6 Packing Tips For Your Cruise

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”  -Susan Heller

There are two types of travelers in my house.  One traveler starts to pack a few weeks before the trip, making sure that we have all of the must-haves to make our trip comfortable.  The other traveler is famous for packing the night before we leave for a trip and has become a legend because he once traveled without packing shirts.  (True story!)  Which traveler are you?

No matter which packing style you claim, these are a few packing tips that I recommend for your next cruise.

Don’t leave home without it

There are some basic and essential documents that you will absolutely want to make sure that you have close at hand for your cruise before leaving home.  Remembering these will ensure that you actually get onto your ship with very little fuss.  Make sure that you don’t leave home without these:

-Passports for everyone in your party.

-Any paperwork required by your cruise line such as a Sea Pass (or load your cruise line’s app onto your phone).

-The cruise line issued luggage tags (to ensure that your luggage meets you at your stateroom) or in case your tags get ripped off in transit, be sure that your suitcase is clearly tagged as yours.

Pack a tote or Backpack

After dropping your suitcase with porters at check-in, it may take a while for your suitcase to follow you to your stateroom so packing a bag with anything you will want as soon as you get on board is a great idea.  That gear might include any valuables or important medications that you’d like to keep close, swimsuits, and other gear you might want if you’d like to jump into the open pools and spas, or maybe just a comfortable change of clothes and your flip-flops so you relax after a long travel day.   

As we cruise, I use a tote or backpack to throw supplies into before we head up to the pool deck or as we leave the ship for an excursion.  A bag of some type is a great place to drop a book or tablet, sunscreen, sunglasses, your sea pass, camera, or any other gear you’d like to have with you as you plan to relax.  I try to select a bag that my husband will be willing to help me carry on excursions. 

At the end of your cruise, you will have options regarding how to get your suitcases off of the ship.  Do you want to walk off with your luggage or would you prefer the ship staff to collect your suitcases the night before so you can collect them in the terminal as you come off of the ship?  We choose to have our suitcases collected on the last night of our cruise.  For that last night, I keep minimal supplies that we need to get dressed the next morning including any valuables, toiletries, and any vital supplies like medications and our Pass Ports.  For the minimal supplies we keep, my trusty tote helps me to get them off the ship.  If we drove to the terminal, that tote is tossed into the backseat or if we’re flying, I will not hesitate to open my suitcase and put any of these supplies back into my suitcase.

Pool gear

The whole reason that most people love cruising is the escape to somewhere warm and tropical.  That likely means that you will find yourself relaxing in a hot tub, splashing in a pool, or burying your toes on a sandy beach at some point.  Don’t forget to pack the gear you will need to have fun.   

-Bathing Suit(s)

-Sunscreen (take care of your skin, especially if this will be your first time in the sun for the season)

-Cover up to wear from your room to your pool or hot tub of choice



-Towel Clips (to keep your towel secured to your chair)


-A good book

3 Items that make our cruises easier or more comfortable

Lanyard: If you have one already, pack it.  I take a lanyard for my sea pass card so I don’t lose it and to that, I add my ID as we leave the ship for shore excursions.  If you don’t have a lanyard, you can buy one on board.

Ear Plugs: This might be a strange suggestion to some and don’t get me wrong, Cruising is usually a relaxing way to travel.  But over the years, we have cruised with very noisy neighbors and we have had a rear-facing suite directly under an all-night lounge (which we called the “Boom-boom room”)so we know that getting a good night’s rest on a cruise ship can be a challenge.  I also enjoy having the ship to myself in some ports but if you’ve never stayed on the ship in port, you don’t know that the crew often does their safety drills on port days.  This can often mean repeated, rather loud announcements over the Public Address system that breaks the peace and quiet you might be hoping to find on a port day.  No worries though, these drills don’t go on for too long but they can be loud. On sea days, the pool spaces and solariums are crowded.  You may experience your neighbors chatting loudly around you or a live band playing loudly at the poolside making for a less than ideal reading or napping environment.  A pair of earplugs could muffle all the commotion around you enough that maybe you can enjoy your time on deck too.  I make sure to pack a couple pairs of earplugs, just in case.   

Raincoat: A light raincoat is always a great addition to your travels, no matter what vacation you take.  In the tropics, rain shower some and go quickly so a raincoat is a great addition to your suitcase.  For us, it’s a “just in case” item that I consider essential when packing for any trip.  If you don’t use it, GREAT!  

“Formal attire”

When I was a kid, my grandparents enjoyed cruising.  In those days, cruising was much more formal than it is now.  My grandmother wore her beaded gowns and my grandfather wore a tuxedo to dinner.  That is not for us!  We are not formal people and we don’t enjoy being fussed over.  Thankfully, formal night on today’s cruise ships can be as formal as you want or if you’re like us, you can skip it.  If you enjoy getting all dolled up, just remember to pack all the pretty stuff and have a great evening! Oh, and if you don’t get dressed up that often at home, you might consider grabbing a ship’s photographer to document the event.  

Items to avoid packing for your cruise

Hairdryer: the cruise line will provide a hairdryer for you and if you don’t see one, ask your room steward.  No need to worry about packing your own. 

Extension cords or gang plugs: Fire on a cruise ship is a major concern so anything that could spark or overheat is strictly forbidden.  If you’ve packed an item like this and it is discovered in your luggage or carry-on, the cruise line will confiscate these items and hold them for you to claim at the end of your trip.  Plugs are limited in your stateroom so if you have multiple devices to charge, consider a charging block with multiple USB outlets.   If you need an extension cord for a medical device such as a CPAP machine, be sure to fill out a special needs form well before your cruise through the cruise line’s website and speak with your room steward once on board. 

Heating pads: Again, fire is a concern with something like a heating pad so if discovered, it will be confiscated and held for you to claim at the end of your cruise. 

The best part of a cruise is that once you’re on board, you can unpack and “move in.” Most new cruise ships have good closet and drawer space so there is room for all of your stuff.  I must confess that taking too many shoes is an area I have yet to master when packing for a cruise.  But no matter where your cruise takes you, I hope this list helps you as you get ready for your vacation. 

Enjoy your cruise!