Cruising is the best kind of vacation: unlimited food, exotic destinations, and great service! I love going on a cruise, I love meeting new people from all of the world, and seeing new places on the way. Did you just book your cruise vacation? Now you need to pack everything from your cruise packing list to be prepared for all the pleasant surprises that await you!
Packing for a cruise can seem overwhelming: days at the beach, formal nights, snorkeling excursions and museum walks – How can you pack for all of it without packing your whole house in with you? What are you forgetting? On my previous cruise, all of these tips and the cruise packing list really helped me prepare myself for everything, hope it will help you as well!
If you forget something important you will probably have to buy it at a double price on the ship or the port of call, so you should make sure you take all of the essentials!
Things You Should Buy Before You Go on a Cruise
A Vacation Lanyard
It’s a lot easier to keep up with your key if you have a lanyard with you. They are a lot more expensive on the ship, so you can grab them from Amazon* for your whole family or look for an old one at home.
A Bag to Go on Land
A lot of people forget to grab a beach bag or a backpack to go on-shore. You can fit all of your necessities into your bag when you go on-shore, so easy!
A New Beach Hat
Ok, this one isn’t a must, but it will save you from the sun you will look stunning on the beach. One of my favorites – this cute hat* – and, once again, you don’t have to spend a fortune on it!
Take Wine (or Sodas)
Each line has its own rules, but generally, you will have to pay for drinks on-board unless you purchased a drink package. It would be a lot cheaper to bring a bottle of wine or a few cans of soda with you on-board than buying it there. Make sure to check with the cruise company how much alcohol you can bring on-board.
Cruising doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s hard to budget for your first cruise as you don’t know what to expect! In this article, I cover most paid services you will find on the cruise so that you can pick and choose what you want to budget for!
Sunscreen or Spray
Don’t forget to grab sunscreen with you, and don’t forget to apply it every morning. With the winds, it’s easy to skip the sunscreen and you just might regret this later. This package* should be enough for the whole cruise for the whole family.
Pack a Laundry Bag With You
Throw your dirty clothes in a separate bag while on the cruise. Isn’t this one so adorable? I love that it’s travel-related!
Grab a Good Camera
Isn’t that what cruising is about? You want to remember all of the beautiful moments when you are on-board or on an exotic island. Don’t forget to grab your camera with you on your next cruise vacation. You can get a cheaper model that will last you many more vacations to come.
Another great option is getting an action camera like a GoPro if you are planning to go zip-lining or snorkeling in one of the islands. You can get some really great underwater shots with it. I was really surprised when I found out that some other action cameras like this one have such high customer ratings for a low price.
Everything above will be a lot more expensive on the cruise ship if you forget to pack it with you! Get a Free SMART, EDITABLE, and PRINTABLE checklist below:
Cruise Travel Packing Checklist
Now that you have all of the essentials, it is time to start packing! Use this cruise packing list as a starter and modify it for your personal tastes. You may not need everything on this list, but you should consider all of them!
Travel Documents and Paperwork Packing List
- Airline tickets or e-ticket confirmation
- Cruise documents – itineraries, luggage tags, and excursion tickets
- Passports and visas or other proof of citizenship
- Vaccination certificate (if required)
- Driver’s license and auto insurance card – in case you decide to rent a car when ashore
- Medical insurance cards and medical history (especially if traveling alone)
- Credit cards (call credit card companies to alert them you are traveling)
- Cash (some in small bills for tipping and buying low-priced souvenirs)
Clothing Cruise Packing List – What To Wear
Cruising is a fun time for fashion, but you do not need to pack your entire wardrobe for a cruise. Whatever your activity, make sure you have comfortable walking shoes. You will need casual clothing for breakfast (something like what I wore on the picture) and it might be a good idea to check for details with your cruising company to see if there will be any theme night during your cruise.
All cruises are different but you can definitely plan for one elegant evening. Most cruise lines will have at least one, no matter the length of the cruise. The cruise formal wear doesn’t have to be anything outrageous. I have seen people on cruises wearing tuxedos and super fancy dresses and some in jeans and a polo shirt. Wear whatever you want, just feel confident and enjoy yourself! And if you are wanting some inspiration, see my cruise clothing guide to get advice on cruise outfits and answers to all of your clothing-related questions!
Cruise Clothing and Shoes
- Shorts/ skirts
- Tank tops
- Casual dresses
- Evening wear/ formal
- Long-Sleeved shirts
- Jeans/casual pants
- Dressy tops
- Workout gear
- Swimsuits – I pack two pairs
- Underwear and bras – pack enough so you don’t have to worry about washing.
- Socks – 1-2 pairs should be fine, depending on your activities.
- Flip flops
- Hiking shoes – exercise shoes
- Evening wear shoes
Cruising Tip: No need for packing beach towels! The ship will provide pool towels you can use and you can take them with you when you get off at each port.
Accessories / Miscellaneous for Cruising
- Beach Hat
- Evening purses
- Beach bag
- Cork Screw
- Empty Water Bottle
- First Aid
- Wine or sodas (Check with the cruise company how much alcohol you can bring on-board)
What to pack in your travel medical kit
- Mosquito repellent
- Sunscreen or spray
- Thermometer – the one item I recommend you don’t forget to pack when traveling with kids.
- Seasickness prevention
- Probiotics – the number one best thing you can do for your health, especially when you travel!
Toiletries Cruise Packing List
As with any resort or hotel, you will be given basic toiletries to use, but my hair feels terrible if I use them so I always bring my own shampoo and conditioner. Keep them in a zip-lock bag.
