Embarking on a cruise can be an exciting and memorable experience, filled with the anticipation of exploring new destinations and enjoying onboard amenities. However, amidst the excitement, it’s crucial to remember the importance of how to pack for a cruise properly. The right packing strategy can greatly enhance your comfort, convenience, and enjoyment during the voyage, while improper packing can result in unnecessary stress and inconveniences.
Taking your time to pack and ensuring it’s done right can make a significant difference in how smoothly your experience unfolds. From essential items to clothing choices, having a well-thought-out packing plan in place is key to a successful and hassle-free adventure. We provide a detailed cruise packing list guide to make sure you are ready to pack for a cruise and make the most of your vacation.
Table of Contents
Cruise Packing List
Cruise Packing Tips
Clothes for Daytime
Clothes for Evenings
Port Day Attire
Toiletries, Medications, and other Travel Gear
Getting to and From your Cruise
Frequently Asked Questions
Cruise Packing List Summary
Use this as a guide for your packing checklist:
- Essential travel documents: Passport or identification, cruise tickets, boarding passes, travel insurance, and any other relevant documents. These can all be stored in the safe in your cruise ship cabins upon embarkation from your cruise terminal.
- Clothing: Pack enough clothes for the duration of the cruise, including casual daytime outfits, formal or semi-formal attire for dining, swimwear, and accessories like hats and sunglasses. A laundry bag is also a good idea for your dirty clothes.
- Toiletries: You should find shampoo and soap in your cruise cabin already stocked, however, the rest of your toiletries will be up to you. Bring travel-sized bottles such as toothpaste, sunscreen, and moisturizer. Don’t forget any prescription medications you may need.
- Electronics: Camera, chargers, power banks, and any other electronic devices you may need. It’s handy to bring a cruise line approved power strip or a waterproof phone case.
- Cruise-specific items: Consider packing items such as a reusable water bottle, a lanyard for your cruise card, a beach towel, and a small day bag or tote bag for shore excursions. Cruise companies often provide beach towels on private island days. This is a good tip for your first cruise to help save you packing space.
- Money and valuables: Bring cash, credit cards, and a small amount of local currency for ports of call. Don’t forget to pack valuables such as jewelry, watches, and electronics in a secure manner. Make sure the credit card companies know in advance you will be using your credit card in multiple countries if that is what your itinerary dictates
- Personal items: Items like a hat, sunglasses, body lotion, a swimsuit cover-up, and a book or e-reader for relaxation.
- First aid kit: Include basic medical supplies such as band-aids, pain relievers, motion sickness medication, and any necessary prescription medications.
- Miscellaneous items: Don’t forget items such as sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a reusable shopping bag for souvenirs or snacks.
Remember to consider the specific itinerary and activities of packing, and check on the cruise companies website for any specific guidelines or restrictions. Taking your time to pack properly and ensuring you have all the essentials can greatly enhance your cruise experience, allowing you to relax and enjoy your time on board and at the ports of call.
Cruise Packing Tips
- Research the cruise companies dress code: Different cruise lines have different dress codes, so be sure to research and pack accordingly. Some cruises may require formal or semi-formal attire for certain dining venues or events, while others may have a more relaxed dress code.
- Pack a carry-on bag: Pack a small bag that carries on with essentials like medications, important documents, a change of clothes, and any valuables. This will come in handy in case your checked luggage is delayed or misplaced.
- Use packing cubes or organizers: A packing cube or organizers can help keep your clothes neatly organized and maximize space in your luggage. You can group items by type or outfit to make it easier to locate what you need during your cruise. Packing cubes offer excellent organizational help.
- Bring a refillable water bottle: Staying hydrated is important, and having a refillable water bottle can help you save money on purchasing bottled water on board. Many cruise ships have water stations where you can refill your bottle throughout the day.
- Consider the dress code for specialty dining venues: If your cruise includes specialty dining venues, check their dress code and pack accordingly. Some restaurants may have specific dress requirements, such as no shorts or flip-flops.
- Don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent: Depending on your cruise itinerary, you may be spending a lot of time outdoors. Be sure to pack sunscreen and insect repellent to protect yourself from the sun and bugs.
- Pack a swimsuit cover-up or sarong: A swimsuit cover-up or sarong can be handy for going to and from the pool or beach, or for wearing as a casual dress for a quick meal or stroll around the ship.
