Cruise Packing Tips and Lists

   November 23, 2015 ,   Tips & Tricks

Cruise packing tips are probably the most important of all cruise help ideas. Here we offer you first-time cruise packing tips - for beginners. These suggestions will save you time and a lot of unpleasant surprises.

Generally, cruise travel deals offer affordable to cheapest prices on long or short itineraries. There are numerous ships with convenient departures from major homeports, great staterooms (including connecting), various dining and entertainment options, super fun activities. However, the sea voyage often is a combined "air land and sea" travel adventure, therefore LIGHT PACKING is essential for your best vacation. After all, it's a travel vacation, not an appointment for a fashion show, nor a survivor challenge.

Cruise Packing Tips - CruiseMapper

First-cruise packing tips - what TO pack and NOT to pack for cruise travel

  • Prepare and follow a list of what you are going to take along your trip.
  • Check if the airfare is included in the cruise price. Cruise lines usually offer both with the savings being passed on.
  • When arriving at the embarkation port by air, check the airline restrictions (luggage size and weight policies).
  • Buy a durable hard-side suitcase, with built-in locks; a backpack for shore excursions. Label each piece of luggage with name and phone number.
  • Use money belt for items of crucial importance, which are: documents (passport, Green Card, visas, cruise documents, boarding pass, e-tickets, air tickets, coupons/discounts, driver's license, hotel reservations), money/ATM cards, valuables, all the keys, hotel/port directions, emergency phone numbers, itinerary, luggage tags.
  • Pack heavy items (shoes, toiletries, chargers, etc.) at the bottom of your suitcase.
  • Don't pack beach towels (they are provided onboard the cruise ship as well as when going ashore).
  • Don't bring bottled water (the tap water onboard the cruise ships is drinkable).
  • You could use the cruise ship's laundry service, thus reducing the size of your luggage.
  • Have a supply of one-, five- or ten-dollar bills for tipping.
  • Don't pack photo films or memory cards in checked luggage due to the airport screening procedure - put them in the carry-on.
  • Before leaving home, turn off the phone ringers and set up the answer-machine. Or simply turn off the phone.
  • Request an "Authorization To Hold Mail" card from the post office (you can retrieve your mail after your cruise vacation).
  • Anti-thieves advice: don't bring expensive jewelry on your ship cruise vacation, especially on the shore excursions.
  • Store your valuables in the ship purser's safe rather than in the cabin safe.
  • Bring a duck tape roll (for emergency luggage repairs, marking your luggage at the terminals, etc.).
  • Take the binoculars with you when touring museums, cathedrals and other historical buildings for a better examination of their details and elements.
  • Liquor must be placed in the checked bag.
  • Sunglasses with full UV protection, sanitizing wipes with active ingredients beyond just alcohol, skin protection lotions (the sun is also reflected off the water - on boat trips and shore excursions, at beaches; use sunblocks with high UV and AB protection ratings).
  • Bring In our opinion, some of the absolutely "must takes" are the "Thank You Cards". If you're satisfied with your steward/waiter's service, you can give them a card (usually with an added tip) to let them know that you appreciated what they have done for you to feel more special while onboard.

Packing tips on clothing

  • Examine the dress code policy of your cruise line. Some cruise itineraries are more casual (the Caribbean, for example), some are more or less formal and strict (like Europe).
  • The ship vacation is just like any resort-based vacation, so pack casual, comfortable, wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying clothes (lightweight microfiber, preferably dark-colored), swimsuits and workout outfits (for pools, saunas, health clubs, etc.)
  • According to the kind of shore excursions you may take, pack appropriate accessories (backpack, hiking boots, rain gear, fleece jackets, snorkel gear, etc.)
  • Plastic zip-lock bags for dirty/ wet clothes, an empty soft bag for souvenirs.
  • Basic clothing: sandals, sleepwear, shirts/T-shirts, shorts, socks, sneakers, sweatshirts, sweaters, safety pins.
  • If you're very concerned about gaining weight on your cruise vacation, pack some special workout clothes for exercise/outdoor activities while on the ship.

