documents
  • Travel insurance information
  • Tour booking information
  • Small purse
  • Water bottle

Cabin enhancements

cruise ship travel items

First-time cruisers don't realize all the cruise ship cabin hacks they can employ to enhance their onboard accommodations. Usually, all you need to pack are a few key items from home.

Many cruise cabin walls and doors are magnetic (Did I just blow your mind?), so I like to pack magnets both as fun decor and for organizational purposes. Magnetic clips and hooks can help keep paperwork and hats off the in-room desk and couch, while a magnetic whiteboard can be useful for leaving notes for your travel companions.

Newer cruise ships are designed so every cabin has enough electrical outlets and USB ports conveniently located throughout the room. However, older cruise ships have a sad lack of outlets. Unless you want to constantly battle your travel companions for charging priority, pack a power strip, multi-prong outlet or power adapter/current converter so you can charge multiple devices at once (and use any 220V European outlets in the cabin).

Just be sure that your power strip doesn't include a surge protector; those are banned from most cruise ships, as are extension cords.

Related: Packing for a cruise? These items aren't allowed on board

For evenings on board, pack a night light or battery-operated candles so you can find your way to the bathroom in the dark. A small, portable sound machine is helpful for blocking out hallway noise if your cabin is in a noisy area of the ship, such as close to the elevator banks.

You can sweeten your cabin bathroom by bringing a bathroom spray to mask unpleasant odors. Traveling with babies and toddlers who hate showers? A small inflatable kiddie pool or tub packs down small and can be used to give your little one a bath.

You don't need to pack a clothesline to dry wet items because one is usually hidden in your cabin's shower. However, I do recommend bringing a laundry bag or pop-up hamper to keep dirty clothes separate and off the cabin floor. Chair clips are useful if you plan to dry your clothes on the balcony and don't want them to blow away.

Related: 6 reasons you'll want to book a balcony cabin on your next cruise

Pack these items to enhance our cruise cabin:

  • Power strip or multi-pronged outlet without surge protection
  • Power converter
  • Night light
  • Battery-operated candles
  • White noise machine
  • Bathroom spray
  • Inflatable kiddie pool
  • Pop-up hamper or laundry bag
  • Chair clips

Port day gear

cruise ship travel items

You'll want to pack items specific to the activities you aim to do in port. Leave room on your cruise packing list for items that will change based on your destination and planned tours.

No matter where you cruise, you'll want a strong but lightweight backpack to stow everything you want to take off the ship with you. I love the kind with mesh pockets on the side to tuck away a water bottle.

In especially scenic destinations, such as Alaska or Scandinavia, you might want to bring binoculars and/or a DSLR camera (rather than relying on your phone for photos). Don't forget accessories like extra batteries, chargers and memory cards.

On beachy cruises, you'll want a beach bag, sand toys for the kids and perhaps your own snorkeling gear. Wet bags (or even plastic zip-top bags) will keep your wet stuff from leaking onto everything on your way back to the ship.

Related: 8 must-pack accessories for your next beach vacation

For water sports like kayaking, consider a dry bag to stow your camera gear, smartphone and wallet and prevent them from getting wet. Waterproof cases for your cellphone and camera are also useful, as well as "beach wallets" that let you go into the water with your credit cards and cash on your person.

  • Camera, memory cards, portable tripod and other accessories
  • Waterproof dry bag
  • Waterproof phone and/or camera case
  • Waterproof beach wallet
  • Snorkel, mask and fins
  • Beach toys for kids (such as packable pails and inflatable floats)
  • Retractable hiking poles
  • Packaged snacks (such as protein or granola bars) for long excursions
  • Lightweight packable travel towels if you want something that folds up smaller than the bulky cruise ship beach towels

Miscellaneous items to pack for your cruise

cruise ship travel items

Some must-pack items for cruises defy categorization but are important nonetheless. Don't leave them off your cruise packing list.

Cruise lines have strict rules about what types of beverages and alcohol you can bring on a cruise ship . If you're picky about wine, many lines will let you bring on a 750 ml bottle or two. Pack your favorite, but be prepared to pay a corkage fee if you drink it at an onboard bar or restaurant.

If you plan to purchase wine in port to bring home, you'll also want to pack bubble wrap or wine protector bags to get your bottles home safely.

Some lines, such as Holland America and Carnival, also allow you to bring on a limited number of cans of nonalcoholic drinks such as soda, juice or seltzer water. This can cut down on your bar bill or fuel your Diet Coke obsession should your ship carry only Pepsi.

I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone to bring their cell phone on vacation (but remember to pack the charging cables). However, you might not know to download your cruise line's app before you leave home. The app will show you the daily schedule, deck plans, dining reservations, shore excursion options and more. Many apps, like the one from Celebrity Cruises , even allow you to chat with other passengers while you're connected to the cruise ship's internet . (Remember to keep your devices in airplane mode to avoid accruing large at-sea roaming charges.)

You'll want cash, especially small bills, for tipping porters and purchasing small souvenirs in port. Depending on your itinerary, you might want to acquire some foreign currency in advance. Otherwise, you can use an ATM once you arrive in port. (ATMs almost always offer a better exchange rate than airport kiosks.)

Bring a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees, so you don't spend more than you need to abroad. (If you don't have one, consider applying for one of the best credit cards for travel .)

What not to pack for a cruise

Now that you know what to put on your cruise packing list, you'll also want to know what to leave out. Some items you might be tempted to pack are outright banned by the cruise lines . Others simply aren't necessary.

Here's what you can leave out of your suitcase.

  • Linens and towels
  • Hand soap (unless you're picky)
  • High chair and portable crib (your ship will provide these)
  • Coffeemakers and other appliances with heating elements
  • Illegal drugs (including marijuana and CBD products, even if they're legal in your home state or departure port)
  • Extension cords
  • Beverages beyond the modest allotment of wine or nonalcoholic drinks in cans
  • Meat, cheese, fruit or other non-prepackaged food (check with your cruise line if you have dietary restrictions and require special food items)

Bottom line

Many cruisers tend to overpack when it comes to clothes and shoes but sometimes forget about other necessities. When you take your suitcase out of the closet and begin packing for your next itinerary, refer to this list and be sure you're covered when it comes to both clothing and those all-important accessories.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • Top ways cruisers waste money
  • The ultimate guide to choosing a cruise ship cabin

Cruise Ship Traveller

36 Cruise Ship Must-Haves – Essentials for 2024

Whether you are new to cruising or just need a reminder of key essentials to pack, we have put together a list for you.

We have e found packing for a cruise is different in many ways from a land-based vacation.

Over many years of cruising, we have added to the must-have list of cruise essentials that just help or improve our everyday cruising experience.  

Many of the now “ must haves ”  on the packing list are things we have forgotten to take in the past because we simply didn’t remember or realize we needed them until we were onboard.

Cruise Essentials

Hopefully, you, too, can learn from our experiences, and if we have missed anything you find extra useful, please do feel free to mention it in the comments.

These are cruise essentials , the things you absolutely should consider taking on your next cruise.

The more essential items you take with you, the less time you will have to spend trying to find where to purchase them when you realize you do need them at some point on your cruise vacation.

If you don’t yet have any of the items on the essentials list, you can buy most of them from Amazon or perhaps, in some cases, your local dollar store or thrift store.

Cruise Must Haves Checklist – Essentials for 2023

  • Cruise Power Strip – Non-Surge Protector

One of the first things you will notice when you arrive in your cabin is the lack of power outlets.   Quite often, you’ll only have one.

With us all having more devices than ever, it helps to have extra outlets, including multiple USB sockets for phones, tablets, and anything else that needs charging.

Remember: It needs to be a cruise-friendly non-surge protected power strip that is suited for use on a cruise.  Standard surge-protected power bars will be confiscated when you embark because they pose a safety hazard.

  • I.D – Passport – Drivers License

To embark on the cruise ship, you will need two forms of I.D, so be prepared to have your Passport, driver’s license, and birth certificate with you.

Your passport and one of the others are essential to get on board your cruise (and yes, I have known people forget them!).

  • Printed Boarding Pass

Even if you expect your terminal to accept an electronic version of your boarding pass its always handy to have a printed boarding pass as a backup at the very least.

Tech and Gadget Essentials

  • Travel Alarm Clock

If you like a visual time on display in your cabin, you must remember to take a travel alarm clock .

If you typically charge your phone at night, remember you might not be able to charge it at your bedside, so not close enough to check the time.

A battery-powered portable nightlight with a motion sensor is essential if you need to get up in the night for the bathroom and want to make it without walking into anything or tripping. 

The cabins are very dark at night, and the inside cabin is pitch black.

Make sure it’s battery-powered because you won’t have any outlets to plug it into.

Another option is little LED tea lights .  Small and light, they won’t take up much space in your luggage.  They are ideal for doting around the cabin and in the bathroom and providing a low light level.   Great for kids that don’t like to sleep in the pitch black.

  • Portable Fan

Have you ever wondered if you can bring a fan on a cruise?  The answer is yes for most types, including small battery-powered fans.

A fan can be essential for people.  Cabins can get quite stuffy at times, especially if a few people stay in one, and sometimes you just want that feeling of a bit of movement in the air.

Portable fans you can also use outside to keep cool in the sun.  

Some people also need the feeling and or sound of a fan to help them get off to sleep.

  • Phone Chargers

Don’t forget your phone charger.  We take a portable phone charger and a spare charging lead, just in case.

  • Portable Power Bank

If you want to charge your cell phone or other devices on the go, a portable power bank is always handy, especially if you are out for the day on excursions and may not have easy access to a charging point.

You also just charge your phone while sitting around the pool or bar, which saves going back to the cabin every so often if you use your phone a lot, perhaps taking lots of photos or videos, or you have one of those phones where the battery seems to die quickly.

We opt for a portable charger with dual USB ports so more than one person can use it at a time. 

  • Waterproof Phone Pouch

A Waterproof phone pouch with a neck strap is ideal for keeping your phone close and safe in and around the pool.  It can also be used for carrying cash, credit cards, and your license.

Must Have Cruise Accessories

Remember to bring some accessories to complete and compliment the look of your outfits and individual style.

 For example, accessories for hair, pieces of jewelry, glasses, belts, ties, and much more.

When it comes to jewelry, take costume jewelry, as sometimes it’s better to leave your best jewelry at home for safety.

  • Lanyard for Cabin Key

For ease of access to your room key card or your sail and sign card, you’ll need a lanyard .  Make sure to choose one with a waterproof plastic slip.

You can pick up some colorful sets, so there’s one for the whole family.

  • Refillable Water Bottles

As there is no likely no bottled water available on the ship, refillable water bottles become essential.   You can take it with you on the go to keep hydrated, whether traveling on through the airports or ports.  

Or you can take one just for onboard use, this is when collapsible water bottles come in handy so as not to take up much space when packing.

  • Towel Clips or Bands

Even in beautiful sunshine, it can get pretty breezy at times on a cruise ship, and when you’re relaxing by the pool, the last thing you want to be doing is constantly putting your towels back in place.

Towel clips are a simple solution that simply clips your towel to the lounger and holds your towel in place.

This is one of those things you’d never even think of until you experience the need for them and then realize all seasoned cruises have them already.

I’ve also seen some people using Towel Bands which work well.  However, the advantage of clips is you can also use them to clip items to dry on your balcony.

If you take your own bottles of wine on cruise , make sure you pack a travel corkscrew .  This will also save you money on corking fees if they are charged.

Whatever cruise you are on, whether hot or cool, you should be hoping for some sunshine so make sure you take some sunglasses with uv protection which will also protect your eyes. 

  • Sunscreen / Aftersun

If you are cruising in a sunny location, make sure you take some sunscreen to protect yourself from getting sunburnt and ruining a day or more of your vacation.

There are many different types of sunscreen on the market. Choose what works best for you and members of your family.

If you are sunbathing in areas where there are coral reefs, such as the Caribbean, make sure you have mineral sunscreen , which is reef friendly and safer for the environment than the typical chemical-filled alternatives.

Some countries and islands, such as the Caribbean have laws in place banning the use of chemical sunscreens.

Aftersun is another one to consider taking if you are likely to suffer from sunburn. 

  • Stainless Steel Straws

Due to their long-lasting damage to the environment, many cruise lines have banned plastic straws in drinks.

Instead, they use paper straws or don’t give one with your drink at all.   The problem with paper straws is that they can soon get soggy and, in some instances, affect the enjoyment of your drink, especially if your favorite cocktail.

The best solution is to use reusable stainless steel straws with cleaning brushes .  They even come in their own portable bag.

While undoubtedly essential for Alaskan sightseeing cruises, if you catch sight of whales or dolphins on any cruise, you’ll wish you had some binoculars with you.

They are also great for checking out the sights as you sail into new ports or go on any specific sightseeing excursions.

You can get good strong, and compact binoculars ideal for travel at a reasonably low price.

Cruise Clothing Essentials

If you are on a hot sunny cruise, it can be well worth having a sun hat to reduce some of that constant heat exposure.

Men often wear caps, whereas women tend to wear hats with wide brims that shield the sun from their face and neck areas.

  • Light Jacket

No matter how hot and sunny the days on your cruise, the evening temperatures can drop, or at times you just might need a little extra protection from the winds.  

This is when a light-fitting jacket can come in handy.

Don’t go packing all your pants and forget your belts, especially for evening wear and formal nights.  

Belts are one of those accessories that seem obvious but have been known to be overlooked by some.

  • Wrinkle Release Spray

A  wrinkle release spray and be a quick and easy way to rid some of your clothes of untidy-looking wrinkles.  

We typically use Downy Wrinkle Release spray, which comes in handy little travel bottles.

There are many other ways to release the wrinkles from your clothing which we cover in these two posts:

  • Do Cruise Ships Have Irons? (Tips for Wrinkle-free Clothes)
  • Can I Bring a Clothes Steamer on a Cruise (No, but we found some free steam alternatives)
  • Stain Remover Pen

A stain removal pen is one of those items you don’t realize you need until you do.  The more you cruise, the more likely you are to need it, so it’s just to always take one when you need it.

Whether it’s a splash of wine or food stain, whereas at home you could choose something different to wear when you are away, you are limited to the options you have taken, especially if it’s a special outfit for a formal night.

Cruise Excursion Essentials

  • Beach Bag or Backpack

Lightweight beach bags are ideal for any beach excursions or just chilling around the onboard pools.   You can comfortably fit loads in them, and they are easy to carry.  Some people use as a carry-on bag.

An alternative option is to take a backpack.  

  • Water Shoes

If you are going on any stoney beaches or perhaps snorkeling near some rocky areas, water shoes become an essential item you wish you had.

If you take them with you, it will save you having to search for some buy in the right size.

Tidy Organized Cabin Hacks

  • Magnetic Hooks and Clips

are ideal for helping to keep your cabin tidy and adding some extra storage space. Attach the magnetic hooks to the meta l cruise ship doors and walls and use them for lanyards, towels,  bathing suits, and hats. 

If you get heavy-duty hooks that hold a decent weight, you can also hang up quite heavy bags.

Magnetic Clips can also be used for Keeping your cabin tidy, like living any cruise-related Cruise and excursion-related paperwork on the metal cabin walls. 

  • Door Hanging Toiletry Bag & Organizer

Cruise bathrooms can be extremely tight when it comes to space.  This is where the door-hanging toiletry organizer can prove essential.  

Hook to or hang over the toiletry bathroom door. It will give you easy access to all your bathroom accessories, including using as a makeup cosmetic bag and shampoo, soaps, cleaners, toothpaste, and toothbrushes.

You might even want to get two if you are traveling as a family.  We have a separate one for the kids. 

Or you can get mesh organizers that almost cover the whole door and allocate different compartments to each person.

Another advantage is that you can pack it before you leave and just pull it out, unfold and hang it up ready to use when you arrive.

  • Laundry Bag 

A laundry bag for your dirty clothes helps keep your cabin nice and tidy. 

They come in various sizes and are usually compact and lightweight, so they can easily be packed into small luggage or bags.  If you intend to use the self-service laundry facilities on the cruise ship , choose one that is easy to carry to the laundry room.

You can also get pop-up laundry bags that pack flat and pop-up ready for use in your cabin.

  • Whiteboard and Pens

A magnetic whiteboard with pens could help leave messages in the cabin to friends and family with who you are traveling with

It’s an old-fashioned way of communication when the new methods such as wifi or cell phone messaging don’t always work well on a metal cruise ship.

Some people prefer a simple whiteboard to carry around walkie-talkies on a cruise , which in this case could be an alternative option if you prefer.

  • Poo-Pourri 

Poo-Pourri is a popular essential for some passengers staying in cabins with friends or family who want to leave the bathroom smell free whenever they leave it and free from any embarrassment. 

As the “Before you go” label suggests, you should spray it before you go to the loo for maximum effects.

Luggage  Essentials 

  • Cruise Luggage Tags

Start your cruise as you mean to go on, and if cruise luggage tags reduce the chance of your luggage ending up is lost property because the tags you taped to your baggage have come off, then they are well worth it.

You can get generic tags or ones designed to perfectly fit Carnival, Celebrity, or Royal Caribbean.   Just print your luggage tag and fold it to fit the holder.

They are of good durable quality and easy to fit on, and you should be able can reuse them many times too on future trips.

  • Packing Cubes

It’s highly likely the more cruises you go on and the more packing and unpacking you do, the more you will appreciate packing cubes.

They are great for organizing and grouping your clothing and keeping it wrinkles-free.   For example, you can pack your swimwear, day wear, etc.

They make packing more straightforward and compact.

Medicine and First Aid Essentials

  • Medicine Pill Case

A travel pill case is recommended to keep your medicines compact and secure if you take any form of pill medication.

You can get them in various sizes and numbers of compartments.  

We recommend choosing one that has individual lids for each compartment and securely folds shut, so there’s no risk of it opening and pills falling out and getting mixed up.

In addition to any regular medication you take, it might be worth taking some for upset stomach or constipation, which can affect some travelers more than others when eating different foods.

  • Travel First Aid Kit

A small first aid kit is one of those essentials you hope you won’t need but is always good to have just in case you do.  

They just give you peace of mind that you can deal with basic self-care health issues for yourself and your immediate family, especially if you have young kids who are more prone to minor accidents.

Sea ban ds can help if you suffer from motion sickness.  They are relatively cheap and come in various colors and sizes from kids up.  They will help reduce that feeling of nausea from sea sickness.

They are especially popular with cruisers who prefer natural products that work via pressure points on your wrists.  

They can be washed and reused multiple times.

  • Motion Sickness Medicine

Another option for helping with seasickness is to take medicine.  

The most popular brands are Dramamine and Bonine.  It is worth noting they can cause drowsiness in some people, which is why some people prefer the Sea Bands option.

Depending on where you are traveling, insect repellent is essential in some locations, especially the hot and tropical excursions and when near water and beaches.

It’s best to be prepared in advance rather than suffering itchy bites for days.    

If you are prone to be bitten, consider taking some ointment to ease the itching and antihistamines if you suffer from allergic reactions.

Alaska Cruise Essentials

While many of the above cruise essentials apply to Alaska, you can expect an Alaskan cruise to be a lot more varied regarding the weather and what sights you might expect to see.

So bearing those factors in mind, we would recommend an extra emphasis on the following:

Clothing Layers

Ideally, you want to pack clothing that works well in layers, so as the temperatures or weather conditions change, you can add or remove layers as required.

  • Layers of clothing (puffer vest, light jacket, rain jacket
  • Hats and Gloves
  • Waterproof boots

You’ll still need a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun’s rays but all the glare from the surrounding snow and ice.

Binoculars are a must for a wildlife sightseeing cruise.

Caribbean Cruise Essentials 

If you are cruising in the Caribbean with popular cruise lines like Carnival or Royal Caribbean, you must consider most of the must-have items we list above.

However, being hot tropical, you will need to be sure you have:

  • Mineral sunscreen
  • Water shoes (if taking part in water activities)

Hopefully, these essentials stand you in good stead for your next cruise. 

Are there any you would have overlooked?

 If you think we have missed any essential must-haves, please us know in the comments.

Related Posts

Can You Bring a Vape on a Cruise?

Can You Bring a Vape on a Cruise?  (2024)

Can You Take Curling Irons on a Cruise

Can You Bring Curling Irons On a Cruise Ship?

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Funky Cruise

Cruise Essentials: 56 Must-Haves for Cruising in 2023

Cruise Essentials

Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or a first-timer, one thing’s for sure—cramming your suitcase with every item you own isn’t the solution. Trust me, your cruise cabin won’t appreciate the sudden influx of your entire wardrobe!

In this blog post, we’ll voyage through a sea of 56 absolute cruise essentials that’ll transform your cruising experience. These aren’t just nice-to-haves but can’t-sail-withouts. We’re talking about items that level up your comfort, enhance your enjoyment, and save you from those unexpected cruise ship ‘uh-oh’ moments. So, anchors aweigh, and let’s dive right in because the right planning and cruise essentials, packing hacks, and strategies can be the wind beneath your vacation wings. Smooth sailing, folks!

Carnival Victory cruise ship floating on the sea

Why Packing for a Cruise Is Important?

A cruise is not just a vacation, it’s an extravaganza that comes in a massive floating package. However, your cruise ship cabin is more of a cute, snug parcel. As cozy as your cruise ship cabin walls might be, it isn’t exactly a sprawling villa. Trust us, you’ll be amazed at how many items you can lose in the Bermuda Triangle of a small cruise cabin!

cruise ship travel items

You see, cruising is like attending a multi-genre music festival. One moment you’re lounging by the pool deck in your flip flops; the next you’re at a formal night channeling your inner Bond or rocking a gown that’d give Cinderella a run for her glass slippers.

Cruise Essentials Packing List: 56 Items to Bring On Your Trip

Ready for the voyage of a lifetime? Excellent! Knowing what to pack can turn that pre-cruise excitement into a case of cabin fever. No worries, we have you covered. Welcome to your ultimate cruise essentials packing list, your treasure map of 56 must-have items that will make your cruise ship cabins feel like a home away from home.

From fashionable beachwear to tech gadgets, and toiletries to a fun deck of cards, we’ll guide you through the jungle of pre-vacation planning. Let’s set a course for a stress-free packing experience and ensure your trip is all smooth sailing and sun-soaked relaxation.

Things to pack when going for a cruise

Oh, the anticipation of dressing up for a cruise! There’s a delightful balance to be struck between casual loungewear for daytime relaxation and those dazzling outfits for moonlit dinners. Remember, cruises are the ultimate theater of life, where every day is a different scene, from poolside chillin’ to suave formal nights. So pack wisely!

Casual Wear

You may be on vacation, not a fashion show, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be snazzy! Men, pack those comfortable Chino Shorts , perfect for lounging poolside or exploring the cruise port. Ladies, your suitcase should scream summer vibes with a breezy Summer Dress . Effortless yet fashionable—that’s our cruise mantra!

Man wearing black shorts and white shoes

Formal Wear

Yes, you may need to dress up while aboard the cruise ship. Some cruise lines still observe ‘formal night.’ Gentlemen, dust off that Suit Jacket . It might feel like you’re packing a penguin suit, but you’ll be thankful when the time comes. Ladies, an Elegant Dress is your ticket to feeling like a star on the open sea.

women short sleeve all over sequin gown

Ready to make a splash? Don’t forget your poolside attire! Guys, make sure you pack your Swim Trunks . And for women, a One-piece Swimsuit is a cruise essential. Remember, you’re not just packing for a trip; you’re packing for an experience!

Woman wearing a black one piece bathing suit

Your feet will be your trusty steeds on your cruise adventure, from strolling on the deck to dancing on the poolside. Take care of them!

A sturdy pair of Comfortable Walking Shoes is a must for exploring cruise ports and taking long walks on the deck. Remember, comfort is king, but it doesn’t hurt if they’re stylish too.

Waterproof Sandals will save you from soggy foot situations around the pool deck or during an impromptu beach day. They’re the ultimate foot freedom with a side order of practicality.

If your cruise itinerary includes water-based shore excursions or Caribbean snorkeling, don’t forget to bring Aquashoes . They protect your feet from rocky sea beds, sharp corals, and hot sand. They function as a suit of armor for your feet!

Violet rubber slippers

Rain Jacket or Poncho

A Lightweight Rain Jacket or Poncho is worth its weight in gold when a sudden rain shower hits your cruise ship. It’s like carrying a portable shelter!

Gents, a Watertight Jacket is your shield against the elements. Whether you’re bracing the Alaskan cruise wind or caught in a tropical downpour, a quality jacket has your back. Girls, consider a stylish, practical piece that seamlessly switches from raincoat to windbreaker. It’s like having two jackets in the space of one!

Man wearing a black Columbia jacket

Workout Gear

“I’ll definitely hit the gym on this cruise,” said every cruiser ever. If you’re the rare breed that actually follows through, your workout gear is essential to pack for a cruise. Don’t forget there are activities galore onboard and onshore that’ll have you breaking a sweat. You wouldn’t want to go on a hike in flip-flops in the Caribbean, would you?

For men, a simple Quick Dry Shirt ensures your comfort while lifting those weights. Female fitness junkies can never go wrong with a Padded Sports Bra .

Man wearing a black drifit shirt


man wearing sunglasses and a broad brimmed hat

While it’s a small part of your cruise packing list, the right accessories can really elevate your cruise vacation style. Think broad-brimmed hats for sun-soaked decks, sunglasses for sparkling sea days, and a versatile scarf or shawl for breezy evenings. They not only enhance your appearance but also protect your skin from damaging UV radiation.

Wide-Brim Sun Hat

When embarking on a cruise vacation, sun protection becomes paramount. A Wide-brim Sun Hat can be a practical and stylish addition to your travel essentials. It provides excellent coverage, shielding your face and neck from harmful UV rays, thereby reducing the risk of sunburn.

Additionally, it serves as a barrier against the blinding glare of the sun reflecting off the sea, enabling you to enjoy the breathtaking ocean views comfortably. Moreover, such a hat can also become a fun element in your cruise vacation photos, adding a touch of charm and elegance to your overall look.

Polarized Sunglasses

Observing the enchanting world of cruising requires clear, undisturbed vision, and a pair of Polarized Sunglasses can facilitate just that. These glasses are equipped to reduce the intense glare from the sun or the ocean surface, enhancing the overall clarity of your view. They work to improve color perception, allowing you to appreciate the vibrancy of your surroundings in all its glory.

Most importantly, they offer crucial protection from ultraviolet rays, safeguarding your eyes from potential damage. So, with these sunglasses, you can enjoy the scenic beauty of your cruise journey while staying protected and stylish.

Scarf or Shawl

Despite its apparent simplicity, a Lightweight Scarf or Shawl can be one of the most versatile cruise essentials to bring on your cruise vacation. This seemingly odd choice can adapt to multiple situations and serve various purposes.

For instance, it can function as a stylish cover-up when you’re exploring the deck or visiting a port. It can transform into a cozy blanket on a chilly evening or when the indoor areas are overly air-conditioned. Even more creatively, it can act as a makeshift beach bag when needed. This humble accessory, in essence, can become the Swiss Army knife of your cruise fashion, blending utility with style.

Toiletries and Personal Items

Packing toiletries and cruise items is like bringing a piece of home with you on your cruise vacation. It’s the familiar scent of your shampoo or the particular brand of toothpaste you swear by. These personal items become your comfort corner in the tiny oasis that is your cruise cabin bathroom.

Mirror and violet bag on a table

Travel Size Toiletry Kit

Travel Size Toiletry Kits are your pocket-sized bathroom on the cruise ship. Whether you are packing toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, or conditioner—this bag got you covered. No need to rely on the cruise lines’ selection!

  • Hanging Toiletry Bag : This type of toiletry bag is revolutionary. It keeps your bathroom essentials organized and easy to find. Plus, it saves precious space in the small cruise cabin bathroom.
  • Reusable Travel Size Containers : These little marvels are perfect for your favorite skincare products that don’t come in travel sizes. They’re a surefire way to keep your skin glowing, even in the middle of the sea.

Medicine and Personal Care

Accidents happen, so a Travel Size First Aid Kit is a must. It’s your personal, portable healthcare provider. The gentle roll of the cruise line ship is soothing to some, but a nightmare for others. Motion Sickness Relief Bands are a lifesaver for people who are prone to motion sickness. They’re your ticket to enjoying your cruise ship vacation sans nausea.

One of the often overlooked aspects of a delightful cruise journey can be the potential hazard of sunburn. The sheer excitement and entertainment can, at times, make us forget about the essential protection against the sun’s harmful rays.

A Dry-touch Sunscreen offers not only much-needed protection but does so without feeling heavy or sticky on the skin. The lightweight, fresh feeling it imparts is indeed a boon, allowing you to enjoy your day without the discomfort of greasy skin.

Exploring fascinating cruise ports often translates into long, strenuous days. And naturally, physical activity can result in perspiration, which could be potentially embarrassing in social situations. A reliable Deodorant is not just a personal care product but a confidence booster that keeps you feeling fresh and comfortable.

Insect Repellent

While on a Caribbean cruise, shore excursions are an inevitable and exciting part of the journey. However, the thrill of exploring can be marred by the bothersome presence of insects and bugs.

Convenient Mosquito Repellent Stickers are an excellent solution to keep these annoyances at bay. Think of it as your personal, invisible bug protection force, enabling you to enjoy your trip worry-free.

Emphasizing personal hygiene during travel, particularly on a cruise ship, can never be overstated. A bottle of Hand Sanitizer and a pack of Flushable Wipes could prove to be your best companions for maintaining cleanliness throughout your vacation. Like silent, unseen heroes, they help keep your environment germ-free, contributing to a healthier, more enjoyable holiday.

Travel Laundry Detergent

Doing laundry during a voyage may seem a bit unconventional, but it is entirely possible and practical, especially on extended trips. Lightweight Laundry Detergent Sheets provide an effective and easy solution to keep your clothes fresh. Their portability and ease of use make them a perfect fit for cruise travel, saving you from the worry of running out of clean clothes.

Lip Balm With SPF

While we often prioritize protecting our skin from the sun, our lips usually get less attention. However, they are just as vulnerable to sun damage, if not more. A Sunscreen Lip Balm provides dual benefits – it keeps your lips moisturized and shields them from the sun. Consider it a crucial component of your personal care routine, offering comfort and protection.

Important Documents

Pardon the seriousness, but nothing ruins a cruise vacation quicker than a forgotten passport or a lost boarding pass. Ensure your documents are safe and secure because losing them can be a real Titanic of a problem.