- Face Wash
- Face Cream
- Makeup Remover
- Bobby Pins
- Hair accessories
- Hair straightener/curling iron – may come in handy for the elegant night, if you want to go all out!
Pin it for later!
Packing Accessories for Cruise Travel
- Laundry bag
- Toiletry bag – I prefer something cute and compact like this one.
Entertainment and Electronics Packing List
Minimize your electronics as much as you can. Cruising is a great way to unplug, especially since wi-fi prices are so expensive!
- A book (or 2)
- Selfie sticks
- Powerboard or power strip
- Water-resistant camera case – when swimming with stingrays, we found that having a waterproof camera case helps take some amazing shots!
- Waterproof phone pouch – also a must take with you for taking pictures near the water and on the beach.
- Power adapter – essential if you are traveling internationally. Also, cruise ships usually have a limited amount of outlets in a cabin. But they have both, European and American outlets. If you bring a power adapter you can use to charge your electronics onboard.
- Laptop – we travel with ours as work and travel are rarely separate.
I really hope this list helped you with your packing and now you are even more excited about your vacation! Before you leave, be sure to download this checklist so you don’t forget anything!
Cruising Tips Before You Start Packing
1. Divide up your stuff with your partner
If you are traveling with a companion, divide your checked items into two suitcases. If one is lost, you will both have some clothes to wear. Also, be sure to carry-on anything that you cannot live without for a couple of days (medicine, swimsuit, clean underwear), just in case your luggage is lost or delayed.
2. Check the weather before you start packing
Does it look like it might be chilly? Take a warmer jacket just in case it’s colder in the evenings. Does the weather look hot and humid? Grab a rain jacket and a lot of sunscreen. On our last vacation, it was raining a lot and I am very glad I had a waterproof jacket with me.
3. Think about the length of your cruise
Planning your outfits before you leave can save you a lot of space in your suitcases. Plan a couple of outfits for each day – one for the morning and afternoon (activewear and swimsuits) and one for the evening (casual or more elegant). And you can mix and match when you are on the ship!
4. Take an empty refillable water bottle
This one is huge. With a refillable water bottle, you will be able to bring water to your stateroom and have water with you anywhere on the ship. You will have to throw away your water at customs, but you can come on board with an empty bottle. Then you can refill it at one of the water stations on the ship. Otherwise, you are stuck with $4 bottles in your stateroom or carrying a cup of water down 5 floors.
The one I found best comes in a variety of sizes and vibrant colors, it’s inexpensive and has really good customer reviews. It’s BPA free and has a vacuum seal. This one will serve you for many cruise adventures to come!
5. Get an editable packing checklist from Travel Eat Blog!
I made this smart printable cruise packing list below. Print it out and cross out to make your packing so much easier!
Is this your first cruise? Check out these cruising hacks and tips to save money and have the best experience ever!
Is someone you know going on a cruise? Share this cruise packing list with them to help save them time while they are packing! Have more ideas and tips for packing? Leave them in the comments below!
April 11, 2018
Great post, Ive never been on a cruise but I plan on going soon. Thank you for sharing.
May 27, 2018
Great list! I’m a chronic cruise overpacker. 🙂 – Stephanie | http://www.theborrowedbabes.com
May 27, 2018
I haven’t been on a cruise in such a long time, but this packing guide was so helpful!
May 27, 2018
Extensive list! My pale self always needs to bring 3x the amount of sunscreen I think I would need. It is so expensive on the cruise ship or in port.
June 29, 2018
Such a creative article! Very informative.
June 30, 2018
Excellent List!! I glad after reading your post, and there I found the best list of what to pack for a cruise. It’s a helpful list for us. Thanks for sharing your great information.
July 20, 2018
Great checklist! I’ve been on 3 cruises and going on another this September and I still have to write out everything I am packing! I will definitely use your checklist when I’m getting ready to pack!!
January 8, 2020
I have only been on one cruise, disney, when I was like 9. I would like to experience one again as an adult. Thanks for this list! Will come in handy.
January 8, 2020
I’ve never been on a cruise and so I never considered that indeed if you forget something it will be very expensive to get there. Probably seems obvious to a seasoned cruise traveler, but I’m glad you mentioned it.
January 9, 2020
I have never been on any cruise but I would love to. The ships in the pictures are so huge that they resemble cities on the water. Awesome! Very nice packing list, good job!
January 9, 2020
Great list!!! I love cruising so much but we don’t do it that often. I would only add poo-pourri! Since the bathrooms are small in the rooms, it’s nice to have something to prevent the #2 smell 😉 Game changer!!!
January 12, 2020
That’s a great one to add to the list! I will make sure to update! Thanks for the tips!
January 9, 2020
This is a practical and detailed guide on a list of things needed when on a cruise. I haven’t been on a cruise but this is certainly a good list to have in mind for when I do.
January 9, 2020
This would have been so helpful when I went on a cruise a few years ago!
January 10, 2020
This is a little bit of a surprise for me because this is how I pack on normal holidays. I always thought that you need fewer things, cause the cruise ships to look to me like a floating cities 🙂
January 10, 2020
My mom LOVES to cruise. I finally went on one with her around the Hawaiian Islands and we had a great time. She didn’t check the rules for bringing wine on board for this cruise line and had to pay quite a bit. Great tip to bring a power strip and empty water bottles. Mom also brought a picture from an old calendar and taped it to the door so it would be easy to find our room. I laughed about this at first but it actually was handy
January 10, 2020
I’ve never been on a cruise before but this was so informative. So much to consider when packing, loved this list you compiled!