Check out my list of 42 items I pack for every cruise, including some you may not have thought of! All of the items listed fit neatly into a medium-sized suitcase.
Hey, y'all! Every cruiser has their own list of must-have items. My family has been cruising for the last 22 years. In that time, I've come up with a list of must-have items that I pack for every single cruise. One of the questions that I get asked most frequently about cruising is, "What should I pack?" I've come up with a list of items I packed and have even shared with you how I pack, but the items on the graphic below aren't the only things I bring along.
The list above covers just the basics of cruises. There are some other items that I must have when I cruise. Things ranging from an insulated cooler and insulated travel mug to air freshener, binoculars and a small fan. Amazingly, all of these items can fit into a medium-sized suitcase, if you pack them right!
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Documentation & IDs + copies!- In order to cruise, you'll need either a passport or your original birth certificate and driver's license. Before I cruise, I always make 2 copies of these documents, as well as a copy of my credit card, to keep just in case. I've lost my driver's license in St. Maarten before, although I was allowed back on the ship, it was quite the process!
Camera- Don't forget your camera! You're about to see some absolutely incredible places, make sure you have all of your camera gear so you can share your experiences with others. You'll also need chargers, SD cards, backup batteries and any extra lenses you may have.
Underwater Camera- Under water cameras are great for snorkeling and beach excursions. They are well-priced and will save you from worrying about your regular camera. Do yourself a favor and invest in one of these bad boys!
Wrinkle Release Spray- Just in case you aren't a packing queen like I am, you may want to have some of this stuff handy! Check out my How to Pack for a 7 Day Cruise for tips on keeping your clothes wrinkle-free.
Hoodie- The ship can get cold at night. Not just in the shows but sometimes on the deck as well. I always pack along a light hoodie.
Walking Shoes- Do yourself a favor and pack walking shoes. These are great to have when walking the track, using the gym and on many outdoor excursions. In fact, they are a requirement on some excursions such as horseback riding and ATVs. If you've been eyeballing the SkyCourse on the Breeze, Magic, Sunshine and Vista, you'll need them as well.
Medications-It's best to pack a little bit of everything when you travel. I bring along medications such as ibuprofen, antacids, allergy pills, seasickness pills (just in case), pain pills and even cold medicines (summer colds are no joke!).
For the Cabin:
Fan- Although you may have a thermostat in your cabin, chances are adjusting it won't do you much good. If you like to sleep in a cooler room, or are one who likes falling asleep to the sound of a fan, you might want to consider packing a fan. My parents bring one similar to this on every cruise. It collapses so that it is easy to pack and does a great job circulating the air.
Extra Hangers- I always pack a few extra hangers with me when I cruise. Whether or not you will need them will depend on the type of clothing you pack. If you only need a couple of hangers, you could always ask your cabin steward to hook you up with some.
Air Freshener- Let's be real here, the cabins aren't very roomy and we're all going to eat a ton of the ship...foods that our bodies aren't used to. Do yourself, and your cabin mate(s) a favor and pack air freshener.
Power Strip- It's no secret that there are only a handful of outlets in the cabins. This is a huge hassle come elegant night when everyone is trying to get ready! Make sure your power strip is not a surge protector, as these are often confiscated.
Magnetic Hooks- Newsflash! The walls of your cabin are magnetic! Packing magnetic hooks is a total game changer. They are a great place to store hats, lanyards, bathing suits, and whatever else you can dream of. Since storage always seems to be an issue in cabins, this is a necessity.
Shower Hooks- This is one of the newer items on my packing list. Don't worry...yes... your cabin's shower has a shower curtain, but what it doesn't have is a ton of storage space, especially if you have more than two people in your cabin. These hooks can go over the towel bar in the bathroom, or over the bar in the closet to give you extra storage space. They are great for holding wet bathing suits, hats, tank tops, etc.
Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer- I find myself using this item less and less but if you are traveling with more than 2 people I strongly suggest packing an over-the-door shoe organizer. Some cruise lines will not allow you to use these in the cabin because they have caused damage to the doors. If you use the heavy duty magnetic hooks above, they hold the organizer on the wall really well. These are great for storing hats, sunscreen, aloe, medications, flip flops, hair brushes and other odds and ends. It helps keep your counterspace clear, which is an added bonus!
Nightlight- Nightlights aren't just for kids, especially when cruising! These are awesome to have in the bathroom at night. Spare everyone else from being woken up by an obnoxious blinding light by packing a nightlight!
Sticky Notes- Heading to the pool? Want someone to meet you at the comedy club? Use sticky notes to communicate with your travel companions.
Lightweight Backpack- You'll need somewhere to stash all of your gear when you're in port. Make sure you bring along a backpack to store everything.