Packed suitcase with clothes and important documents

  • Travel Wallet : This is your one-stop shop for keeping all your essential documents, cash, and cards organized and at your fingertips. It’s like your cruise ship’s personal assistant that doesn’t cost extra!
  • Portable Safe : It might seem over the top, but it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. While you relax on the pool deck and enjoy the sunshine, it serves as your private safe for your possessions.
  • Luggage Tags : Colorful, durable cruise luggage tags make your suitcase easier to spot in the cruise terminal and ensure your bags make it back to you. Imagine them as little neon signposts that scream, “This way to fun and adventure!” If you were to ask us, cruise luggage tags rank high on our cruise packing list.

Entertainment and Electronics

Ahoy, tech lovers! This cruise packing list is for you. From capturing precious moments to reading by the pool, we’ve got you covered with these cruise packing hacks. Just remember to bring the chargers, or your devices will be on permanent vacation!

Mobile phone with earphones attached

Your sea voyage can become significantly more enjoyable with the Kindle Paperwhite, a compact device that acts as your personal, portable library. Despite its lightweight construction, it houses a multitude of books and offers a comfortable reading experience with its glare-free screen. Additionally, its battery life stretches for weeks, perfect for a long voyage.

For the photographers among us, Digital Camera is a valuable companion. It lets you capture every striking sunset, each happy moment, and the diverse beauty you encounter during your journey. This versatile device is designed to create lasting memories that extend beyond the temporary experience.

Chargers And Power Adapters

Travel can often lead to an unexpected power drain on our devices, potentially leaving us disconnected from the digital world. A Portable Charger serves as an indispensable gadget, ensuring your devices are always powered and ready for use. It provides the reassurance that you’ll never miss a moment due to a low battery.

Moreover, to circumnavigate any challenges associated with differing plug designs across countries, a Travel Adapter is crucial. It provides compatibility with multiple plug types, thus freeing you from the worry of powering your devices, regardless of your location.

Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot and Power Bank

As mentioned above, staying connected during your travel is a crucial aspect of the overall experience. Sharing real-time updates, accessing important emails, or simply staying in touch with loved ones requires a reliable internet connection. In case of power outage or you can’t find an electrical outlet nearby, the portable charger Power Bank provides a dual solution – it ensures your devices stay charged and acts as a steady Wi-Fi hotspot. No more worries about battery life or internet connectivity; you can continue posting and sharing your memorable experiences freely.

Books, Cards, and Games

Although technology offers numerous forms of entertainment, there’s a unique charm to traditional, offline modes. Whether it’s a Travel Board Game that you’ve enjoyed since childhood or a deck of Playing Cards that promises unlimited rounds of fun, these items transform a dull evening or a rainy day into an engaging experience. They provide a social and interactive form of entertainment, enabling you to bond with fellow travelers while enjoying some friendly competition.

Waterproof Phone Case

Given the aquatic nature of cruise trips, protecting your mobile phone from water damage is a top priority. The Waterproof Pouch Phone Dry Bag acts as a reliable barrier between your phone and any water source. Be it a spontaneous jump into the pool, a sudden splash from the ocean, or even an accidental spill, your phone remains unscathed, allowing you to enjoy your water activities worry-free.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

While traveling, crowded spaces are almost unavoidable. Amidst the chaos, one might desire a private, tranquil auditory experience. Wireless Noise-Canceling Over-Ear Headphones serve this exact purpose. They provide an immersive audio session that isolates external noise and lets you enjoy your favorite music undisturbed. These headphones become your private sanctuary of sound, letting you escape into a world of melodies, regardless of your surroundings.

Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Music is a versatile form of entertainment, and Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker allows you to bring it anywhere with you. This gadget is designed to endure water-related incidents, ensuring your entertainment goes on, be it a lively dance party by the pool or a peaceful music session on the beach. Its portability and durability make it a perfect companion for any spontaneous gatherings or private relaxation sessions.

Binoculars for viewing from the ship

The beauty of a sea voyage extends far beyond the ship, and to fully appreciate the surrounding wonders, Binoculars can prove invaluable. These cater to both adults and children, providing a clear, detailed view of far-off islands, playful marine life, or even other cruising ships. It’s as though you possess a superhero’s vision, allowing you to delve deeper into the beauty of the sea without having to leave your comfortable deck chair.


Blue compact water container

  • Snack Bars : Who doesn’t love a good munchie while chilling on the deck? Pack some snacks for those in-between meal cravings, especially if you’re planning a hike during a shore excursion. These easy-to-carry nutritional delights can give you an instant energy boost when you need it, providing a tasty solution to tackle sudden hunger pangs during an exciting shore excursion.
  • Collapsible Water Bottle : Saving space and the planet? Yes, please! A compact water container is a must-have on your cruise packing list. Stay hydrated without bulking up your beach bag. It’s not just eco-friendly but also makes it easy to carry water, refilling on the go, ensuring you are always ready to quench your thirst while reducing plastic waste.
  • Travel Pillow and Compact Travel Blanket : Catching some shut-eye on a sun lounger? These will make your deck chair feel like a cozy bed! Lightweight and space-saving, these two travel buddies can turn any place into a comfortable napping spot, letting you rest and recharge whenever you need.
  • Waterproof Dry Bag : Keep your essentials safe and dry on your beach or snorkeling trips with this handy bag. It will ensure your valuables remain dry during all your water-based adventures, allowing you to focus on creating memorable experiences without any worry.
  • Portable Power Strip : Charging wars no more! This compact gadget is a life-saver, allowing multiple devices to be charged simultaneously, eliminating the need for power jostling among co-travelers.
  • Clip-on Reading Light : Prefer paperback over Kindle? This will keep you turning pages while your cabin mate catches Z’s. With this small and powerful tool, your late-night reading will never disturb anyone else’s sleep, enhancing the joy of your cruise vacation.
  • Sand-resistant Beach Bag : Don’t bring the beach back to your cabin. A sand-proof bag keeps the sand where it belongs—the beach! Its innovative design helps to keep your belongings sand-free, leaving all the sandy memories on the beach and not in your cabin.
  • Travel Door Alarm : For the extra cautious, a portable door alarm adds that extra layer of security. It provides peace of mind while you’re out exploring or sleeping, knowing that you’ve secured your room against any unwanted intrusions.
  • Earplugs : Block out the world and dive into dreamland. These small devices are a blessing, helping you achieve uninterrupted sleep or quiet time in a bustling environment.
  • Mini Steam Iron : Wrinkle-free is the way to be, especially on formal nights. This portable gadget ensures you look your best at all times, smoothing out any creases from your packed clothes, letting you step out in style.
  • Portable Humidifier : Keep your cruise cabin as comfortable as home. This compact device maintains a healthy moisture level in your room, mitigating the effects of dry air-conditioned environments and making your cabin feel more like home.
  • Travel Clothesline : Save on laundry costs with this item. Easy to set up, this accessory lets you dry your clothes naturally, extending the life of your garments while adding a touch of freshness to them. Plus, nothing beats the smell of air-dried clothes.
  • Snorkel Gear : For those amazing underwater encounters, don’t forget your snorkel gear. This essential equipment enhances your underwater experience, letting you witness the mesmerizing beauty of aquatic life in its natural habitat. From exploring coral reefs to spotting marine life, the ocean is your playground.
  • Portable Fan : This handy tool is a savior in hot climates, providing a personal cool breeze when you need it most, such as getting ready after a sun-soaked day. It can also be useful when you’re getting ready for the evening after a long day under the sun.

Tips for Efficient Packing

Alright, now it’s time to share some masterclass cruise packing tips that would make Mary Poppins’ bag blush.

Packed luggage with clothes and gadgets

Roll Clothes to Save Space

First up, be a rolling stone! Not in the Bob Dylan way, but literally. If your garments are clean, roll them rather than fold them. This simple technique reduces the space they occupy, and as a bonus, it minimizes creases. It’s a strategy used by frequent travelers, military personnel, and packing wizards around the globe. The best thing, though? You don’t have to be the best at Tetris to do it. Just lay your clothes flat, fold them once if they’re bulky, and roll from one end to the other. It’s like space-saving magic without the wand.

Use Packing Cubes

Second, become a fan of organizations with packing cubes. Think of them as little elves that tirelessly work to organize your suitcase into neat, easily accessible sections. It’s a system that compartmentalizes your belongings, ensuring everything has a place and you know exactly where to find it. Your clothes, accessories, and all those knick-knacks will each have their own home within your suitcase.

It means less time rummaging and more time enjoying your journey. Plus, when you arrive at your destination, unpacking isn’t a chore but a breeze (who ever thought we’d say that, huh?). Packing cubes are not just about space but also about sanity—your future self will thank you!

Limit Shoes

Thirdly, limit your shoes. I know it sounds horrifying. But, believe me, your flip-flops, a pair of formal shoes, and perhaps comfortable sneakers should suffice for most of your cruise adventures. A cruise vacation is a break from the daily shoe fashion show, after all.

Pack a Carry-on for the First Day

Lastly, don’t forget to pack a carry-on for the first day. Your luggage might take its sweet time reaching your cabin, and you wouldn’t want to be stuck in your travel clothes all day. In your carry-on bag, include your swimsuit, sunscreen, an additional pair of clothes, plus any necessary medications. In cruising, as in life, it’s all about being prepared for the next fun adventure.

Extra Tips for a Smooth Cruise Experience

Now that we’ve mastered the packing game, let’s move on from the cruise packing checklist and share some tips that will make your cruise itinerary smooth.

  • Firstly, embrace the digital age and check-in online . You’ll avoid long lines at most cruise lines and jump-start your vacation time. It’s similar to pressing the fast-forward button during the dull parts!
  • Secondly, be the early bird and pre-book your shore excursions . You’ll get your pick of the best tours and won’t miss out on that once-in-a-lifetime snorkeling experience in the Caribbean islands.
  • Thirdly, get to know the onboard services . Many cruise lines, especially newer cruise ships, are like floating cities. Familiarize yourself with what’s available, from the spa services to the midnight pizza delivery in your cruise cabin. Knowledge is power, after all!
  • Lastly, remember that a healthy cruiser is a happy cruiser. Pack your essential medications , sea bands for potential motion sickness, and over-the-counter medications because, let’s be honest, the ship’s medical center probably won’t have your favorite brand of cold medicine.

Pro Tip: Always keep a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer on hand if you find yourself in a situation where the closest restroom is a deck away. Remember, a smooth sailing cruise vacation starts with a well-prepared cruiser!

So there we have it, my dear fellow cruisers! An extensive cruise packing list to ensure you have the best time for your next cruise vacation. From chino shorts to power strips, we’ve covered all the bases to make sure you’re as prepared as a Boy Scout or Girl Scout (only way more stylish!).

Remember, cruise life is a fine balance between spontaneous adventures and comfy downtime, so bring along items that will accommodate both. But above all, don’t let the packing stress overshadow your excitement. Get that luggage packed, put your shades on, and step on that cruise ship with a spring in your step! Bon voyage!

What are the amenities of a cruise?

From luxurious spas to world-class dining, state-of-the-art fitness centers to glitzy theaters showcasing Broadway-style shows. Think lavish staterooms, a dizzying variety of restaurants, bars, lounges, swimming pools, hot tubs, and in some cases, rock-climbing walls and ice-skating rinks.

What do I not need to bring on a cruise?

Hold up on the kitchen sink! You don’t need to pack all your worldly possessions. Most cruise ships provide basics like shampoo, conditioner, soap, and towels. Avoid bringing expensive things that might get stolen or lost, such as jewelry, with you. And of course, you can ditch your car keys; they’ll just take up unnecessary space!

Can you bring Coke on a cruise?

The answer depends on your cruise line’s policy, so it’s always best to double-check. Some cruise lines let you carry a limited amount of non-alcoholic beverages onboard on embarkation day. If your cruise line is an anti-DIY cocktail, remember they typically offer unlimited soda packages.

Can I bring snacks on a cruise?

Let’s be honest, snacks are an essential part of any vacation! Generally, pre-packaged, unopened snacks are okay. However, perishable items or homemade snacks might not cut many cruise ships. Always check with your specific cruise line before embarkation, though. After all, who wants to be snacks in the middle of the ocean?

Do cruise ships check your luggage?

Yes! Just like at the airport, your luggage goes through a security screening before it’s allowed on the ship. This is done to guarantee the security and safety of all the passengers’ cruise luggage tags. So if you were planning on smuggling that pet llama onboard, you might want to reconsider.

cruise ship travel items

Digital Marketer

I’m Bobby Pham, but you can call me “Bobby on Cruise.” I’ve been cruising the high seas and exploring the world for years, and I’m thrilled to share my passion and expertise with you. When not cruising, I spend my time on growing my marketing agency.

About FunkyCruise

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37+ Cruise Travel Essentials You Need In 2024

cruise ship travel items

Are you planning on going on a cruise soon? If so, you’ll need certain cruise travel essentials to make your vacation as enjoyable, comfortable, and smooth sailing as possible! In this article, I share my top 37 cruise travel essentials that you won’t want to leave home without.

Cruise travel essentials in front of a cruise ship on the water.

Looking for the ultimate cruise travel essentials list?

You’ve found it! My husband and I have been on many cruises over the years. We’ve taken our kids on cruises, and we’ve also gone without the kids, since we know how important it is to travel as a couple . Each time we learn something new, and figure out another solution to a little problem we encounter.

Our frequency of cruising has enabled me to write multiple articles chock full of important advice and tips for taking cruises . I even have an article to help you in narrowing down the hundreds of cruise options to pick the best cruise vacation for your own needs.

Most of the time these solutions are just ways to make our trip slightly more comfortable or convenient. For example, the first time we cruised we had no idea that the ships didn’t provide irons. We assumed we’d be able to iron out our clothes, so didn’t even think twice about doing it beforehand or minding how we packed.

Needless to say, we both had some very wrinkly outfits that first time! The next time we packed for a cruise , we not only packed carefully, but we also brought a new essential item – wrinkle release spray!

What Are Cruise Essentials?

In essence, cruise essentials are items that are vital to the success and enjoyment of your cruise . They are the necessary items that you should consider bringing on your trip to maximize comfort and convenience. “What do I need for a cruise?” is a very common question folks ask, and I’m here to provide that answer!

There are many products that you may not ever think about that will improve your cruise experience, and the list of those products will be slightly different for each person.

Below, I’ve listed many items that I consider to be cruise travel essentials. You may find that you don’t need all of these items, but I guarantee you want to bring most of them. An explanation of why I recommend these must-have cruise items is accompanied by a photo link to Amazon where you can purchase them.

Cruise Must-Haves For Your Cabin

First, we’re going to dive into the necessary items specifically for your cabin, or stateroom. These items are going to make your temporary home away from home much more comfortable, in various ways. Many of them are things you may already have purchased for past vacations, or they may be things you already have at home.

  • Wrinkle Release Spray

I briefly mentioned wrinkle release spray above as an essential cruise item. As my husband and I found out the hard way, cruise ships do not provide irons. In fact, irons and clothes steamers are on the extensive list of things you can’t bring on a cruise ship . So what do you do about wrinkly clothes?

First, before you pack you should iron out your clothes that are prone to wrinkling, and then pack them carefully in garment bags. This will help prevent wrinkles from happening in the first place. Second, you should unpack your luggage as soon as possible and hang everything up.

Some folks try to hang their clothes in the bathroom while they take a hot shower, and let the steam try to work out some of the wrinkles. But cruise ship bathrooms are very small, and this method isn’t always as effective as you want it to be.

Instead, once you’ve hung up your garments, use this Wrinkle Release Spray and gently tug and smooth the wrinkles out of your clothes.

Downy Wrinkle Releaser, Travel Size, Cruise Accessories, Crisp Linen Scent 3 fl oz - 2 Pack

  • Power Strip

Cruise ship cabins are notoriously small, and usually have very few outlets. To remedy this, bring along a Power Strip to give you the ability to plug in more of your electronics at once.

Be absolutely sure that your power strip does not have a surge protector. Surge protectors are not allowed on cruise ships and if you try to bring one it will be confiscated. You’ll typically get your confiscated items back at the end of your cruise but that doesn’t solve the problem that led you to bring a power strip in the first place.

This is the power strip that I purchased to bring on our cruises. It is exactly what you need for a cruise cabin.

Cruise Power Strip No Surge Protector with USB Outlets - Ship Approved (Non Surge Protection) Cruise Essentials

  • Over The Door Organizer

Not only are cruise cabins small, but the bathrooms in your room are teeny! You have very little storage space in the bathroom, and what little counter space you do have you don’t want to be cluttering up with all your stuff.

The solution to this problem is an Over The Door Organizer like this one below. Hang it right on the inside of your bathroom door, and fill it with all your necessities. Shower products, deodorant, cologne and perfume, makeup, razor, sunscreen… everything that you need can be neatly stored in these pouches, plus it keeps everything within reach!

Gorilla Grip Slip Resistant Breathable Space Saving Mesh Large 24 Pocket Shoe Organizer, Up to 40 Pounds, Over the Door, Sturdy Closet Storage Rack Hangs on Closets for Shoes, Sneakers, Turquoise

Any time we travel anywhere, whether in the states or abroad, somewhere on an all-inclusive resort , or even on a cruise, we always bring a door lock for our room. It’s a simple device that adds a huge amount of peace of mind.

I don’t mean to imply that any particular place is inherently more dangerous than others, rather, I suggest always showing caution no matter where you stay, by adding an extra layer of security to your room at night.

These locks easily attach to your room door, providing extra security and privacy. It takes only seconds to attach, and when you place this lock, the door cannot be opened from the outside.

Portable Door Lock 2Pack Extra Lock for Additional Privacy and Safety in Home,Hotel and Apartment,Prevent Unauthorized Entry,Protect Family Security in Traveling,Home,Bedroom,Hotel,Apartment,AirBNB

  • Magnetic Hooks

I mentioned earlier how space is limited in your cabin. What I didn’t mention is that the walls, ceiling, and door are all made of metal, which means they’re magnetic.

Easily hang wet bathing suits, lanyards, decorations and anything else you want on these magnetic hooks . You can stay organized and keep your room tidier by keeping things off the floor.

I keep one by the door, and all our room key lanyards go right on the hook when we enter our room so no one’s ever gets lost.

LOVIMAG 100LBS Heavy Duty Magnetic Hooks, Strong Neodymium Magnet Hooks for Home, Kitchen, Workplace, Office etc, 32mm(1.26inch) in Diameter,34mm(1.34inch) in Height- 8pack

  • Portable Fan

Cruise ships generally have AC but the rooms can still get stuffy, especially if you chose an interior cabin. And if you have a balcony, a lot of the times the AC will automatically shut off if your balcony door is open.

To get air moving in your cabin, bring along a portable fan . You can even open your cabin door while the fan is on for maximum air flow. Plus, you can use it all around the ship to cool yourself off!

EasyAcc Portable Desk Fan Desktop Fan, Battery Operated Fan 6-Inch Foldable Travel Fan [ Ultra-Quiet Step-less Speed Control ] 160°Tilt Standing Hanging Cooling Fan for Travel Office Home Outdoor

Finding your way around your unfamiliar cruise ship in the middle of the night can be treacherous. You especially don’t want your kids trying to find their way to the bathroom in the dark in the middle of the night!

Stumbling around in the dark is never a good idea, plus once you turn on a light you’ll likely disturb the sleep of everyone else in your room. Instead, grab a motion activated nightlight like this one to help guide you around your cabin when it’s dark, without waking eveIone else up.

Night Light Motion Sensor [Battery Powered] with Rotating Base for Indoor Use in Bathroom, Hallway, Cruise Cabin & More White

  • Travel Mirror

As I’ve mentioned, cruise ship cabins and bathrooms are very small. Yes there are mirrors, but they aren’t always where you need them. And if you are sharing a cabin with anyone else, you may not even have access to the mirror when you need it.

To remedy this, simply bring along a travel mirror with you. I love this one for its 3 different lighting shades and the ability to recharge it via USB. It’s compact, lightweight, and easily portable so it can go wherever you go.

FUNTOUCH Rechargeable Travel Makeup Mirror with 72 Led Lights, Portable Lighted Beauty Mirror, 3 Color Lighting, Dimmable Touch Screen, Tabletop LED Folding Cosmetic Vanity Mirror

  • Travel Alarm Clock

Your cabin may or may not have a clock already in it. And if it does, it may not be reliable enough to ensure you wake up in time for your scheduled activities. I recommend bringing a small alarm clock for your cabin so you know you won’t miss important events like excursions, or dinner!

I love this basic alarm clock, without all the bells and whistles. Don’t forget to also pick up some AAA batteries for it too!

Digital Travel Alarm Clock - No Bells, No Whistles, Simple Basic Operation, Loud Alarm, Snooze, Small and Light, ON/Off Switch, 2 AAA Battery Powered, Black

Poo-Pourri is a lifesaver on vacation. Bathrooms are smelly, we all know this. And cruise ship cabins being as small as they are provide very little by way of fresh air.

Therefore, I consider Poo-Pourri to be the ultimate cruise travel essential. You spray the toilet water before you do your business and somehow it creates a barrier that keeps the stink in the toilet and not the air.

Get it. Trust me on this one.

Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray, In A Pinch Pack, Variety Travel Size 10 mL - Original Citrus, Lavender Vanilla, Tropical Hibiscus, Vanilla Mint and Lavender Peppermint

  • Laundry Bag

An ingenious way to stay organized in your small space is by bringing a laundry bag . All dirty clothes can go right in the bag, and when you’re ready to pack up at the end of your trip, the whole bag can just go right in your luggage.

It’s the perfect way to keep your cabin tidy, and to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean ones. It also makes the sad task of packing up at the end of vacation significantly easier.

HOMEST 2 Pack XL Wash Me Travel Laundry Bag, Dirty Clothes Organizer, Large Enough to Hold 4 Loads of Laundry, Easy Fit a Laundry Hamper or Basket

Magnetic Dry Erase Board

As you wander around your cruise ship you’ll notice that lots of people have magnets all over their doors. Remember, the doors are made of metal! Some have pictures, some have decals, some have whole signs.

There are tons of options for cruise door decorations , and you’ll really feel like a veteran cruiser when you decorate your door!

My family loves having a magnetic dry erase board on our cabin doors when we cruise. Sometimes we decorate it with little drawings or notes for the day, and other times we jot a note down to the kids or friends letting them know where we are. It’s always a good idea to have one!

Kedudes USA Made Magnetic Dry Erase Board Sheet 17" x 11" with Set of 6 Markers - Magnetic Whiteboard for Fridge - Fridge Whiteboard Magnetic - Dry Erase Board Magnetic - Refrigerator Whiteboard

Necessary Cruise Travel Accessories

This next section lists all the accessories you want to bring with you on your cruise. These are important items that you don’t want to forget at home. Some of these you likely already have, like hats, sunglasses, and refillable water bottles. Others you may need to purchase if you’ve never been on a cruise before, like the luggage tags or towel clips.

  • Luggage Tags

When taking a cruise, you need to attach a tag to your luggage indicating your name and cabin number. However, without a holder, these paper tags are prone to getting torn off, becoming wet, or otherwise becoming illegible. This could lead to quite a regrettable situation where the ship attendants are unable to deliver your luggage to your room.

To prevent this, it’s highly recommended to use a holder to secure the luggage tag. These luggage tags are ideal for attaching to your luggage and ensuring the tag remains visible and readable throughout your trip.

Highwind Cruise Luggage Tags for Suitcases | Compatible w/All Cruise Lines | E-tag Holders Zip Seal&Steel Loops | ID Badge | Waterproof Clear Cruise Tags (8pk, Clear)

When you take a cruise you are given a sailing card. This serves as your ID, your door key, and your credit card. Therefore, you need to keep it with you at all times.

Instead of keeping it in a pocket where it can fall out, or a wallet where you have to keep retrieving it, use a badge holder on a lanyard . This is especially crucial for kids, to ensure they don’t lose their cards.

cruise lanyard for Ship Cards | 2 Pack with ID holder, Key Card Retractable Badge & Waterproof

Towel Clips / Bands

Another helpful item to pack on a Caribbean cruise is a set of towel clips or towel bands . These are helpful for both keeping your towel on the chair the way you placed it, and also for helping you to distinguish your chair from the sea of identical looking ones on the deck. The wind can really pick up on cruise ships and you’ll be grateful you packed them.

Yalikop 6 Pieces Beach Towel Clips, Portable Chair Clips Holder Plastic Clothes Pins in Fun Bright Colors Jumbo Size for Pool Loungers Cruise Clothes Lines Quilt Blanket

  • Waterproof Pouch

No matter where you go on your cruise, whether on the ship or off, you’re going to have your phone, money, and key card. You may also want to carry your ID or passport, or other valuables. Although, I do recommend leaving these particular items in your safe.

If you’re participating in any sort of water activity, even if you’re just swimming in the pools on deck, get a waterproof pouch to hold these items so you can keep them with you. I know I personally do not like leaving my phone or cash laying around on a chair or towel while I’m in the water.

These pouches have 3 separate closures on them and a velcro strap to hold it all down. They are fully submergible and have kept my phone and money perfectly dry in both the ocean and in pools. Just make sure you close them well, and try not to reach into them with wet hands or you kind of defeat the purpose!

AiRunTech Waterproof Pouch with Waist Strap (2 Pack) | Accessories Best Way to Keep Your Phone and Valuables Safe and Dry | Perfect for Boating Swimming Snorkeling Kayaking Beach Poo(Gray+Black)

  • Refillable Water Bottle

Even though you can get whatever drinks your heart desires while on the ship, it’s always a good idea to have a refillable water bottle with you. I keep mine with me all the time, since I drink a lot of water throughout the day.

You definitely want to have one with you when you leave the ship to visit the ports or go on excursions, at the very least, like any of these Cozumel excursions . Fill it up before you leave the ship and you’re good to go!

Nomader BPA-Free Collapsible Sports Water Bottle - Foldable with Reusable Leak Proof Twist Cap for Travel Hiking Camping Outdoor and Gym - 22 oz (Aqua Blue)

Beach Hat and Sunglasses

The tropical sun on a Caribbean cruise means you should definitely bring some sort of hat. You can pick any type of hat you want – a baseball cap, a bucket hat, or my personal favorite, a floppy straw beach hat .

Now, remember that when the ship is sailing, it can be quite windy, so you’re typically not going to be wearing a floppy hat on sea days. But you definitely want to bring one for the ports, excursions, or beach breaks!

Make sure you bring sunglasses too. I actually recommend bringing an extra pair of sunglasses in case you lose or break your first one.

Brook + Bay Embroidered Summer Hats for Bachelorette Party - Floppy Sun Hats for Bridal Shower - Women Beach & Vacation Hat

Much of the time you spend on a cruise ship is in your bathing suit. You need a cover up to wander around the ship or go into the buffet, so grab yourself a nice one like this.

You also can purchase coverups on the ship. Usually at the end of the cruise there are many items that go on sale and you can wind up getting some really great deals.

Bsubseach Women Black Tie Dye Long Beach Swimsuit Cover Ups for Swimwear Sexy Bikini Beach Kimono Cardigan

  • Reusable Straws

Most places nowadays are trying to be more conscious of their environmental impact. One particular way in which we see companies manifest this is by using paper straws, or by the removal of straws altogether.

I hate paper straws, I’ll be honest here, but I very much appreciate the concern for our ocean life. So, bring a set of reusable straws like these with you for your beverages.

StrawExpert Set of 16 Reusable Stainless Steel Straws with Travel Case Cleaning Brush Silicone Tips Eco Friendly Extra Long Metal Straws Drinking for 20 24 30 oz Tumbler

  • Walkie-Talkies

Cell phones don’t work in the middle of the ocean, and the WiFi on ships is notoriously unreliable. Some cruise lines have a chat feature in their app that allows you to text with other members in your party, but even that is hit or miss.

To keep in touch with other members in your group, get a set of walkie-talkies . It’s a fun way to keep in contact with kids or other people you’re cruising with, and definitely beats wandering around the ship looking for each other.

Walkie Talkies with 22 FRS Channels, MOICO Walkie Talkies for Adults with LED Flashlight VOX Scan LCD Display, Long Range Family Walkie Talkie for Hiking Camping Trip (Yellow, 4 Pack)

Must-Have Personal Care Cruise Items

Most of these items are things you probably already have at home. This section details cruise essentials such as sunscreens and medications. Make sure you bring all items that you may need, as some of these can be very expensive to purchase on a cruise ship if you forget them at home or run out.

Don’t overlook the importance of sunscreen when visiting tropical destinations. The sun’s rays can be intense, and regardless of your skin tone, you are highly susceptible to getting sunburnt without proper protection.

It’s better to pack twice the amount of sunscreen you think you’ll need to ensure that you’re well-protected throughout your trip.

Coppertone SPORT Sunscreen Spray SPF 50, Water Resistant Spray Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Pack, 5.5 Oz Spray, Pack of 2

  • Reef Safe Sunscreen

Not only should you bring sunscreen on your cruise, but it’s crucial to bring reef safe sunscreen if you plan on swimming in the ocean. Many tours and excursions will verify that your sunscreen is reef-safe before allowing you to take a dip. If it isn’t, you may need to buy some from them or skip the swim altogether.

The chemicals present in regular sunscreen can cause significant harm to the fragile marine life, which is why it’s imperative to use products that are safe for tropical waters.

Look for sunscreens that do not contain harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone, octocrylene, or octinoxate. Just because it says “reef safe” on the label does not actually mean that it is reef safe.

BLUE LIZARD Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, SPF 50+, Water Resistant, UVA/UVB Protection with Smart Bottle Technology - Fragrance Free, 5 oz

  • Seasickness Medication

Some people experience seasickness on board a cruise ship, especially those who are already susceptible to motion sickness. Most modern cruise lines have technology to minimize the feeling of motion on board but I strongly recommend bringing sea sickness medication with you.

Dramamine is a well-known and popular medicine for helping with seasickness. It also comes in kids formulas . Bonine is another popular choice for seasickness medication. Scopolamine is a transdermal patch that is used for motion sickness as well, and requires a prescription.

Dramamine Original, Motion Sickness Relief, 36 Count

Sea Bands utilize acupressure points on the wrist to prevent and alleviate seasickness. Even if you don’t anticipate experiencing seasickness, I highly recommend packing Sea Bands for your cruise.

