Heading off on a cruise soon? Don’t forget to pack these 23 essential items to ensure a smooth and enjoyable voyage. This comprehensive guide has got you covered from must-have essentials to handy items you have never thought of. So grab your checklist, and let’s dive right in!

What to Pack for A Cruise – The Standard Cruise Packing List

Cruise Towel Animals - What to pack for a cruise

There are many items that you will need to pack for your cruise. We have created a printable cruise packing checklist to help you make sure you have covered all your basic needs covered, from swimsuits to your formal wear.

Your destination will determine what to pack for a cruise; however, be sure to update your cruise packing checklist with any items that may be missing.

23 Essential Items to Pack For Your Next Cruise

Cruising is very different from your traditional vacation. There are many unique items to pack for a cruise that you may have never thought of. Since cruises put you out to sea for multiple days and have you visiting ports that may or may not have stores, you must ensure you have packed everything you need.

We have been on many cruises all over the world on many different cruise lines. Below are some cruise packing tips we have come up with to help you know what to pack for a cruise.

1. A Power Strip with NO SURGE PROTECTION

Space is not the only thing limited on a cruise ship, plug outlets can be hard to come by on some older ships. With so many devices that require power, more outlets may be needed.

The power strip CANNOT have surge protection, or it will not be allowed on the ship. The strip below by Tessan is the exact one we have been using with no issues on Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Carnival Cruises and Virgin Voyages. It has four plug outlets and three USBs with a 5ft cord (some models have 10ft and 15ft cords). Again, be sure not to pick the model with a surge protector; it will not be allowed on the ship.

NOTE: Lately, some cruises have been taking away ANY corded power strip, with our without surge protection. This happened on our latest sailing on Icon of the Seas as well as our last sailing on Virgin Voyages.

2. Control The Stink with Poo-Pourri

Most cruise ship cabins do not have vent fans inside their bathrooms, which can leave a very unpleasant scent lingering. If you have an inside cabin or sea view, you cannot air out your cabin. Picking up a bottle of Poo-Pourri can be a life and marriage saver! There are many different scents to choose from. Simply spray the water in the bowl with Poo-Pourri Toilet Spray before using the toilet to prevent odors before they begin!

3. Pool/Beach Tote Bag

One of our biggest mistakes on our first cruise was needing a pool/beach tote bag. Whether heading up to the pool or heading out to the beach on a port day, you will need a bag to toss your sunscreen, towels, towel clips, and other beach items into. We prefer mesh bags that will let sand and water drain out. Below is the one we have used on many cruises.

A Must Have
SRISE Mesh Beach Bag - Large Tote Bag for Family
$12.99
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4. Swimsuit Cover up

Sitting in or by the pool makes for a fun day. However, if you want to head to the buffet for a snack, you will need something to cover up with. Pick your favorite cover-up, and know that you can quickly stop by the pool on your schedule and still enjoy the rest of the ship.

5. Sunscreen

Don’t let a sunburn ruin your vacation! When on the ship, the breeze, tropical air and sun can cause you to quickly burn without noticing. Ensure you cover with sunscreen whenever you are out in the sun. Be sure to check which ports you visit; some ban certain sunscreens with certain chemicals.

6. Aloe for Sunburn Relief

Fun in the sun makes for a fantastic day until the sun burns your skin because you were having too much fun that you forgot to reapply the sunscreen mentioned above. Aloe Gel is an excellent way to soothe your skin from that burn. This is a must-pack item for any sunny cruise. This item can sometimes be found on the ship in the shops; however, it is usually pricey and in limited quantities.

7. Cruise Lanyards

Your cruise card is not just your room key on a cruise, it is also your ID and method of payment. It is much easier to keep this handy by using a lanyard. These are the lanyards that we have used through the years to keep our cards close and easy to find.

Retractable Cruise Lanyards, Waterproof Cruise Lanyard with ID Badge Reel Holder
$9.99
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8. Luggage Tags

Nothing is more frustrating than getting to your room and finding your luggage missing because the paper luggage tag ripped and came off. These luggage tags have reinforced grommets and steel wires to ensure your tag isn’t going anywhere. Ensure you are buying the correct size. Tall and narrow are for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, and other cruise lines; you can use the wide size.

Cruise Luggage Tags for Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Cruises 2023-2024
$5.99
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9. European to US Power Adapter

While there are US-based plug types on modern cruise ships, there are also additional European Type-C plugs. If you plan to take cameras or other items you may need to charge. Having one or two of these adaptors will allow you to utilize all the outlets and more in the room.

10. Towel Clips

Keep your towel attached to your chair with these handy towel clips. These come in handy for keeping your towel rolled up and bound as a pillow or from blowing away while you are in the pool. We recommend packing 2 per person in your travel party. When thinking about what to pack for a cruise, these clips are often the item we forget, and when that gust of wind rolls in, we really wish we had them.

Plastic Clothespins, Beach Towel Clips to Keep Your Towel from Blowing Away (3Pcs Blue)
$7.99 ($1.33 / Count)
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11. Wrinkle-Release Spray (TSA Compliant)

Formal night is usually during a day at sea, and there isn’t always a way to press your nicer clothes. Packing a travel-size wrinkle release spray allows you to dress your best and impress those around you.

