That’s one of the questions I get asked most often. What should I bring on a cruise!?
You’ll probably visit multiple destinations, experience different climates, do different activities, and probably enjoy a nice dinner every night.
Planning what to bring on a cruise can be a little complicated, but I’d like to simplify it with a simple cruise packing list.
We just returned from our 4th cruise. It was a wonderful trip aboard the Celebrity Apex, traveling from Athens to Santorini to Scilly to Mallorca to Valencia to Barcelona. It was a dream!
Start with a cruise packing list
First, always start with a packing list everytime. It helps you stay organized, focused, and avoids overcrowding. It also makes things much faster in the long run. So I pull out my notepad and start writing down my list.
I categorize the list into four sections:
- Bath amenities
- Clothes for the day
- night clothes
- Underwear + nightwear
What’s your luggage allowance for your flights?
If your cruise begins in one destination and ends in another, you may be flying in and out of the country on different airlines. Check your baggage allowance for both flights to avoid extra charges at the airport!
You don’t need to pack light!
One of the great benefits of cruising is that you don’t have to worry about packing light. Dig out your large suitcase and enjoy the space to unpack your favorite clothes. There will probably be a large wardrobe, plenty of storage and drawers, and plenty of space in the bathroom as well. You’ll be sharing the same bedroom throughout the cruise, so you can unpack and relax as if you were at home!
The onboard staff will help you carry your luggage, so you don’t have to worry about carrying heavy suitcases.
We highly recommend bringing a large four-wheeled suitcase for ease and convenience.
I also like to use packing cubes to put as much stuff in cases as possible and keep everything neatly organized.
Read more: Are packing cubes worth it? Can they really save space?
Check the weather and average temperatures for all of your destinations
Easily check the weather forecast for all your destinations. We did this quickly for all our destinations and were pleased to find that each destination had an average temperature of 24 degrees with little chance of rain. The weather was the same at every destination, which made packing a lot easier. It rained in Italy, but it was still warm so it didn’t really affect what I wore.
Take a daybag and possibly an evening handbag
Since you don’t need money or a cell phone on board, you may not need an evening bag. If you’re meeting people, you’ll need to bring your key card, maybe lipstick, maybe a camera, and maybe even a cell phone.
OK, so let’s get stuck in with what you need to pack for a cruise
Comfortable shoes: THE most important thing to pack for a cruise!
First of all. The most important thing on your cruise packing list is comfortable shoes. You’ll get off at each destination and do a lot of walking.
I brought my white plimsolls and my trusty old sandals and both worked great!
What to pack for a cruise: Clothing
Pack your clothes together
I like to pack clothes to match the outfit, rather than randomly putting skirts and pants in a case. Now you don’t have to wear a top that doesn’t match any of your skirts or wear a dress when you don’t have matching shoes!
Pack one daytime outfit and one evening outfit each day.
dress up for dinner
One of the highlights of a cruise is wining, dining, and enjoying the evening entertainment. Most cruise ships have multiple restaurants and bars, many of which are formal. After dinner, many guests enjoy shows, bands, and other evening activities. There will be several “dress up” nights, but to be honest, I had no idea which nights were dressed up and which ones weren’t. You don’t have to worry about it too much, as you can skip various levels of red tape on board.
When we’ve been on cruises, we’ve dressed up for dinner almost every night.
One really nice thing about dressing for dinner on a cruise is that you don’t have to walk very far. So you can pack in really high shoes and super tight skirts that look great but you can barely walk in!
But dinner can be casual
That being said, if you don’t want to dress up for dinner, you don’t have to.
You always have the option of ordering a casual buffet, a casual restaurant, or room service. You can also have dinner on shore before returning to the ship in the late evening.
During our last cruise, Jen and I ordered room service one night and watched a movie in bed all night. It was bliss after a busy day of exploring!
Clothing on land
Choose something comfortable. But remember, comfortable doesn’t have to be boring. A beautiful dress and comfortable shoes are perfect for most destinations. You will visit beautiful destinations and take lots of photos. Therefore, be sure to prepare your favorite clothes.
Casual clothes for spending time at the beach
Depending on your travel itinerary, you’ll probably spend several days at sea. These days are generally very relaxing days and we often spend time at the pool or sundeck, so you can bring something casual.
Do you use the gym?
On every cruise I’ve been on, the gym has great fitness equipment and great classes like yoga and Pilates. If that’s your thing, don’t forget to pack a gym kit.
Cruises include lots of food and drinks, but it’s really fun to get a workout in from time to time on board!
Are you planning on hiking during your trip? If so, don’t forget your hiking shoes, shorts or pants, and an activewear jacket.
