21 Essentials to Pack for Your Cruise

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Essentials to pack on a cruise

Packing for a cruise can be a little different than other vacations.  I’ve compiled a list of essentials for your cruise and some items that could be used for any vacation.

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Cruise Ship packing

As my family prepares to take another cruise, I started thinking about some items that we’ve discovered over the years to be really convenient and helpful.

I’ve compiled a list to share with all of you so you can have the best cruise possible.

(Our preferred cruise line is Royal Caribbean so those are the ships that I reference in my posts.)


Cruise Luggage Tags

You might be thinking… but I already have luggage tags!  I’m talking about plastic holders for your “cruise” tags.  Once you get to the port, your luggage will be taken and you won’t see it again until it’s delivered to your stateroom later that day.  We print out our personalized luggage tags from the Royal Caribbean website before we leave home.  They will have all of the information needed for the luggage delivery guys to get your luggage to you.  Usually you just staple or tape them on but the plastic holders give some added protection so your luggage doesn’t get lost.




Motion Sickness Bands/Medicines/Patches

Motion sickness is somewhat unpredictable so I recommend some sort of aid even if you don’t think you’ll need it.  They always have it in the giftshop but it is pricier than if you bring it yourself from home.  We have been on many cruises where it got a little rocky and people started looking a little green.  The sea bands are great since they don’t expire and can be used over and over.



Towel Clips

Being out in the middle of the ocean can make the top of the ship a little windy… or sometimes a lot windy.  Towel clips hold your towel down to the chair so it’s not constantly falling down on you or blowing away.  If you plan to spend time laying out or hanging out by the pool, I highly recommend getting these.



Waterproof Case for Smartphone

Whether you are on the ship by the pool or going out on a smaller boat for an excursion, keeping your smartphone safe from water damage is important.  These waterproof cases are perfect to hold your phone so you can keep it safe no matter what activity you’re experiencing.




Cruises are not known for spacious rooms or bathrooms.  Spending a week in that small area with your family can get smelly fast if you know what I mean.  This spray is used before you use the bathroom and takes away any bad smells that might linger out into the main room.




Hanging Toiletry Bag or Hanging Shower Caddy

Again, little space means you have to find ways to create storage in other areas.  A hanging toiletry bag or shower caddy keeps things organized and off the counters.



Folding Clothes Hangers

Since the rooms are small, there isn’t room to leave your luggage laying out in the room.  The best thing is to hang your clothes in the closet and use the drawers provided.  We have been on many cruises where there weren’t many hangers left in the closet.  These folding hangers will be great for hanging up your clothes and won’t take up much room in your suitcase.




Power Strip and USB Charging Station

Outlets are minimal in your cruise cabin so a power strip with USB charging station will be perfect, especially if you have the whole family in one room.



Passport and Document Organizer

Losing your passport or documents can really take a vacation from exciting to horrifying.  Keep everything together in an organizer so nothing gets lost.  My sister’s friend went with my family on a cruise once and accidentally threw her birth certificate away in a magazine at the airport.  She had put it in the magazine to keep it safe, forgot about it, and then threw the magazine away thinking she was finished with it.  Luckily, they dug through the trash and found it but it could’ve ruined everyone’s time.



Cruise Lanyard

On most cruises, you will have a card (Royal Caribbean calls it a SeaPass card) that serves a lot of functions.  You are asked to keep it on you at all times.  They will be used in an emergency to make sure everyone is accounted for.  You can tie your credit card to your account and your cruise card is then used for purchases throughout your trip.  They also are the key to your room, and on some new ships, you slip them in a slot in your room to turn on the lights.  A lanyard that holds this card makes keeping track of it simple.



Waterproof Pouch with Waist Strap

Kind of like the waterproof smartphone case but this carries more and it goes around your waist.  If you are thinking of doing any excursions near water, this will ensure all of your valuables are kept dry.



Heavy Duty Magnetic Hooks

Magnetic hooks are great for hanging on the walls (walls are metal) to provide more space to hang things.




Water Shoes

Water shoes are great for toddlers but also might be good for the whole family depending on your planned excursions.  Babies and toddlers that are not potty trained, will more than likely not be allowed in the pools.  Most ships have a splash pad that they can play in and water shoes are great for these areas.  Traveling with a baby?  Check out my tips for taking a cruise with a baby.


Here are some basics that you don’t want to forget:

Pen- I know it sounds crazy but there are usually no pens in the rooms.  You used to have to fill out your customs documents on the ship and we could never find a pen.  The gift shops usually carry them but they are made as souvenirs so they aren’t cheap.  Most can do their documents through an app now but just in case, bring a pen.  You might also want it to leave notes, mark on your daily schedule (Cruise Compass on Royal Caribbean), etc.

Highlighters- Highlighters are great for marking activities going on each day in your daily schedule (Cruise Compass on Royal Caribbean).  Different colors can be used for each person.

Sunscreen- Don’t forget to pack the sunscreen.  I have been burnt many times in the Caribbean and Mexico even with sunscreen on.  Make sure to pack a high SPF sunscreen even if you don’t think you’ll use it.

Sunglasses and Beach Hat- Sunglasses and beach hats are also great things to take to protect your eyes and skin from the sun.

Beach Bag- A beach bag is a must if you plan to get off the ship and go to the beach or go on an excursion.  It’s also nice to have even if you are just laying out by the pool.  You’ll need something to carry your cards, sunscreen, towel clips, and anything else you want to take to the pool with you.

Medicine- It never fails, every time we go on a cruise I get a cold and medicine on the ships isn’t cheap.  Bring a small pill case full of various medicines that you may need for headaches, acid reflux, tummy troubles, colds, allergies, etc.

Band-aids or First Aid- You can usually get first aid items from employees on the ship but it’s easier to just carry some of these items yourself.  You never know when someone will get a blister or small cut.

Light Jacket/Pants- Depending on where you are going and when, a light jacket and/or pants might be good to take.  Even if you are going to the Caribbean, the ship can get a little cool at night outside.  It can also be a little chilly for some in the theaters and other areas of the ship.


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