The ocean can be unpredictable, and you may encounter rough waters unexpectedly. Having Sea Bands readily available in such situations can be a lifesaver, and you’ll be grateful for having them on hand.

Both my daughter and my husband experience motion sickness, and these Sea Bands are a lifesaver. I even keep a pair in my car at all times, just in case. They wear them for the entire length of our cruises and as long as they keep them on, they do not get seasick.

Sea-Band Anti-Nausea Acupressure Wristband for Motion & Morning Sickness, 1 Pair, Gray

  • After Sun Care

No matter how much sunscreen you bring on a cruise, there’s still a chance that you’re going to wind up with a sunburn at some point. It’s an almost unavoidable fact of being in the Caribbean sun.

With that said, do yourself a favor and get a bottle of this after sun care . It’s like magic in a bottle and will soothe your burned skin immediately upon application. It’s a miracle gel that isn’t sticky and works wonders, and you’ll be happy you brought it with you.

EMCW9 Ultra Hydrating Aloe Vera Gel by Sunburnt 6 Ounce,Clear,SUNB21006

  • First Aid Kit

Any time you go on a vacation it’s important to bring your medications, and a cruise is no exception to this. You absolutely want to bring any prescriptions you might have. Don’t forget glasses and/or contacts if you wear them!

It’s also a very good idea to bring various medications such as those for pain relief, fever, nausea, allergies, etc as these items may not be available onboard, or if they are they may be very expensive.

You may want to bring various first aid items with you as well. Bandaids in varying sizes always come in handy. I always bring an ace bandage in case of a rolled ankle, as well. I am extremely prone to sprained ankles, so I am always prepared for another one.

A First Aid Kit such as this one provides lots of various items you may need.

First Aid Only 442 All-Purpose Emergency First Aid Kit for Home, Work, and Travel, 298 Pieces

  • Electrolyte Packs

Depending on your own habits and the type of cruise you’re on, you may find yourself in a situation where you, ahem, got a little carried away with indulging in delicious adult beverages. Or perhaps you simply haven’t been drinking enough water to keep up with the amount of sweat the sun is stealing from you.

Either way, it’s always a good idea to have a few electrolyte packs with you. Liquid IV is well-known for its ability to rehydrate you fast. You just mix a packet in your water and drink. This is definitely another “trust me on this one” essential cruise item to bring with you.

Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier - Passion Fruit - Hydration Powder Packets | Electrolyte Drink Mix | Easy Open Single-Serving Stick | Non-GMO | 16 Sticks

Hand Sanitizer

Cruise ships are notorious for spreading certain viruses around. Arm yourself against the nasty little bugs lurking on doorhandles and such by bringing some hand santizer with you.

Many folks nowadays always keep some with them anyway, and generally cruise ships do have dispensers throughout the ship. But I always think it’s a good idea to have your own stash just in case.

Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Variety Pack, Naturals and Refreshing Gel, 1 Fl Oz Travel Size Flip-Cap Bottle with Jelly Wrap Carrier (Pack of 8), 3900-09-ECSC

Cruise ships typically provide hair dryers in your cabin, so you don’t need to bring your own unless you are very specific about the type you like. Bring any other hair care appliance you may need, such as straighteners or curling wands.

Cruise ship toiletries leave much to be desired. If you are ok with a 2-in-1 or even a 3-in-1 shampoo/conditioner/body wash, then by all means, leave your products at home. If you’re anything like me, however, you prefer your own hair and body products. Grab small toiletries bottles like these ones and fill them with your own favorite products from home.

Gemice Travel Bottles for Toiletries, Tsa Approved, Travel Size Containers, BPA Free Leak Proof Tubs Refillable Liquid Accessories for Cometic Shampoo and Lotion Soap

Ladies: Don’t forget menstrual products! Even if you’re not anticipating needing them, you may want to bring some just in case. We’ve all been caught off guard at one point, and menstrual items on board a cruise ship can be very expensive, and with limited options.

Cruise Travel Gear

Now we come to the essential gear you need for your cruise. Many of these items you likely already have if you’ve gone on vacation before, luggage for example, but some you may not have ever used, such as packing cubes.

You definitely want to have some sort of bag to tote around your stuff, both while you’re on the cruise ship and while you’re in the ports. Whether you choose a beach bag or a backpack is up to you, but you will have stuff to carry, so make your life easier by bringing a bag.

Beach Bags for Women, Large Waterproof Tote Bag with Zipper, Waterproof Sandproof Swim Pool Large Tote

This doesn’t need much of an explanation. You need a good piece of luggage, or a good luggage set like this one, to get all your stuff from home to the cruise ship and back.

I personally prefer hardsided luggage myself. It feels like it protects the contents of my luggage better, since we all know how much the bags get thrown around. Samsonite is a well known and trusted brand of quality luggage.

Samsonite Centric Hardside Expandable Luggage with Spinner Wheels, Caribbean Blue, 3-Piece Set (20/24/28)

  • Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are an incredibly convenient way to pack for any trip, and a cruise is no exception to this. The packing cubes keep all your belongings sorted and organized so you can easily find exactly what you’re looking for.

They allow you to pack more efficiently, fitting more items in smaller spaces. They also help prevent clothes from wrinkling, which is a huge plus when going on a cruise, as you now know that you can’t bring an iron or steamer with you.

Veken 6 Set Packing Cubes for Suitcases, Travel Organizer Bags for Carry on Luggage, Suitcase Organizer Bags Set for Travel Essentials Travel Accessories in 4 Sizes(Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small)

  • Garment Bag

A good garment bag is essential for protecting your formalwear for your cruise. Garment bags help prevent wrinkles and creases in transport, and also will help keep your dressier clothes separate from everything else in your luggage. If something accidentally leaks or spills in your bag you know that your formalwear items will be spared.

MISSLO 43" Gusseted Travel Garment Bag with Accessories Zipper Pocket Breathable Suit Garment Cover for Shirts Dresses Coats, Black

  • Carry On Bag

When you board your cruise, you need to have some sort of carry on bag. You may not have access to your luggage for a few hours, so you want certain things with you when you board.

In this carry on bag you should have a pair of sandals, a swimsuit and coverup, a change of clothes for dinner in case you don’t get your luggage in time, and all necessary documents. You also always should keep any valuables, money, ID or passport, and medications in your carry on bag.

Personally, I tend to use my beach bag above as a carry on, but some folks prefer a traditional carry on bag like this one.

SwissGear Sion Softside Expandable Roller Luggage, Teal, Carry-On 21-Inch

Photographs are my favorite vacation souvenir. More often than not, I simply take photos with my phone. Most modern phones come equipped with quite powerful cameras nowadays. However, occasionally I prefer to use an actual camera to take pictures.

You may be perfectly content with simply using your phone to take pictures, but if you’d rather more professional looking photos I suggest bringing a camera with you like this one.

Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera Bundle with Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 is II Lens + 2pc SanDisk 32GB Memory Cards + Accessory Kit

  • Snorkel Gear

The Caribbean is renowned for snorkeling, and rightly so! Its warm waters are teeming with a diverse array of marine creatures, and the pristine clarity of the water provides unparalleled visibility. While snorkel gear is typically available to rent at most destinations, I highly recommend bringing your own to avoid using equipment that has been used by numerous others.

ZEEPORTE Mask Fin Snorkel Set, Travel Size Snorkeling Gear for Adults with Panoramic View Anti-Fog Mask, Trek Fins, Dry Top Snorkel and Gear Bag for Swimming Training, Snorkeling Kit Diving Packages

My daughter prefers the classic snorkel set, but personally I prefer the full faced style of snorkel mask . I find it much easier to breathe, plus it doesn’t fog up on me like the classic masks tend to. It also gives me a wider view, so I can enjoy more of what I’m seeing!

Greatever G2 Full Face Snorkel Mask with Latest Dry Top System,Foldable 180 Degree Panoramic View Snorkeling Mask with Camera Mount,Safe Breathing,Anti-Leak&Anti-Fog

Complete List Of Cruise Travel Essentials

Below I’ve consolidated this list of 37 necessary cruise items so you can see them all in one place. Remember, you may not need everything on this list.

For example, if you booked a balcony room or a suite, you may not need to bring a portable fan, as your room will get plenty of air flow. Or if you are not the type to snorkel, or maybe you’re taking a cruise to Alaska, then snorkel masks are not essential cruise items for you.

Pack according to your own specific needs, but as long as you use our list as a guide, you will be able to avoid any unexpected hiccups on your trip.

  • Dry Erase Board
  • Towel Clips / Towel Bands
  • Hand Santizer

Other Helpful Caribbean Information and Resources

My husband and I absolutely LOVE the Caribbean. It’s our go-to vacation location, whether with or without the kids. We visit via cruise ship, we stay in all-inclusive resorts, and go back time and time again. Here are some of our other articles about various Caribbean locations that you may find helpful and informative.

  • The Ultimate All Inclusive Packing List + FREE Printable Checklist
  • The Best Stingray City Grand Cayman Tours
  • 10 Best Cruise Excursions In Grand Cayman
  • Dunn’s River Falls Jamaica – What You Need To Know
  • The Ultimate Caribbean Cruise Packing List
  • What NOT To Pack For A Caribbean Cruise
  • Expert Advice and Tips For First Time Cruisers
  • How To Pick A Cruise – Everything You Need To Know
  • The Complete Review of Finest Punta Cana All-Inclusive Resort
  • The Complete Review of Coconut Bay Resort In St. Lucia
  • Why You Need To Visit Diamond Falls St. Lucia
  • Sulphur Springs St. Lucia – How To Visit The World’s Only Drive In Volcano
  • The 10 Best St. Lucia Piton Tours
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Hi there! My name is Rachel, and I'm a travel enthusiast, writer, and lifelong learner. With over 16 years of marriage and two amazing kids, I've learned that traveling is one of the best ways to bond and create lasting memories with loved ones. I'll share everything I learn, from tips and tricks to specific product and business reviews, so you can make memories around the world too!

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39 Useful Things to Pack For Your Cruise (Including 17 You’d Never Think Of)

Wondering what to pack for your cruise? We’ll assume you know to bring your swimsuit, socks, and underwear for your next cruise.

Suitcases on a cruise ship

But what else should you bring? There are a lot of things many people wouldn’t think to pack that can be extremely useful. That’s because cruising is different from any other vacation. Most other places you aren’t on a moving vessel for a week at a time — miles away from the nearest store.

Cruising requires you to plan ahead and bring everything you might need. While we typically tell people to pack light, there’s no shame in being prepared for anything on your trip.

Having been on literally dozens of cruises across every major line, we know what’s important to bring… and what you can leave at home . To help you out, we’ve rounded up a list of nearly 40 useful items that you need to take on your cruise. 

(Need more packing ideas? See our complete 85-item printable cruise packing checklist . Going on an Alaskan cruise? See what to pack for an Alaskan cruise here .)

In This Article...

Note: The links to Amazon used below are affiliate links. Should you make a purchase, we receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.

A Small, Portable Cabin Fan

cruise ship travel items

One important tip — no matter which sort of fan you bring, you want something compact. Remember that you’re going to have to lug it to the ship and back home.

Outlet Adapter

cruise ship travel items

Have an iPhone? What about a tablet or a laptop? A small fan? A nightlight, curling iron or straightener? You can see that outlet space can be at a premium in a small cruise cabin.

That’s why we recommend packing an adapter or two that will expand the number of plugs. You can pick one up for just around $5 . Just be sure it doesn’t have a surge protector, which isn’t allowed on the ship. 

4-Wheel Spinner Suitcase

You likely already have a suitcase or a duffel bag to pack your clothes in, but it’s a good idea to switch over to a 4-wheel spinner suitcase if you don’t have one. The walkway from the cruise terminal to your cabin can be pretty long. There are often stairs, inclined walkways, and thresholds to pass.

Having a traditional rolling bag gets caught up in your feet and takes up a lot of space when dragging it behind you. A 4-wheeled suitcase like this one can be right at your side and is also much easier to navigate down narrow cruise ship hallways.

Hand Sanitizer

There’s no glossing over the health issues that have hit the world and the cruise industry. While cruise lines go to major lengths to keep people healthy on their trip, it’s a good idea to take matters into your own hands… literally.

There are hand sanitizer dispensers all over ships, but it’s smart to bring your own so that you don’t have to hunt. Use it regularly throughout the cruise. The good news is that it’s not expensive. Just be sure to get smaller containers that can fit easily in a pocket or a purse. You can find hand sanitizer for relatively little .

Over-the-Counter Medicines

Over the counter medicines

No one goes on a cruise thinking about getting sick, but it does happen. And whether it’s just a headache from a little too much sun (or too much to drink!), or you have an upset stomach, the last thing you want to do is have to tough it out without any sort of remedy.

On the ship you will have a small shop selling medicines, alongside other sundries like toothbrushes and deodorant. However, the prices are expensive and they aren’t open 24 hours. It’s much cheaper and more convenient just to pack a little of everything with you so you’ll have it at the moment you need it.

Nothing beats sitting out on the balcony of the ship, watching the sunset and sipping a glass of your favorite vino. The good news is that most cruise lines allow you to bring a bottle of wine or champagne along with you (sorry, beer and booze aren’t allowed).

Considering the prices on the ship, passengers should take advantage and bring as much as their cruise line allows. It can save you considerable money and trips to the bar.

(Read: 30+ Easy Ways to Save Money on a Cruise )

We’ve all done the dance when you want to open a bottle of wine and search frantically for a corkscrew. If you can’t find one, it usually ends up with you cutting out the cork… and spitting out bits of cork every time you take a sip of your drink. So be sure to pack a corkscrew with your wine. A $5 purchase can save you a lot of headache.

Leakproof Wine Bottle Protector

cruise ship travel items

Still, it’s a good idea to protect those fragile bottles, even in your carry-on. A leakproof bottle protector offers some protection so you don’t have to worry about accidental breaking.

Cabin Nightlight

The cabins on a ship can get dark — especially if you’ve booked an interior room that doesn’t have windows. So what happens if you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night while trying to navigate a small, unfamiliar cabin with furniture? Your shins pay the price.

We like to pack a glowing nightlight like the ones above to give us a little something to see by. The lights shown here cost about $10 for two on Amazon .

Don’t want a nightlight? You can also keep the bathroom light on and close the door. That provides some light as well.

cruise ship travel items

This stuff doesn’t go in the air. You spray the toilet water before you go and it creates a seal on the surface that keeps odors away. People who use it swear by it.

Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer (NOT for Shoes)

cruise ship travel items

Hang it over the bathroom door and you have a perfect place to put small items like deodorant, shampoo bottles, sunscreen bottles, and anything else. This way you don’t have to take up valuable counter space in the small ship bathrooms. You can find them for less than $10 . They also fold up flat so they don’t take up much room in your luggage.

Magnetic Hooks

cruise ship travel items

In a cruise cabin, efficiency of space is extremely important. After all, a cabin can be only about 160 square feet, meaning you can’t waste a lot of space. That’s why bringing magnetic hooks can be helpful.

The walls and ceiling of the cabin are actually made of metal. So you can place these hooks just about anywhere and have a place to hang hats, lanyards, clothes, and anything else. Best of all, they only cost a few bucks meaning you don’t have to spend a lot to keep the cabin organized.

Wet Wipes (Do NOT Flush)

Ok, let’s be real for a moment. Your cabin bathroom will have plenty of toilet paper, but it is the one-ply stuff that is practically see-through. In other words, it doesn’t feel that great to use and doesn’t leave you feeling clean.

That’s why we’d suggest packing some wipes that offer a better clean and feeling than only using the toilet paper.

One important thing — even if you pack wipes that say they are flushable, do NOT flush them . Place them in the trash can in the bathroom. Flushing anything but toilet paper can cause issues in the ship’s waste systems.

Ziploc Bags

Bringing resealable Ziploc bags is one of the smartest things you can do. From keeping your phone/wallet dry while you swim to keeping wet clothes separate from your dry luggage, Ziplocs are worth their weight in gold. Bring a handful and know that you’re covered for anything you might encounter.

Slip-Resistant Flip Flops

Ok, most people know to pack a pair of flip-flops on their trip. They are a beach and pool essential. But are you packing sandals that actually have tread? Those cheap flip-flops can have a sole that’s rubbed smooth. With wet decks on the ship, it can be like walking on ice when you have no tread.

Instead, look for a pair with actual tread on the sole. We like Reef sandals in general, which we find to be real comfortable. the reviews for them are outstanding .

Mask and Snorkel

cruise ship travel items

First, paying to rent a mask and snorkel can be expensive — $10 to $15 on the cheap end. But as well, you are using something that others have used before, which is a little weird given that the mask and snorkel go right on your face and mouth. This set is around $30 on Amazon and comes in several colors .

Phone Charger

Just a friendly reminder. You should go ahead and put the charger in your suitcase now. It’s too easy to forget. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of the ocean and realize that your phone battery is flashing red.

Think you won’t use your phone on a cruise? Many lines have apps for your phone with things like maps and schedules that are extremely helpful. As well, many people hop on the wi-fi to stay in touch back home.

Phone/Passport Dry Pouch

Dry pouch for a phone

If you are planning to go to the beach, you’ll want somewhere to keep your passport, credit cards, room key, and cash dry. This bag is a best-seller and is less than $10 on Amazon . You can also use it for your phone if you want to bring it with you to the beach. ( You can read our full review and test of this case here .)

Wide-Brimmed Hat

The sun in the tropics is no joke. The more direct rays mean you burn more quickly. There is no better way to avoid sunburn than to keep the sun off you to begin with. Big hats are always in fashion on a cruise because they protect your face, shoulders and neck from getting sunburned.

A lightweight version won’t break the bank (just around $20 online ) and will help keep you cool. We highly recommend something not made of heavy cloth and nothing that’s dark, which can leave your head sweltering.

Walking Shoes for Port

Everyone knows to bring some sandals if you’re headed to the beach, but if you’re going on a cruise then you should also bring some comfy walking shoes. Excursions (or just exploring the port) involves a lot of walking. You don’t want your feet to be uncomfortable while you are on vacation.

Already have a pair of shoes? You might want to invest in some insoles to make them like new again.

Land ho! Or is it? Believe it or not, there’s a lot to see when you’re out at sea. Many passengers love having a pair of binoculars to people watch from afar or simply look at other ships out on the open ocean. An affordable pair won’t set you back that much and you won’t be heartbroken if you accidently drop them on the deck. You can find a pair for about $30 on Amazon .

Jacket or a Hoodie for the Ship

cruise ship travel items

Pack a jacket or a hoodie just in case. You can find them for about $30 online just in case you don’t have one already.

Netflix (Or Other Services) for Binging

Netflix logo on iPad

How do you pack Netflix? To be sure, not all wi-fi connections on a cruise allow streaming, and even if they do, internet is expensive on the ship . Netflix (and other streaming apps) allows you to download many episodes to your computer or tablet beforehand so you can watch without an internet connection.

Having a few episodes to binge on a cruise is one of our guilty pleasures. It’s also a great way to keep kids entertained if you feel like taking it easy in the cabin.

A Passport (Though a Birth Certificate Is Usually OK)

Passport visas

Sure, you may know its ideal to bring a passport to cruise ( though you can sail with a birth certificate in many cases ). But do you know why?

First, passports are smart in case something comes up and you have to leave the cruise early to return home. It simply makes things easier. To be honest, however, the vast majority of cruises go off without a hitch. 

Where a passport is truly handy is getting off the ship at the end of the cruise. These days most ports have facial recognition to process passengers. If you have a passport, you simply walk off, take a quick photo, and then walk out of the terminal. Those with birth certificates usually have to wait in line to meet an agent. 

Lanyard for Your Room Key

cruise ship travel items

Sunscreen (Lots of it)

Bottle of sunscreen sitting on a table

We like to call the day after the first day at sea “Lobster Day.” That’s because many people spent the first day getting too much sun and look like a bunch of lobsters walking around the ship.

You may not realize how powerful the Caribbean sun is until it’s too late. That’s why you should pack plenty of sunscreen. Amazon offers up inexpensive sunscreen , but you can also find deals at your local supermarket.

Aloe Gel (In Case Sunscreen Isn’t Enough)

Everyone knows it’s a good idea to bring sunscreen, but many people never think to bring aloe in case you get burned anyway. The lower latitudes of the Caribbean mean the sun is much stronger than your skin is likely used to.

Being able to prevent and treat sunburn is important to enjoying your cruise. Grab a bottle of aloe gel to bring on your vacation .

These days, almost all of us check our phones for the time. But when you are in port, it’s often easier just to carry a cheap wristwatch. That way you can be sure you get back before the ship leaves port, as well as keep track of when any scheduled activities onboard are about to happen. This one is only around $15  and is water resistant (a must on a cruise).

Swimsuit Cover Up

cruise ship travel items

Best of all, you don’t have to worry about big wet spots on your clothes if you use a cover instead of putting shorts and a tank top over your outfit. You can find them for about $10-$15 .

Waterproof Drybag

Testing the bag in Mexico

There’s always a conundrum when you head out in the water. What do you do with your valuables? That’s why we suggest having a drybag. Put your items in the bag, seal, and roll it up and you have a splash-proof container that you can take into the water with you.

No more having to worry and keep an eye on your valuables on shore. They also come in practically any color you’d want and with a waterproof phone case.

We reviewed three different bags, and this one by Freegrace was the clear winner while costing only about $20 on Amazon .

Box of dramamine

Most cruises will have some seasickness medication out for passengers to take when the waves get rough. You will still likely want to bring your own. It’s only a few bucks and can keep you from feeling bad if the ocean picks up.

Don’t like taking pills? There are also patches you can wear .

(Read:  Will I Get Seasick on a Cruise? Everything to Know About Sailing Comfortably )

Like a cellphone charger, you know to bring your shades on a cruise. The only problem is that it’s so easy to forget them at home or in the car. With the reflection of the sun off the ship and the water, having sunglasses is a must.

Get you an extra pair for your trip and put them in your luggage immediately so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting them later. Worst case, you’ll have a backup pair on your cruise.

Lightweight Backpack

cruise ship travel items

If you want something to carry a change of clothes and some towels — without the bulk of a regular backpack — check out this lightweight bag. Because of the polyester material, it’s no big deal if it gets wet because it will dry quickly. If you don’t need it, the bag also folds down into a small pouch that takes up hardly any space in your luggage.

This is perfect for port days when you only need a small bag that you don’t mind getting wet. The one shown here costs about $20 on Amazon .

Waterproof Valuables Case

cruise ship travel items

Whether you are hanging by the pool or don’t want to leave your valuables on the beach while taking a dip, a waterproof case is a must-have. Use it to keep your phone, wallet, keys, and anything else dry as a bone so you don’t have to worry just because you want to go swimming. You can get two bags for about $12 .

Towel Clips

Towel clips

One of our pastimes on the ship is to watch people struggle with laying their towel on their beach chair. With the ship constantly in motion, there is almost always a breeze on deck. So while you’re trying to relax, the corners of the towel are whipping up and down.

Bringing a few clips like these can help keep your towel secure to your lounge chair and save you some stress. These cost less than $10 for a pack of 8 .

Cabin Alarm Clock

cruise ship travel items

Cabins don’t have clocks. And while most people want to leave the alarm clock at home, we suggest bringing one. It’s nice to be able to see the time at a glance. Not only will it make sure you don’t miss any onboard activities, it’s also nice to know what time it is if you wake up in the middle of the night.

And if you’re the sort of person who likes getting up early to be the first off the ship, then this $20 alarm clock is worth its weight in gold.

Wrinkle-Release Spray (TSA Compliant)

If you’re worried about wrinkles when you unpack your clothes, then this spray is just the thing. Irons aren’t allowed in cabins for fire safety reasons. If you want something pressed, you have to send it down to laundry services. Or, you could pack this, spray the wrinkled item, hang it in the closet, and let the spray do the work.

Just make sure the one you get comes in a small bottle so you can pack it with you even if you have to fly to your cruise port. We like that the one shown here only costs around $7 for a bottle.

Want the convenience of a fanny pack without the bulk? This belt comes in a ton of colors and sits flat against your body with your shirt over it. Put in your passport, cash, cell phone and more, so they are always at an arm’s reach, but safe from pick pocketers. In other words, an investment of less than $10 can give you peace of mind.

We don’t usually carry cash with us on a day-to-day basis. Credit cards are accepted everywhere here at home. However, on a cruise we make sure to pack enough cash to get us through the trip.

Using cash is more secure than using your credit card in foreign ports, plus credit cards aren’t accepted everywhere like they are back home. And if you need more cash on the ship, the ATMs onboard are pricey (expect fees of $6-7 per transaction). You can read our article here to figure out how much cash to bring with you .

Refillable Bottle

Hydro Flask on a cruise deck

TSA-Compliant Luggage Locks

cruise ship travel items

For just a few bucks you can keep your bag locked closed with these locks and keep any fast hands from getting your valuables. One lock is about $8 on Amazon , but you can get a better deal buying multiples.

Cruise Packing Checklist (What Else You Should Bring)

Packing for a cruise is a little different than any other vacation due to the simple reason that in the middle of the ocean it’s not that easy to run out and grab something you forgot. That’s why in addition to what we have above, here are a few more basic items you’ll want to bring:

  • Walking shoes
  • Nice clothes for formal night
  • Books/magazines for poolside reading
  • Travel documents

To help passengers out, we’ve put together a complete 85-item printable PDF checklist that makes it easy to make sure you have everything you need. You can see (and print) our full cruise packing checklist here .

What You Don’t Need to Pack

We’ve focused on what you need to pack for a cruise… but there are many things you don’t need to bring. They simply take up space and are already provided.

Hair dryer in a cruise cabin

Hair dryer: No, you don’t need to pack a hair dryer for the cruise. All cabins come with one built in. It’s a small, hotel-style hair dryer, but it will get the job done. If you want, you can bring your own from home.

Soap & shampoo: If you have soap or shampoo that you just have to have, then go ahead and bring in on the trip. That said, every cabin bathroom comes with a soap and shampoo dispenser in the shower. So if you forget your soap, then you are covered. And if you don’t care about what type of product you use, then it’s something you don’t have to pack.

Beach Towels: Just like a hotel, cruise ships provide you with towels in the cabin to use. That’s to be expected. But a nice perk is that ships also provide beach towels. These towels are often in your cabin when you arrive or you can grab them from the pool deck.

You can take these beach towels down to the pool and even bring them with you off the ship. Just be sure to bring them back because you are charged for missing towels at the end of the cruise.

Prohibited Items on a Cruise (Do Not Bring)

The great thing about cruising is that the cruise lines are pretty lenient on what and how much you can bring. If you’re used to flying, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. There are no real baggage limits (within reason) and things like liquids don’t have to be contained to three ounces.

That said, there are some things you can’t bring on the ship:

Alcohol and beer:  Yes, cruise ships will let you bring on a bottle of champagne or wine with your carry-on. Things like liquor, beer, and other spirits are strictly against the rules. If caught trying to sneak these on through security, they will be removed and likely discarded.

Weapons that might harm other passengers:   Guns, pepper spray, tasers, and other things of this nature aren’t allowed for obvious reasons. Plus, you also don’t want to be caught with these in a foreign port. It pays to use common sense here; if you aren’t able to bring it onto a plane because it’s considered a weapon, then you shouldn’t try to bring it on a cruise ship (though things like nail clippers are just fine).

Anything that can start a fire:  Hair products like curlers, hair dryers, and straighteners are allowed. As well, cigarette lighters are ok to pack too. But things like candles, hot plates, electric blankets, heaters, and other items that heat up are prohibited.

For more on luggage and baggage rules for your cruise, see our article here .

What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

The items we’ve covered above are about packing with a Caribbean cruise in mind, as this is the most popular cruise destination in the world.

If you are headed to Alaska, your packing list has many similarities, but will be a little different. Specifically, it includes more cool weather gear, including warm socks, hat, and gloves.

We’ve covered what to pack for an Alaskan cruise here .

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Popular: 39 Useful Things to Pack (17 You Wouldn't Think Of)

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Nice in formation.

I’m travelling solo, so I’m worried about sunscreen and being able to apply it properly to cover my body. I’ve never been a beach-goer, so I’m also concerned that a cruise is not for me. Any ideas?

You do not want to be left behind with your actual passport locked away in your cruise cabin. Take it with you when you leave the ship.

So far I haven’t seen anyone mention bandage type protection for falls or blisters. I highly suggest bringing the blister bandage to help with blister pain.

Just a reminder, most cell phones have a flashlight built in! They sure do come in handy. When I am out and about on board ship, I take my phone with me.

Hey Marie, great suggestion!

I’ve learned about cornstarch. Baby powder is questionable. But cornstarch is food safe therefore beach safe. In a old spice jar or shaker will allow you to get the sand out of all those un comfortable places sand can get

Cornstarch is also great for chaffing after long hot walks into or out of ports. Just apply generously to affected area.

I use baby powder daily, and it’s now made with cornstarch not talc.

While preparing for my cruise I just read your question from last year. You probably learned that she would be denied boarding because she would have been denied re-entry into the US. As it is now a full year later I’m sure all is well and re-entry is no longer a concern. I’m not knowledgeable with immigration laws and it’s possible I missed something with my Google search so if I may ask did you and your wife have success or encounter any difficulties with your cruise plans.

Heartburn meds…you will likely be trying many new foods and the worst thing is to get heartburn and have nothing to take care if it….

I usually bring a couple of dryer sheets and 1-2 laundry pods with me so I can do a load of laundry before we leave. That way I’m not packing dirty clothes in my luggage.

Reef makes excellent flip-flops (they are very comfortable & give you great traction [even when wet, depending on the model you purchase]), but I suggest you link to one of the models (available in both men’s & women’s styles) that has one more great feature that few other flip-flops have: bottle openers built right into the bottom of the sole!

I’ve had several pairs of them over the years and they are now the ONLY flip-flop brand that I will buy. They can be a little bit pricey (depending on a person’s point of view) , but if you look for sales and clearances you can find deals, and they are well worth even full price.

We’ve seen these, but putting the bottom of our shoe on the lip of a bottle we plan to drink from sounds… not clean.

Don’t be uncouth and drink from a bottle, terrible modern habit and, NO, not cool

Hello Cruzely Staff, My new wife and I would like to take a cruise… BUT, My fiancé does not yet have her green card for re-entry to the USof A. Nor does she have her PASS PORT. She does have a photo ID though. Are the PASS PORTS required to have as long as you will stay on the ship and not disembark on the different ports of call?