Packing electronics

  • portable computer (reading materials, maps, guides, media, etc.). Most cruise ships now feature Wi-Fi connections.
  • cell phone (it can be used as alarm clock, media player, radio), noise-canceling headphones, e-reader, outlet extender, AirTags/Bluetooth tracker
  • portable device charger, USB wall charger, wireless earbuds, phone case wallet, clip-on phone camera lens
  • cameras / camcorder (memory card(s), spare batteries/ charger)
  • small flashlight, binoculars
  • a power strip (an extension cord) for low-wattage items to cover all the places in the cabin (on most ships the smaller cabins have only 1 power outlet in the cabin and 1 in the lavatory)
  • waterproof Bluetooth speaker
  • bringing a plug-in surge arrester is also advisable concerning personal electronics.

Packing medications

  • Neo/Aspirin, pain relievers, band-aids, motion sickness & diarrhea remedies, anti-itch cream, anti-nausea meds, insect repellent, rash guards.
  • cough/eye drops, earplugs.

Packing for cruising with infants

  • Take baby carrier for visits to self-serve buffets, pool deck, onshore excursions.
  • Pack wipes, disposable and swim nappies, also your kid's favorite toys.
  • Take a few jars of extra baby food - some companies provide selected baby food, but if your baby is finicky better be prepared.
  • Take a ready-to-feed variety of small bottles if your toddler is on formula. Larger bottles are also fine as most probably you'll have mini-fridge in the cabin.
  • If your baby is on powdered formula, know that bottled water on the ship is pretty expensive.
  • Soap and shampoo for babies are not provided on the ship.
  • Just in case, take baby medications - fever reducers, pain relievers, your pediatrician's name, and contact details.
  • Upon request, most companies provide complimentarily (or at a daily fee) high chairs, cots, safety bars for bunk beds in cabins.

Cruise Packing List

An exemplary packing list for cruise could be merely a suggestion, due to the uniqueness of each vacation - destination, shore excursions (tours), company, vessel, voyage's duration, travel season, activities you intend to participate in, the kind of person you are, etc.

Types of BaggageItems
  • Underwear
  • Undershirts/bras
  • Socks/stockings
  • Dress shirts
  • Casual shirts
  • T-shirts
  • Sleepwear
  • Swimsuits/cover-ups
  • Skirts, Dresses
  • Shorts, Pants, Jeans
  • Sweaters/sweatshirts
  • Coats / jackets / rainwear
  • Formal wear
  • Dress shoes (suitable for dancing)
  • Walking shoes
  • Hiking / athletic shoes
  • Leisure shoes
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Belts, Ties, Purses
  • Under-clothing document holders
  • Collapsible totes
  • Jewelry (put in a carry-on if valuable)
  • Laundry bag, Laundry kit (stain remover, soap)
  • Hats, Scarves, Gloves
  • Umbrella
  • Reusable Water Bottle
(checked) TOILETRIES
  • Toothbrush / Toothpaste / Dental floss
  • Face lotion / Face cleanser / Sunscreen
  • Nail set / Clipper / File / Tweezers
  • Moisturizer
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Contact lenses / solution
  • Bandages
  • Shaving supplies
  • Shampoo / conditioner
  • Hairstyling appliances
  • Makeup / makeup remover / deodorant
  • Insect repellent
  • Brush/comb
  • First-aid ointment
  • Medications / pain relievers / vitamins
  • Feminine-hygiene products/birth control pills
  • Phone
  • Plug adaptor
  • Electronics chargers
  • Emergency contacts
  • List of medications
  • Laptop / Tablet
  • Binoculars / telescope
  • Credit cards/bank contacts
  • Copies of passports /visas/travel documents/insurance
  • Proof of vaccines/COVID testing
  • Cash money
  • Credit cards / ATM cards
  • Insurance cards (medical, travel)
  • Tissues Passport / Visa / ID Address book
  • Paper books / e-books
  • Media player
  • Light snacks
  • Earbuds/headphones
  • Empty water bottle (fill post-security)
  • Pashmina/travel blanket
  • In-flight medications
  • Travel pillow
  • Valuables (jewelry)
  • Maps / Itinerary / cruise port terminal directions
  • Earplugs/eye mask
  • Camera/memory cards
  • Guidebook
  • Lip balm
  • Paper / pen
  • House keys