- Bring a small day pack for shore excursions: A small day bag can be useful for carrying essentials like sunscreen, a hat, a camera, and snacks during days at shore or port visits.
- Check the cruise companies prohibited items list: Cruise lines may have restrictions on certain items like irons, candles, or other potentially hazardous items. Be sure to check the cruise companies prohibited items list and pack accordingly to avoid any issues during embarkation. A night light for children is a great idea. When you begin packing electronics, make sure to add to your cruise packing list a small cruise ship approved power strip the can plug into your cabin bathroom electrical outlet.
- Pack a travel-sized first aid kit: Having a small first aid kit with basic medical supplies like band-aids, pain relievers, and motion illness medication can be handy in case of any minor emergencies during your cruise. Otherwise you can always ask the cruise staff for minor things like band-aids or tylenol.
Clothes for Daytime
When packing for a cruise, it’s important to start with the basics: what you plan to wear each day. Daytime clothing on most cruise lines is casual, including shorts, T-shirts, jeans, sundresses, casual tops, and slacks. However, the level of formality may vary depending on the cruise ship’s style and destination. For upscale or luxury cruise ships, you may want to opt for more fashionable and stylish daywear, while destinations like the Middle East or Asia may require clothing that covers shoulders and knees when visiting religious sites.
Consider the destination and weather when choosing your clothing. For a Caribbean cruise, pack plenty of beachwear such as bathing suits and cover-ups, while cold weather cruises in Alaska may require rugged clothes for hiking and warm layers for changing weather. It’s always a good idea to pack a jacket or a short-sleeved top for unexpected weather changes, regardless of the destination.
If you plan to stay active on your cruise by hitting the onboard gym or going biking in port, don’t forget to pack activewear, including socks. Keep your dirty clothes separate and learn to hang clothes in your closet to dry out. For those traveling in a group, consider planning matching outfits for group photos, such as group T-shirts or color-coordinated outfits for everyone from the kids to the grandparents.
When it comes to packing for a cruise, it’s also important to pack enough underwear and plan for one outfit for each day or consider doing laundry on the cruise ship. Look for ways to reuse pieces and save space by dressing up tops with skirts or pants for dinner, or wearing the same dress with different accessories on different occasions.
Double-check your packing list to ensure you have all the essentials, and remember that packing for a cruise is not just about style, but also about being prepared for the destination, weather, and activities on board.
Clothes for Evenings
Different cruise lines have varying dress codes for dinner attire, with some, like Norwegian Cruise Line, adopting a relaxed attitude where you can come as you are, while others, especially upscale ones, have stricter dress codes for the main dining room on formal night. Evening wear on cruise ships generally falls into two categories: resort casual and elegant.
For casual nights, think of a date-night style with women wearing casual dresses, skirts, blouses, or nice slacks and tops, and men opting for Polo or button-down shirts with slacks. Some cruise lines may allow jeans in the evening, which can be paired with cute tops and nice shoes.
On elegant or formal nights, cocktail dresses, suits, ties, and jackets are commonly worn. However, if formalwear is not your preference, you can choose room service or dine at the buffet or a casual restaurant to skip dressing up. Keep in mind that certain luxury cruise lines may have dress code requirements for certain restaurants or entertainment venues on formal nights.
Don’t forget to pack outfits for cruise ship theme nights, which are popular among cruisers. Themes such as white night, pirate night, or Halloween are common, and cruisers often go all-out with costumes. Check with your cruise line in advance to see which theme nights or parties will take place and pack accordingly. For example, you may want to bring an eye patch or swashbuckling hat for Disney Cruise Line’s Pirate Night, a white sundress for Norwegian Cruise’s White Hot Night, or neon leggings for Carnival Cruise’s ’80s night.
Lastly, don’t forget the ultimate evening wear – comfy pajamas! Especially if you’re sharing a cabin with family or friends, packing comfortable sleepwear can ensure a good night’s sleep on your cruise.
When packing for a cruise, it’s easy to get carried away with footwear alone when packing a carry-on. A must-have basic is a pair of comfortable walking shoes that can be worn on the flight, the ship, and for walking in port.
For different activities on the cruise, you’ll want to pack sneakers for athletic activities, flip-flops for the pool and beach, and dress shoes for dinner. Ladies, try to match your outfits, so you can minimize the number of heels you need to bring. You might also want to consider casual or athletic sandals, hiking boots, or water shoes for rocky beaches. Once you’ve packed all your clothing, it’s time to think about accessories.