Ponchos- Ponchos take up almost no space in your suitcase and are a lifesaver when you're caught in the rain in port. I keep a couple handy in my excursion bag just in case.
Gallon Size Bags- Heading to the beach? Of course, you are. Ziploc bags are an excellent, cheap way of containing your wet bathing suit.
Insulated Cooler- Insulated coolers are great for excursions! It is super important to stay hydrated while you're outdoors playing in the sun. Your cabin steward can keep you stocked with ice to help keep your beverages nice and cold!
Mini-First Aid Kit- These are a great thing to take with you when you go ashore. You never know if you may need it!
Phone/Passport Dry Pouch- These dry pouches are new to my list but after my recent trip to the Western Caribbean, I swear by them! The day before I left, I went out and purchased a new iPhone X and brought my old iPhone along to test out in one of these pouches. They worked great! My phone stayed dry, even when I took it in the water with me when I swam with sharks! It was easy to access the camera underwater and my equipment stayed dry! #winning
Snorkel Gear- Another one of my new purchases is a full-face snorkel mask. Make sure you read the reviews before purchasing them as there are some concerns about how safe these are to use. I have to admit, I had a full-on panic attack the first time I wore one of these in the water. I'm not sure if it was the mask or the life vest I was forced to wear but my claustrophobic behind lost it! The second and third time I wore it, I didn't have any problems.
Insect Repellent- Depending on where you're cruising, you may want to bring along some insect repellent. This is basically a must if you're going to be in Alaska or plan on spending time in the jungle (Mexico, Belize, etc). I use Bullfrog brand because it is a combination of sunscreen and repellent.
Dollar Bills- Singles are always handy for tipping people for their services. Think room service, porters, tour guides, taxi drivers, bus drivers, etc.
Coffee Mug- The size of the coffee mugs on the ships is laughable. I always bring along a Yeti-style travel cup when I cruise. They are great for keeping your coffee hot in the morning and your drinks cool by the pool. Just please, do us all a favor and use the glasses at the beverage stations to fill your cup. Keep your germs to yourself.
Wine/Corkscrew/Bottle Stopper/Leakproof Wine Bottle Protector- Did you know that each person traveling is able to bring on a wine or champagne bottle? It has to be a 750 ml or less in size. Check on my A Wino's Guide to Cruising for more info!
Lanyard- On the first day of your cruise, you'll be issued a Sail & Sign card that you will use for your room key and any onboard expenses. It is also used to check out towels on the pool deck, sign out sporting equipment or inquire about your account. Keeping up with this card can be a pain but if you bring along a lanyard, you can simply toss the key around your neck and forget about it.
Highlighters- Each day you will have a newsletter delivered to your cabin letting you know about the ships activities. I like to pack a highlighter so I can mark the things I am interested in. If you are cruising with Carnival, check out the Carnival HUB app before you go. The Fun Times is available via the app and you can digitally mark the items you're interested in.
Games- I always pack a few games. We may not always use them, but they are great to have on hand, especially if it happens to rain. I threw a hell of an impromptu party after meeting some people on a catamaran tour in Nassau. I had Twister packed and it was a huge hit with my new friends!
Tide Pen- I have to be honest, I'm a hot damn mess. It's inevitable that I'm going to get food on me at some point during the trip- in fact, it may or may not be a daily occurrence in my world. Tide Pen's are an excellent thing to have on hand just in case.
Binoculars- If you have a balcony, or love looking for wildlife, I suggest packing binoculars. If you're cruising to Alaska, don't even second guess it! We saw a ton of whales, seals, eagles and other wildlife from our balcony.
Sun Screen, Chapstick & Aloe- Don't be the person who misses out on all of the fun in the sun because they turned into a lobster on day one! Do yourself a favor and lather up with sunscreen and protect your lips with Chapstick. It's always nice to have Aloe just in case.
Wristwatch- Clocks are almost non-existent on ships. Unless you plan on toting your phone everywhere, bring along a wristwatch. When you're in port, you'll be on cruise time. Having a wristwatch is the ONLY guaranteed way that you will stay on ship's time. If your phone switches over to local time, you could arrive back on the ship too early...or too late. Don't be that person.
Sarong- I never travel without a sarong. I have used them as a bandage, sling, towel, pillow, bathing suit coverup, bag, padding for breakables, etc.
Towel Clips- These little guys are super handy to have if you're planning on spending time at the pool. Not only will they prevent your towel from blowing away, but it will also mark your territory so nobody snatches your lounge chair.
There you have it! My list cruising "must haves". What is on your list? Drop your must-haves in the comments below. Be sure to give me a like on Facebook or follow me on Twitter for more travel tips, tricks and advice. See you next time!