Bottle of wine??? Isn’t it more interesting to try a local wine instead?

Carnival has a retractable clothes line in the bathroom. I take clothes pins to hang swim suits etc on They also work great in hotels if the curtains don’t close all the way. I keep some in my luggage at all times.

Don’t forget extra medication just in case the boat breaks down and you are stuck at sea for a week.

When using the outlet adapters if your bring a multiple extension cord and use the adapter you can charge several items a once without having to wait for your turn.

Does the rooms have hair dryers? Also, shampoo, conditioners, and lotion?

Yes, everything you need is provided. If you have a favorite brand, you might want to pack it, however.

Is a small scissor for cutting small hairs allowed?

Yes they are.

Make sure they are not pointed at the end. Mine were confiscated from my make up bag by Carnival/Charleston.

I am so glad to be so informed as we are going on a cruise on the Costa Pacifica along argentina>Canary Islands>casablanca. I thank all who have offered their suggestions and advice. I have always camped so this is so new to me. Thank you.

You listed TSA approved luggage locks, but the cruises I have been on indicate that the luggage given to the porters must remain unlocked. Of course if you fly to the port, you should use the TSA locks, but remove them at the port. Personally I wish they would allow the TSA locks, as I don’t like having my bags sit around the hallways unlocked. (I have been trying to pack in a small enough suitcase that I can carry on board, but still go overboard-not so much with clothes and toiletries, but with all of the other stuff we bring. We bring most everything you have listed in the article.)

I have always packed a small flashlight and a set of walkie-talkies. One time, the power went out on our ship. Everyone was screaming and some were crying. It was at night. I left our dining room table and made my way back to our cabin. Luckily, it was only one deck up and right off the elevator. I got the flashlight and came back out in the hall where people were sitting along the walls. Everyone cheered and asked…how did you know to bring a flashlight? I told them, it’s just something I always bring! The walkie-talkies are great too if you can’t find your loved one. You just get on an agreed-upon channel and call them! Great for the larger ships! I’ve been on 10 cruises, so you just learn as you go what you need that you didn’t think of beforehand.

I’m hoping someone can help me. We are a group of 12 adults traveling on the Reflection. I’m in charge of organizing a scavenger hunt for one of the sea days. I’m thinking about 20 questions that would entail getting an item/or answering a question. If someone has done this or could offer suggestions of questions, I’d appreciate it very much. I’ve gone on Pinterest and searched on line……

I’ve had them take a photo with themselves and the captain, Their name and date written in the sand with a bonus if they put the Port in it also. Photos with their whole group, photos with Any of the Characters such as Dr. Seuss Characters, or Ship Mascots. A pic in hot tub or pool, or on the water slide, Exotic animal from one of the ports, bonus if animal is being held, Pic of jumping from something, {Feet off the Ground} pic with someone in the Hairy Chest Contest {Not from your group} Pic participating in Any excursion in ports. I have a whole list of things in one of my cruise folders. I would just have to find it. But this is what I can remember off the top of my head.. Hope this helps..

GREAT ideas, Tammy!!

Another thing I keep plenty of is unscented Preparation H cream. I know it sounds crazy, but it is a must have for sunburns or any kind of burn as far as that goes. Use it generously on your burn and it will decrease the swelling and begin the healing process faster. Most pain associated with burns are due to the swelling and inflammatory prcess. The ingredients in PH cream are made to treat swelling and redness. I promise it works wonderfully!

Yes it does! I’ve used it for years! Most recently NewYears!

I actually carry a power strip with me. There are usually only 2-3 outlets tops in the cabins and if you have lots of electronics and need to plug in a hairdryer it sure comes in handy.

extension cords are not allowed on cruise lines I’ve been on, nor are outlet adapters with surge protectors.

The extension cord depends on the cruise line, and the choice of cord. The skinny ones that just have a fairly thin cord with a small block of two or three outlets on the end seem to be OK, on Carnival at least. Totally agree on the surge protected adapters. We have a couple of different ones that are not surge protected, and they’re deemed safe for cruise ships.

We use little hard cases with caribiner on them for our cash, ship card and credit card. (search for Money ID Card Badge Holder Dry Box on Amazon) We got ours at Ron Jons years ago, but just bought some for family members recently. Hubby attaches his in his swimsuit pocket and I attach mine to my swimsuit strap. This way, we can just relax and enjoy the water. If they steal our towel or hat – oh well, but we can still pay for things and get back on the ship. No fuss, no muss.

I was in Mexico City with my kids. I stayed behind with my daughter who felt ill. Once she felt better, her energy kicked in. Next thing you know, we are riding bicycles we rented. It starts pouring rain. We have our cell phones in cute little baskets in front of us on the bikes. I always carry ziplock bags when I travel. Came in handy to keep our cellphones dry!!!

I bring an old hotel key card or old casino players card to use where your room key goes to keep air/lights on while you are out of the room. Just leave it in for the duration of the cruise.

I make my own wrinkle releaser. Take a small spray bottle and once arriving on the ship, insert a dryer sheet and fill with water. Shake it up and spray clothes lightly and give them a little shake. Wrinkles are gone. No worries about what size bottle or fluids. I even use this at home.

I rarely read a “useful thing to bring on a cruise” that I didn’t already know, but your tip about making your own wrinkle release spray was GREAT! Thank you!!!

Thank you I came on here for that and you hit it out the park

just the reason why brought walkie talkies recently now im gonna start bringing a flash light

now this is a great idea was gonna buy some now gonna make it way cheaper and i always have drier sheets

Good to know! Thanks

I used a shoe rack holder on my first cruise. Was definitely a good idea. I hung it on the back of a closet door and put some shoes. Sunscreen. Sprays, makeup, chargers anything that can fit

I love the idea of the dry bag.When we went on a cruise to Jamaica ,we left our valubles on shore and we couldn’t really enjoy since there were people selling things on shore and we had to constantly keep an eye on our things.

Awesome post! Thanks for sharing the knowledge and keep up the good work

I like your suggestion to bring a copy of our passport along with our actual passport so we can keep the actual one safe. My husband and I want to go on a cruise together soon. I think the tips you shared will help everything on the cruise go smoothly!

on the 10 drink package can you buy more then one?, and if you don’t can you fine out. cause the drink package is a little high for the reason that you will only be on the ship six day’s so why would they charge you for seven days

You can. Here are more details: https://cruzely.com/everything-to-know-about-royal-caribbeans-10-drink-cards/

Most cruise ships allow you to bring on board one 12 pack of cans per person per cabin. It is cheaper to do that then to buy the drink package unless you are a big drinker. You can alway buy drinks by the drink and not part of the package. If you aren’t a huge soft drink or alcohol drinker I have found it way cheaper to do it this way and just buy a coke(soda) or alcoholic drink here or there.

So do, but not all. You can learn more about bringing non-alcoholic drinks here: https://cruzely.com/bringing-water-or-soda-on-the-ship-carnival-royal-caribbean-princess-and-norwegian/

A fitted sheet works even better. Place water bottles or something similar in the corners to anchor it down with elastic edge up at the top of the bottle (when it is standing. Helps keep sheet in position and sand from blowing onto sheet because it makes a kind of ‘play pen’ shape.

when we go to the beach or think we may need to rest on the ground or seating is dirty I pack a top sheet. they pack well and sand shakes off easily, plus everyone already has at least one so no add’l expense.

How to keep it “down” in breezy conditions?

We also have put something on the outside of our door so we could find it quicker. Also if you put up a light weight chalk board or dry erase board people can leave you notes.

Those are both great ideas. The hallways and doors can all look the same on the ship.

Are there any rules on how you “attach” things to the doors?

Not that we’ve seen. However, it should be something that doesn’t damage the doors. Magnets are ideal or a piece of masking tape.

I’ve heard they only want the command hooks so you can remove the hook without damaging the door.

Use magnets, nothing adhesive.

Command straps. Carnival door decorations

Don’t be surprised if someone adds a comment to your dry board posts. On a recent cruise, the “Grandmas” used a dry board and other passengers added fun comments as replies. All to the enjoyment of grandmas and others.

We always get a balcony room and love the door open. We take a couple bungee cords to hold it open.

That practice is discouraged. It creates a wind tunnel effect. Also, a waste of energy.

Heavy duty magnets will work on the textured walls

These were all life savers on the cruise I just went on. Fan is not necessary though as cabins are air conditioned the walls on the oasis of the seas were textured wallpaper so suction cups or magnets did not work but the bathroom had plenty of hooks

Thank you for the info! We’re going on Oasis of the Seas in 5 weeks!!!

I always buy a few rain ponchos from the dollar store prior to traveling so that if we need them, we are not at the mercy of the local gift shops. Another handy thing is to put a few dryer sheets in your suitcase so that it stays fresh smelling.

Those are great ideas! Love the dryer sheets idea. With the humidity of being at sea, freshness is always nice.

Check out Frog Toggs rain gear. I got a very lightweight rain coat for about $15. It packs down small into a little bag that’s included. The clouds just opened up in Roatan but my wife and I had our rain coats on in seconds. My in-laws were not as prepared.

I would have given mine to in ln Laws.

Since the ship has a lot of metal use heavy duty magnets with hooks on them. I place them around the cabin to hang things on.

Great idea. Definitely a good suggestion.

May I emphasis “heavy duty” magnets in Cynthia’s post? The 1st time I just took some cheapies and they slid down the wall one something was attached to them – they weren’t strong enough.

With heavy duty magnets I have placed my wrung-out swimsuit on a hanger and hung it from them to finish drying with no problems.

There is a retractable clothes line in the bathroom of your cabin, usually in the shower. Happy cruising everyone.

Thank you Pam, I couldn’t remember I thought so but wasnt’ 100%

I like Marie’s idea. I usually travel with an empty pillow case to put laundry in.

Our must-have is a pop-up mesh laundry hamper. It packs flat in your bag and is a life saver in keeping the tiny room tidy and keeping your clean clothes fresh and separate from what’s already been worn.

I use packing cubes. It saves so much room in my luggage. Once in the room, I unpack on the shelves and hangers and then designate one of my largest packing cubes for dirty laundry that lives on lowest shelf. Once home, it too can go into the washer.

Once you unpack your suitcases and slide them under the bed, leave them open and you can use them to store your dirty clothes or a place to keep your souveniers.

We take a few Gain-scented kitchen-sized trash bags to use for dirty laundry. You can store the dirty clothes in a closet, in luggage beneath the bed, or wherever, all while keeping the dirty clothes smell to a minimum and also keeping dirty clothes from touching the inside of your luggage. Trash bags take up no room, hold their structure pretty well while filling, and I can reuse them for their intended purpose once we’re home.

Things I advise to bring that are not on this list:

Highlighters: To note which activities you wish to do on the cruise agenda.

Playing cards / games: To use when you just want to chill but stay active.

Ponchos: Depending on your destination.

Lanyards: Get your sea pass card punched and attach it to a lanyard around your neck.

Lanyards are on the list.

How do you get the lanyard punched? Will they do that for you on the ship?

Yes, there is usually a table with hole punchers.

You can get it punched in the casino. They like you to have it handy for gambling.

Some room cards cannot be punched. The card does so much. Better to get a lanyard with a plastic holder on the end.

Great idea you can take it out to scan, I have one use it eery cruise.

The Alarm Clock only has 4 time zones, “4 US Time Zones Selectable (P/ M/ C/ E)”, not Hawaii or Alaska and nothing if you want to travel internationally and it’s set by radio, so not suggested.

Set it for ship time and don’t set the time zone.

Another thing that is a must for people wearing glasses is a small eyeglass repair kit which can be bought at the dollar store. A screw came out of my glasses while I was going through security. I need them to see. I did not have one and no one else did. Guest services took them and told me they would see what they could do. Who else but the Captain had a kit and fixed them for me. What a life saver. Will not travel without one now!

That’s a great thing to pack! It’s tough when you’re in the middle of the ocean. No easy way to get things like repair kits out there.

It is a good idea to bring an extra pair of glasses if you are truly dependent on them.I have been an optician for 40 years and have heard way to many stories about glasses getting lost or destroyed at the most inopportune times.

I also went to Walmart and purchased the little dental repair kit to keep in my bag when I travel. It’s terrible to be away from home and you lose a crown. The repair kit has dental cement to put it back on until you can get back to your dentist.

This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

I Always take a little colapsable clotheshanger for the wet undies and socks hang it in the shower, I DONT USE THE LAUNDRY ALL THE TIME hand wash the little items.

Thank you for suggesting that you should pack a small portable fan for your cabin on the cruise. My husband and I are thinking of going on a cruise and I want to find the best one. I’ll have to do some research and find something we will both love.

After 6 cruises WITHOUT a small fan and having taken 9 more WITH a fan, my wife and I can’t imagine not taking it. A fan makes all the difference in the world! Highly recommend it.

I like one with a mister to cool me down after time in the sun. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BQB6MZDB/?coliid=I2F0DS5KY4LBLX&colid=NL5G49PUCCFJ&ref_=list_c_wl_lv_ov_lig_dp_it&th=1

as far as motion sickness… I use Bonine. it’s less harsh on the stomach.. I take one right before I get embark, and then one every night. https://www.amazon.com/Bonine-Motion-Sickness-Tablets-Raspberry/dp/B000YA8NYQ?th=1

Same here, I think it also causes less drowsiness. We also use Sea Bands.

I always take ginger root pills. I was surprised at how well they work, but they do! No drowsiness, no side affects. Inexpensive and natural.

We always take a beach lock bag to attach to beach chair, to protect our keys etc while we go into beach.

There is a safe in the cabin where we put all our valuables. It’s big enough to put our tablets. So unless you bring a laptop or something big, there’s really no need to get a lock for your suite case. We keep all our valuables in our carry on so they are never out of our possession.

We don’t agree with that. We don’t like the idea of luggage being out of our sight and not secured in someway — even if we carry all valuables with us.

Not on the list is a camera! I want to get a new camera that’s good quality and water proof. What is a good quality brand and model?

Check out the Panasonic Lumix line of cameras; tough and waterproof.

I LOVE the panasonic Lumix Camera. I don’t even take my big Nikon anymore. If you buy one that is not waterproof though, you MUST bring a waterproof hard case for it… and make sure travel guides know you have a camera and not to get you wet. Brought mine to the waterfall at Falmouth and just as I was putting it away the guide decided it was funny to splash us all. My camera stopped working and that was it for my day. I was sooo upset… Thankfully it dried out and it worked for the rest of the cruise.

What about a battery charger for those rechargeable batteries.

A torch for when you are walking in darkened areas.

Also, tablets for sea-sickness even if you think you don’t need them!! You just never know.

Get a Watson battery charger, for ALL your Electronics – check B&H Photo and Video works with Camera, Camcorder, GoPro – almost anything

You shouldn’t take a torch, they don’t allow anything flammable. A flashlight would be better

Torch = Flashlight in UK English. Please bring nothing with actual flames 🙂

agree on the sea-sickness medicine. I just got off a really rough cruise-just general bad weather, not hurricane related-and was glad I had my medicine. There was 2 out of the 4 of us in the room who needed to take it over the course of several days and I was afraid we would run out.

Do not forget constipation and diarrhea pills. God forbid you would need them, but if you do, you need to have them.

Also pocket sanitizer bottles–those little bottles of purell. use it each and every time you get done with a menu, or after touching handrails in a stairway. Washing is better–but not always convenient.

A small extra battery for your e-reader is a good idea too.

Another reason you need a watch: ships operate on “ship’s time,” which may or may not be the time your longitude-sensitive (local time) phone may give you. If you rely on your cell for time, you may be back to the ship an hour early (bummer) or an hour late (real big bummer).

This is 100% correct… especially the real big bummer part!

You can also set your phone NOT to change based on the local time.

If you don’t do that you may not be on ship time while at sea!

I thought I would see Chap Stick on the list with the wind and the sun, but no one has mentioned this tiny little life saver!!

That’s a great idea! The wind on the ship quickly dries out your lips. Chapstick is a must-have.

lol, I cannot live without chapstick. I just bought one with spf 30 (wish it was 50). We’ll be cruising in July. It didn’t even occur to me that I needed it, I just instinctively bought it since it had a good spf. I use chap stick every day.

Lip balm is in the Cruise kit that was mentioned.

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The Ultimate Cruise Packing List: What to Pack for a Cruise

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When deciding what to pack for a cruise, you’re really packing for three distinct sub-trips: your cruise ship, which is the equivalent of a large destination resort with a controlled environment; the ports of call, where you will get out and roam around the local area; and your flights to and from your departure port. Sometimes you can solve all three problems with a single wardrobe and accessory set, but sometimes you will need completely different sets. Scroll down to the cruise packing list below to learn how to pack for a cruise as well as what to consider during all aspects of your cruise vacation .

Looking for a cheap cruise? Find the best deals at Avoya Travel.

What to pack for a cruise, clothing/accessories.

  • Leisure Shoes
  • Sweatshirts
  • Undershirts
  • Dress Shoes
  • Dress Shirts
  • Casual Shirts
  • Laundry Kit
  • Dental Floss
  • Nail Clippers
  • Moisturizer
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Seasickness Remedy
  • Contact Lenses
  • Contact Solution
  • Shaving Supplies
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Conditioner
  • Makeup Remover
  • Insect Repellent
  • Clothespins
  • Medications
  • Pain Relievers
  • Styling Tools
  • Menstrual Products
  • Birth Control
  • Facial Cleanser
  • Toiletry Bag

Miscellaneous/Cruise Specific

  • Smart Phone
  • Plug Adapter
  • Waterproof Phone Case
  • Snorkel Gear
  • Microfiber Towel
  • Copies of Documents

Carry-on Items for a Cruise

  • Change of Clothes
  • Credit/ATM Cards
  • Water Bottle
  • Insurance Cards
  • Suitcase Locks
  • In-flight Medications
  • Maps/Directions
  • Travel Pillow
  • Travel Blanket
  • Important Toiletries
  • Passport/Visa/ID

What to Pack for a Cruise: At Sea

Row of cruise ship passengers relaxing on lounge chairs on the cruise deck

Once upon a time, almost all cruise ships were pretty dressy, including some events calling for full formal wear. Now only a few upmarket ships still require a bit of fussing, but most of the mass-market ships, like those in the Royal Caribbean and Princess stables, are about as casual as you like. In any event, as long as you’re not out on deck, you’ll be in a comfortably air-conditioned space virtually all the time.

The first job of your cruise packing list is to determine just where on the formal-casual scale you want or have to be in, or if you want to prepare for both ends of the scale. Luckily, business casual attire ( pantsuits , maxi dresses , khaki pants , and button-up shirts tend to fair just fine these days). And for those cruise lines that do have more formal nights, there are typically still buffet options for meals if you want to avoid fancier dress.

The Essential Carry-On Packing List

Then, decide how you want to play your wardrobe. I pack the minimum I’ll need to comply with the lowest degree of dressiness required. On the other hand, other couples I know are fully engaged with dress: The wife doesn’t want to be seen in the same outfit at dinner on any two different days, and the husband even packs his tux for the “Captain’s Dinner” event. But that’s not how everyone travels. Ultimately, it’s your call what’s most comfortable for you to wear on vacation, and therefore to pack.

In any case, layers will be your best friend. Moving between the air conditioned interior of the ship and the potentially much balmier surroundings can feel like packing for two totally different climates. Light shawls , thin cardigans , and linen pants all walk the line between warm and cool, and can be dressed up or down to fit your wardrobe strategy.

Beyond the basic daily wear, pack whatever special recreational wear and accessories you’ll need. Even if you never leave the ship, you will probably want swimwear , and possibly some other specialized clothing and equipment as well.

Where to Buy Formal Wear for a Cruise

While many may want to take advantage of the rare opportunity to dress up, few people have a closet full of formal attire at their disposal. Clothing rental services are an affordable way to get glam on the high seas without overspending or cluttering up your closet with an outfit you’ll only wear once. Rent the Runway offers one time rentals for special occasions and monthly subscriptions (cancel anytime) in 5, 10, and 20 item bundles for those who want to round out their cruise wardrobe.

For those looking to make a more permanent purchase, Suitshop has a large selection of sturdy suits that will last a lifetime and Nordstrom offers dresses at varying levels of formality, from beachy maxi-dresses to true formal options .

The Essential Beach Packing List

What to Pack for a Cruise: In Port

Group of people heading toward two cruise ships docked at a sunny port

The situation here is obvious: You need to pack for the climate in your cruise destination—and, for most people, being active in each port. You’ll be walking around during shore excursions, and many call for specialized equipment. That means you need to pack comfortable walking shoes and clothing on your cruise, even if you won’t need them on the ship itself. Make sure you pack appropriately for any off-shore excursions.

As to how heavy/light to travel, the Caribbean is hot and steamy pretty much all the time, and the Mediterranean in summer can come close. But weather in other popular areas such as Alaska, New England, and inland European rivers is a bit more variable. Your best bet is to check the weather forecasts just before you pack for your cruise, and always be prepared for rain. For Europe and Bermuda, you should aim for more resort-casual clothing (fair warning: Golf courses in Bermuda have strict dress codes). Some other cruise itineraries that are more casual than the norm include Hawaii, the Mexican Riviera, the Caribbean, and French Polynesia.

7 Things You Should Never Do on a Cruise Ship

What to Pack for a Cruise: Everything Else

Woman with her arms outstretched at the bow of a cruise ship, overlooking the ocean

Beyond the perfect wardrobe, there are a few key items that will ensure your cruise vacation is nothing but smooth sailing. Add these items to your cruise packing checklist before you embark:

Day Trip Gear

When putting together a packing list for a cruise, think about what you’ll need for your planned activities. A daypack is a necessity for a spending a full day off the boat. Stock it with a reusable water bottle (collapsible for the ultimate space-saver), sun hats , sunblock , insect repellent , and anything else you’ll need to get through the day. Make sure to download the port city’s map so you can access it offline in the event you lose access to WiFi. Drop a pin in your ship’s docking location and set an alarm well ahead of your departure time to signal its time to head back to the ship.

Travelers sometimes forget that they don’t need to pack a full closet full of personal-care products and accessories in their travel toiletry kit . You can buy toothpaste, batteries, and tissues in most places around the world—and also on the cruise ship, albeit at stiff prices. Ships vary in what toiletries they offer onboard.

However there are a few things you don’t want to leave off your cruise checklist, like prescription medications, glasses or contact lenses, and any specialized skincare or hair products that you can’t live without. It’s also a good idea to have a few OTC medications handy from the start in case of seasickness or minor aches and pains from a long flight.

Unlike air travel, cruise ships don’t place an upper size limit on your liquid personal items, so unless you’re flying to your port of departure, your containers can exceed 3.4oz. 

The latest packing challenge is with gadgets. I, for one, would have withdrawal symptoms if I couldn’t get online every day, so I would select a cruise ship with the latest internet connectivity and pack my laptop. On the other hand, if you want to get away from it all, a cruise ship is the ideal place—and you don’t have to pack any devices, converters, and such. Don’t forget your camera, and a travel extension cord can also come in handy.

As mentioned above, any critical devices you can’t live without should come along in your suitcase, be it a laptop, tablet, or just your smartphone. In addition to any necessary chargers, make sure you have an international adapter that works with any port city on the itinerary.

5 Simple Ways to Make Travel Easier

In-Flight Essentials

When packing for your pre- and post-cruise flights, figure out what goes in your carry-on and what gets checked. If you’re big on collecting souvenirs and buying local handicrafts, leave room in your suitcase for what you bring home. You don’t want to get hit with paying for another checked bag or hauling both your regular carry-on and a shopping bag of loot on your flight home.

Cruises are all about relaxing, soaking up the sun on the ship’s deck and catching up on a good book or finally catching up on that podcast. Make sure you don’t use up the leisure activities you packed for the cruise while bored in the terminal or during the flight. Download multiple books on your e-reader or library app, some for the flight and some for the trip. If you prefer paperback, pick up an in-flight read at one of the terminal kiosks or see if your airport has a library loan program .

Important Documents

Make sure you have your passport, ID, credit cards, and any cash (USD and local currency) you plan to spend. Bring along photocopies of important documents and your cruise itinerary. Make sure to leave any vital documents you don’t need for an excursion locked up safely in your cabin.

Can I Do Laundry on a Cruise?

Do you need to pack for the full cruise, or can you have your clothes washed or dry cleaned during your sailing? Although most big ships provide some kind of service, the specific answer to that question varies wildly among different ships: Some charge for laundry the way hotels do, some set a fixed price for a laundry bag full, some sell laundry packages prior to sailing, and a few offer self-service washers and dryers.

But no matter how you do it, you’ll definitely pay more for doing laundry while cruising than you pay at home. In general, large ships offer more options than small ones, and 200-passenger river cruises may provide only limited services. Again, check what your cruise ship offers before you decide how much you need to pack. If you’re unsure what your cruise line offers or don’t want to pay the fee, pack some travel laundry detergent packets and a travel clothes line to wash light items like undergarments and t-shirts in your cabin sink. 

How to Do Laundry on Vacation (No Landromat Required)

What Not to Pack for a Cruise

Like any form of travel, there are a few prohibited items. These include obvious candidates like firearms, fireworks, knives, and any illegal substances. But there are a few surprising items on the list as well. On Carnival Cruises , passengers are not allowed to bring along curtains or large radios and travel clothing steamers are banned from coming aboard any Royal Caribbean ship. Other common prohibited items include scissors, alcoholic beverages, meat, and fish. Make sure to check your specific cruise line’s list of restricted items.

It’s worth noting that cruise ships are governed under federal law, so all marijuana products, including medical marijuana, are generally prohibited onboard regardless of port of departure. Alcohol policies vary by ship (so do your research with your cruise line directly).

Cruise Packing Tips

cruise ship travel items

Packing for any trip can be tricky, but packing for a vacation that is essentially three trips in one is a monumental task for even the most efficient traveler. Maximize your organization and luggage space with these cruise packing tips.

Bring Spare Clothes in Your Carry-On

Having a change of clothes and a few day-to-day necessities in your carry-on can also be a lifesaver in the case of lost or delayed luggage . If you find yourself with no idea where your bags are or waiting to have them shipped to your next port of call, you’ll be glad to have a few extra items on hand to hold you over. It’s also great for that stretch of time between boarding the ship and your luggage showing up in your cabin.

Get a Personal Item That Does Double Duty

Save packing space by bringing along a personal item for the flight that can double as a daypack for excursions. This Lite Daypack from Bellroy is minimalistic and functional while this option from Got Bag is even more compact and comes in four neutral colors.  A foldable wet bag is a great additional to any daypack—it can be used to organize small items on your pre-departure flight and to store your wet swimsuit on the way back to the ship after a day in port.

The Ten Best Cruise Lines for Solo Travelers

Take Advantage of Packing Cubes

Keep yourself extra organized by packing for your “sub-trips” in packing cubes. Designate one for your formal wear, one for your onboard resort wear, and one for anything you plan to wear in port. This keeps your wardrobe organized without having to unpack everything or dig through a upturned suitcase looking for that one shirt you just know you packed.

My most essential recommendation for what to bring on a cruise: Don’t get obsessive about it. Do your best and plan to cope with whatever problems you encounter along the way.

Where to Book a Cruise

When booking a cruise you have two options—booking directly with the cruise line on their site or hunting down the best deals through an online travel agency. Check out our round-up of the best site to book a cruise to find the best deals and easiest processes.

Download Our Cruise Packing List Before You Set Sail

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33 Top Cruise Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

33 Top Cruise Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

We love cruises because they’re the best of both worlds: you get to see many destinations and attractions – and yet you still have the same accommodations, reliable tasty food, and entertainment every night. They are unbelievably awesome for families and our two young kids still talk about how much they loved the “big boat!”

Below you’ll also find suggestions on what to wear on a cruise , our list of the top items to bring, and what NOT to pack. Bon voyage!

Us on a Southern Caribbean cruise.

What to Pack for a Cruise – 32 Essentials

1. natural motion sickness patches.

These little miracle workers are absolutely incredible. I normally get seasick, so the days out at sea can be quite hard. I’ve tried many different remedies — from sea bands to homeopathic pills to Dramamine (which has horrible drowsy side effects). But these new motion sickness patches work like magic! On our last cruise, I thought I was going to puke, then remembered I had them. I simply stuck them behind my ears and BAM! I wasn’t sick for the rest of the trip.

motion sickness

View on Amazon.com ➜

2. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

A travel towel is a must-bring on a cruise. Cruise lines say they provide towels — but they can be a bit scarce. When they are available, they’re bulky and too big to carry on day-long excursions. By having your own travel towel, you can ensure that you’ll always have one that is compact and light as a feather. Moreover, this one dries 10x faster than cotton so you won’t have to lug wet towels after a long day at shore.

HERO Travel Towel - Blue

3. Magnetic Hooks

Did you know that most ship doors have steel inside which makes them magnetic? We bring along these magnetic hooks for all of our cruises because storage is scarce, and these are so useful to hang wet clothes, towels, or anything you want to keep off the floor. You can also use it like refrigerator magnets to hold up the port itinerary, restaurant contact info, and the onboard event schedule.

Magnetic Hooks

4. Neck Wallet

Whenever you leave the boat, you will be told to bring your SeaPass (your room key) and a passport (or equivalent ID). This convenient little pouch safely stores your passport, driver’s license, cash, credit cards, and travel documents. If you happen to be stuck in a traffic jam (this happened to us!) or your taxi breaks down on the way back to the port and you miss your boat – you’ll be happy you have your passport with you. Additionally, it will keep everything secure so pickpockets can’t access your valuables at one of the ports.

Neck Wallet

5. Travel Insurance for Cruising

Your domestic insurance plans will not follow you overseas, so don’t gamble with your coverage. Cruising can make you think you’re still in America because that’s where the journey may start, but think about where you’re going and if you’d like to be in a foreign hospital, paying out-of-pocket during an emergency. An airlift from a cruise ship generally starts at $25K, but goes up depending on how far you are from the mainland. I’ve seen it cost up to $90K in Europe and that’s before arriving to a hospital for treatment!

No one plans to get sick, so prepare for the unexpected. Faye is our go-to provider because they are modernizing the entire industry. As the first 100% digital provider, reimbursements are sent through their app when you need it most. You won’t have to deal with endless paperwork to make claims for theft, baggage loss, flight delays, or medical expenses. You can even get coverage for hurricanes & inclement weather, or the ability to “cancel for any reason.”