12. Sunglasses

Bring out those stylish shades to block the sun while you are in the pool, on the beach, or just enjoying the outside eateries on board. Sunglasses are one of the best ways to beat the sun and feel comfortable outside on sea days.

13. Over-the-Counter Medicines

Everyone gets occasional headaches, stomach aches, or other ailments on a trip. Don’t forget to pack your usual set of medicines from your cabinet. My preferred way to pack them all is in this pill organizer.

Holii Travel Pill Organizer, 8 Compartments Portable Pill Case
$5.57 ($5.57 / Count)
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14. Dramamine

Sea sickness is a fear of so many when heading on a cruise. Dramamine has a few different options to help combat that. We prefer the non-drowsy version so that we can enjoy the day without worrying about that queasy feeling. They also make a less drowsy and dual-action formula as well.

15. Travel Sized Containers for Liquids

If you have a flight leading up to your cruise, it is a great idea to use the TSA size containers to bring your favorite hygiene products. Cruising alone does not require TSA size, but we wanted to cover this since you might have to fly to a port.

16. Cash Money

Cash is king, especially if you are cruising in America, the Caribbean or even Mexico. Believe it or not the US Dollar is still king in these places as well. So don’t use your debit or credit card and pack cash to spend. You will protect yourself from potential fraud, and still enjoy the city. Also, pack cash to tip your porters, wait staff and room attendants for doing an amazing job.

17. Hard Sided Luggage Set

Anytime I plan to check a bag it is my hard shell spinner that I use to pack with. Hard shell luggage is just much more durable than fabric luggage. The other tip for luggage sets is that you will have your luggage delivered to your room, but sometimes it ends up in the hallway and not at your exact door, so bright colored tags or luggage makes your bag unique as you look for it.

18. Hand Sanitizer

There is never enough hand sanitizer for cruises. Stay well and healthy by washing often and sanitizing often. Attach these to your beach bag, your purse, your belt loop. Use it often, and hopefully your trip will be a healthy one.

19. Magnetic hooks

Did you know that all the walls in your stateroom are magnetic? This allows you to use magnet hooks to hang things like hats, towels, swimwear, bags, etc. These hooks are small but mighty and we use them every sailing.

LOVIMAG Neodymium Strong Magnetic Hooks, 25 Lbs Rare Earth Magnets
$4.39
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20. Mask and Snorkel

Heading to the Caribbean or Mexico on a cruise and there will be lots of opportunities to snorkel. You could rent from the ship, but honestly, these are less expensive than rental and you can use them on every trip you take and multiple times on the same trip.

Check out our guide to Perfect Day at CocoCay for some great spots to snorkel while visiting Royal Caribbean’s private island.

21. E-reader

As an avid reader, I always have a book in my hand, and e-readers have made it that much easier to take with me on a trip. Did you know that Kindle now has a waterproof e-reader? Well now you can enjoy your books and your pool day at sea together.

22. Travel / Board Games

Meeting people and hanging out is so much fun on a cruise. Having a card game or other small game makes it enjoyable. Packing a game like Uno Splash lets you have fun without the worry of ruining a game with rain or water by the pool, however, any game that doesn’t take up much luggage space will do.

Mattel Games UNO Splash Card Game with Waterproof Cards and Portable Clip
$13.95
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23. Themed Attire

Check your cruise schedule ahead of time. Most cruises have Carribean night, Formal Night, and so much more. Slowly build up your collection of fun outfits to wear to these parties.

Frequent Questions When Packing For A Cruise

How many bags do I need for a 7 day cruise?

Typically, for a 7-day cruise, it is recommended to bring one large suitcase and one carry-on bag per person.

With some cruise lines, you must keep your carry-on with you for the first few hours until your room is ready to drop off your bag. Your checked large suitcase will be delivered to your room later in the afternoon on embarkation day.

How do you know what to pack for a cruise?

There are many items that you will need to pack for a cruise. Since a cruise ship is out to sea, you need to know what to pack for a cruise since going to a store is impossible.

We have created a printable cruise packing list which can be combined with the items listed above to make sure that you have everything you need to pack for your next cruise.

How many outfits to pack for a 7 day cruise?

Here is a general guideline for packing outfits for a 7-day cruise:

– Casual outfits for daytime activities: 4-5
– Dressier outfits for evening events: 2-3
– Swimwear: 2-3
– Undergarments and pairs of socks: 9
– Sleepwear: 7
– Comfortable shoes: 2-3 pairs
– Formal attire (if required): 1-2
– Outfits for themed events/nights: 1 per theme

Keep in mind that these numbers can vary based on personal preferences and the specific activities planned during the cruise.

What are you not allowed to carry-on cruise?

You are not allowed to carry firearms, explosives, flammable substances, or illegal drugs on a cruise ship.

You can not bring anything that conducts or creates heat, such as but not limited to, curling irons, hair dryers, heating pads, or clothes steamers. There should be a blow dryer in your state room.

You can not bring a surge protector or any extension cord with surge protection.

You can not bring drugs, including marijuana and CBD, or drug paraphernalia. 

You can not bring drones.

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