What to pack for a cruise: Specific tips for on the ship
Here’s something important to know. You’re unlikely to be given an iron on board, and if you need one, you’ll need to have it ironed for you. This is very expensive!
The reason I can’t borrow an iron is because it would be very dangerous if someone started a fire.
So you have to either iron everything at home and pack it perfectly, or bring a steamer with you. To be honest, you could bring a travel iron with you, but I find a steamer much more convenient.
I have a cheap and cheerful steamer on Amazon that does the job perfectly.
Check the electrical outlets available on board. All cruises I’ve been on use UK plugs, but you may need an adapter. If you’re not sure, it might be worth getting an international plug adapter that you can plug in anywhere. They’re a great gadget to have if you travel a lot, and they often come with a USB point for charging your phone, tablet, or action camera.
It’s also important to check the voltage at your boat’s plug. I brought a power bank with a plug, as there are a lot of electrical devices to charge, but it didn’t work, probably because there wasn’t enough power. I found my Dyson hair dryer to work, but it kept cutting off one night. I think there wasn’t enough electricity.
You’ll likely be traveling across multiple time zones, so it’s worth bringing a watch to avoid confusion.
If you’re looking for a stylish watch and fitness tracker, I have and still love the Withings Steel HR.
As someone who suffers from seasickness, I can honestly say that I don’t really feel it on cruise ships. It’s worth carrying some tablets in case you have a rough day at sea, or you might feel unwell on a small tender boat. If possible, get seasickness tablets to help with drowsiness.
The room has air conditioning and you can adjust the temperature so you don’t have to worry about getting too hot or too cold at night.
Of course, nightwear can also be used as loungewear!
What to pack for a cruise to warm destinations
lightweight microfiber beach towel
You’ll be given towels on board, and I’m sure you’ll also be given beach towels when visiting the beach, but I think it’s worth bringing a lightweight microfiber beach towel. Slim and convenient, you no longer have to carry around bulky beach towels. This is especially useful if you’re at a destination where you plan to see the sights in the morning and spend the afternoon at the beach!
Check and Dock & Bay beach towels are my favorites!
If you plan on doing a lot of swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, or paddleboarding in the ocean during your cruise, it’s a good idea to pack a lassi. Long-sleeved or short-sleeved tops made of the same material as swimsuits. They are typically UPF 50, so they provide the sun protection you need. Something like this would be ideal.
Sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen
To protect yourself from strong rays.
If you’re looking for a good facial sunscreen, I recently started using Beauty Pie’s Featherlight Sunscreen and Primer, which is amazing.
Swimsuit + beach cover up
Ship pools are rarely huge, so don’t worry about bringing enough practical swimwear to swim in.
snorkel and mask
Especially on a Caribbean cruise, the water is so beautiful and clear!
What to pack for a cruise – Technology
We highly recommend bringing a tablet on your cruise. You’ll have plenty of time to relax, and a well-stocked tablet will make it easy to read books and magazines, listen to podcasts, and watch your favorite movies and TV shows.
Travel Hack Tip: Wi-Fi is fine on board, but can be intermittent at times, so we recommend downloading as much as possible at home.
I think most people take the majority of their photos with their phones, but if you want to step it up a bit, make sure you have a camera too. If you plan on doing water sports, you may want to bring your GoPro.
If you plan on listening to music, podcasts, audiobooks, or watching TV or movies by the pool, bring headphones. I have these JBL Wireless earbuds and I love them.
portable chargers are especially important if you carry travel documents such as boarding cards in your phone. I’m always panicking that my phone’s battery will die and I won’t be able to access my documents. This is a very convenient portable charger for iPhone.
it feels like I’m packing a billion chargers every time I go out. Chargers for cell phones, iPads, laptops, cameras, toothbrushes, portable chargers! If you have a lot of USB chargers, it’s worth buying a USB adapter with multiple USB ports.
What toiletries to pack for a cruise
You’ll probably be given basics like shampoo, conditioner, soap, and shower gel. I pack a lot of toiletries. My list is:
- shower gel
- tooth paste
- Facial wash
- face toner
- cotton wool pad
- hair spray
- dry shampoo
- heat protector spray
- Hair dryer (Dyson Airwrap)
- face moisturizer
- Facial SPF
- Lip balm
- hair bobble
- Sanitary items
- full makeup bag
What shoes should you take on a cruise?
Sandals – for days at the beach, walks on board, and possibly days on land
Comfortable shoes – Stylish trainers or cute sandals to keep you comfortable
Dress shoes – night use
Trainer – if you plan on exercising onboard
Walking shoes – if you plan on hiking
What do you pack in your day bag?
Warm or waterproof jacket/cardigan
portable charger and cable
Billions of other meaningless things have somehow snuck in there!