Faye Travel Insurance

Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

6. Hanging Toiletry Bag

Ships – even big, stable ones like cruise ships – tend to rock back and forth. They also leave a lot to be desired as far as countertop space and you may find yourself shrugging in disbelief at your 25-square-foot bathroom!

Let me paint you a picture – you’ve traveled across the world to cruise through the Baltic, Mediterranean, Caribbean, or wherever. You’re either fussing with dozens of plastic sacks to hold your liquid items in TSA-approved bags, or you’re scrambling with loose bottles all over your cabin – just waiting for that BIG wave that will knock the ship’s stabilizer out of whack, sending your expensive perfume or delicate products crashing to the floor.

On a moving vessel, stability is key. And this bag will keep everything in-place, organized, and leak-free to spare your sanity. Thank us later!

hanging toiletry bag

7. Travel Clothesline

You’ll end up with plenty of wet towels and swimsuits every day on your cruise, and you won’t have tons of room in the bathroom to dry things. Pack along this compact clothesline to extend your laundry system! You can hang it on the balcony or from the bathroom to the closet for a convenient dry station. This one is awesome because it comes with its own clothespins and can easily be used both inside and outside.

travel clothesline

8. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

Between docking on flimsy transit boats, playing along the shore, boating on excursions, and swimming at the ship’s pool – your phone is more vulnerable to water than usual. Protect your lifeline with an affordable waterproof phone case. This one has a universal fit so any phone will be functional underwater, able to take stunning pictures and mini-movies (with sound!) It’s made by a woman-owned business in Hawaii and could literally save you thousands!

waterproof phone pouch

9. Flotation Strap

Don’t neglect to attach these brightly colored flotation straps so your device floats and is easy to spot. I’ve dropped my phone taking pictures on the water and it’s fallen into a murky lake where I couldn’t find it again. I’ve also had a camera fall into a sharp coral reef where it was unretrievable. Learn from these mistakes and attach the float strap!

Flotation Strap

10. Luggage Straps

You may not realize how often your bags are out-of-sight while cruising, or how rough the transit process can be. If flying to your cruise port, the airline staff are notorious for being less-than-gentle in their baggage handling. Then, you’ll pass your bags to the cruise staff who have strict deadlines and cannot “baby” your bags. The last thing you want is a suitcase explosion with everything busting out of it because of haphazard handling.

To protect your bags from unnecessary damage, use these luggage straps that can withstand 700+ lbs of tension force. They are an elegant solution for taking the pressure off your zippers (especially after you’ve done a little shopping on vacation!), and the bright colors make it WAY easier to spot your bag for pickup instead of accidentally grabbing someone else’s generic black suitcase.

luggage straps

11. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Cruise ships are not the safest place to surf the internet and even when stopping at ports, you’ll likely want to hop on random Wi-Fi networks at restaurants, coffee shops, and beachside hangouts. Even if they seem credible, public places have tons of creepy onlookers monitoring your activity, which could risk your passwords, credit card details, and private identity.

I experienced this first-hand when my credit card number was stolen from an Airbnb that I thought was safe. I’ve learned my lesson and now use NordVPN to browse the internet worry-free. They offer exceptional service at an affordable price, so it’s really a no-brainer for any kind of travel. Not to mention, if you’re cruising through a region that has online censorship (predominantly in the Caribbean, Europe, and Eastern nations), you’ll need a VPN to use your favorite sites. Nord offers 6,000 servers in 60 countries, so there’s basically nothing on the internet you won’t have access to.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

View NordVPN.com Plans ➜

12. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

Between flying to the port, handing over your bag for delivery at your suite, and exploring cities that are targeted by pickpockets – these TSA-approved luggage locks are crucial to a worry-free travel experience. Many tourist-filled destinations are hot spots for thieves that work in groups to distract and rob you. We put these locks on our suitcases and backpacks to keep this preventable crime at bay. A lock should deter any sticky fingers and this set is 10x harder to crack than typical 3-digit locks.

luggage locks

13. Natural Hangover Relief Pills

Alcohol and sun are not a good combo and when you’re cruising, you may find yourself getting a lot of both. While you’re making the most of that all-inclusive drink package, use these natural hangover prevention pills made with vitamins, electrolytes, and other safe ingredients like Dihydromyricetin that actually help a lot! The one we like is called Cheers and was featured on Shark Tank. With proven liver support that detoxes alcohol faster, it worked for us!

hangover pills

14. Packing Cubes

Organization is key when packing for a cruise because unless you can afford a penthouse – your stateroom will be tiny! These economical luxury organizers are flexible and zippered so that you can pack them and place them neatly into your luggage and then place them directly into the drawers of your room without needing to unpack. You can label each cube (tops, pants, that sexy dress, swimwear, essentials, etc.), and they keep your items contained so that you never have to rummage around for what you need. Besides offering sanity and bliss, they also free up space for that duty-free merchandise you may be bringing home!

packing cubes

15. Gorgeous Dress

By day , a cover-up may do the trick – but by night , you will need something a bit fancier! From the multiple dining options onboard to the inevitable dance club and lounge visits, this sexy cocktail dress is the ideal evening look. Most people go on vacation to feast and there will be no shortage of meals on a cruise ship, I like that this look covers my tummy yet hugs the curves for a modest look that complements all body types. We’re going for – affordably chic while looking like a million bucks!


16. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

Considering you will have long days at stops with potentially unpredictable power grids – you will be happy to have a portable charger. This one is our favorite because it’s about the size of a lipstick tube yet charges multiple devices in a day. We throw it in our backpack and can enjoy excursions without worry. It’s also nice because the ship is HUGE and you don’t want to walk (what feels like miles) back to your suite for a quick charge. Party the night away, feel free to explore, and always stay connected with the ability to snap that perfect Instagram selfie when traveling in foreign destinations.

Lipstick-Sized Charger

17. Activated Charcoal (Food Poisoning Remedy)

Do not leave home without these charcoal tablets. Cruising often offers a false sense of security. You think, “Oh I’m on an ‘American’ boat, food will be safe. There shouldn’t be any problem with food poisoning or stomach viruses, right?” Wrong. You will most likely be visiting foreign countries like Mexico, Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Maarten, Honduras, Greece, etc., and all of these places are known for serious traveler’s diarrhea. Unfortunately, cruise ships are notorious for folks getting sick at the buffets. These puppies will save the day. No one wants to spend their whole vacation in the tiny ship’s swaying bathroom. Trust me! (Of course, you should always consult your doctor).

Activated Charcoal (Food Poisoning Remedy)

18. Cooling Towel Set

Most cruise destinations are for hot locations (even during the winter months) so traveling with this cooling towel is a necessity for me. I hate feeling overheated and even though the comfort of air conditioning is available inside the ship, the deck is often scorching and AC is hard to come by at the port. If I’m strolling through the streets, visiting markets or other tourist attractions, I always carry this towel with me. For relief, you simply wet the towel, wring it out and apply it to your neck or shoulders for instant comfort. The towel is chemical-free and comes in a small case that prevents the other items in my daypack from getting damp.

towel pink

19. Swimsuit Cover-Up

I am madly in love with this cover-up! It’s my go-to whenever cruising or visiting coastal towns. I just throw it over my swimsuit and feel totally comfortable traveling through the boat to the beach or on an excursion. It’s sexy but modest and comfortable enough to wear while walking around the cruise ports or casually exploring the ship. The lightweight material makes it dry super quick and it’s breathable – plus it’ll take up no room in your suitcase.


20. Affordable Underwater Camera

Cruises almost always take you to crystal-clear seas and underwater cameras are really fun to have in tow. We got so many great videos of my little son in the waves, my hubby snorkeling, and me hanging on the beach thanks to ours. We really like this little camera because it’s a fraction of the price of a GoPro but still works beautifully in 4K. Leave the DSLR at home, this camera will help you document all those breathtaking moments or that priceless underwater family self portrait.

underwater camera

21. Windproof Travel Umbrella

Most cruises go to locations that experience a surprising amount of rain. On the several cruises we’ve done, there have always been rainy days where we wished we had a travel umbrella to avert getting drenched! When you’re out at sea, it’s often wildly windy too, so you’ll want one that is windproof. The additional benefit of an umbrella is you can also use it for sun and UV protection on those really hot days that will likely burn you otherwise.

travel umbrella

22. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

Cruising is an amazing (and duty-free!) opportunity to pick up gifts and souvenirs wherever you drop anchor. There are also luxury stores onboard that frequently sell popular brands and hand-crafted jewelry. This “just in case” bag folds to the size of a large sandwich when empty, but when full, it can carry your tax-free treats like liquor, luxury purses, cosmetics, skincare, clothes, ornaments, photos, art, and exotic souvenirs from your daytrips . If flying to your port, it’s also a brilliant way to save yourself carry-on fees since it counts as a personal item bag.

Just in Case bag

23. Kid’s Snorkle & Life Vest

While adult rentals are readily available, it is much more difficult to find a child’s snorkel mask that actually fits your little one’s face! In many destinations, rentals may not even be available. This anti-leak snorkel mask is essential for families that plan to do any water activities. The full-face design feels safer to new swimmers because can simply breathe normally without a mouthpiece. Don’t forget a safety life vest that will give your kiddos full confidence in the water!

Shark mask snorkel kids

24. Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

Mosquitoes are an issue in most of the places frequented by cruise lines, puerly because all of the most sought-after tropical locations are perfect for these bloodsucking pests. To protect yourself, be sure to bring these mosquito-repellent wristbands that are natural and non-toxic. I always recommend a deet-free option to keep chemical exposure to a minimum. These wristbands are safe and effective, much easier to wear than having to reapply a spray over and over.

Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

25. Water Bottle with a Built-in Filter

While the ship will have plenty of filtered water, the same can’t be said for your onshore excursions. Whether you’re ziplining through the jungle, exploring a port city, or sailing on a catamaran for a snorkeling trip – it’s wise to have your own water on-hand. This Brita bottle filters water and makes it taste considerably better. Much better than using wasteful plastic bottles the entire time!

Brita water bottle teal

26. Discounted Tickets on Popular Cruise Destination Shore Excursions

Shore excursions via Get Your Guide are usually way cheaper than the ones offered by the cruise lines (who often jack up the price to take a hefty commission). Using this website also allows you to see authentic reviews from other travelers before you decide which excursion or activity to book.

Based on the most popular cruising ports – some activities to check out include: Swimming with dolphins in Cozumel , attending an authentic luau in Hawaii , and whale-watching in Alaska . Whether you’re cruising through the Bahamas or the Greek Isles, they offer discounted experiences like snorkeling with wild pigs in Nassau , visiting the best wineries in Santorini , and climbing the ancient Mayan Ruins of the Mexican Riviera .

get your guide

See all popular attractions at GetYourGuide.com ➜

27. Long-Sleeved Swim Rash Guard

Being that most tropical destinations are closer to the equator, the sun in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Southern Caribbean can be extremely harsh. I almost never burn and I turned red like a tomato on our first trip! It was a good reminder of the importance of covering up whether on the boat during cruising days or lounging at the beach. My husband is fair-skinned and cannot go to the beach without using a men’s rash guard . This one (pictured) is super stylish and flattering for women while offering serious UPF/UV sun protection – you can’t go wrong with it.

rash guard

28. Water-Resistant Backpack

A water-resistant daypack is a seriously non-negotiable item for me when cruising. Not only are you literally surrounded by water all day, but the little boats that bring you to excursions and land can easily soak your things. My backpack actually fell in the water once and all of my stuff got ruined… Learn from my mistakes and protect your essentials with this backpack. Whether boating, snorkeling, or just docking – you will be happy to have it. This one folds up into its own tiny storage pouch when not in use.

Water-Resistant Backpack

29. Slip-On Mesh Water Shoes

In tropical locations, it’s likely that you’ll be in and out of the water while you’re exploring or taking part in shore activities – and flip-flops are not going to cut it. You’ll want something comfortable that can go from land to sea so you can wear them while walking around beachside towns or trails and then hop right into the water for some snorkeling. You don’t want to worry about getting sand or water in your heavy hiking shoes, causing you to slosh around and be weighed down. Plus, there are many beaches and reefs where it’s not a good idea to go barefoot, so these mesh water shoes are a safe solution.

Slip-On Mesh Water Shoes

30. Sand-Resistant Beach Bag

One of the many things we love about cruising is island-hopping, so you can get a taste of each destination and return to the ones you enjoy most! Most stops will involve a beach along the coastline and you’ll want a sand-proof bag. This one is perfect for carrying swimsuits, snacks, changes of clothes, snorkels, etc. and even comes with an insulated cooler at the bottom for keeping your drinks nice and cold. Plus it’s compact and weighs next to nothing when empty.

Sand-Resistant Beach Bag

31. Sand-Resistant Beach Blanket

A high-quality beach blanket is hard to find but will be a game-changer when cruising. This one by Wellax is made of parachute-like material that drys in no time, and sand can’t stick to it – no more sand grains in your picnic snacks! It folds up into a little carry bag and even has a pocket for your belongings such as keys and cell phones. Pair it with the travel towel and you will have everything you need for a low-stress day in the sun.

beach blanket

32. Natural Deodorant Wipes

Tropical = humid. As much as we love the warmth and crave it year-round, it can leave you feeling sticky and a bit more “fragrant” than you’d prefer. Instead of feeling uncomfortable, stinky, or dousing yourself in a perfume shower – opt for natural deodorizers. These lovely single-packed wipes are made for travel so they are smaller than a pack of gum. I love that they are gentle on my sensitive skin and you will feel fresh as a morning rose, no matter where you may roam!

Natural Deodorant Wipes

33. Packable Sun Hat

Since the most popular cruising routes sweep across the Bahamas, Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Hawaii, and Alaska – you will always need a decent sun hat. This one is my go-to because it is wide-brimmed and sweat-resistant, but most of all, it is packable! I’ve never met a hat that didn’t look completely destroyed and disheveled after a day in my suitcase. But this one rolls up to maintain a chic shape, making it ideal for wanderlusters that don’t want the sun in their eyes all day.

Packable Sun Hat

Other Items to Remember for a Cruise

  • Travel Insurance
  • Motion-Sickness Wristbands
  • Leave-In Hair Conditioner
  • Notebook or Journal
  • Kindle Cover
  • Small Flashlight
  • Reef-Safe Sunscreen
  • Aloe (After Sun)
  • Compression Socks
  • Bottle Protectors
  • LifeStraw Filter
  • Noise-Canceling Headphones
  • Rain Jacket Women
  • Rain Jacket Men
  • Multi-Purpose Soap
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Small Binoculars
  • Rain Poncho
  • Travel pillow
  • Power Adapter
  • Power Strips
  • Travel-Size Air Freshener
  • Snorkel Gear
  • Towel Clips
  • Small bills for tipping

What to Wear on a Cruise

Setting sail on a cruise is the trip of a lifetime. On the high seas, you may find yourself relaxing by sparkling pools on the top deck, docking for day trips to different coastal cities, exploring the world’s cultural gems, and dancing to live music on the ship. Be sure to pack for every occasion – think swimsuits, breezy cotton clothing, sun hats, and a few spiffier outfits to wear to dinner.

lyric and aurora at beach on cruise trip

On your cruise, definitely keep it casual during the day. You’ll be spending your days outside mainly, so dress for the weather (hopefully tropical!). Bring swimsuits, tank tops, loose shorts, cover ups and sundresses. Make sure to bring the right accessories, like sunglasses, sun hats, or visors. Sandals are a cruise staple. Bring some athletic clothes and comfortable closed-toed shoes to wear while exploring the cities you’ll dock in, and in case there is a rock climbing wall on board! Dining attire is usually “cruise casual” in ship restaurants, so bring some casual-cute clothing like simple dresses, and nice flats. Make sure to bring a beach bag to take to the pool or out sightseeing. What should MEN wear on a cruise? – (Click to expand) Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).


Knowing what to pack for different types of cruises can be tough – we go into detail about the most common cruise types below.

Caribbean Cruise ​ – Get ready for some seriously tropical weather if you’re headed on a Caribbean cruise. Bring extra sunscreen, aloe, a couple of extra swimsuits, and a sarong or two.


Adventure Cruise ​ – Some cruise lines seek out exotic itineraries in the Arctic, Antarctica, Galapagos, Amazon, and other less mainstream destinations. If you’re going on one of these once-in-a-lifetime adventures, check the weather and pack accordingly. This may mean packing rain jackets, waterproof pants, wetsuits, etc.

Disney Cruise ​ – Disney really understands what parents and small children need on vacation, from entertainment and dining to childcare. If you’re headed on a Disney Cruise, check out this packing list for all our tips.

Pools ​ – Almost every cruise ship has at least a few pools and hot tubs. Bring your swimsuit, obviously, and a few cover-ups. Sun hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are must-haves.

Ship Restaurants ​ – Going to dinner on the ship is a great excuse to dress glamorously. Keep it classy with a little black dress, sundress, or nice jeans and a tank top. For men, chic slacks and button-downs are key.

What NOT to Take on a Cruise

1. don’t pack too much.

An overstuffed suitcase is always more trouble than it’s worth. Avoid bringing along things you’re not going to need like excessive amounts of clothes or shoes. Besides, a suitcase that’s already crammed full of stuff leaves you with no room for souvenirs.

2. DON’T TAKE expensive jewelry

Although there might be some nights where you’re expected to dress up a bit, you’re better off leaving any expensive or heirloom jewelry at home. After all, it’s far too easy to lose things when you’re constantly moving around, and the risk of theft is not worth taking.

3. DON’T BRING uncomfortable shoes

This one is a bit obvious but it also goes for pairs that haven’t been properly broken-in. If you plan on buying brand new shoes to wear on your trip, start using them a couple of weeks prior to your departure date. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with painful blisters when you should be enjoying yourself instead.

4. DON’T PACK basic grooming products

You can leave the shampoo, conditioner, and soap at home since these will be provided. The same is true for things like hairdryers and irons. The only reason you’d want to bring your own along for the ride is if you’re picky about these products or you need more generous quantities of them than most hotels normally provide.

5. DON’T TAKE anything prohibited by the cruise line

The vary widely but the lists are ALWAYS made available to travelers, so you’ll be able to research the items you can’t take. Fire hazards, certain chemicals, weapons… the logical items that you can’t normally travel with anyway.

6. DON’T BRING heavy items

You’re already going to be lugging around bags so save yourself (and your back) some trouble by leaving heavy books and electronics at home. If you’re a reader (and there’s a lot of lounge time on the ship!), opt for a Kindle or a similar e-reader.

FAQs about Going on a Cruise

1. how long do most cruises last.


It can vary greatly. There are overnight trips to nearby destinations and then there are some round the world cruises that can take a year to complete. However, most cruises run about a week, give or take a few days. Longer cruises often have a majority of their days at ports, of course, but there may be a couple of travel days where you’re on the water and have to seek entertainment on the ship itself. Don’t worry – cruise ships are infamously well-stocked with various entertainment.

2. What is included in the basic cost of a cruise?

The basic fees typically include a cabin on the boat, most of your food, some onboard activities, and water-based beverages like tea, lemonade, hot chocolate, and basic coffee drinks. The quoted rate doesn’t usually include things like sodas or alcoholic beverages. Some cruises do include alcohol and excursions but others don’t – the ones that do will charge higher fares, so you’ll have to consider how much you’ll be taking advantage of those free drinks. For some, it’s well worth it, but for others it’s wiser just to plan on paying for each drink out of pocket. Be sure to carefully read over the official documents so that you know precisely what your money is going to get you.

3. How much should I budget for additional expenses?

snorkeling child

Of course, travelers will need to factor the cost of transportation to and from the port. This might also include airfare and baggage fees for folks that can’t drive to where the ship departs. How much you want to budget once you get on the boat varies based on what activities you want to try out. Depending on how many places a ship docks, the port fees can also vary from trip to trip. Some shore excursions are naturally pricier than others.

In addition to those things, there’s often an additional charge for internet usage while you’re onboard the ship so you may need to factor that into your calculations as well. One of the best things about cruises is that you’re largely in control of how spendy you need to be – you can do activities at every port that cost money, or you can lounge around at inexpensive or free beaches and chill in the sand.

A number of cruise lines even have onboard restaurants that are not included in their meal plans so you have to pay separately for them. If you plan on going to the spa or doing some shopping while you’re on the cruise, you’ll need to adjust your budget accordingly. Most American cruise ships also charge gratuities per guest on a daily basis. The rate does vary slightly from company to company. Travelers should also be aware that onboard spas and bars automatically charge extremely high percentages as “tips” when it comes to their services. If you plan on using them, be prepared to pay more than the listed rates.

4. Is it better to arrange my own excursions or take the ones offered by the cruise line?

whale watching cruise

Arranging your own excursions is certainly cheaper than taking the ones sponsored by the cruise line. However, if the port is located far enough away from the nearest city, you might be better off to take the cruise’s official excursions rather than risk missing your boat. Budget travelers might instead choose to walk around the port city for free, or head to the nearest available beach rather than go on prepackaged excursions. Some people might even opt to stay on the boat during their stay in port in order to have all the ship’s attractions to themselves.

5. When is the best time of year to go on a cruise?

It depends entirely on where you’re going. Different destinations are at their peak at different times of the year. Read up on the places that your cruise ship will be visiting and adjust your plans accordingly.

6. Do you have tips for making a cruise more enjoyable?

breakfast on the water

Perhaps the most sensible tip is to arrive at the city nearest to your departure port a day or two ahead of time. This will give you enough time to recover from your flight, possibly enjoy the city itself, and not worry so much about getting to the boat before it leaves. You’ll also want to check and double check to be sure that you have the proper paperwork that you need to embark before you get to the gangplank.

When the boat is on the move, there are a number of things you can do to improve the quality of your stay. If you’re not a big fan of children or crowded spaces, check out the adults-only areas. These spots tend to be less crowded and less noisy than areas where families are welcome. If you don’t like making conversation with strangers, you might want to dine out while you’re in port rather than eat in the main dining area. Night owls might also want to check out the discos on board, even if that’s not normally their scene, since not much else happens on the boat after midnight. Also: check out this article as well as this one for even more tips.

7. Do I need a passport to go on a cruise?

Americans don’t need a passport if the cruise they’re going on begins and ends in a US port. For cruises that end or begin in a foreign port, you’ll need a passport.

However, most cruises do require an official ID of some sort before they let people onboard so make sure you see what documentation they will expect.

8. What about for shore excursions?

Santorini Oia Greece

If the cruise will be stopping in other countries and you plan on disembarking while you’re there, you probably need a passport. American-run territories like the US Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico are the main exceptions to this rule.

Of course, you can still get off the boat at any port stops in the United States if you’re an American citizen.

9. How can I avoid spending a fortune on drinks?

Margarita cocktail glasses on a beach bar table with people, sunset, sea and mountains background

The easiest way to do this is to take as much as you’re allowed with you. The amount does vary by company so read the fine print. Most cruise lines will typically allow travelers to bring one or two bottles of wine. Or you can drag along soda or beer, if that’s more your speed. The restrictions tend to apply more to alcoholic beverages than soft or sports drinks. Therefore, you might be able to keep bringing more on as your supply runs out. Just keep in mind that some cruise lines won’t allow this.

As was pointed out here, using flavored powder for the complimentary water onboard is another good way to get around the bizarre drink regulations. You can even take your preferred brands of coffee, hot chocolate, and tea to brew up the drink of your choice. All the same, most of these drinks are available for free so there’s really no need to bother, unless you have very specific beverage preferences.

Another good idea is to buy a bottle of wine and have it marked with your room number so that you can drink the rest of it later.

You might even want to look at getting a beverage card that allows you to pay a flat rate per day instead of paying for them individually. However, do the math to make sure that it will save you money. It often doesn’t. This can likewise be the case with the daily drink specials, which might not actually be any cheaper than they were originally.

10. How can I avoid other sneaky fees?

Do your internet browsing while you’re in port instead of on the boat to avoid paying for pricey service while you’re onboard. Switch your phone to airline mode (which turns off the internet features) in order to avoid scary roaming charges. Meanwhile, take advantage of the free activities and food. Don’t pay for “special” meals or snacks that are just going to cost you extra. You’ll also want to minimize your participation in any activities that require additional funds like visiting the casino or seeing onboard shows.

11. How can I get a good deal on a cruise package?

Netherlands view from a ship

Keep in mind that shorter cruises tend to be cheaper overall and they often have a lower per-night price rate than longer ones. It’s no secret that inside cabins tend to be cheaper than ones with a view or a balcony. Prices also tend to be lower for groups, especially since these travelers can share cabins and buckets of overpriced beer. It’s certainly not surprising that it’s cheaper to traveling during hurricane season since the itineraries at such times change based on where the storm is going.

Prices also go down when school is in session and you’re far less likely to encounter wild children running loose in the hallways than you might be at other times of the year.

12. What are some ways to stay within my budget?

You’ll want to bring along everything that you’ll need so that you don’t have to purchase anything from the pricey stores onboard or deal with the limited selection in some ports. Of course, it’s always a good idea to avoid visiting any shipboard stores if you’re low on funds. The same is true of places like the casino where, like in the Hunger Games, the odds are definitely not in your favor.

Don’t go overboard when it comes to purchasing souvenirs either. Get only one or two affordable items while you’re in port. It’s even better if the things you buy can be used later.

I personally like to buy cooking supplies or clothes as mementos because they don’t collect dust at my house. Seashells from the beach are likewise good (free!) souvenirs, and you can bring them back on the airplane if they’re cleaned up and there are no animals still living inside them.

However, check the local laws before you do this. Some places won’t let you pick up shells off the beach and you certainly don’t want to get slapped with a scary fine for what was supposed to be a free souvenir.

13. Are cruises safe?

cruise boat by Malta

Yes. News about cruise mishaps has cropped up in the past few years, but believe it or not it’s extremely rare for big problems to occur on cruises. They’re quite safe, they’ve been operating for decades, and they seldom have big problems. That said, it’s always better to opt for the more reputable cruise lines when possible, and travel insurance is a good idea no matter where, when, and how you’re traveling.

One factor to take into consideration is which destinations your cruise will be stopping in: if there are issues or travel warnings about those countries, it may be better to choose another cruise route. Cruise services, though, are actually quite good about modifying their routes to avoid any danger, so it’s not a huge issue.

Asher Fergusson

Asher Fergusson

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20 Essential Things To Bring On A Cruise Ship

Plus, five things you should definitely leave at home.

cruise ship travel items

A cruise is an incredibly convenient and often surprisingly affordable way to wake up in a new city or country every morning—and you’ll only need to unpack one time because you can see the whole world without having to switch hotels. It's no wonder that the Cruise Line Industry Association reported nearly 31.7 million passengers in 2023, a 7 percent increase from 2019.

Whether you choose a massive floating city in the middle of an ocean or a yacht-sized luxury ship set to meander down a famous river, it’s the perfect escape from reality. But that escape from reality can also make packing for a cruise a bit tougher than land-based travels, where you know you’ll always be able to pop into a shop to buy anything important you’ve forgotten. Here are the things to bring on a cruise ship and some items you should leave at home.

Getty Images

Beyond The Basics

To be fair, most ships do offer a sundries shop and a few boutiques, but there isn’t a wide selection, and the hours are quite limited. That’s why it’s crucial for first-time cruisers and enthusiasts alike to consult a cruise packing list while preparing for their trip so you'll have items you may need in a pinch immediately accessible.

We’ll assume you have undergarments, a basic wardrobe (including daywear, swimwear, and evening wear), toiletries, and your luggage squared away, and we will zero-in on some of the items that’ll help make your travels more relaxing, comfortable, and organized. Plus, we’ll provide some guidance on a handful of items that are better left at home, either for safety and policy reasons, or because they simply waste precious space in your suitcase . Make sure to save room for these items before you head out to sea.

Backpack or Beach Bag for Excursions

When you disembark the ship for daily excursions, whether you’re headed to a chill beach day or a strenuous hike, you’ll need a place to stash all your bulky goodies—towels, water bottles, sun hats, camera equipment, bug spray, suntan lotion, etc. The backpack you brought on the plane as your carry-on item can serve double duty as the bag you take off the ship each day, or you can bring a separate, foldable beach bag or tote for this purpose.

If you plan to do separate activities from others in your party, make sure everyone has their own bag so they aren’t left juggling too many things in their pockets.

Universal Travel Adapter With USB Ports 

Between your phones, tablets, camera equipment, smart watches, headphones, and any other gadgets you and your travel companions might bring, outlets are at a serious premium in cruise cabins. And some cruise lines —such as Holland America Line and Windstar Cruises, for instance—split the available outlets in each cabin between U.S. 110-volt outlets and European 220-volt outlets (which means you won't be able to use all of them if you didn’t plan ahead). To make matters worse, very few cruise lines have upgraded to include in-room USB ports (though you will find them on a handful of Royal Caribbean ships, for example).

Instead, come prepared with a universal travel adapter that’ll work in any of the outlets. (Bonus: You’ll also need this if you plan to spend any pre- or post-cruise travel nights in a hotel in another country.) And be sure to choose a model with a few USB ports as well, so you can charge multiple devices simultaneously.

Your Passport 

You’ll be hard-pressed to get very far without your passport, even if your cruise is mostly in the United States, like the California Coast cruises Princess Cruises offers. That’s because most of these cruises stop in Canada or Mexico.

And even if you do have a passport, it’s crucial to double-check the expiration date ahead of time; many countries require you to have more than 6 months left before expiration (there are some exceptions).

Of course, there are some cruises that depart from and return to a U.S. port of entry (known as a closed-loop sailing), in which case you wouldn’t need a passport. But be sure you read the itinerary carefully so you don’t wind up turned away at the cruise terminal on embarkation day.

Magnetic Hooks

It’s hard keeping a small cruise ship cabin organized. While many cruise lines thoughtfully make the most of storage with various nooks, closets, and drawers, it’s amazing how quickly you can run out of room for everything. Fun fact: Most cabin walls are magnetic, which means you can bring a few magnetic hooks along to maximize unused wall space.

What can you use these hooks for? Hanging jackets, umbrellas, hats, robes, bags, swimwear, and more. It’s a genius move you’ll come to rely on, cruise after cruise.