Cruise Packing List for Women

There are certain types of women. While "predictable" is definitely a male adjective, "unique" is totally female. Here are some guidelines about the packing for a standard cruise ship travel - clothing and footwear for women, according to the cruise ship dress code requirements.

cruise packing list for women -CruiseMapper

Clothes packing list for women

  • FORMAL Dress Code - nightgowns, high/ low heels, pantyhose, purses, business cards.
  • CASUAL Dress Code - skirts, sports shoes, exercise shorts, T-shirts, blouses, shorts (with pockets), underwear (bras, panties, slips), pajamas, swimsuits, sandals / flip-flops, cap / hat, scarfs, sunglasses, in cold climates: gloves, winter hat, sweatshirts, warm jacket or coat, windbreaker.

Packing checklist for women

  • portable computer / charger, extension cord
  • cell phone / chargers
  • camera / camcorder (memory card(s), spare batteries / charger)
  • media player/radio (with headphones)
  • hairdryer, hair bands, clips, shower caps
  • toiletry kit (Q-tips, makeup remover, cotton balls, toothbrush/ toothpaste, shampoo/ conditioner, brush/ comb, etc.); zip-lock bags, spot remover
  • cosmetics (perfume, lipstick, moisturizer, etc., sunscreen lotion), women shaving kit, nail kit, sewing kit
  • collapsible umbrella, reading glasses (optional), swimming gear (optional)
  • medicine/ vitamins (antiseptic cream)
  • insect repellent.

IMPORTANT: Nowadays, all airlines prohibit sharp objects in carry-on bags, so pack such items in the checked luggage. Mainstream lines forbid high-heels onboard their ships.

Cruise Packing List for Men

A ship travel packing list for men could also be just exemplary.

cruise packing list for men - CruiseMapper

Clothes packing list for men

  • FORMAL Dress Code (Clothing and Footwear) - tuxedo, dark business suit (optional), shirts, accessories, belt, shoes & socks (black), business cards.
  • CASUAL Dress Code - Clothing and Footwear
  • sport coat, jacket (considering the cruise destination and the season)
  • shirts (preferably cotton/ polyester), blouses, ties, belt
  • shoes & socks, pants, slacks, T-shirts, sports, shorts, underwear, swimsuits, pajamas
  • sandals/ flip-flops, cap/ hat, sunglasses
  • in cold climates: gloves, winter hat, sweatshirts, warm jacket or coat, windbreaker.

Packing checklist for men

  • portable computer/charger (Internet; reading materials, maps, guide books, media)
  • an extension cord
  • cell phone/charger (the smartphone could replace the laptop; the alarm-clock function)
  • camera / camcorder (memory card(s), spare batteries/ charger)
  • media player/radio (with headphones)
  • small notebook & pen, stick notes, small flashlight, binoculars
  • shaving kit (an electric shaver is preferable), toiletry kit, collapsible umbrella
  • reading glasses (optional), swimming gear (optional), medicine/ vitamins, insect repellent.

Packing checklist for kids

For toddlers and younger children is recommended an umbrella stroller as it is light to carry and easy to navigate in the ship's narrow hallways.

Bringing your own car seat is recommended for traveling on taxis (shore excursions) and buses (land transfers).

Remember that children, like adults, can't board the ship without having ID, sail pass, vaccine/covid-testing documents (if needed). Other "like adults" items for packing may include glasses, prescription medication, clothes for pool deck/ outdoor activities (bathing suits, sundresses, shorts, t-shirts, sandals), active wear for sports activities (running or walking onboard and during shore excursions - running shoes, closed-toe shoes, hiking boots, socks, pants, sun hats, visors, waterproof jacket, gloves).

Considering the issue of packing for a ship travel vacation, don't forget the "accretion effect" of all trips: it's always more weight on the way back home. Well, maybe not more bodyweight (though the marvelous cuisine on the ship would be a serious factor toward this one), but surely there will be more baggage weight in terms of duty-free shopping, souvenirs, new clothes, etc.