Guide To Packing For A Cruise: The Ultimate List

What do you need when packing for a cruise?

Appropriate Clothes and Accessories
Electronics and Devices
Important Paperwork 
Medical and Wellness Items
Other Essentials
Extra Packing Tip

For most of us, packing for a cruise is something that happens once every few years. So unless you’re a cruise line staff member you’ll probably struggle to figure out what to pack. Of course, this comes as no surprise – a vacation in the middle of the ocean coupled with several sporadic stops at different destinations will obviously be challenging to pack for. Cruising is not the most usual method of travelling, hence has a different set of rules for packing.

Packing for a cruise is a bit more complicated than throwing an arbitrary pile of clothes and a couple of accessories into a suitcase. You will need to take a number of things into consideration such as climate variations between the home ports and ports of call, the cruise line’s dress codes, expenses for additional luggage (when flying to the home port) and so on.

It seems like a lot of work to pack for a cruise already, doesn’t it? Don’t despair though; we’re here to help you pack. With our list of essentials to bring on a cruise, you will be more prepared than the captain when you’re done packing. Here are the essential things to pack when going on a cruise:

Appropriate clothes and accessories for your cruise

Shoes. Although you’ll spend most of the time basking in the sun and island hopping, you should not limit your footwear to sandals. Often, cruises will include excursions that require a lot of walking or activities such as zip lining and rock climbing. There could be events that require you to dress a bit more formal as well. Throw in some sneakers and some dress shoes in your luggage as you’ll most probably need them.

Watch. If you don’t plan on carrying your cell phone, remember to bring a watch with you for time keeping.

Lanyard necklace. Your cruise liner will issue you a cruise ship ID that will serve as your room key and security pass when disembarking and boarding at different stops. It’s cheaper to carry your own lanyard for your ship ID than to buy one on board.

Formal outfits. The majority of cruises will include a couple of formal dinners, make sure to pack a tuxedo or a dark suit, or an evening dress.

Sweaters and jackets. No matter what the weatherman says, make sure to pack a jacket or sweater just in case the weather predictions were wrong – which they often are.

Hats. Make sure to carry a hat to protect yourself from the sun if you’ll be visiting a sunny destination or one to keep you warm when you stop at cold ports.

Sunglasses. How frustrating it would be squinting all day in the hot sun. It’s one of the most important items to carry for eye protection from the sun and you’ll look like you’re on holidays too!

Electronics to pack for your cruise

iPad / Tablet / Device.  Most cruises these days have WiFi available. Electronics can be taken onboard a cruise ship and are great for entertainment for kids, for catching up online, on the news or for online reading and entertainment. Always ensure they are labelled and stored securely in your cabin.

Alarm clock. If you don’t carry your mobile phone, remember to carry an alarm clock as many cruise cabins don’t have them.

Power strip/board. If you need more than two power outlets for your gadgets, make sure to bring a power strip with you. (Please note that some liners may not allow you to carry power strips, so make sure to confirm with yours before carrying one.)

Surge Protector. Surge protectors offer some level of protection against power spikes and offer more outages for all your electricals on board.

USB Charger. A USB charger will ensure your mobile phone and cameras are always charged and available for all your photo taking opportunities.

Digital books and movies. If you’ll be carrying your E-reader or tablet, make sure to download any media you need before you board the ship as data charges are generally steep at sea.

Thumb drive. Scan and store digital copies of important documents such as your passport on a thumb drive as back up.

Walkie talkies. Cell phones will either incur high roaming charges or not have coverage while you’re on a cruise. Walkie talkies offer a good alternative especially for people travelling in a group.

Chargers and backup batteries. Make sure to carry extra batteries and all the different chargers you need for the different devices you’ve packed. Otherwise, they’ll not be of much use to you once they run out of charge.

Flashlight. You may need a flashlight so as not to disturb your other guests in the cabin at night or even in an emergency if the need arises.

Travel Speaker. For your own entertainment and enjoyment a travel speaker is great to play music while relaxing in your cabin.

Important paperwork to carry on your cruise

Identification documents. Ask your cruise line about the documents and paperwork you will need for the trip. A passport, for example, might be required if you’ll be making a stop in a foreign country.

Passports. You will need this for checking in and out of international ports. Without a passport you cannot access the ports you visit.

Travel insurance. Make sure to purchase travel insurance for your trip to protect yourself from issues such as baggage loss, port changes or mechanical breakdowns.

Credit Cards. These are a great necessity for financial security and general expenditure without the worry of carrying cash and loose change.

Medical Insurance Cards. Always Important to carry for any medical emergency that may occur and personal identification.

Thank You Card. This is always a great idea to carry to thank the hardworking staff who serve you day and night.

Medical and wellness items to take on a cruise

Tactical Medical Pouch - $17.99Medication. Make sure to carry any medication that you are currently taking or that you think you might need such as aspirin. A few first aid items such as bandages might also come in handy. Although some of these items might be available on board, they cost much more than they would in your local pharmacy.

