Cruise 101: What to Pack & What to Leave at Home

When it comes to traveling, I am a big fan of trying to get everything into a carry-on suitcase. I have not always been that way, but the more I travel the less I want to deal with baggage. This is especially true when it comes to cruising. If you have never cruised before, or even if you have, it is very easy to overpack. Especially, since you never know what you are going to face.

In addition to packing your main suitcase, I highly recommend packing a “day pack” for your embarkation day. This bag should include all the essentials you will need until you can gain access to your stateroom later that day. The day pack should include items like passport and cruise documents, money (cash and/or credit card), medications, swimwear, change of clothes, and minor toiletries.

Below are a few cruise packing tips to keep in mind on what to pack and what you should leave at home.

What to Pack

  • Power Strip – Most of the rooms only have one or two outlets, so I highly recommend adding a small power strip to your bags so you have a place to charge all your devices.
  • Towel Clips – Boat decks can be very windy making towels unwieldy. Purchase a set of towel clips to help keep your towel locked down as you soak up the sun while at sea. These clips will do the trick, but I particularly love these fun clips by Boca Clips.
  • Travel Clothing Steamer – Irons and Ironing Boards are not allowed on the ships, in fact, they are not even provided. If you are packing some items that will need to be refreshed, packing a travel clothing steamer (like this one) will come in handy.
  • A Watch – A watch will help you keep track of the time and make sure you don’t miss your ship from port. You will be operating while at sea on “ship time”, or the time zone of your ship finally left, and sometimes cell phones don’t know your timezone.
  • Lanyards – Ladies, this will be a life-saver when it comes to keeping up with your room key. Trust me. I recommend getting one with a hook. You can buy it in advance or onboard.
  • Spare Luggage – If you are planning to take advantage of the shopping while on your cruise, you may want to pack an extra piece of luggage in your check bag to bring back your purchases. I personally love this collapsible travel duffel bag.
  • Deck of Cards/Travel Board Game – Not all days are going to be sunny, so make sure you have something to entertain you and your party when you can’t find something on the day’s itinerary you want to see/do.

What to Leave at Home

  • Towels – Your room will include towels that you can take with you to shore or to the pool, and you can also check them out while on deck.
  • Extra Books – Unless you plan to spend all port time on the ship, then you really won’t need the extra book. Consider swapping books with others in your party or checking out the on-board library. Another alternative is packing an e-reader to help cut down on the weight.
  • Hair Dryer – Like hotels, your stateroom will provide one so there is no need to pack one. Or consider doing a heat-free week.

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a FREE cruise packing list, and check out these first-time cruiser tips. Also, don’t forget to check the packing lists provided by your cruise line to get a sense of the dress code.

Sign Up for FREE Packing List

* indicates required