Seasickness Solutions

Most cruise ships are so stable these days that seasickness may seem unlikely, but you never know when rough seas might take you by surprise. There are many over-the-counter solutions available, including medications (such as Dramamine or Bonine), acupressure wristbands, ginger candy, and even high-tech wearable gadgets. If you know that you’re prone to motion sickness, talk to your doctor about prescription options, including a Scopolamine patch worn behind the ear, prior to your cruise.

Waterproof Phone Pouch

Turn any phone into a waterproof camera with an inexpensive waterproof pouch. With one of these, you can confidently take your phone on a snorkeling expedition or to the beach or pool without worrying about splashes or an accidental drop into the deep end.

As a bonus, this type of pouch doubles as a safe and dry place to stash your cash, ID, and credit card so you don’t have to risk leaving them on the beach when you’re ready to take a refreshing dip. One more handy use: This will also allow you to take photos up on deck or from your balcony during inclement weather.

Embarkation Day Bag

Embarkation day, the day you first board the cruise ship and your vacation officially begins, is super exciting, but it can also be a bit hectic. Your suitcase will be delivered to your room just as soon as the crew can get to it, but that could take several hours (and in rare cases, even longer) given the sheer volume of luggage being managed. That’s why it’s always a good idea to carry on a special embarkation day bag (this can be your aforementioned tote, beach bag, or backpack) filled with anything you might need access to on day one: medications, a change of clothes (perhaps a swimsuit so you can go enjoy the pool or evening attire if you plan to have an early dinner in the dining room), electronics and their corresponding chargers, sunglasses, and more. It’s also a handy spot to store your passport, cruise documents, boarding pass, and cash before placing them in your in-room safe.

Sun and Insect Protection 

It doesn’t matter if you’re cruising around the Caribbean, down the Rhine, or through Alaska’s Inside Passage, there will be insects and sunshine to contend with, and you’ll want to be prepared. This means ensuring your cruise packing list has things like hats , sunglasses, sunscreen , insect repellent , and after-sun calming lotion on it. Yes, you can find many of these items in the ship’s retail shop if needed, but you'll often pay a premium and won't have your choice of brands.

Cash for Tipping and Shopping

While most cruise lines are essentially cash-free these days and will even place crew gratuities on your credit card, there are some instances when you’ll need cash.

First, it’s recommended to tip $5 (half-day) to $10 (full-day) per person to your tour guides and drivers during excursions.

Second, some shopping areas (such as markets and street vendors) don’t accept credit cards—and you may even be able to negotiate a better price with cash, as shopkeepers are keen on avoiding credit card transaction fees that eat into their profits.

Finally, if you feel your cabin steward, server, or maître d’ did a truly exceptional job going above and beyond, you may want to tip them a little extra cash at the end of the cruise to show your gratitude.

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medication

Even though there’s a doctor onboard, they aren't a pharmacy. You’ll need to pack your prescription medications because they certainly don’t carry every type or dosage, nor do they have enough supply. In fact, go ahead and pack a little extra if you have it because you never know when travel delays could keep you on the road a bit longer than expected.

It’s also a good idea to pack some OTC meds you may need as well, such as allergy pills for the foreign flora you’ll come into contact with, antacid tablets if you think you might hit those buffets a bit too hard, and ibuprofen for the aches and pains associated with getting more exercise than you’re used to or attempting too many flights of stairs.

Portable Charger

Even if you remember to bring the appropriate charger for each of your electronic devices, that won’t help you top off your battery while on an 8-hour excursion. Since there’s nothing worse than running out of juice at the precise moment you want to snap the photo memory of a lifetime, go ahead and add a portable charger to your cruise packing list. It’ll be a huge relief to have a backup battery available (especially if you decided to skip a formal excursion and you’re using your phone’s map to navigate your way around a city), and many of the models available fit easily into a purse or pocket. 

Refillable Bottle

Buying bottles of water on board the ship can cost upwards of $6 each, which can turn into a small fortune for a couple or family over the course of a week, You’ll always want a bottle or two handy when you leave the ship. Instead, bring a refillable bottle with you and refill it in the buffet or at filling stations. You’ll save a ton of money and help reduce the toll single-use plastic takes on our planet (especially in our oceans).

First-Aid Kit

While there is medical assistance onboard a cruise ship, it’s not always open and it could be expensive for something you normally handle at home. For a minor injury, you can save yourself time by bringing a small first-aid kit with you. It will also help when you are off the ship for excursions and activities. Buy a premade kit or make your own with things you already have at home. Pack a small bag with bandages, gauze pads, medical tape, antibiotic ointment, and hand sanitizer.

Important Documents and Contacts

Make sure to bring trip itineraries, flight and hotel information, and copies of documentation with you. Keep copies separate from the originals in case important information gets lost. You'll also want to bring phone numbers of important contacts from home, such as your credit card company, family and friends, and emergency contacts in case your phone is lost or damaged.

After a day of activities, you may think sleep will come easily, but if your neighbors are still up having fun, a pair of earplugs will come in handy. They’ll also help muffle the noise of all the early activity going on on the ship if you want to sleep in.

Plastic Bags

Bring ziptop bags, grocery bags , or waterproof drybags along. You’ll find so many uses for them. Use them to keep wet items separate from everything else in your bag when you head out on excursions. If your backpack or beach bag isn’t waterproof, protect your wallet, phone, book, and other important items from rain, accidental spills, or wet activities like kayaking. Pack dirty shoes, dirty laundry, and liquids in them for the return trip home.

Hand Sanitizer or Wipes

Many cruise ships have hand sanitizer stations throughout, but bring your own bottle along so you won’t have to hunt one down when you need it. Some passengers aren’t as mindful about handwashing, so using hand sanitizer is a good idea around high-touch areas like the buffet line and hand railings. Pack some disinfecting wipes too in case you need to wipe down surfaces in your room, on deck, or on an excursion.

Since space is limited in cruise ship cabins, an over-the-door shoe organizer can help keep small things right where you need them. It can be inexpensive and fold up so it won’t take up much room in your suitcase either. Use one to hold toiletries, sunscreen, cords and chargers, hand sanitizer, earplugs, sunglasses, and more. To ensure it won’t damage the door, hang it from the rod or hangers in the closet.

Passengers use cruise key cards for more than getting into their rooms. The cards get you on and off the ship and pay for any expenses. A lanyard keeps it handy so you don’t have to dig through your bag for it and keeps you from accidentally leaving it in the pockets of your other pants when you go to dinner. If you don’t have one at home, buy one on the ship.

You may change time zones while out at sea. Bring a wristwatch or other way to tell time to keep up with the ship’s itinerary and make sure you return to the ship from an excursion on time before it leaves port. With so many activities aboard the ship and off, you’ll want to make sure you’re on time. An alarm will also help you get up on time to see the sunrise or get up early enough to make the most of the day’s excursions.

Things To Leave Behind

It may be tempting to bring fine jewelry for a formal dinner or those dazzling red heels that go with only one of your dresses, but some things should be left at home to help maximize your space and to avoid losing a beloved item. Some things simply aren't allowed on a cruise. Here are some things you probably won't miss on your cruise and should leave at home.

High-End Jewelry 

Cruise ship attire just isn’t as fancy as it used to be, and while some cruise lines still host formal nights, there’s just no need to be draped in your grandmother’s special occasion pearls or don the family heirloom cufflinks . Yes, there’s a safe in your cabin closet (which should definitely be used for jewelry, cash, passports, and other valuables), but why take an unnecessary risk on irreplaceable jewels? Use this opportunity to play around with fun accessories and costume jewelry that won’t leave you brokenhearted if they get lost or damaged. 

Too Many Shoes

Footwear can be the hardest part of paring down your cruise packing list, but do your best to think practically. You can probably make do with four pairs on most cruises: one pair of sneakers/hiking boots (depending on the itinerary and your excursions), one pair of beach shoes (flip flops or closed-toe water shoes), one pair of dressy shoes that match all your evening outfits (for women, perhaps it’s a nude heel or wedge; for men a pair of neutral loafers), and one pair of daytime sandals. You’ll eliminate so much weight and bulk from your luggage in the process.

Cruise ships are known for feeding their passengers well (and often). There’s little chance that you’ll go hungry when you have access to multiple dining venues and room service 24/7. Sure, you may want to bring a couple of protein bars to pop in your bag in case you need a little nosh during a long day at the beach, but that’s about it. You can always grab fruit (bananas, apples, etc.) from the buffet to take on your excursions as well. Make sure any food you do bring is dry, prepackaged, and sealed. Homemade food won't be allowed onboard.

Clothes Iron and Steamer

Many cruise lines have policies forbidding the use of clothes irons and steamers and won’t allow these fire hazards onboard. Try spraying wrinkly garments with wrinkle spray, then hang them in the bathroom during a hot shower . The bathrooms are so small that it may create a little steam bath that releases those wrinkles.

Another option is to make use of the self-service laundry rooms on some ships. If you find one, it’ll likely have an ironing station you can use free of charge. If all else fails, most cruise lines offer wash and press services for a nominal fee.

Most every cruise line has specific rules in place when it comes to their alcohol policy. For instance, some cruise lines don't allow guests to bring liquor onboard, but some allow you to bring one bottle of wine or Champagne per adult. You’ll then be charged a $20 corkage fee to drink it in one of the dining venues (so you may want to use that for pre-dinner purposes or a nightcap in your cabin). Similarly, some cruise lines will store any alcohol purchased in port until the end of your cruise. However some higher-end cruise lines have no limitations or corkage fees, so it’s always best to check the restrictions for your specific cruise line ahead of time.

Cruise Lines International Association. 2024 State of the Cruise Industry Report .

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Our 53 Favorite Must-Have Cruise Items + What to Leave at Home (2024)

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Wondering what must-have cruise items you really need? You’ve come to the right place!

As digital nomads since 2019, my family has become repositioning cruise aficionados. We love taking long cruises from one place to another, usually between countries or continents.

We’ve become experts on what’s essential for a cruise since our preferred cruise length is well over two weeks. And we couldn’t keep our expertise and knowledge to ourselves, so we’re sharing it here with you!

The key to successful cruise travel is a good cruise packing list with all the must-have cruise items and accessories. Yes, you can have fun whether you take suitcases for a week or just a backpack.

However, you’ll navigate the airport better and have an easier time throughout your trip if you have the right things in your bag(s).

These are our favorite must-have cruise items, organized by category, that will make any itinerary more enjoyable.

Must-Have Cruise Items: For Preparing to Cruise

Start your pre-packing stage off on the right foot! These are our must-have cruise items that you’ll need before you even get to the cruise ship.

1. Cruise Planner

👉 This cruise planner is filled with helpful guides to ensure you’re fully ready to cruise.

Cruise Planner: 6x9 Cruise Ship Log Journal for those who plan cruise vacation for writing down all important informations before the trip and during cruising

Having all of your thoughts and plans in one place can help you relax on a cruising vacation. If this is you, then a must-have cruise item is a cruise planner. It’ll help put your mind at ease on vacation.

It has dedicated pages for budgeting, planning shore excursions, tracking cruise packages, setting up daily itineraries, and tracking your cruise packing list.

There’s even a post-cruise section for final thoughts and follow-up items!

2. Compression Packing Cubes

👉 We have one set of these compression packing cubes for each person in our family.

4-Piece Deluxe Compression Packing Cubes for Travel - Maximize Space in Luggage with HybridMax Double Capacity Design, Luxury Suitcase Organizer Bags, Large, Small, & Medium Set

Compression cubes are packing cubes that have an extra zipper to compress the cube once it’s been packed. Used effectively, one can fit more items into the same bag.

When packing for a cruise, every inch counts in your luggage. After all, there’s only so much storage room in cruise ship cabins. So skip the regular packing cubes and invest in compression cubes!

Pro Tip: Buy a different color for each family member so you can stay organized when unpacking in your stateroom.

3. Cruise Luggage Tags

👉 We like these cruise luggage tags because they fit the dimensions of all major cruise lines.

Highwind Cruise Luggage Tags for Suitcases | Compatible w/All Cruise Lines | E-tag Holders Zip Seal&Steel Loops | ID Badge | Waterproof Clear Cruise Tags (8pk, Clear)

If you’re new to cruising you may not realize why you need special cruise luggage tags in addition to the ones you put on your bags for flying.

All major cruise lines use e-tags that are emailed to you. However, the only option they give you is a cheap paper tag that can rip. And they often do.

They have a zip seal, steel rings, and are made of PVC. So they will keep your luggage safe and secure with cruise luggage tags. Trust me, this is a cruise item must-have for any trip.

Pro Tip: Even printing on cardstock, the printouts alone don’t hold up well in boarding processes. Ask me how I know… 😕

4. Lanyard & Keycard Holder

👉 We recommend these cruise lanyards !

Cruise Lanyard Essentials for Ship Cards [2 Pack] with ID Holder, Key Card Retractable Badge & Waterproof (Blue & Royal Blue)

Cruise lanyards are one of the most popular must-have cruise items. They help you stay hands-free and organized. This is especially true on embarkation day!

They have a retractable component so you don’t have to remove the lanyard or bend over to use the keycard. Plus they come in a variety of colors so everyone in the family can get their own style!

Storing your cruise key card in a plastic water-proof lanyard is super practical both on the cruise and as you get off the ship at a cruise port .

Pro Tip: Once you’re off the cruise ship for your excursion, store your lanyard in the pocket of your day bag. You don’t want to worry about it getting stolen off your neck or flying in your face on a breezy day ashore.

5. Luggage Set with Spinner Wheels

👉 I recommend this luggage set because it’s cheaper than Amazon basics, well-reviewed, and a nice, bright color.

Coolife Luggage 4 Piece Set Suitcase Spinner TSA Lock Softshell lightweight (blue+sliver)

We are huge advocates of soft-sided luggage. I need those extra outside pockets to shove in last-minute cruise must-have items!

What I didn’t realize I needed until I got it was luggage with spinner wheels. It’s a game-changer!

Luggage with four spinner wheels makes it so much easier at both the airport and at the cruise terminals.

Especially for embarkation and disembarkation days, not having to worry about your luggage tipping over when you turn a corner is wonderful.

Pro Tip: If you have dark-colored luggage, like black or navy, remember that many other people do, too. Make yours stand out by tying bright-colored ribbons to the handles.

6. Air Tags

👉 Get some Air Tags for peace of mind!

Apple AirTag 4 Pack

Let’s be honest. There are far too many stories of luggage getting lost or misplaced lately.

While cruise ships are more reliable than airlines with not losing stuff, chances are you’re probably flying to your cruise port destination .

You don’t want to be part of those statistics! Don’t risk not having any luggage on your cruise because your airline lost your luggage.

7. Electronics Organizer

👉 We love this electronic organizer !

BUBM Double Layer Electronic Accessories Organizer, Travel Gadget Bag for Cables, USB Flash Drive, Plug and More, Perfect Size Fits for iPad Mini (Medium, Black)

We travel everywhere with an electronics organizer. It’s the only way to ensure we have all the charging cables and wall plugs for our laptops, tablets, and phones.

We’ve had it for over three years. As full-time travelers , it’s in use almost constantly. After all that time, it is still going strong.

It’s roomy enough to fit an iPad mini inside! And there are plenty of spots to store every single cord you could ever need.

8. Portable Luggage Scale

👉 We travel with this portable luggage scale and love it!

travel inspira Luggage Scale, Portable Digital Hanging Baggage Scale for Travel, Suitcase Weight Scale with Rubber Paint, 110 Pounds, Battery Included - Red

This is a must-have cruise item especially if you’re a habitual over-packer. No judgment! Just make sure you have a portable-luggage scale.

We cram a lot of stuff into our luggage. Sometimes airlines even want to weigh our carry-on bags. This luggage scale helps me balance our bags so we don’t get hit with over-limit fees.

The scale weighs big suitcases up to 110 pounds and has a built-in battery.

Fun Fact: It’s so accurate I’ve even used it as a food scale in the kitchen!

Must-Have Cruise Items: For Stateroom Organization

Cruise Staterooms are small. Even for a one-week cruise, staying organized is essential to living happily in a tiny space. These must-have cruise items will help you do just that.

9. Multi-Outlet Adaptor

👉We recommend this outlet adaptor for cruising because it doesn’t have a surge protector on it.

Cruise Power Strip No Surge Protector with USB Outlets - Ship Approved (Non Surge Protection) Cruise Essentials

Some people don’t want an extension cord for their luggage. Or, they want extenders for every outlet. After all, you can never have too many options!

If this is you, get a multi-outlet travel protector. These offer the same sort of extended plug and USB options as an extension cord.

It’s approved by all major cruise lines, except Disney. They have their own rules, so you’ll have to look into what they allow if you’re planning a cruise with them.

10. Magnetic Hooks

👉 Take at least a six-pack of magnetic hooks .

Tohoer Magnetic Hooks, Heavy Duty Neodymium Magnet Hook 30LBS with Rust Proof for Indoor Outdoor Hanging,Refrigerator,Grill,Kitchen,Key Holder,Black,Pack of 8 (20MM)

Cruise cabin walls are metal. This means you can bring your own supplies to help organize your stateroom during your cruise.

Pro Tip: Use the hooks to hang hats as well as wet swimsuits.

The longer your cruise, the more essential it is to organize your living space. Get magnetic hooks that can actually hold something. The 4 pack from Dollar Tree won’t work. I tried them.

Depending on the size of your family and your room, you may want to take a second pack. They’re so small that you can never have too many, but you can certainly take too few.

11. Door Decor

👉 We love to use these gel clings as our door decor.

Colorful Summer Window Clings Beach Hawaii Window Stickers Decals Summer Window Clings for Pool Party Baby Shower Beach Themed Birthday Decoration Party Supplies

Walking down any cruise ship hallway, the stateroom doors all look the same. Our first time, we didn’t have any decor and lost our way to our room a bunch of times.

Other people had beautiful, custom-made door decorations. They were giant hanging signs that stretched the entire height of the door.

The gel clings are much smaller and easier to pack than the beautiful custom jobs.

Little Man is in charge of our door decor design. With the set we recommend, he can even redesign it a few times! Or we can use it on a few different cruises because there are so many great options.

Pro Tip: Since door decor is essential for helping you not get lost, don’t spend a ton of money on this one.

12. Magnetic Clips

👉 I recommend these magnetic clips . They come in a pack of 12!

12pack Fridge Magnets Refrigerator Magnets Magnetic Clips Heavy Duty Detailed List Display Fasteners on Home (Multicolored, 12)

In addition to hanging clothes and hats, you can also store light items on clips. We used these primarily for the daily activities schedule that was slid under our door each day.

They can also be used for event invitations and safely storing shore excursion tickets.

Little Man even used them for displaying his kid’s club artwork and hanging the certificates we got for crossing the international date line on our cruise!

13. Travel Power Strip

👉 This power strip has a set of international adaptors to plug into any wall socket.

Addtam Universal Travel Adapter, Power Strip with International Plug Adapter, 2 AC Outlet and 2 USB Ports(1 USB-C PD 20W), Essentials for US EU UK AU White

Cruise ships are notorious for never having enough wall plugs. That makes a power strip an essential must-have cruise item.

When cruising, you can’t take just any power strip though. A cruise-ship-approved power strip cannot have a surge protector. Major cruise lines won’t allow them and will confiscate them on embarkation day.

Before our 24-day repositioning cruise with Carnival , we invested in a power strip that allows for up to two plugs of any type to be plugged into it. There are also multiple USB charger slots. It’s really versatile!

We have used it as a regular extension cord in the US, and we used it in the EU plug on the cruise ship. Having a plug converter is incredibly helpful, even for just a one-week Caribbean cruise. It ensures no outlet goes unused during your cruise vacation.

14. Poo-Pourri Bathroom Spray

👉 This Poo-Pourri set has three scents in travel-size spray bottles.

Poo-Pourri Original Citrus,Lavender Vanilla, and Tropical Hibiscus 1.4 Ounce Set

We have been using Poo-pourri for years. It goes with us on all trips, not just a cruise. It’s a life essential for our family.

Cruise ship staterooms are really small. The cruise cabin bathrooms are tiny. When sharing a small space, this must-have cruise item will make living in a small space so much easier.

I prefer the original citrus scent but David likes the Tropical Hibiscus scent best. Little Man often forgets to use it, but such is the life of a parent.

Pro Tip: One or two squirts onto the water in the toilet bowl before you sit down is all it takes to prevent stink when you go #2.

15. Shoe Organizer

👉 Hang this shoe organizer on your bathroom door.

24 Pockets - SimpleHouseware Crystal Clear Over The Door Hanging Shoe Organizer, Gray (64'' x 19'')

No, this doesn’t mean you’re going to take a bunch of shoes! You could I guess, but that’s not the best use for this.

It will hold and organize all your bathroom supplies as well as other life essentials. Since cruise ship bathrooms never have a place to put even the most basic of supplies, this will ensure that you know where to find everything.

With four hooks on top, it’ll fit any size bathroom door. On our Carnival cruise, we only needed 3 of the hooks because the door was so narrow. It stayed on just fine!

Bonus: If you get a rough sea day, your bathroom stuff won’t fly all over the cabin!

16. Laundry Bag

👉 I recommend this laundry bag because it’s very durable.

Commercial Mesh Laundry Bag - Sturdy Mesh Material with Drawstring Closure. Ideal Machine Washable Mesh Laundry Bag for Factories, College, Dorm and Apartment Dwellers. (24" x 36" | Blue)

I’ve never heard of a cruise ship offering a way to store dirty laundry. In order to prevent random piles of dirty clothes in your stateroom, get a laundry bag.

We’ve been using it happily since 2019! Yes, it’s that sturdy! So I understand why it has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon from over 3,500 reviewers.

It’s really easy to carry around on board if you need to do laundry on the cruise ship. We always do because repositioning cruises are pretty long. Plus, the drawstring is very sturdy.

Must-Have Cruise Items: For Living Onboard

Day-to-day life on a cruise ship is always totally different from daily life at home. That’s what makes it so fun! These are a few must-have cruise items that make cruising life easier and more enjoyable.

17. Waterproof Phone Case

👉 I recommend this waterproof phone bag to keep your phone safe. It comes in a set of two!

Hiearcool Waterproof Phone Pouch, Waterproof Phone Case for iPhone 15 14 13 12 Pro Max XS Samsung, IPX8 Cellphone Dry Bag Beach Essentials 2Pack-8.3"

Whether you want to go swimming or in the hot tub on the ship, or are taking some sort of water-related excursion, a waterproof phone case is vital. This is one of our top cruise essentials.

It’s also just an easy way to carry your phone around the ship if what you’re wearing doesn’t have pockets. Like when you’re strolling the main deck in your swimwear!

18. Wrinkle Release Spray

👉 I like this brand of wrinkle-release spray.

Bounce Anti Static Spray, 3 in 1 Instant Wrinkle Release, Odor Eliminator and Fabric Refresher Spray, Rapid Touch (9.7 Fl Oz, Pack of 2)

If you don’t primarily pack low-wrinkle fabrics, such as jersey knit or dri-fit, then a can of wrinkle release spray is essential.

It also offers odor elimination and an anti-static guard. So it’s everything you need to look your best on deck or on formal dinner nights.

Plus, it comes in a two-pack so you can have one at home and on board!

19. Towel Clips

👉 I love these towel clips ! They’re perfect for cruise ships & resorts.

10 Pcs Beach Towel Clips Holders Portable Towel Clips for Chairs Beach Chair Clips Plastic Cute Clothes Pins Jumbo Size Pineapple Seashell Parrot Watermelon Flamingo Ice Cream (Novelty Style)

Cruise ships are known for being quite breezy. If you’re planning on spending any amount of time at the pool or lounging on the deck, towel clips are a top cruise essential.

They’re also really great as beach accessories during excursion days.

They’re better than the boring, plain-color clips because you can tell them apart from everyone else. Lots of cruisers have towel clips these days, so get some that stand out.

20. Towel Bands

👉 We used these towel bands on our first transpacific cruise.

Towel Bands (4 Pack) - The Better Towel Chair Clips Option for Beach, Pool & Cruise Chairs

Not all cruisers like the towel clips because they can be bulky. Towel bands are a great alternative! They take up a lot less space which is why we had to try them!

While not as fun as the clips, they held up well. And although there are cheaper ones on Amazon, these have much better reviews. That’s a good reminder that cheaper isn’t always better.

21. Cabin Alarm Clock

👉 I recommend this travel alarm clock because it glows in the dark.

MARATHON Foldable Compact Travel Alarm Clock with Locking Mechanism

While David and I have phones to look at, we bring a cabin alarm clock for Little Man. This allows him to see what time it is as easily as we do.

Cabin alarm clocks also come in handy so you can manually program them to ship time. Ship time does not always correspond to actual time.

A couple of times, my phone was set to actual time while the alarm clock stayed on ship time. We only knew it was time for dinner thanks to the alarm clock. Now we’ll always have one of these basic essentials as a must-have cruise item.

22. Portable Fan

👉 I recommend this Honeywell travel fan .

Honeywell HTF090B Turbo on the Go Personal Fan, Black – Small, Portable Fan

Cruise ship staterooms can get stuffy. Even with the air conditioning running, you can’t always feel the airflow in the room. A small travel fan can help you sleep better.

The fan angle is adjustable. What I like best is it can run off a traditional outlet, a USB plugin, or battery power. I even used it when we went glamping in Malaysia !

While you could take a larger fan for additional airflow, I wouldn’t recommend it. After all, everything you take onto the cruise ship you’ll have to take back off again. A smaller fan is better for traveling, and it fits better in a small cruise stateroom.

23. Travel Corkscrew

👉 We prefer this corkscrew !

Pocket Wine Corkscrew, Set of 2, Black

On most cruise lines, you’re allowed to bring a bottle or two of wine per person on board with you.

If you bring your bottles to dinner, they usually charge you a corking fee. Instead, bring your own corkscrew so you can enjoy your wine whenever you wish!

It’s low profile and doesn’t poke your leg if you have it in your pocket while walking around.

If you do bring wine from home, make sure to pack it well. One of the worst things I can imagine is opening my luggage to unpack in my stateroom to find a broken bottle of Merlot all over my clothes!

👉 We like this leakproof wine bottle protector . It’s reusable!

Liquid Spectrum 2 Pack Reusable Wine Protector Travel Bag by Bottle Shield - Bubble Cushioning Wrap Suit - Unbreakable Bottle Sleeve, Leak Proof - Wine Tote Bags Accessory for Suitcase Luggage

These also come in handy if you buy alcohol in ports, so you can safely fly it home once you’re off the cruise ship.

24. Reusable Straws

👉 We like this reusable straw set .

15 FITS ALL TUMBLERS STRAWS - Reusable Silicone Straws for 30 and 20 oz Yeti - Flexible Easy to Clean + 2 Cleaning Brushes - BPA Free, No Rubber Taste Drinking - Best Value for Money Pack

To decrease the amount of single-use plastic on board, cruise ships have mostly stopped using plastic straws. If this is a dealbreaker for you, invest in your own reusable straws.

I don’t recommend stainless steel straws for cruise ships. If there’s a sudden wave while you’re drinking, a steel straw could damage your teeth!

The set we like includes a cleaning wand and storage bag. Make sure you use the cleaning wand daily, though. Reusable straws can get really gross really fast.

Pro Tip: Before buying these, check with your cruise line to see what they offer. Carnival serves cookie straws on request. Little Man ended up using those on our cruise instead of this set.

25. Polarized Sunglasses

👉 I have these fold-up polarized sunglasses and I love them!

SOOLALA Limited Edition Metal Alloy Frame Folding Compact Pocket Aviator Sunglasses, Gun

These sunglasses have a zip-up storage case, so they easily pack into my bag when I’m not using them.

Regular sunglasses will do just fine for driving around in the car at home. On a cruise ship, though, polarized sunglasses are a must-have cruise item.

Polarized sunglasses will help you see the water, and the wildlife within it, with a lot more definition. The naturalist on our last cruise showed me the difference. Now I’m hooked.

Any time you do a water activity, be sure to have polarized sunglasses with you.

26. Earplugs

👉 I take these earplugs everywhere we travel.

LYSIAN Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs Sleep - 38dB SNR Noise Cancelling Ear Plugs for Sleeping, Shooting, Snoring, Work Loud Sound Reduction- 60 Pairs Valued Pack,Purple

Even if you have a stateroom in a quiet part of the cruise ship, there will still be unfamiliar noises at night.

Because they’re different than what you’re used to, the noises may negatively impact your sleep. If you’re a light sleeper like me, these are going to be a must-have cruise item for your trip.

I admit I bought them because they’re purple. But they do come in other colors. They’re also incredibly soft and last more than one use.

Depending on where your stateroom is located on the ship, you may have extra noise from ship activities. Check the floors above and below your stateroom when booking to see if you might need earplugs. Just in case.

27. Wet Wipes

👉 This travel pack set is perfect for your bathroom or day bag.

Wet Ones Hand Wipes for Sensitive Skin | Wipes Case for Hand and Face | 20 ct. Travel Size (10 pack)

They aren’t just for people with babies. Or toddlers. Even when I go out on solo excursions, I have wet wipes in my day bag.

Let’s be honest. The toilet paper in the bathrooms on cruise ships is notoriously bad. Both staterooms and public area toilets have that gross one-ply stuff.

Instead of relying on the shipboard paper, and risking a rash, bring a pack of wet wipes. They also come in handy in your day bag on shore days, too!

Wet wipes can solve everything from sticky hands at an ice cream shop to a weird grease mark on the back of your leg after a cycling tour.

You just never know when you’ll need them. But I promise you’ll find a weird need you didn’t know you’d have. At some point.

28. Stain Remover Stick

👉 The Tide to Go Pen is my favorite stain removal stick.

Tide Stain Remover for Clothes, Pocket Size, 3 Count

I’ve carried one of these stain remover sticks in my purse for over 12 years. Especially with kids in tow, messes can happen anywhere.

It’s so small you can pack it anywhere from a fanny pack to a backpack. With this three-pack, you can have a few tucked away in several places!

With the rocking motion on a cruise ship, you’re sure to have an accident at some point. This is one of my top must-have cruise items for all travelers.

29. Nightlight

👉 I recommend taking this night light on your cruise.

Litake LED Cat Night Light for Kids, Battery Powered Silicone Cute Cat Nursery Night Lights, Portable Night Light, Multicolor Christmas Gifts for Baby, Children, Toddlers, Teen Girls

It gets pretty dark at night in staterooms thanks to the blackout curtains. If you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, you likely won’t be able to see anything.

