Cruise Packing List: Can’t Decide What to Bring on Your Next Cruise?

cruise packing list
Ships in port in St. Maarten

Are you a first-time cruiser? Worried you might not have everything you need for your cruise? There are some basics you’ll need to bring with you and you can find them all here in my cruise packing list. Going on a cruise is a wonderful experience. Now I’ve got my sea legs, we’ve already been looking at the next trip. We may even consider getting our own small yacht for mini trips. Of course, we will have to make sure we installed rv marine batteries for ultimate reliability at sea.

cruise packing list
Where’s your cabin?

I promise you, however, that you won’t need four suitcases and three carry on bags for a 7-day cruise, unless you’re the type of person who likes to also pack a vacuum (similar to this to keep your cabin tidy while you’re on board. The lighter you pack, the happier you will be so don’t stress out and try to bring your entire closet with you as you really won’t need it.

The Basics

These items on your cruise packing list are items you can’t live without during your cruise:

cruise packing list
Don’t forget your passport

Your passport: Some people will travel with a copy of their official birth certificate, but keep this in mind. If for some reason you need to fly back home due to an emergency either on the ship or at home, you’ll need your passport. You should make a few copies of these and leave one at home with a family member that you can contact in case of an emergency if you lose it. One copy should go with you and you can leave a copy in the cabin safe. If you lose your passport, you’ll be able to take the copy with you to get a replacement.

Your cruise paperwork: When you book your cruise, you can then view your reservation online. You can add on specialty dining reservations, spa appointments, and excursions. Then read and print out your cruise paperwork to cut down time at the port.

Travel insurance paperwork: When you travel the unexpected can happen and it’s best to be prepared. Choose a travel insurance plan that will cover you for missed connections, lost luggage, medical evacuation, and not just the absolute minimum. The cost of your plan is based on your age and the cost of the trip and is more than affordable. I never travel without it.

Health insurance ID cards: When outside of the US, should you require medical attention, you won’t be able to present your health insurance card and receive service. However, you should bring it with you to contact them to find out how to submit your claim upon your return back home.


Money: Seems obvious on a cruise packing list, but don’t forget to bring plenty of one dollar bills for tipping. You can never have enough when you are taking a cab or at a restaurant/bar. This is true for many ports you will visit in the Caribbean where they will accept US currency.

Credit cards/debit cards: You can always take money out of an ATM in the country you are visiting so you don’t have to exchange currency. Check with your bank to see if they have arrangements with banks in other countries. In Cabo, I found out a bank that I could use with my own bank and not get charged extra fees.


cruise packing list
Don’t forget to pack your medications

Medication: If you have a prescription medication, don’t forget to bring it with you. I usually use a pill container to pop any vitamins, etc. in and just bring that. I always bring Advil or Tylenol, a small first aid kit in case of a minor emergency, and Pepto Bismol tablets in case anyone has an upset stomach.

Seasickness medication: Whether you’ve cruised before or not, you really should pack some form of seasickness medication. You can either try to ward off seasickness with things like seasick bands or patches (available by prescription only) or medication you can use after you become sick like Bonine. Some all-natural remedies include taking ginger and eating green apples. This is a must have item for any cruise packing list.


cruise packing list
Makeup kit

Makeup, shampoo/conditioner, comb/hairbrush: This may seem so obvious, but there is nothing worse than forgetting one of these items from the cruise packing list. I happen to like my own shampoo and conditioner and do not want to forego them while on a cruise. The same is true for all of the other items. Let’s just say I would have to hide in my cabin without these things.

Toothbrush and toothpaste: I hate to admit that I have forgotten to pack this in the past so now it is usually one of the first things I pack.

Deodorant: Need I say more?

Suntan lotion: Even if you don’t think you will burn, bring it with you no matter where you go on your cruise. Better to be safe than really, really sorry.

Glasses, Contacts, Luggage Locks and What Else?

cruise packing list
Don’t forget your glasses!

Glasses/contact lenses: Seems pretty obvious, but if you need them — double check that you packed them. I went on a cruise and forgot my glasses that I only wear at night and I was miserably blind creeping around my cabin. It wouldn’t ordinarily be so bad, but in an unfamiliar place it was simply hard.

Luggage locks: Not only are these a necessity when flying, but they are necessary when traveling in general. If you have items that won’t fit inside your room or cabin safe, simply put them inside your luggage and lock them. The harder it is to steal something, the less likely someone will do it. You can lock the luggage and place it under your bed, too.

Jewelry: Don’t bring all of your best jewelry onboard, especially since there are so many places to visit and shop for jewelry on your cruise!


cruise packing list
Did you pack your GoPro?

