While on a recent cruise, I started putting together a packing list for cruise vacations. These are things that are always in our suitcase when cruising or things that I forgot to pack and kicked myself about later. Even if you’re a veteran cruiser, you may find a few of these tips useful.
We also put together a handy printable packing list for cruise vacations. Click here to download the editable form and start personalizing it for your cruising needs.
Packing List for Cruise Vacations:
1. Clutch purse or wristlet – Not all of my outfits have pockets, so I now aways carry a little wristlet when cruising. It’s the perfect size for my Sea Pass, cellphone and lipstick. I use my phone as a camera, so it’s always with me around the ship. My wristlet also has a handy built in phone charger.
2. Lanyard – A must for kids to keep them from losing their Sea Cards and also frequently used by adults.
3. Tea Lights – These are great to put in the bathroom as a nightlight for little ones. It can be dark in the stateroom, especially in an interior cabin. These can be purchased from Dollar Stores.
4. Reusable Water Bottle – Perfect to fill up on the ship and carry around with you while exploring the port.
5. Plastic Clothes Pins – Keep bathing suits on the line and to weigh down a clingy plastic shower curtain. Another option for the shower curtain is binder clips.
6. Towel Clips – Great for keeping those towels on the chairs on windy days. Also great for kids to remember which seats are theirs.
7. Magnetic Clips – Ships are made of metal, so you can use these to hang up documents such as your Daily Planners and notes to family members. These are also great to hang up decorations if you’re celebrating a special event while onboard. If you have light objects that you may want to hang, such as the kids lanyards, magnet hooks are also popular with cruisers. I personally just use regular magnets and magnetic clips.
8. Highlighters – Bring a separate color for each family member to mark the activities they want to do as well as highlight other important information in the Daily Planner.
9. Travel Clock – Staterooms don’t have clocks. If you don’t want to use the alarm on your cellphone or rely on wake up calls, bring a travel clock. This can also help add a bit of light to a dark inside cabin. You’ll also want to ensure you have a watch for port days. You don’t want to risk missing the ship!
10. Wrinkle Releaser – You won’t find ironing boards in your stateroom (pressing services are offered for a fee). Hang your garment on a coat hanger and spray with wrinkle releaser then put the item in a steamy bathroom. Your garment should look like it was just ironed.
The exception to this is Viking Cruise line. They have laundry rooms with irons on the ship available (and free) for passenger use. You’ll also find payable self-service laundry rooms on Disney Cruise Line.
11. Shout Wipes – Bring Shout Wipes or another stain treater to help eliminate stains on clothing. You don’t want the stain to set for a week before it gets washed. I always carry these in my purse as well – kids can be messy!
Some cruisers also like to pack laundry detergent to wash clothes in the stateroom sink.
12. Adaptors – Many cruise lines such as NCL and MSC have various outlet configurations. The Norwegian Spirit had a US, European and UK outlet. Maximize your charging space by being prepared. I love our plug adaptor because it can adjust to fit different outlets. We also carry a 4-port USB adaptor for our electronics such as phones and iPads.
Please note that most cruise lines don’t allow power strips.
13. Walkie-talkies – Want to keep in touch with your kids or other cruisers in your party? Walkie-talkies can be used while on the ship since cellphones won’t work. Alternatives are leaving voicemails on the stateroom phone and leaving messages on the door with your location.
14. White Board – Bring a small white board and dry-erase markers to put on your stateroom door. You can write messages to other people in your cruising party about your location or where and when to meet-up.
15. Post-It Notes – I was so mad that I forgot my post-its on the last cruise! These can be used for leaving notes and are also great for covering up pesky lights on the A/C or TV. Does anyone else find those little blue or green lights maddening?
16. Hanging Toiletry Bag – A hanging toiletries bag is now a must for all my travels. On a cruise they are especially great where counter space can be limited. It will keep you organized and save space.
17. Sunscreen – Purchasing sunscreen on the ship will easily cost double the price as on land. Save yourself the money and pack your own. If you forget, try to find a store in port. Sunscreen always gets packed in my embarkation day carry-on bag along with swimsuits and flipflops, so the kids can enjoy the pool right away.
You’ll also want to double check all your other personal care items. Products such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and shaving gel are expensive onboard. While most cruise lines offer shampoo and shower gel in the stateroom, I find the shampoo quality to be suspect.
I’d also suggest packing moisturizer and chapstick (even better if it has SPF) as I find my skin dries out quickly when cruising.
18. Travel corkscrew – Depending on the cruise line you’re sailing with, you may be able to bring your own wine onboard. Pack a small corkscrew to avoid a corkage fee.
19. Underwater Camera – If you’re planning a snorkeling or beach trip, having a disposable underwater camera is great for kids. We now have a waterproof GoPro, but used to buy disposable cameras all the time.
20. Waterproof case or Otterbox Dry box – Another great buy if you’re planning excursions around the water is to have something to keep your phone and money dry during your adventures. I personally use an Otterbox Dry box and love it. My new iphone 7 Plus doesn’t fit in my old Otterbox dry box, so I’m purchasing the one I linked to above.
21. Laundry Bag or pop-up hamper – I always carry a laundry bag when traveling. As soon as we get our luggage on the ship, I unpack then slide the suitcases under the bed. Dirty clothes get put into the laundry bag (which we keep in the closet). Every couple of days, I’ll dump the dirty clothes into a suitcase.
A lot of cruisers swear by pop-up hampers. These fold down in your suitcase, so take up minimal space. Regardless of the method you choose, it’s great to have a spot for everyone to dump dirty laundry and keep it out of the way. Staterooms are small and keeping things neat will save your sanity.
I also suggest tying brightly colored ribbons to your suitcases. This will make finding your luggage when you disembark a lot faster. Have you seen how many black and dark blue suitcases there are?! It’s also great for spotting your suitcases in the airport as they move around the belt. Your luggage should also have tags with your name and information just in case the ships luggage tag gets ripped off.
*If cruising on a ship with a rock climbing wall, ensure you have tennis shoes. These are required to climb.
Make sure to print our packing list for cruise vacations as well. It’s editable, so you can adjust the list to suit your needs. Simply download the PDF and edit the the items YOU need to pack for a cruise. I’ve given you a guide and the pretty form, now you can personalize the list.
Regardless of the itinerary, there are some things that you’ll want to take on every cruise. I know how easy it is to forget the little things. That’s why we put together this handy packing list for cruise vacations. If you have other must-pack items, please share them in the comments.