During the daytime, both men and women will want to bring hats, such as a sun hat or warm hat depending on the destination, and sunglasses. If you’re going on a cold-weather cruise, scarves, gloves, and waterproof gear may also be necessary. Keep in mind that packing lists may vary for unique destinations like Antarctica, so be sure to check with your cruise line for specific recommendations.
Don’t forget to bring belts, jewelry, and ties for evening dress. And don’t be afraid to have a little fun with your accessories, after all, you’re on a cruise! Bringing a day bag for carrying essentials around the ship, such as a book, water bottle, and cover-up to the pool deck, can be convenient. A small purse for carrying your key card, lipstick, and tissues at night is also a handy addition. Some people prefer to bring a lanyard to keep their cruise room key card easily accessible.
If you enjoy walking around with your morning coffee or tea, keep in mind that to-go cups may not be readily available at the buffet unless you’re willing to pay extra for a latte or espresso. Packing a travel coffee mug can be a practical solution to enjoy free beverages on board. Additionally, bringing a reusable water bottle can help reduce plastic waste and save money on buying bottled water, as you can easily fill it up at the buffet or a bar.
Port Day Attire
Depending on your cruise destination and planned activities in port, it’s important to pack specific items to enhance your experience. No matter where you’re headed, a sturdy yet lightweight backpack is essential for carrying everything you want to take off the ship with you. Look for one with mesh pockets on the side to conveniently store a water bottle.
In particularly scenic destinations like Alaska or Scandinavia, first check the weather forecast and then consider bringing binoculars and/or a DSLR camera instead of relying solely on your phone for photos. Don’t forget to pack accessories such as extra batteries, chargers, and memory cards to ensure you capture all the breathtaking moments.
For beachy cruises, a beach bag is a must, along with sand toys for the kids and possibly your own snorkeling gear. Wet bags or plastic zip-top bags can be handy to prevent your wet items from leaking onto other belongings when returning to the ship. If you plan to participate in water sports like kayaking, consider bringing a dry bag to safely store your camera gear, smartphone, and wallet to keep them dry. Waterproof cases for your cellphone and camera can also be useful, as well as “beach wallets” that allow you to keep your credit cards and cash on your person while enjoying the water. Many cruise lines provide towels for beach days.
Toiletries, Medications, and other Travel Gear
Cruise ships, much like hotels, usually provide soap and shampoo in the cabins, and some may even offer conditioner and body lotion. However, it’s difficult to predict how well your hair will respond to these onboard products or if you’ll dislike the scent.
To be on the safe side, it’s recommended to pack your own toiletries. Bring more than you think you’ll need, as it can be challenging to find your preferred brands in foreign ports, and cruise ships tend to sell essentials at inflated prices. It’s also wise to avoid buying certain items on cruise ships or in ports.
In addition to hair products, remember to pack toothpaste, a toothbrush, and floss; glasses, contacts, and contact lens solutions; a razor and shaving cream; makeup, facewash, and moisturizer; and any feminine products you may require.
Although hand sanitizer stations are typically available throughout the cruise ship, it’s still advisable to bring your own hand-sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer gel.
Sunscreen is a must, especially if you plan on swimming in the ocean. Look for reef-safe versions to protect marine life. Bug spray is also handy, particularly in Alaska, where mosquitoes are humorously referred to as the state bird.
If you are prone to motion sickness, don’t forget to pack seasickness remedies such as patches, pills, ginger candies, or acupressure wristbands to keep yourself comfortable during the voyage.
Make sure you have your cell phone turned to airplane mode unless you are paying for the wifi service.
Getting to and From Your Cruise
For many cruisers, flying or road tripping to their departure port is a necessity, as not everyone lives close to a cruise port. When preparing for long or overnight flights to your cruise, it’s important to pack accessories for the plane, such as a neck pillow, eye mask, or noise-canceling headphones to make your journey more comfortable. If you have planned a pre-cruise hotel stay, consider packing the essentials for that overnight stay in a separate bag to avoid having to unpack and repack your main suitcase.
In addition, don’t forget to pack your tablet, portable video game system, and e-reader for both your pre-cruise travel and the sailing itself. Make sure to bring all the necessary charging cables as well. Alternatively, if you prefer a more traditional form of entertainment, bring along a few books, as some cruise ships no longer offer onboard libraries.