Your electronics and accessories: When I travel, I usually bring my laptop or iPad, iPhone, cameras (one pocket camera, my big Nikon, and a video camera). That usually means lots of cables for charging items and accessories. Forget one of them and you may feel your vacation is ruined so don’t forget them.


Clothing: Without fail, most people overpack and bring far more clothing than they will ever use on a cruise. Even with a cruise packing list, people will still always overpack. With airlines charging for checked luggage, lots of people are rethinking how to pack for a cruise. Try to find separates that you can mix and match throughout your cruise. Believe me, no one is going to comment if they see you wearing the same shorts two or three times during your cruise. If you like dressing up, be sure to bring fabulous evening attire. There are plenty of cruise lines that still celebrate evening wear.

Bathing suit: Some people bring more than one and and that’s up to you, but definitely make sure you put at least one in your bag. In fact, I always like to put it in my carry on, which allows me to jump in the pool if my checked bag doesn’t arrive in my cabin until much later in the day.

cruise packing list
Loads of flip flops

Comfortable shoes and/or sandals: Depending on your destination, you might need sandals or shoes or both. Don’t obsess about bringing your entire closet and instead try to find shoes and sandals that are multipurpose. Munro has plenty of pairs of sandals which are both stylish and comfortable, plus you can shop for Munro shoes online which will save you time in the lead up to your trip. They are fit for both the beach and for dinners, so they tick the multipurpose requirements.

Packing Cubes

cruise packing list
Packing cubes from ebags

Everything from the Basics list but for all of my clothing and shoes gets packed into my carry on bag so I know that I have it on my person. I will usually put at least one change of clothes in my carry on in case for some strange reason my checked bag goes missing. In addition, when packing my suitcase, I will pack them using the packing cubes I mentioned in an earlier blog post (Must Have Travel Accessories), which makes packing an absolute breeze.

Since I usually arrive to the cruise port the day before my cruise, I will pack my suitcase with my packing cubes with all of my clothing for my trip and then lay on the top the clothes that I plan to wear the day of my cruise. This way I don’t have to dig through everything to find just the right thing to wear. Saves time and a whole lot of frustration!


cruise packing list
Alarm clock?

Alarm clock: Although this goes against everything I believe in when it comes to vacation, some people need to know the time and want to wake up at certain times. Add this to your cruise packing list and pack an inexpensive alarm clock. Alternatively, do like I do and use the one on your phone as an alternative.

Nightlight: Some people don’t like to cruise without one, but others like their cabins to be pitch black (me!). If you need one to navigate your cabin, you can usually pick one up at a drugstore or supermarket.

Purell or other hand sanitizer: The last thing you want to do on your vacation is to get sick. Clean your hands as often as you can using the ship’s Hand Sanitizer stations, but it doesn’t hurt to carry a bottle yourself. With cruise ships essentially being confined spaces, many of their operators take the initiative to protect their guests from becoming ill, and subsequently spreading it around to others, by installing Sani Stations in key locations around the ship.

Room air freshener: Why? The cabin sizes on a cruise ship are small, much smaller than you would expect or like. Sometimes there are leftover smells from previous cruisers, sometimes there are smells in the hallway or on the balcony from smokers, and sometimes there are just bad smells in your cabin. This is a quick fix that will result in fewer fights in your cabin guaranteed.

Clothespins: This is one of those little tricks that we use on every cruise. After a workout or a swim, we can hang our clothing on our balcony furniture and secure them with clothespins. Alternatively, you can hang them in your shower as well, but the clothespins definitely keep them secure while they are on the deck.

Highlighter: This is Mr. TSG’s favorite item on the cruise packing list. He likes to highlight the activities in the ship daily activity paper that he might want to participate in.

Convenience Items

Slippers: This may sound strange, but consider the number of people who have walked around in your cabin before you. If you worry about how clean the carpeting may be, consider bringing a pair of slippers with you or just wear a pair of sandals in your cabin.

Reading material: As we are now in the days of iPads and Kindles, bring one to help you pass the time while at the pool or at a beach. If you don’t want to do that, visit the ship’s library and indulge yourself in a little poolside reading.

cruise packing list
Time to relax on a beach somewhere!

Your first cruise will be one you’ll always remember and you’ll probably seriously overpack your luggage as well. Once you return home from your cruise, immediately assess how you packed and make a note of it for your next cruise so you don’t make the same packing mistakes. Did you need to add more or take away from your cruise packing list?

cruise packing list
Cruise Packing List: Can’t Decide What To Bring On Your Next Cruise?

You’ll find many other cruise packing list articles online so choose wisely and decide what’s best for you. Regardless of how much you pack, definitely enjoy your cruise. Do you have any must haves for your cruise that you would like to share here on the Travel Shop Girl website? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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