It is battery-operated so it won’t take up one of your rare wall outlets. In addition, it comes in several colors so you can choose a more muted tone, like purple, if you don’t like having a lot of light in your room at night.

Little Man loves that it’s cat-shaped. I like that the soft silicone is small and easy to pack.

30. Binoculars

👉 We travel with these binoculars and are very happy with them.

Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars for Adults and Kids - Large Eyepiece Waterproof Binoculars for Bird Watching - High Powered Easy Focus Binoculars with Low Light Vision for Outdoor Hunting Travel

There is a lot more wildlife in the ocean than one might expect. We like to wake up in the morning, go on deck, and watch the birds.

Unless you’re an avid birdwatcher, you don’t need fancy binoculars. Just get something that includes a travel case so the lenses don’t get scratched.

We originally traveled with kids’ binoculars. However, they didn’t have very good visibility. So I’m happy we found these since they’re at least heavy-duty enough to have withstood the one time he dropped them on the ground.

Must-Have Cruise Items: For Excursions and Day Trips

There are certain things you’ll need for shore days that you want for the rest of your cruise.

While you could certainly enjoy a shore excursion without any of these things, they’ll be more fun if you have at least some of them!

31. Day Pack

👉 This Osprey daypack is our go-to for excursions as well as general travel.

Osprey Daylite Everyday Backpack, Black, One Size

It’s a bit pricier than the generic ones on Amazon but it holds up REALLY well. We’ve used it for over three years on our full-time travel adventures .

I love it because it’s incredibly comfortable. Plus it has a lifetime guarantee!

When you spend a lot of time out sightseeing, you need a day pack with sturdy zippers, storage for essentials, and comfortable shoulder straps.

Those tiny, nylon bags that fold into a tiny storage bag rip easily and are very uncomfortable. We tried them!

Look for a Day Pack with these features: ☑️ Ideal Size: 15L – 25L ☑️ Comfortable Back Panels ☑️ Mesh-Lined Shoulder Straps ☑️ Some internal organization/pockets ☑️ Chest Clip

Some people like waist clips, but for a day pack, I don’t think they’re necessary. In my experience, waist clips are only helpful for full-size travel backpacks that are the size of rolling luggage.

Fun Fact: We once sent a backpack to Osprey for repair 12 years after we bought it. We just shipped it to their US headquarters after a phone call with customer service. Keep your receipts for pricey purchases!

The replacement policy only applies to newly purchased items. It does not work if you buy used goods.

👉 We also use this day pack to hold our hydration bladder.

Hydration Pack Hydration Backpack Vest with Water Bladder 2L, Daypack Insulated Adjustable Water Backpack Lightweight Fits Men Women for Running Cycling Biking Hiking Climbing (Green)

David wears this and I wear our Osprey. They’re perfect for holding all our family’s essentials on excursions or day trips .

32. Portable Lock Box

👉 This portable safe gets excellent reviews!

SAFEGO Portable Indoor/Outdoor Lock Box Safe with Key and Combination Access (Blue)

I see so many cruisers swear by their portable safe. It secures all personal items to any fixed object. You choose a custom three-digit code, put in your valuables, and then don’t worry about your stuff while you frolic in the sun.

If you’re going on an excursion that allows you to sit in one place all day, such as at a beach club, then this is an excellent option. These also come in handy in hotels that don’t have a secure safe!

However, we often choose more active adventures. In those instances, the waterproof waist pouch linked below is probably a better choice for your cruise packing list.

33. Waterproof Waist Pouch

👉 I love this waist pouch . It triple seals before rolling down to velcro shut. After 2+ years of regular use, I’ve had no problems.

Freegrace Waterproof Waist Pouches - Best Way to Keep Your Phone and Valuables Dry and Safe - Perfect for Boating Swimming Snorkeling Kayaking Beach Pool Water Parks (Black 2 Pack)

If you need a way to secure more valuables than just your phone, invest in a waterproof waist pouch.

I use mine to hold my cash, credit card, driver’s license, and even a granola bar for when Little Man gets hangry (aka: so hungry he’s angry) between meals.

I’ve worn this waist pouch while swimming with whale sharks in the ocean, and while relaxing in hot springs on the side of a canyon . It can handle pretty much anything which is why it’s one of our must-have cruise items!

The waist on the pouch is so adjustable that it can also be used as a crossbody bag.

34. Waterproof Drybag

👉 We have the 3L, 8L, and 20L wet dry bags from Sea to Summit.

Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag, Ultra-Durable Roll-Top Dry Storage, 8 Liter, Royal Blue

If you’re planning a water activity on a shore day, you need a dry bag. This is where you’ll store your swimsuits (and possibly towels) after the excursion ends.

After you roll them down to keep the water from leaking out, they clip together in a circle that is easy to attach to the outside of your day bag.

Depending on our activity, we choose different sizes: ☑️ The 3L bag holds just our 3 swimsuits. ☑️ The 8L bag holds our swimsuits and rashguards. ☑️ The 20L bag holds our swimsuits, rashguards, and towels.

If I only took one on a cruise, it would be the 8L bag for our family of three. A larger family should invest in a bigger size.

35. International Hotspot

👉 The GLocal Me offers global data access at an affordable rate.

GlocalMe U3 Mobile Hotspot,Wireless Portable WiFi for Travel in 140+ Countries,No SIM Card Needed,Smart Local Network Auto-Selection,High Speed with US 8GB & Global 1GB Data, Pocket (Black)

Almost everyone wants to turn on their data as soon as they land at an airport or arrive at a new excursion port. Some of us want to send a text to a loved one. Others may want to call a rideshare service to pick them up.

However, not everyone can or wants to pay for an ongoing global data plan from their provider. We sure don’t!

This device offers either international purchases through its servers, or it takes SIM cards from any country. The device works with local cell towers and provides hotspot access anywhere on Earth where there is a tower.

The GLocal Me comes with 8 gigabytes of North American data and 1 gigabyte of global data. That doesn’t expire. It comes in especially handy when an airport or cruise terminal doesn’t have kiosks selling SIM cards in the arrivals area.

Pro Tip: Use its initial allotment very strategically over a long period. Be conservative. Put your phone in airplane mode when not in use. Don’t blow through data playing on social media during excursion days.

For us, having peace of mind wherever we are in the world is worth the investment. The GLocal Me also acts as a wireless portable charger so its versatility makes it a worthwhile addition to any traveler’s packing list!

36. Water Shoes

👉 These water shoes come in a variety of patterns and sizes!

WateLves Water Shoes for Womens Mens Barefoot Quick-Dry Aqua Socks for Beach Swim Surf Yoga Exercise New Translucent Color Soles (Fishscale-Bluegreen, 34/35)

Many cruise excursions involve the water in some form. Even if you’re going to the beach, not all of them are soft and sandy. Water shoes are very highly recommended for any cruiser going on any beach or water-related excursion.

We didn’t have these when we went to Los Rapidos in Bacalar , so we had to buy them in town when we arrived. The quality wasn’t nearly as good as these, and they were more expensive.

We learned our lesson ! Now we make sure that we have good quality water shoes like these any time we go somewhere aquatic!

37. Power Bank

👉 I recommend a portable power bank that can handle multiple devices at a time.

LILIO Portable Charger, 20000mAh Power Bank with Digital Display, 20W Fast Charging Battery Pack with USB C/USB A Output, Cell Phone Charger for iPhone 14/13 Samsung Pixel AirPods and More

There’s a lack of wall plugs in many airports. Some airlines fail to put USB chargers on their planes.

Many people enjoy spending the day out sightseeing on excursion days, using their phones as cameras.

And let’s not forget the hours you may spend standing in line on embarkation day!

👉 I even use the USB-C input to charge my iPad with this adaptor cable . This gives me an extra charging option!

To get the biggest bang for your buck, ensure that your portable charger is a minimum of 20,000mAh. This means it will charge a laptop up to 1.5 times!

Note: Charging a tablet decreases the number of full phone charges the power bank provides.

This charger has two USB inputs as well as a wireless charging station on the top.

38. Reef Safe Sunscreen

👉 We love this sunscreen and regularly take it on trips with us.

Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 50 All Natural, Water Resistant, Moisturizing, Biodegradable, Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Ocean Friendly Mineral Sunblock from Reef Repair 4 fl. Oz

There are chemicals in traditional sunscreen that are very harmful to natural ecosystems. While regular sunscreen is fine for pools and other chemically treated swimming spots, it’s not okay for snorkeling or beach activities.

Some places, like Hawaii, have banned chemical sunscreens. Some eco-parks in Riviera Maya (like Xel-Ha) have banned them as well. Excursions in places like that may not let you use traditional sunscreen if they see you have it with you.

I guarantee that it will be much more expensive to be forced to buy it from the excursion operator than to plan ahead with an Amazon purchase.

39. Hydration Pack

👉 Instead, we invested in a 2L water bladder that packs flat.

SKL Hydration Bladder 2 Liter Water Bladder, Upgraded Leak Proof Water Reservoir Hydration Pack Replacement with Quick Release Insulated Tube and Auto Shut-Off Valve for Climbing Cycling Running

When looking at packing for our family, we realized that water bottles would take up a lot of needless space in our luggage. So I researched new options that would save us on space but still keep us hydrated on excursion days.

The one we ordered also comes in a three-liter size. In hindsight, we should have gotten the bigger version. I recommend upsizing because it doesn’t take up that much more room in your bag.

Especially when traveling in a tropical climate, you need to stay well hydrated. Don’t leave this off your list of must-have cruise items!

40. Snorkel Set

👉 We each have this mask and this snorkel , and love them!

SACBOLA Silicone Snorkel for Diving, Free Diving and Diving Fishing and Underwater Hockey or Snorkeling

If you’re planning on doing any snorkeling excursions during your cruise, consider buying your own gear. Sometimes excursions charge extra to rent the mask and snorkel, and after just two rentals the gear has paid for itself.

Each of these have held up well in the years that we’ve owned them.

Any mask you buy should have tempered glass in the flat area. If that is plastic, you are better off just throwing your money in the trash can because it will leak like crazy.

I also love how much space the roll-up snorkels save us! The softer silicone is also more comfortable to put in your mouth while snorkeling, too.

While you can easily buy a set with the snorkel and the mask, we really like the quality of the mask and the compactness of the snorkel. So buying them separately made sense to us.

Safety Tip: Don’t buy a full-face snorkel mask. They are dangerous . Based on personal experience, I agree they do lower oxygen intake and increase carbon dioxide levels in the breathing area.

41. Insect Repellent

👉 I like this insect repellent because it’s more kid-friendly.

Cutter All Family Insect Repellent, Mosquito Repellent, Repels Ticks, Gnats, Fleas and More, 7% DEET (Pump Spray) 6 Ounce

You won’t need this on the cruise ship. Bugs don’t fly out that far. However, chances are good that you’ll need bug spray during shore days.

Its formula isn’t as harsh on the skin. And the pump even sprays upside down!

I also like that it has some DEET to ward off the mosquitos that carry dengue fever and West Nile Virus. It’s a lower amount than most other bug sprays but it is still effective.

Note: We’ve tried all sorts of natural options to ward off mosquitos, from natural oils and sprays to bracelets and stickers. Nothing has worked as well as insect repellent with DEET.

Must-Have Cruise Items: For Health & Wellness

While there is a small medical center on the cruise ship, they’ll charge you for everything. Including a band-aid on some ships. It’s better to bring your own essentials, just in case.

42. First Aid Kit

👉 This first aid kit has everything you’ll need for issues onboard.

Cruise Essentials Personal First Aid & Medicine Accessories 150 Piece | Basic | Travel Kit

From bandaids and Neosporin to hydration packs and hangover cures, you need a lot of “what if” solutions on a cruise. As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The kid includes medicine to help with cold symptoms, coughs, pain, hangovers, dehydration, minor allergies, cuts, scrapes, burns, wounds, and even insect bites.

There’s also a bigger size pack sold by the same company. It contains 250 items instead of 150.

Unless you’re cruising regularly throughout the year or have a large family , you don’t need it. The bigger pack basically has the same stuff as this one, just more of everything.

43. Emergency Dental Repair Kit

👉 Pack this emergency dental repair kit !

DenTek Toothache Kit | Instant Pain Relief | Contains Applicator, Toothache Medication, Temporary Filler, and Tooth Saver Jar

Did you know there is not a dentist on board a cruise ship? We didn’t at first.

This goes for all cruise lines. If you crack a filling during a meal, no one in the medical center can help you. If it happens on the first of multiple sea days, that’s a lot of pain to endure!

This kit has emergency supplies for loose fillings, caps, crowns, and even dislodged teeth.

44. Lip Balm with SPF

👉 I love Panama Jack lip balm with SPF 45!

Panama Jack Sunscreen Lip Balm - SPF 45, Flavor Pack, Broad Spectrum UVA-UVB Sunscreen Protection, Prevents & Soothes Dry, Chapped Lips (Dreamsicle/Vanilla/Tropical/Mango)

Between the ocean breezes and sun, your lips are more likely to get chapped on board a cruise ship. Make sure you have chapstick with you.

It has some really good flavors and lasts a while so I’m not constantly reapplying it.

Plus, there are a few in the package. Since I always seem to lose one, having multiple options is essential.

45. Aloe Vera Gel

👉 Amazon’s Solimo brand also has aftersun gel . I love it!

Amazon Basics After Sun Gel with Aloe, Lidocaine and Menthol, 16 Fluid Ounce (1 Pack) (Previously Solimo)

After being out in the sun most of the day for a week straight, chances are you might get a bit sunburned. Be prepared.

In addition to aloe, the gel also has menthol and lidocaine to cool and smooth the skin.

One of the things I love about Amazon brand items is the 1-year satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t like it for any reason, just contact them for a full refund. That may be why I’ve tried so many of the Solimo products.

46. Seasickness Remedies

👉 Our family always travels with Dramamine and Dramamine Kids .

Dramamine Original, Motion Sickness Relief, 36 Count

Even if you don’t think you get seasick or motion-sick easily, the worst feeling ever is to be seasick and not have anything to treat it. I believe it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The kid’s version is chewable and dye-free. We’ve tried other more natural solutions, like Sea Bands and candied ginger. They don’t work.

Ask the only guy wearing Sea-Bands on our Whale Shark Swimming excursion in Isla Mujeres. He barfed over the side of the boat while we had no queasiness with our Dramamine.

If you’re desperate for an alternative motion/sea sickness option, motion sickness patches are an option.

👉 These motion sickness patches have excellent Amazon reviews.

However, they can’t be worn in the water or by children under age four. So you’ll have to replace them each time you go swimming.

47. Eyeglass Repair Kit

👉 We always travel with this eyeglass repair kit !

Snapit EyeGlass Repair Kit, With Long Easy Fit Screws And Micro Screwdriver. Perfect For Fixing Sunglasses, Spectacles, Glasses And Reading Glasses. Used By Opticians.

If you lose or break your sunglasses on board, that’s not the end of the world. You could always buy a new pair from the shops. But what if you wear prescription lenses?

David wears prescription lenses with transitions that double as his sunglasses. If he breaks his glasses, he won’t be able to see and our cruise would be ruined.

This set is small enough to fit in any travel bag. I like that it’s magnetic so we don’t have to worry about losing screws if we’re fixing his frames.

48. Sunscreen

👉 I am a huge fan of Amazon’s Solimo Sunscreen line!

Amazon Brand - Solimo Sheer Face Sunscreen SPF 55, Formulated without Octinoxate & Oxybenzone, 3.0 Fluid Ounce

I hope it goes without saying but on a cruise, you’re going to need copious amounts of sunscreen. You’ll be out in the sun most of the day on sea days as well as shore days.

It’s Octinoxate and Oxybenzone free and is also highly water-resistant. Plus it comes in an eight-ounce container for only $6-$7 USD!

They even have a baby sunscreen and face sunscreen for those with sensitive skin. I love the variety. They claim to be reef-safe, but I’m not sure that’s true. I still buy specialty reef-safe sunscreen for nature-based excursions.

49. Stomach Medicines

👉 We never travel without Tums Smoothies or Pepto Bismol .

Pepto Bismol Ultra Caplets, 2X Concentrated Formula*, Upset Stomach Relief, Bismuth Subsalicylate, Multi-Symptom Relief of Gas, Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion, Diarrhea, 24 Caplets

You’re sure to want to try all the rich and decadent food on board. However, it’s also likely that your body isn’t used to it. This means heartburn and indigestion treatments are must-have cruise items for everyone.

Tums Smoothies aren’t as chalky as regular times, so in the rare instance that Little Man gets an upset stomach we can give him one of those.

While Pepto can treat heartburn, I just don’t feel like it does so as quickly as Tums. I pack Tums for heartburn and save Pepto for “waist-down issues” like upset stomach or diarrhea.

50. Duct Tape

👉 This duct tape comes in a variety of cool patterns!

Duck Brand Printed Duct Tape Single Roll, Mermaid (241791)

Duct tape? On a cruise? Yes, seriously! It’s great for a variety of uses, including patching together damaged luggage. This happened to me when I flew from Costa Rica to Denver in 2022. Duct tape saved the day!

It can also be useful instead of a lint roller for clothing, especially before formal nights, as well as inside of clothing items if you don’t travel with a travel sewing kit.

We used our cruise ship duct tape in 2019 when Little Man and David participated in the build-a-boat competition.

We were only allowed to use what we found in our staterooms. Duct tape kept our boat afloat and it made it across the pool!

Must-Have Cruise Items: Miscellaneous Essentials

These items don’t fall into any of the above categories, but they are still some important must-have cruise items to consider adding to your cruise itinerary.

51. Thank You Notes

👉 These thank you notes are perfect for cruisers!

Koko Paper Co Nautical Thank You Cards | 25 Flat Note Cards and Envelopes | Printed on Heavy Card Stock.

Whether or not you prepay your cruise gratuities, there are bound to be some crew members who have gone above and beyond during your cruise.

We always take some thank you notes to give our favorite crew members a personalized thank you note. The truly exemplary crew also get a bonus cash tip.

The cash is up to you, but a handwritten thank you note is always a nice gesture.

52. Wristwatch

👉 This unisex watch is durable and water-resistant!

Armitron Sport Unisex Digital Chronograph Nylon Strap Watch, 45/7004

Ship time doesn’t always match shore time. We all know that. And some cruise ships are short on wall clocks.

So unless you want to carry your phone everywhere in a waterproof case, a wristwatch is essential!

This wristwatch also can track military or regular time as well as two times at once! So you can track both shore time and ship time if you want to!

53. Document Photocopies

We never like to think of worse-case scenarios but if you lose your passport, drivers license, photo ID, etc. you want to be prepared.

Having photocopies of these will help ensures that you have sufficient documentation to get around on the cruise ship and shore excursions as well as get on your flight home.

It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared, right?

Must-Have Cruise Items: What to Leave at Home

Don’t worry about wasting precious space in your (new spinner) luggage with things that are available for free on board.

Cruise ships provide these in all the staterooms. They may not be the best but they certainly do the job.

I actually didn’t realize at first that our stateroom had a hairdryer. They are often kept in a drawer in the bedroom area rather than in the bathroom.

I asked our steward why this is. He explained that in bad weather a wall-mounted hairdryer could come out of the holder. But in a drawer, the hairdryer stays safe until the guests are ready to use it!

Hair dryers are not must-have cruise items because they're already provided in every stateroom.

❌ Soap & Shampoo

Unless you use special, medicated items leave these at home as well. Yes, the soap, shampoo, and conditioner may not be the fanciest or the scent you’re used to.

However, they will clean your hair and your body just fine. Because shampoo and conditioner tend to get pretty heavy, especially if you bring full-size bottles, it really is better to leave these at home as well.

We love our travel towels! But they aren’t really necessary onboard a cruise ship. You get free towels in your stateroom, and free towels at the pools and hot tubs on the deck.

If you really feel like you need to take a towel for an excursion, then make sure they’re quick-dry ones that store small.

👉 We prefer these quick-dry towels . They’re soft but also don’t feel wet very long. Plus each family member can have their own color, which makes for easy packing!

Travel Towel - Compact & Ultra Soft Microfiber Camping Towel - Quick Dry Towel - Super Absorbent & Lightweight for Sports, Beach, Gym, Backpacking, Hiking and Yoga (15.8x31.5 inches purple + bag)

❌ Prohibited Items

This should be common sense. However, just in case here’s your (not exhaustive) list of things you are not permitted to bring on a cruise ship . Check with your cruise line for their full list of items you are not allowed to bring on board.

❌ Alcohol and beer   While you can generally bring champagne or wine onboard, liquor and beer are prohibited.

If you’re caught with these items in your bags or luggage, they will immediately be removed and probably discarded. You will likely not get them back after your cruise.

The only allowed alcoholic cruise must have items are related to wine or champagne, not beer or liquor.

❌ Weapons that might harm other passengers Guns, tasers, pepper spray, etc aren’t allowed. Plus, you don’t want to be caught with any of these in a foreign port.

The general rule is if you aren’t able to bring it onto a plane because it’s considered a weapon, then don’t bring it on a cruise ship.

❌ Anything that can start a fire Hairstyling products like hairdryers, straighteners, and curlers are allowed. Cigarette lighters are okay to pack as well.

However, hot plates, electric blankets, candles, space heaters, and other items that heat up are prohibited.

Anything that can start a fire should NOT be on your must-have cruise item list!

Must-Have Cruise Items: FAQs

Do you still have questions about must-have cruise items? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions to help you out!

What should you always bring on a cruise?

Cruise packing can be overwhelming, so it’s important to have a checklist of items that you should always bring on a cruise. Sunscreen, identification documents, and comfortable clothing are must-haves on any cruise.

Is the most important item that you have when you are on a cruise?

The most important item you should have when on a cruise is your identification documents. Your passport or other government-issued photo ID, as well as any visas or other documentation required for your cruise destination, is absolutely essential.

Without these documents, you will not be allowed to board the ship.

How many outfits do I need for a 7 day cruise?

It really depends on how many activities you plan to participate in, but most cruises have a variety of formal and casual events. On average, you should plan for two or three full outfits per day. This includes tops, bottoms and shoes.

What packages to buy on a cruise ship?

The packages you buy on a cruise ship depend largely on your budget and the type of experience you are looking for. Some popular packages include beverage packages, spa packages, food and wine packages, excursion packages, and onboard activities.

How much money should you carry on a cruise?

How much money you carry on a cruise is entirely up to you. However, it is recommended that you bring at least enough cash for tips and any incidentals you may need during the trip.

How do you not get bored on a cruise?

There are a variety of ways to avoid getting bored while on a cruise. For example, you can take part in onboard activities like cooking classes and lectures, attend shows in the theater, or explore ports of call.

Why do I need Ziploc bags on a cruise?

Ziploc bags can be useful when packing for a cruise. They can help you keep your items organized, such as wet swimsuits and toiletries, and protect your items from the elements.

Additionally, if you are flying to the port of embarkation, Ziploc bags can help keep your liquids in compliance with TSA regulations.

What do you spend money on during a cruise?

During a cruise, you may need to spend money on onboard expenses such as drinks, spa services, shore excursions, specialty restaurants, and souvenirs. Plus, passengers are expected to tip the staff members who have served them throughout their cruise.

How do you fully enjoy a cruise?

To fully enjoy your cruise, it is important to do your research ahead of time. Research the ports of call so that you can make the most of your time ashore, and find out what amenities and activities are available on the ship so that you can plan accordingly.

Can you eat 24 7 on a cruise?

Yes, you can usually eat 24/7 on a cruise ship. Most ships offer buffet-style dining around the clock, and some also have specialty restaurants that are open late into the evening. Depending on the ship, room service may also be available around the clock, too.

What do people wear during the day on a cruise?

During the day, people typically wear casual clothing such as shorts and t-shirts, sundresses, swimsuits, or comfortable jeans. It is important to check with the cruise line as some activities may require a more formal dress code.

What drinks are free on a cruise?

Most cruise lines offer a selection of free drinks, such as coffee, tea, juice, and water. Plus, some cruises may also include a limited selection of beer, wine, and spirits. Be sure to check with your cruise line for more information.

What room to pick on a cruise ship?

When picking a room on a cruise ship, it is important to consider your budget and the type of experience you are looking for. Consider factors such as the size of the room, the view from the window, and whether or not you can upgrade to a suite.

Should I bring USD on cruise?

Yes, it is a good idea to bring US dollars when going on a cruise, if your origination port is inside the US. Many ports of call may not accept foreign currencies, so having US dollars on hand can be helpful.

Is it better to take cash on a cruise?

It is generally better to take cash on a cruise, as it can be used in ports of call and for making small onboard purchases. Some cruise lines may also accept cash for onboard activities, such as spa treatments and excursions.

Do you tip cash on a cruise?

Yes, it is customary to tip in cash on a cruise ship. Tips can be left at the end of your trip in an envelope provided by the ship, or you can give cash directly to staff members who have provided exceptional service.

Final Thoughts on Must-Have Cruise Items

Although we do feel the items on this list can add value to anyone’s cruise, every trip is different. You will never see us traveling with ten pairs of shoes or a yoga mat.

Other people do and feel those items are essential. Maybe they are.

The most important thing about travel and cruising is to do it. Whether you pay to check 50 kg of luggage or travel with just a carry-on. There isn’t a wrong way to cruise.

What do you consider an essential cruise item? We’d love to hear what’s on your must-have cruise items list. Contact us to tell us more about how you pack!

👉 While we have global health insurance for our day-to-day lives, we also elect travel insurance with SafetyWing for our spurts of fast travel adventure!

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Brodi Cole is a full-time digital nomad who travels the world with her family. She made the switch to blogging and content writing after spending more than a decade and a half working as a Human Resources Manager and Director.

Since transitioning her family to a digital nomad lifestyle, they've visited over 20 countries together (and counting) in the last ten years!

In addition to traveling extensively through Canada, the USA, and the Caribbean, she's also visited Asia, Europe, and South America.

She spent most of the pandemic living in Malaysia before living in Mexico for over a year and then driving the Pan-American Highway from the USA to the southernmost tip of Argentina.

Brodi is also a freelance SEO writer and editor, sharing her expertise with other companies and bloggers. She has a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature and a Master's Degree in Human Resources Management.

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Cruise Packing List | Ultimate 2023 Checklist [With Printable PDF Download]

Cruise Packing List | Ultimate 2023 Checklist [With PDF Download]

Our 2023 Cruise Packing List is the only checklist you'll need in preparation for your cruise vacation. From the "essentials" to the "extras," we've got you covered.

We're constantly asked "what to pack for a cruise." To make it as simple as possible, we've created this printable PDF Cruise Packing List . Click that link for a high-resolution, downloadable Cruise Packing List.

Use the button above to add this to your Cruise Packing Pinterest Board .

We've also included your cruise necessities below. Each section of the list is broken up to provide a bit more detail. When advising our community to pack a "dress shirt," we often have follow up questions. Or when suggesting a "cruise power strip" we're given blank stares. That's why you'll find images and a short description to go along with many items on our checklist. Hopefully that helps to avoid any confusion.

Clothes to Pack for a Cruise

*Below are the clothes you'll want to add to your cruise packing checklist.

This is probably the trickiest set of items on our cruise packing list. Depending on where you're cruising to and from, your clothing items will vary. Your specific itinerary will also have an impact on your packing list. If sailing for 7 days, you'll obviously need more stuff than a 3 nighter. Seven-night cruises are the most common. We'll assume seven night in our list below.

With our downloadable packing list, we've included a "Quantity" column. Feel free to adjust this. Some items will require multiple pieces (like socks).

As a woman, what clothes will I need for my cruise?

Cruise Packing List - CLOTHES

Athletic Shoes : You'll be doing a LOT of walking. You'll need a comfortable set of sneakers for the extra-long walks when exploring the ship, port, or hitting the gym.

Casual Shirts : Comfortable shirts are needed for strolling around, breakfast, port-stops, and more, throw on comfortable, casual shirt.

Dress Shirts : Pack dressier shirts and blouses for night-time activities such as dinner, shows, and lounges.

Dresses : Expect at least one "formal night" on your cruise. Check with your agent or the line to see how many you'll have. Consider bringing a dress for each that you plan to attend.

Gym Clothes : Cruise ships are equipped with running tracks, beautiful gyms, rock climbing walls, and many more opportunities to get active. Bring an outfit or two to get in on the action.

Jacket / Windbreaker : The top deck of your ship will be windy (guaranteed). Also, ship venues will have the A/C cranking. Have a light jacket or windbreaker to keep warm.

Jeans : Jeans are great for mid to late day activities. You'll wear these often to events like bingo, exhibitions, snacking, etc.

Leisure Shoes : You'll want shoes somewhere between a sandal and a sneaker. They'll be necessary for walking around the ship or port in mid-range distances.

Pants : Whether sweatpants or slacks, we're sure you have your favorite pants you'll want to take on vacation.

Sandals / Flip Flops : Hopefully you'll spend a good amount of time poolside or visiting cruise port beaches. Sandals are a must.

Shorts : You'll want a few sets of shorts to slip on during the day.

Skirts : Pack some longer skirts for night-time activities or shorter skirts for day-time activities.

Sleepwear : If you have a favorite set of jammies, make sure to stick those in your luggage. Your cabin could be warmer or colder than you're expecting based on the individual ship. Plan for either.

Swimsuits / Cover Ups : You'll want multiple swimsuits for the pool, jacuzzis, beaches, and maybe even waterslides. We bring 3-4 pairs for a seven-night cruise. You're expected to cover some skin when popping into the buffet and other eating venues, so pack a cover up for ease.

T-shirts : We typically pack 7 casual shirts or t-shirts for the week. Also, we love wearing a funny cruise shirt on Day 1 of the cruise. When wearing, you're guaranteed to make ship mates that you'll see throughout the week.

Undershirts / Bras : Easily overlooked and oh so necessary. The ship store will not have your favorite brand!

Underwear : Don't forget to pack that pair you've been saving for vacation. Ooh la la.

Accessories to Pack for a Cruise

Below are the cruise accessories that you'll want to add to your cruise packing checklist.

These are in the " very easy to forget " category of our cruise packing list. You won't realize you forgot some of these items until you get ready for dinner on Night One of your cruise.

Not this time. Use our accessories checklist to assure that you're fully accessorized throughout your sailing.

Cruise Packing List - ACCESSORIES

Sunglasses : The top decks of your ship will be super bright. Not to mention the powder-white sands at port. Grab a UV-protected set of sunglasses for extra care.