It should be emphasized that it’s your responsibility to pack all the necessary travel documentation, including your cruise/flight/tour tickets, passport book or passport card (or birth certificate), and visa paperwork. These items should never be packed in your checked bags. Always keep them in your carry-on luggage so they are easily accessible and less likely to go missing during your travel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q) How many outfits should I pack for a 7 day cruise
A) As a general guideline, it’s recommended to bring at least one outfit per day for a 7-day cruise. However, this can vary depending on personal preferences and the activities planned during the cruise. Here’s a rough estimate for a 7-day cruise:
7 daytime outfits: This can include casual clothing for exploring the ship and participating in onboard activities, such as shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, swimwear, and activewear.
7 evening outfits: For dinners and other evening events, you may want to dress up a bit with items such as dresses, skirts, slacks, blouses, and collared shirts.
1 or 2 formal or semi-formal outfits: Some cruise lines may have formal or semi-formal nights where more formal attire, such as cocktail dresses or suits, may be required or recommended.
Extra clothing for specific activities: If you plan on engaging in specific activities such as gym workouts, yoga classes, or themed parties, you may want to pack appropriate clothing for those activities.
In addition to clothing, don’t forget to pack for a cruise with essentials like underwear, socks, sleepwear, and any accessories or footwear that complement your outfits. Items like a laundry bag or power strip can help keep organized and keep your cell phone fully charged. It’s also a good idea to bring a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings or air-conditioned areas on the ship. Keep in mind the weather and destination of your cruise when planning your outfits. A beach bag is a must for families with little kids. Lastly, be sure to check the dress code and any specific guidelines from your cruise line to ensure you are packing accordingly.
Q) What is a cruise packing list?
A) This is simply a useful checklist to help you pack for a cruise. Clink on the link for a printable version: Cruise Packing Checklist
Q) Can you pack full size toiletries for a cruise?
A) Cruise Lines should provide cruise essentials like shampoo and soap/body wash. You can pack full size toiletries if you like but must abide by airline regulations for what can be packed in your carry on or checked baggage.
Q) What should you carry on a cruise ship?
When packing a carry-on bag for a cruise ship, it’s important to include essential items that you’ll need on hand during embarkation day and in case your checked baggage is delayed. Here are some items to consider packing in your cruise ship carry-on bag:
1) Travel documents: This includes your passport or birth certificate, cruise tickets, boarding passes, visa paperwork (if applicable), and any other important travel documentation.
2) Identification and money: Bring your driver’s license or other form of identification, credit cards, cash, and any necessary currency for the ports of call.
3) Medications: Carry any prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and necessary medical supplies in your carry-on bag.
4) Electronics: Include your phone, tablet, e-reader, or other electronic devices, along with their chargers, power banks, and adapters if needed.
5) Personal care items: Pack a travel-sized toiletry kit with essential items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, travel-sized shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, and any other personal care items you may need.
6) Change of clothes: Pack a change of clothes, including underwear, socks, and sleepwear, in case your checked bags are delayed or you want to change after boarding the ship.
7) Swimwear: If you plan to hit the pool or enjoy other water activities on embarkation day, pack your bathing suit in your carry-on bag.
8) Sunscreen and sunglasses: Bring sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun while on the ship or during shore excursions.
9) Snacks and water bottle: Pack some snacks and a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated and have snacks on hand during embarkation day.
10) Entertainment: Bring a book, magazine, or other forms of entertainment to keep yourself occupied during embarkation day or in case of delays.
Remember to check with your cruise line’s specific regulations and restrictions on carry-on luggage size, weight, and prohibited items, as they may vary. It’s also a good idea to pack valuables, important documents, and any irreplaceable items in your carry-on bag to keep them safe and easily accessible throughout your cruise. In your cruise cabin closet you will have a mini safe. This is a great storage space for your most important valuables and documents.
Creating a comprehensive packing for cruise list is an essential first step for ensuring an enjoyable cruise vacation. Taking the time to carefully plan and pack all the necessary items, including clothing, accessories, toiletries, and travel documents, can greatly contribute to a stress-free and comfortable cruise experience.
Whether it’s preparing for onboard activities, shore excursions, or travel to and from the cruise port, having a well-thought-out cruise essentials packing list can help you stay organized and fully prepared for your cruise adventure. So, make sure to create your cruise packing list and embark on your voyage with confidence, knowing that you have everything you need for a fantastic vacation at sea!
Check out our article on the Best Cruise Lines.