Cruise Packing Tips & Hacks for Newbies (and Not-so-Newbies!)
**Please note that this post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience. All opinions are my own. Pinkie swear**
Hey, y'all! Over the last decade, I've become sort of a cruise expert. I've been on more than 10 cruises visiting destinations taking me all throughout the Caribbean and Alaska. I just booked another cruise that will take me on one of my favorite itineraries (Mexico, Belize, & Honduras) for next spring. I'm not telling you all of this to brag, I'm simply showing that I truly am an expert on the matter.
In the last 10 years, I've learned a thing or two about cruising and I would love to share some tips and tricks of the trade with you to help make your cruise all that more enjoyable. I should state that I sail exclusively with Carnival, however, a majority of my tricks, or hacks, can be useful to any cruise line.
One of the most common questions I get asked about cruising is, "What should I pack?"
Packing is going to look different for everybody. For instance, if you have to fly into your departure port, you'll be working with weight and baggage restrictions from the airlines. Trust me, I know that's a pain! I dealt with it, and made the best of it, when I flew from Florida to Seattle for my trip to Alaska. Fortunately, I live in The Sunshine State and have the ability to cruise out of 4 different Floridian ports, all within driving distance. This makes packing a breeze!
Below is a list of things that I always pack when I cruise. Trust me, these items have made my life much, much easier! Feel free to click any of the photos for product information, reviews and purchasing.
Over the Door Hanging Organizer- If you're a heavy packer, or sharing your cabin with others, you'll want a bit of additional storage in your cabin, especially if you're in an interior cabin! Cruise lines have done their best to maximize storage in the cabins but often times, it simply isn't enough. By bringing along an over the door hanging organizer, like one of the ones pictured here, you give yourself extra storage. I packed one similar to the organizer on the right. I hang it over the bathroom door and keep things like my hair straightener, aloe, medications, socks, undies, flip flops, shampoo, etc. You can load this thing down with all kinds of things! You can also look into the organizers that tie at the top, rather than use a bracket to hang, if your cruise line has banned this item.
Yeti or similar tumbler- This is one of the first things that I started packing when I first began cruising. The cups that the cruise line provides for you are pretty freaking small. I have room service deliver me a carafe of coffee first thing in the morning and load my Yeti with coffee and creamer. The coffee stays hot a lot longer than the cruise line cups and I'll have plenty of coffee to get me through the morning this way. Later in the day, I load my Yeti up with ice and fill it full of juice from the Lido deck to enjoy while I'm poolside. This is a must, in my opinion! Make sure that you are courteous to other cruisers and use a clean cup to fill your tumbler.
Games- Wait, you pack games for a cruise? You're darn skippy I do! You'll actually probably be able to find some games on the ship (check the library) but I love packing games for sea days. Admittedly, I'm not much of a partier these days. Several years ago you'd find me in the ships clubs and bars dancing until all hours of the night. These days, I'm more likely to turn in early or organize a game night. On our last cruise to Alaska, we had a game night during one of our Sea Days. It's a great way to pass the time! One time, I invited a group of people that I met on an excursion in The Bahamas to join me for a game of Twister. Can I just tell you that was one of my best cruise memories? Check out my list of our favorite games! One game that I love bringing along is LCR because it is compact and can be turned into a drinking game or be played for money. I often take the games out of their boxes and pack them in a Ziploc to save space.
Sharpie- Sharpies a great thing to have on hand when you travel. If you're traveling with your little ones, you can use them to write your phone number on their wrist just in case you get separated when you're in port. I collect a green rock from every place that I visit. I use the Sharpie to label where I got the rock. I do not recommend using the marker to write your cabin number on your key. If you happen to lose your card, the finder will have instant access to your cabin! Instead of writing my number on my key card, I write the cabins of the people I'm traveling with on the back of my card.
Gallon Size Ziploc Bags- These are great to have on hand! I take bags with me on excursions for storing wet bathing suits. They are also nice to have to pack away stinky socks and used underwear. I also like to use them to house my phone and other items I don't want to get wet while at the beach.
Small Collapsible Cooler- If you ask, your cabin steward will keep this stocked with ice for you! These are great to have on hand to keep your bottles of water or other beverages cold throughout your cruise. They are nice to have on hand in your cabin and during shore excursions.
Extra Hangers- Be sure to pack extra hangers! You'll want to be able to hang all of your evening wear!
Power Strip- If you think that storage is a problem in your cabin, wait until you realize how few electrical outlets you have! Power strips are a must in my opinion. You'll be glad you packed one when you need to charge all of your electronics or get ready for elegant night!
Digital Clock- Believe it or not, you cabin will most likely not have a clock. This is completely intentional, but a little impractical considering how early many of the excursions leave. Sure, you could always schedule a wake up call, but make your life a little easier and pack a digital alarm clock.
Lanyard- Pack a lanyard with you. It will make it easier to keep up with your room card! I like this Cruise Junkie one because it is detachable.
What are some of your cruise "must haves"? I'd love to hear what you bring along on your cruise vacations!