Sea sickness remedies.  Bring something to help with sea sickness, even if you have never experienced it – you never know when you might need it.

Antibacterial wipes or gel.  These will help you maintain proper hygiene while on the go.

Mosquito repellent.  A mosquito repellent gadget or bug spray will come in handy if your ship makes a stop at a place where there’re mosquitoes – generally anywhere tropical.

Ear plugs.  Sometimes your cabin might be located near a busy walkway, the ships engine room or nightclub – all of which are pretty noisy. Bring some ear plugs to ensure you’re not kept up at night by all the ruckus outside.

Sunscreen.  As you will most likely be spending a lot of time in the sun, make sure to bring some sunscreen to keep your skin protected.

Shaving stuff.  You don’t want to look dishevelled on a cruise, always ensure you have a shaver for hygiene purposes both for men and women.

Other essential items to carry 

Luggage scale.  Don’t be caught out paying for excess luggage. A compact luggage scale is great for travelling with to know how heavy your luggage is on exit.

A foldable duffle bag. Carry an extra foldable duffle bag just in case you go a little wild with your souvenir shopping.

Dry bag or plastic bags. These will help keep your electronics safe when you need to pack them in the same bag as your wet bathing suit or clothes.

Extra coat hangers. There will be a couple of hangers in your cabin, but this might not be enough especially if you’re taking a longer cruise. Carry a couple of your own – ideally wire hangers as they take up less space.

Day pack. A tote or small backpack will be quite useful for carrying sunscreen, water bottles, cameras, books and other items as you move around the ship or stop-over port.

Toiletries and necessities. Your cruise liner will provide you with some basic toiletries such as shampoo and soap at the very least. If you’re picky about these items, make sure to pack your own. The same applies for hair dryers. Most cabins will come with low wattage dryers, bring your own if you’d prefer something more powerful.

Hanging Toiletry Organizer Cosmetic Bag - $15.99Bathroom door organiser. There’s typically very little storage in a cruise liners bathroom. If you’re going to have any additional toiletries, get a bathroom door organiser to increase your storage and keep everything organised.

Storage Organisers. Considering the sizes of many cabins, storage organizers help keep toiletries and personal items in one compact place.

Packing Cubes. The small ultra lightweight zippered bags are perfect to neatly and compactly store all your travelling needs. They come in different sizes according to your luggage needs.

Binoculars. Great item to bring for viewing off the deck or viewing islands/places in the distance and other ships or sea life like whales and dolphins out at sea.

Coffee mug. If you’re a coffee lover (or a lover of any other hot beverage, for that matter), you’ll find a coffee mug pretty useful for ferrying your hot beverage around while keeping it hot.

Detergent. The majority of cruise liners will offer laundry services, but these are seldom free. Carry your own travel-size detergent for cleaning undergarments and swimsuits if you’d like to save on laundry costs.

Other items, not so essential

Soft Drinks (soda). Can be taken aboard Australian cruise ships. You may want to store some drinks for yourself in your cabin or to take off ports in a backpack or when you’re relaxing in your cabin.

Air freshener. In small cabins an air freshener is always a great idea to freshen small bathroom spaces or cabin spaces.

Zip-lock bags. Zip-lock bags allow you to carry small items and items that may leak in your bags and compartments. It’s a safe way to make sure deodorants; perfumes, make-up or medications are kept compact and safe.

Stain Remover. The worst thing is wearing an item of clothing with stains on it. A stain remover will ensure your clothing is kept free from stains.

Dryer sheets. Keep your clothes from getting lost in shared washers and dryers by using dryer sheets, not to mention having them kept clean, static free and smelling fresh.

Wrinkle eraser. To get the wrinkles out of your washed and packed clothes, especially formal gear taken onboard a cruise ship, as cabins don’t often supply ironing equipment.

Clothes pegs/pins. You’ll need pegs for hanging items of clothing and swimming gear to dry out and pins for pinning things with like clothing.

Wet wipes. You never know when you’ll need a wet wipe. Great for when you have children travelling with you and for any messy situations that occur and you’re nowhere near a bathroom.

Sticky notes. For busy families coming and going in and out of cabins, sticky notes are a great idea to leave reminders and notify others of where you are or what’s happening.

Highlighter pen. When you need to jot down information or highlight important notes on your travel info, take a highlighter, because they don’t carry these onboard.

Pop Up Hamper.  A collapsible travel hamper is compact to pack in your luggage and is great for storing extra items like clothes or even dirty laundry in your cabin and store things in when you’re exiting.

Extra Packing Tip

Pack everything you will require on the first day on board the cruise ship in your carry-on bag. Your checked luggage could take as long as six hours to be delivered to your cabin, and having some essentials with you in the meanwhile will spare you some headaches. Additionally, if your luggage is misplaced or gets lost during transit, you’ll have the things you need most as you wait for the issue to be sorted out.

Of course, none of this matters if you can’t remember it, so make a personal checklist that includes everything you want/need to carry. Lastly, enjoy your cruise and Bon Voyage!

What to pack for a cruise

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