Watches : Cruise ships are infamous for their lack of clocks. As such, cruise passengers are infamous for missing out on events. Consider bringing a watch that's easy to adjust. Cruise ship staff may ask that you set your clock to a specific time (ship and port times can actually differ) to assure that you're back on board before the ship leaves.

Hat : We take a few hats with us. Some for "dress up" and then possibly another for the gym or jogging track.

Belts : This is probably one of the most forgotten items. A missing belt can ruin the whole outfit. Please note that cruise ships have been known to mysteriously shrink belts.

Jewelry : There are two schools of thought here. The first is to pack your fancy jewelry that you otherwise don't get to wear in "real life." Strategy Two is to only include the cheap stuff on your cruise packing list. We see the logic in both and will let you decide.

Purses : We bring purses for night-time activities (dinner, shows, bars) and small handbags for the essentials. Typically, one of each will do.

Journal : If you're like us, you enjoy capturing your cruise vacation in time. There's nothing better than sitting top deck with a warm coffee and journaling about the amazing cruise thus-far.

Toiletries to Pack for a Cruise

Below are the toiletries that you'll want to add to your cruise packing checklist.

Another set of easily forgotten cruise packing list items... Toiletries! If you forget dental floss, you'll probably be just fine. Forget your contacts, though, and things could get a bit less enjoyable.

Below, you'll find a list of the essentials you'll need in your cruise bathroom.

Cruise Packing List - TOILETRIES

Shaving Cream and Razors : Just know that your cruise cabin bathroom will be tiny. There's very little space to maneuver, in case that impacts your choice of shaving devices.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste : A tube of travel-sized toothpaste will last one person the full week... unless you really like the taste of toothpaste.

Tweezers : It always happens. You think to yourself, "I won't need these." Then two days into your vacation, you really wish you had them. They take up so little space, just pack them!

Makeup : You'll have seven full nights to get all "made up." Make sure to take advantage of each!

Makeup Remover : After a few drinks, it's so easy to just hit the hay without washing off "your face." Make it easy on yourself by packing some proper makeup remover.

Contacts & Solution : There will be plenty to see. Make sure you're able to fully take it all in by packing your contacts and solution.

Hair Brush : "Salt hair don't care" is a phrase that feels appropriate here.

Deodorant : Travel-sized may not be enough. Bring a full stick just to be "sure."

Floss : Food will be in abundance. And some of it may come in the form likely to get caught up in those teeth. You'll be glad that you packed floss.

Facial Cleanser : Your face will undergo a daily regimend of lotion, salt, sand, margaritas and more. Prepare to wipe the slate clean at the end of the night.

Shampoo & Conditioner : We use the cruise ship stocked shampoo and conditioner, but can appreciate that some like to add these to their cruise packing list.

Moisturizer : Unlike a hotel, typically a cruise cabin will not come equipped with moisturizer. Bring your own to stay hydrated.

Face Lotion : Keep your face healthy from the sun, lotion, makeup, and salt air from the week.

Electronics to Pack for a Cruise

Below are the electronics that you'll want to add to your cruise packing checklist.

Some people prefer to unplug on their cruise. Not us. We like to enhance our cruise experience with our favorite gadgets.

Whether watching our favorite movie on the back deck of the ship, jamming to our favorite song while jogging the track, or capturing a wide shot of the port, we appreciate our electronics while cruising.

Here are the items our family packs for each cruise.

Cruise Packing List - ELECTRONICS

Camera & Memory Card : Smartphones are great for capturing most photos. But, to get that underwater shot or for museum-quality photos, we like to bring our own gear.

Video & MP3 Player : We use this less on the cruise than we do traveling to our ship. While waiting for our plane or our embarkation group to be called, this is a great option to pass the time.

iPhone : We try to limit our phones to photos, the ship's texting plans, and emergency contacts.

Laptop & Charger : We're much more motivated to curate and edit photos or videos as we go. If we wait days or weeks to edit, it never gets done. A laptop is the easiest way to edit as we go.

iPhone Charger : Bring a good charger, not a dollar-store version. You'll find yourself waiting in your cabin while your device charges and you'll want to limit that downtime. A good charger will achieve that.

Cruise Cabin Power Strip : Your cabin has just one outlet. Turn two outlets into five with a small power strip. Note, cruise lines ban most power strips. This power strip is cruise approved.

eBooks : Another great way to spend the time. We love curling up with our favorite e-book while the sun sets. Make sure to download before you board the ship, as internet will be gone (or terrible) once at sea.

Earphones : Don't forget your favorite earbuds or noise cancelling headphones.

Health Items to Pack for a Cruise

Below are the health essentials that you'll want to add to your cruise packing checklist.

You've waited so long to finally set sail and you deserve this vacation. Don't let anything, like a sunburn or seasickness, ruin it for you.

Below you'll find the "must-have" health & wellness items for your cruise packing list. It's better to be prepared and to sacrifice a little bit of luggage space then to wish you had some of these essentials once on your ship.

Cruise Packing List - Health Items

Compression Socks : Many in our community complain about the "swelling" that occurs on a cruise ship. We've also heard from many that compression socks are the best way to control this ailment.

Water Bottle : This is an absolute essential. It's surprisingly inconvenient to find a glass of water on the ship. Pack this and never get parched.

Reading Glasses : While you won't have access to your Wall Street Journal, you will be reading the Daily Planner and Dinner Menus with frequency.

Tissues : Tissues are always an essential when traveling, particularly with children.

Dramamine : Seasickness can be devastating to your cruise experience. If Dramamine isn't your cup of tea, here are 32 other ways to prevent or treat seasickness .

Prescription Meds : An obvious and super important item on our cruise packing list.

UV Sanitizer Box : In this day and age you can never be too careful. This UV Light Sanitizer Box uses ultraviolet rays to kill pathogens on key cards, phones, and more. It's the same technology used in hospitals! UV Sanitizer Box

Vitamins : Your diet is in for a roller coaster of a ride. Bring vitamins and probiotics to supplement your health.

Pain Reliever : This can come in handy for common headaches or less common ailments like sore feet (from tearing up the dance floor).

Feminine Hygiene Products : Also available at the ship's sundry store if needed.

First Aid Kit : You can always visit your ship's medical facility when needed. We like to have this on-hand for minor cuts and scrapes as well.

Photocopy of Medications : In the rare case that you and your bags are separated, this will come in handy. This can also be used as a shopping list while in Mexico... totally joking - please don't do that.

Refillable Sanitizer Bottles : These are super convenient! Attach to your cruise lanyard or other accessory. Everywhere you go, you'll have sanitizer at the ready! Refillable Travel Sanitizer Bottles

Lip Balm : The cruise line gift shops likely make a killing charging 5x the cost of lip balm for all those forgetting to pack this essential item.

Sunscreen : Double up on your favorite sunscreen. We want to see you cruising for many years to come.

Money & Docs to Pack for a Cruise

Below are the money and document items that you'll want to add to your cruise packing checklist.

This is one of the more boring categories, but essential to get right on your cruise packing list.

You can forget many of the items on this list and bust out the credit card as a fail safe. But if you forget that credit card, you're in some deep waters.

Double-check this section of your list to assure everything is checked here.

Cruise Packing List - Money & Docs

Cash : Don't worry about foreign cash. The almighty USD is all that you'll need at any of your cruise ports.

Credit Cards : Always default to your credit card rather than your debit card when on a cruise. You'll be much more protected in situations where it's necessary.

Passport & ID : Technically, you probably won't need your passport. But if you have an active passport, we strongly encourage you to bring it.

Vaccination Card : You may or may not need this. Check your specific cruise ship policies for confirmation.

Photocopies of ID's : In the case that your ID or passport is stolen, this will be critical. Consider hard copies and digital copies as backup.

Insurance Information : Most personal insurance plans aren't covered on cruise vacations. You'll want cruise-specific coverage. Here's a great article on what you'll need and what you can expect to pay.

Pen and Paper : You'll need a pen to fill out boarding and customs docs. A pad of paper could also come in handy for those note-takers out there.

Boarding Pass : The cruise line will email your boarding pass. When showing up to your embarkation port, they'll ask for this. It's not 100% necessary, but will save some time.

Excursion Confirmations : It's a good idea to book shore tours in advance. Search all major providers using Gangwaze . Once booked, print and pack your confirmations.

Emergency Numbers : Include essential contacts back on shore in the case that someone needs contacting in an emergency.

Extras to Pack for a Cruise

Below are the extra must-have items that you'll want to add to your cruise packing checklist.

While the items below aren't 100% essential to your cruise packing list, they can seriously enhance your cruise.

This is, by far, the most fun packing category. In the cruise items list below, we've included the best of the best "extra" items to buy in preparation for your sailing. To see more of these items, check out our post, 29 Cruise Essentials on Amazon .

For some of these items, we've included links to our favorites found on Amazon. All have been thoroughly tested and get our seal of approval.

Cruise Packing List - Extras

Cruise Luggage Tag Holders : Your cruise line will email your e-tags before your cruise. They'll advise you to staple these to your luggage. We're better than that. Cruise Luggage Tags on Amazon .

Playing Cards : Gin Rummy has never been more fun than when played listening to the crashing ocean waves.

Bottle of Wine : Most cruise lines allow you to bring one bottle of wine. Don't lick a gift horse in the mouth... or whatever that expression.

Travel Pillow : Great for the plane ride, but also wonderful in your deck chair.

Towel Bands : The Lido Deck is super windy. Don't lose your towel (and towel deposit) to Mother Earth. Towel bands are a perfect way to secure these to your chair. They also make it easier to find your beach chair in a sea of similar towels. Cruise Towel Bands on Amazon

Ear Plugs : Your cruise neighbors and their noise level is entirely up to chance. Be prepared.

Cruise Lanyards : Never lose your cruise key card again. Also protect money and credit cards while at port. Cruise Lanyards on Amazon .

Cruise Cabin Night Light : One of the most brilliant cruise products we've ever used. Invaluable for the pitch-black cruise cabin in the middle of the night... and it's magnetic to stick to your cabin wall! Cruise Night Light on Amazon .

Cruise Cabin Hanging Organizer : Staterooms are tiny. Add this to your cruise packing list to become the most organized cruiser on your deck. Make sure it's flame retardant, as with this one. Cruise Hanging Organizer on Amazon .

Collapsible Tote Bag : This is perfect for trips to and from the pool and also lugging stuff around port. And it collapses to the size of a wallet for easy packing. Collapsible Travel Tote Bag on Amazon .

Travel Laundry Bag : For those soiled clothes piling up in the cabin corner.

RFID Money Belt : Keep your essentials safe while at port. Your credit cards can be stolen these days from across the room without RFID protection.

Snorkel : If you have extra room and plan to snorkel, this is a great addition to your cruise list. You can pick one up for the price of a rental once you get to port. And you won't have to french kiss a used piece of plastic.

Cruise Staff Thank You Cards : These will turn good service into amazing service and it's heartwarming to do. We've seen cruise staff in tears and never go without these. Cruise Crew Thank You Cards on Amazon .

If you haven't yet, you can download our printable PDF Cruise Packing List . Feel free to add or edit it as you'd like. We hope that it helps to remember everything that you need.

If you found this post helpful, please use the buttons below to share this post with your cruise communities.

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This Hidden Amazon Storefront Is a Gold Mine for Affordable Products to Pack for Your Next Cruise

Prices start at $5, and most of these game-changing travel items are on sale.

cruise ship travel items

Travel + Leisure / Reese Herrington

For countless travelers, there’s truly no better way to see the world than by hopping on a cruise for a few days (or weeks). Whether your ship is taking you to tropical Caribbean islands, lively European cities, stunning Alaskan locales, or somewhere else on your bucket list, you’re bound to have the adventure of a lifetime. Packing for the trip, though, can be a lot less fun, but thanks to Amazon’s new cruise-focused storefront , you can score tons of must-have travel items to take on your next big outing.

Inside this storefront, you’ll find cruise essentials ranging from portable power strips to motion sickness patches , plus versatile travel bags like waterproof pouches that’ll keep your valuables safe as you explore each port. And best of all, every item listed costs under $65, so you can load up on a number of valuable products before sailing off. 

To help you navigate the options, we’ve rounded up 17 of our favorite travel items featured in Amazon’s newest storefront that should be on every cruise packing list. Trust us, you're going to be so thankful that you brought them along. 

AiRunTech Waterproof Pouch With Waist Strap 

No one wants to discover that their valuables have gone missing on vacation, so keep your items safe and sound with these waterproof pouches from AiRunTech. They’re big enough to hold your smartphone, wallet, cash, and more, and will keep them dry if you go snorkeling or sailing. They come in eight color varieties, including clear, so you can see your items easily. “We used this when we were on a cruise excursion at Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica,” one reviewer said . “We were fully submerged multiple times, and all of our stuff stayed completely dry." 

MQ Motion Sickness Patches

Nothing ruins a cruise faster than a spell of nausea or dizziness. If you or someone in your party tends to experience motion sickness while on the high seas, stock up on these top-rated patches from MQ. They last up to three days and are made of 100 percent natural anti-nausea herbs like cinnamon, safflower, and dahurica angelica, so they shouldn’t make you feel drowsy or give you dry mouth. All you have to do is stick one of the patches behind your ear or on your stomach 10 minutes before traveling, and it'll start working. One user called them “literal magic” and a “game-changer,” explaining that their child “almost immediately felt better” after popping on a patch.

The Amazon cruise storefront also features reviewer-loved nausea aids like Dramamine , which avid travelers also recommend keeping stocked in your toiletry bag: "We had a day and night of really high swells on the cruise and this was a lifesaver. I felt so incredibly sick. It kicked in sooner than most medications, which I was definitely happy about and lasted the entire night." 

Spesoul Unisex Water Shoes 

It doesn’t get more uncomfortable (or inconvenient) than slipping on a pair of flip-flops when your feet are wet from the pool, and then trying to navigate the slippery deck in them. Plus, between all of the cruise water activities and the off-deck opportunities to enjoy the beach and surrounding towns, you'll want a trusty pair of water shoes like these from Spesoul that can double as sneakers. Vouching for the support, an Amazon reviewer said , "I bought these for a cruise to Hawaii and used them both on the beach and while extreme parasailing. I actually once walked 3 miles on city streets in them while in Honolulu." 

ProCase Universal Waterproof Phone Pouch Case

We bet you'll be taking in some of the most breathtaking beaches during your cruise, and that you'll want to snap some pictures of all the fun you're having on them. Instead of being nervous that you'll drop your smartphone or camera in the ocean, recruit the help of the top-rated ProCase Waterproof Pouch. It securely locks your tech inside and protects it from water damage, so you can splash around and enjoy yourself with peace of mind. One cruise-goer shared , "Our iPhones fit perfectly, and [it was] easy to use the touch screen." Another traveler added , "I used this for snorkeling on our cruise. It took amazing photos and videos."

Holifesy Valente Premium Family Travel Document Organizer

If you’re on a cruise with your family, keep all of your documents together with this helpful water-resistant organizer, made by Holifesy. It’s spacious enough to fit up to six passports, as well as boarding passes, cash, IDs, and much more inside its 21 pockets and slots. “I bought this for our cruise and you can fit so much in there,” one shopper wrote in their review. “It kept everything so organized and in one safe place.”

Jollyants Cruise Luggage Tags

Say goodbye to spending too much time searching for your bags, because these highly-rated luggage tags from Jollyants will be your new best friend. Sturdy, waterproof, and transparent (so you can insert your cruise tag), they’ll ensure that you never lose sight of your precious belongings. “This was perfect for my cruise cabin printouts,” one Amazon customer recalled, adding that “they are very helpful and durable.” Did we mention that you can get a pack of five for 17 percent off right now?

Mifaso Power Strip with USB

If you feel like cruise cabins never have enough outlets, pick up this great non-surge power strip, which features three outlets, three USB ports, and a long, 5-foot-long extension cord. It’s compact, lightweight, and has a genius non-slip design, so it won’t slide off your table if the ship experiences some bumps. But, it’s also mountable in case you want to prop it up on a wall. “This makes charging my electronics a breeze,” a reviewer shared . “Plug it in and all [of] my electronics (my laptop, iPad, iPhone, and smartwatch) can all charge in the same place.”

Veken Packing Cubes 

Packing cubes are hugely helpful for keeping your items organized and easily accessible (especially when you’re embarking on a long trip), and we love this set of six from Veken. They come in four sizes and are made with a thick, waterproof nylon fabric, so you don’t have to worry about anything ruining your clothes — or the cubes ripping from wear and tear. One shopper said the cubes were a “lifesaver” during a long sailing trip, explaining that they helped "organize and stow our stuff in multiple different ways depending on the situation" and “they keep your clothes tidy, but enable you to reconfigure your packing situation easily and with no fuss.” They concluded their review, writing, "I'll be using them on every trip in the future." 

DiyMag Magnetic Hooks 

Cruise cabins can be pretty tiny, so why not maximize the space by adding some magnetic hooks to the walls and hanging up your items? Available in a pack of six, the easy-to-install DiyMag hooks can each hold up to 25 pounds, more than enough to support jackets, backpacks, umbrellas, and more. “These hooks were so helpful on our cruise,” one shopper commented . “We hung our cruise cards, hoodies, drawstring backpack, clothes, and other things.”

iWalk Mini Portable Charger for iPhones

This compact-yet-powerful portable iPhone charger from iWalk will come in handy during a long day spent off-ship exploring the sites. Heck, you'll also want to keep it close by if you've got a night of cruise activities planned. It features a built-in cable and is so tiny that you won’t even notice it taking up room in your bag (or pocket). “I used it on vacation almost every day,” an Amazon shopper exclaimed . “I didn't have to worry about my phone dying because it lasted very long, and I felt comfortable taking it everywhere because it didn't take up too much space.”

Venture Pal 40-Liter Lightweight Packable Backpack

Cruises keep your itinerary pretty packed. Between all of the sunbathing on the pool deck and off-ship excursions, you'll need a trusty travel bag to keep your must-haves secure and at the ready. This packable backpack weighs only 1 pound and folds down into its own pocket so it will take up virtually no space in your suitcase. Speaking of pockets, it's stocked with plenty of pouches and compartments — including a convenient wet pocket for damp towels, bathing suits, water shoes, etc. One customer called it a "great backpack for travel" and wrote, "I purchased this bag for a seven-day cruise to use for my shore excursions…I was able to pack all of my essentials and even had room for souvenirs." 

Towel Craber Towel Bands

Planning on spending most of your cruise time at the pool or on the beach? You’ll definitely want to grab this set of six towel bands from Towel Craber — trust us, they're a game-changer. These handy accessories secure your towel to your lounge chair no matter how windy it gets, so you can catch some rays hassle-free with zero interruptions from your towel falling or blowing away. “These worked great for our cruise towels,” one shopper vouched, adding that “they were lightweight, easy to pack, and easy to use.” Chiming in, a second reviewer , who was happy to report that they held down their heavy towels, added, "I even looped small items through them such as a headband, sunglasses, and smaller hand towels instead of putting them on my lounger or on the sand."

Lewis N. Clark SinkSuds Laundry Detergent 

Even if you’re using a laundry service on your cruise ship, you still might want these handy travel-size detergent packets at your disposal. You can use them in your cabin sink to easily and quickly clean your items. In fact, one packet works on up to three pieces of clothing. Impressive, right? It's no wonder one reviewer dubbed them "perfect for travel." They also noted that they're “strong enough to clean things well and easy to rinse out after.”

Pack Gear Suitcase Organizer 

Living out of a suitcase is hard, especially for weeks at a time. To make yourself feel more at home, add this genius suitcase organizer to your Amazon cart. Similar to packing cubes, its five-pouch design helps you organize your clothes, shoes, and cruise essentials for easy packing. But, when you get to your room, you can hang it up in your closet like a make-shift dresser, which will come in clutch if there's not enough actual dresser space in your room for everyone you're traveling with. After testing it out on a cruise, an Amazon shopper said , "It was perfect because given the small size of the cabin, the organizer provided extra space to keep my clothes. It was super convenient and made packing way easier." 

Sun Bum Premium Day Tripper Sun Care Pack

For cruisers planning on spending their days basking in the sun, protect your skin with the help of this travel-size sunscreen set from Sun Bum. It contains the brand's SPF 30 moisturizing sunscreen, SPF 30 lip balm, and hydrating, after-sun Cool Down Lotion, so you can stay safe and feel good during your relaxing vacation. And, it comes with a handy carrying pouch, which is spacious enough to fit your other toiletries and sunbathing essentials. "We all used this on a Caribbean cruise and none of us burned [like] we usually do — even with 100 SPF," a traveler wrote . "The Cool Down Lotion was perfect as well. We barely peeled!"  

Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier

Let’s be honest: It can be hard to stay hydrated and eat well when you’re busy enjoying yourself on a cruise (and soaking up so much sun). If you find yourself starting to feel a little off, add some of this best-selling Liquid I.V. electrolyte drink powder mix into your water and get an immediate influx of essential vitamins and nutrients. One pack comes with 16 travel-sized, lemon-lime flavored packets.  And, as most reviewers can attest , it comes in handy if you've opted for a drink package: "My husband and I used the product on our cruise. I definitely felt more hydrated and didn’t feel hungover from the unlimited drinks." 

Ododos Unisex Mini Belt Bag

When you’re running around all day having a great time, you don’t want to be encumbered by a hefty purse or backpack while you're jumping from activity to activity. Instead, throw this tiny, lightweight belt bag from Ododos around your waist, or adjust its straps to use it as a shoulder bag, handbag, or crossbody bag instead. And, according to shoppers , it's surprisingly spacious: "I used this on a cruise. I could fit a plus-sized smartphone, sunglasses, money, chapstick, cards, etc." 

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Packing for a cruise? These items aren’t allowed on board

F ew events are more exciting than a cruise vacation. However, packing for a cruise can sometimes temper that enthusiasm — especially when you realize that items you'd like to bring are banned by the cruise lines.

What shouldn't you pack for a cruise? Most cruise lines adhere to similar lists of prohibited items, found in their websites' Help or FAQ sections. Be warned: Some lines ban items you might think would be acceptable to bring on board.

TPG has you covered. We've compiled a list of things not to bring on your cruise, whether universally prohibited or only allowed by specific cruise lines. Whether it's your first or fiftieth cruise, it's always good to check with your line to determine what to pack and what to leave at home.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Electrical appliances

Clothes irons and steamers.

Your cruise ship is much like a floating resort. However, unlike in a hotel room, your cabin won't have an iron for you to use. That's not to say you should bring your own — quite the opposite. Irons and steamers are considered a fire hazard, so they're banned from your room.

If wrinkled clothes stress you out, bring a small bottle of wrinkle-release spray. Or, check to see if your ship includes a public laundry room. Many do, and they include irons and boards for passengers to use. Also, washing, pressing and dry-cleaning services are usually available for a fee. If all else fails, hang your garments in the bathroom while you take a steamy shower.

Coffeemakers and electric tea kettles

You can add electrical appliances like coffeemakers, electric tea kettles and the like to this list, too. Don't worry: Your ship will provide plenty of places to satisfy your need for caffeine.

If you absolutely must make your own coffee, pack a small French press, and fill it with hot water from the buffet. Need a hot beverage in your room each morning? Order one from room service.

Most lines — including Royal Caribbean, Disney, Celebrity, Cunard, Seabourn and Viking — do allow guests to bring flat irons or curling irons on board.

As of this writing, MSC Cruises is the outlier on this one and includes "hair irons" on its list of prohibited items. (In my experience, I've always been able to take hairstyling appliances on MSC ships without incident, but if you try it, do so at your own risk.)

If you're on a ship that does allow flat irons, steer clear of the fire sensors when using it. I can speak from experience about their sensitivity.

During a recent cruise aboard Virgin Voyages ' Scarlet Lady, the heat from my flat iron triggered the alarm. It resulted in a call from the captain, as well as a visit from security to ensure I wasn't smoking or burning a candle in my room.

Related: Everything you need to know about cruise ship laundry services

Sharp objects

Most cruise lines — such as Norwegian , Royal Caribbean and Holland America — ban scissors and knives with blades longer than 4 inches. Other lines, including Disney , prohibit knives regardless of blade length; this includes straight razors.

Safety razors for personal grooming are allowed on all lines, though.

CBD and marijuana

Each state in the United States individually interprets and enforces laws relating to CBD use. However, because of the ambiguity of the laws, most cruise lines ban CBD in any form.

Although several states have decriminalized the possession and use of marijuana, it's still illegal under U.S. federal law. That means even if you can legally buy it in your home state for recreational or medical use, you can't cruise with it .

Related: Can I bring marijuana on a cruise ship?

Extension cords and surge-protected power strips

The design of most newer ships accommodates the need for ample electrical outlets and conveniently located USB ports in your cabin. If you're sailing on an older ship, your cabin might be sparse in the outlet department.

If you're tempted to bring a power strip with you, make sure it's not a surge-protected strip. Those are banned on most cruise lines and will be confiscated.

Look instead for cruise-compliant power strips with extra plug receptacles and USB charging ports or a European plug adapter so you can use both the 110-volt and 220-volt outlets in your cabin.

Before you pack an extension cord, check with your cruise line. Some — like Carnival, MSC , Norwegian and Virgin Voyages — permit guests to use power cords in their cabins. Cunard, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises do not.

An exception to that rule might be in the case of medical equipment, as stated in Cunard's packing rules: "We also ask that you don't bring extension cords with you, unless they are accompanying essential medical equipment, such as CPAP and nebulizer machines."

Candles and incense

Safety is a priority on every cruise, and fire is the biggest threat to ship safety. So, it makes sense that candles or anything requiring the use of real fire would be banned for onboard use. Instead, consider battery-operated tea lights to set the mood.

If my flat iron can set off a fire sensor (see above), I can only imagine how quickly actual fire would set off alarms.

Drones and kites

You might want that perfect aerial shot for Instagram from above the ship or at one of your ports of call. You'll need to check with your cruise line first, though. Some ships allow them in your luggage, while all lines prohibit them from being flown from the ship.

The same rule largely applies to kites and other similar items meant to be flown. However, some ships ban those, too. For example, kites are included on Disney Cruise Line's list of items that are "restricted for safety reasons and should not be brought on board."

This might seem like a no-brainer. However, even firearm replicas — non-firing guns, imitations, toys and their components — are prohibited aboard cruise ships. That includes water guns.

Some decorations

If you're celebrating a special occasion or holiday, or you're pumped about decorating your cabin door or room, proceed with caution. Items like party poppers and helium-filled balloons make most cruise lines' lists of prohibited items.

Disney and Carnival say "no" to bringing balloons on board, while Royal Caribbean and MSC allow them.

Although balloons are absent from Norwegian's list of prohibited items, the line eliminated cruise cabin door decorations in 2019, stating: "As per safety requirements, stateroom door decorations are strictly prohibited. Your stateroom steward has been instructed to remove and place all decorations inside the room."

Related: 27 cruise ship embarkation day do's and don'ts

Couldn't finish those loaded nachos you ordered from the hotel restaurant last night? Don't even think about bringing them on board. The same goes for Meemaw's homemade snickerdoodles, which you snacked on during your road trip to the cruise port.

Though each cruise line words its food prohibition differently, homemade or precooked foods are a no-no across the board. Passengers are permitted to bring prepackaged, unopened (in original packaging), nonperishable snacks, though. Take advantage of this exception to the rule to bring your kids' favorite cookies, granola bars or fruit snacks or specialty items that accommodate your food allergy or special diet.

Make sure to finish that vanilla latte before you board, too. You can't embark with an open or partially consumed beverage.

This rule shouldn't cause concern; you will be fully sated during your vacation at sea. Honestly, if you can't find enough to eat or drink on a cruise, you're doing it wrong.

Certain sunscreens

Certain sunscreens are banned, not by the cruise line, but by the ports they visit. Why? Although currently deemed safe for human use, sun-blocking ingredients like octinoxate, oxybenzone and octocrylene are damaging to fragile reef systems.

The chemicals play a part in reef bleaching that's linked with warming sea temperatures. The chemicals may also harm other kinds of marine life, according to some researchers . Because of this, they're banned from use in certain destinations, and use of them could result in a fine of $1,000 or more.

If your cruise itinerary includes any of these destinations, choose your sunscreen carefully:

  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Key West, Florida
  • Ecotourism reserves in Mexico (including natural water parks like Xcaret and Xel-Ha, as well as Cozumel's Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park)

There are plenty of reef-safe sunscreens out there. They are mineral-based products void of oxybenzone and octinoxate. Brands include Thinksport , Alba Botanica , Black Girl Sunscreen and Sun Bum .

Too much (and certain types of) alcohol

If you have a favorite vino or Champagne you've saved for a special occasion and want to bring it along, you certainly can on most cruise lines. However, you'll find limits on how much and what kinds of alcohol you can take onto your cruise ship.

For example, Royal Caribbean permits one (750-milliliter) bottle of wine or Champagne per adult. Carnival allows one bottle of wine per adult. Disney Cruise Line OKs either two (750-milliliter) bottles of wine or six beers per stateroom.

If you bring more than the allotted amount indicated by your cruise line, it will be stored during your cruise. Depending on the cruise line, it will either be returned to your stateroom on your day of disembarkation, or you must pick it up at a designated area.

Note that your alcohol must be in your carry-on bag and not your checked luggage. They'll remove any alcohol in your checked luggage, and you won't get it back. You'll also not be compensated for it.

Bottles must be unopened and sealed. Some lines charge a corkage fee, which is usually $10 to $25 per bottle.

Keep your bottle of Woodford Reserve Kentucky bourbon at home, though. Most cruise lines don't allow guests to bring hard liquor aboard. The alcohol will be seized, and you won't get it back.

You might think you're clever by trying to disguise your liquor by dumping it into an empty bottle of mouthwash. We don't recommend it. If your contraband is discovered by security, it will likely be confiscated and discarded. Some cruise lines like Royal Caribbean could even refuse to let you board.

If imbibing adult beverages during your cruise vacation is that important to you, just spring for the drinks package .

Related: Can I bring alcohol on a cruise ship? A line-by-line guide

Bottom line

When planning a cruise, curb the temptation to overpack. Some items you frequently travel with aren't allowed in a cruise ship cabin.

Before you write out your packing list, check with your cruise line to confirm what is and isn't allowed on board.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Suitcases and cruise ship at pier (XXXL)


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