Essential Cruise Items to Pack

by Patrick O'Halloran
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Our essential cruise item list.

Over the many years we have been cruising we have learnt a thing or two. Things we wish we had known earlier. So in an effort to help you we have compiled a list of our essential cruise items we never now cruise without. A lot of them you might not even realise you needed. Can you cruise without them? Sure. But we have found some of these things to be super useful and handy when on your cruise ship or cruise excursion. In our mind they can enhance your onboard experience. And, best of all. A lot of them are relatively inexpensive.

1. Magnets

Most people don’t have much use for magnets these days. Other than sticking souvenirs to their fridges. However, what a lot of people don’t know about cruise ships, especially you first time or newby cruisers is that the walls of the cabin are usually made of metal. That means magnets in all shapes, sizes and configuration can be used to help you. From simple round magnets which are useful to pin up your daily cruise newsletter or excursion tickets to those with hooks which are handy for hanging hats and other items of clothing. Some of them are very strong so can hold some weight. Here are a few options that we personally use when we cruise.

2. Towel Clips

If like me you are always having issues with keeping your towel on your sunbed, especially if it’s blustery on deck or at the beach then towel clips are a godsend. They are relatively cheap and now come in some fabulous shapes and colourful designs.



3. Water Shoes

Depending on the ports you visit and excursions you plan, you may want to bring along some water shoes.  No one wants to hop back to the ship with cut and bleeding feet because they walked on some sharp rocks or even worse…stepped on a sea urchin. Ouch. All the watershoes listed are unisex and extremely lightweight & comfy. Some even look like training shoes so can be worn on and off the beach.

4. Insulated Water Bottle

Instead of buying water bottles each day you head into port or for your stateroom, bring a reusable one from home.  We purchased a couple of groovy stainless steel tumblers from Tervis last year. They are insulated so will keep coffee/tea hotter for longer and cold drink nice and chilled for a long time. I left my Tervis in a hire car in Florida when we explored a theme park a few years back. The soda I had left in there still had unmelted ice even though the car was sweltering hot. Talking of Soda they are ideal if you have an onboard soda or drinks package. They are robust too. I drop things all the time and am happy to report these have survived intact.

5. Door/Wardrobe Storage Hangers

Another essential cruise item are storage hangars. Whilst some cruise cabins are equipped with an amazing amount of storage space there are those that are not so well designed. If you are on a long cruise you might need that little bit of extra storage too. Enter the door or wardrobe storage hanger. Ideally, it should be foldable and/or rollable so it takes up little space in your luggage. We find space for shoes can be a challenge so if you can find a hanger with shoe pockets…even better.  If you’re travelling with more than say, two people, this is a must-have.

6. Ziplock Bags

I cant tell you how useful and versatile a sealable or ziplock bag can be when you are travelling. The uses for them can be varied and wide ranging. We use them to store shampoo and sun lotion bottles (in case they leak en-route to/from your port of departure/arrival). Travel document will be kept safe and dry. You can of course put food in them (perhaps a cookie or 2 from the buffet). Storing wet bathing clothes on your way back from the beach or keeping sand off your mobile phone or camera. I could probably list a hundred more uses for them. Very handy to have with you.

7. Cable Tidy Bags

If you are anything like me you carry on vacation a huge assortment of cables, plugs, flash drives & memory cards. I’ve lost count how much time I have spent trying to locate which one I need as I have thrown it into one of the many cabin drawers. Which is why having them in one spot is ideal. An accessorie bag ois perfect for this. There are zipped pockets for keeping your flash drives togther and elastic bands to keep your cable neat and tidy. I use an extra large two layers one like the Vemingo below. I keep my tripod, action camera and other bit and bobs in there too. A nice handle makes it super portable.

8. Wrinkle Release Spray

Another essential cruise item we take is wrinkle release spray. For the vast majority of cruise ships bringing your own travel iron is a no no. There are a few cruise lines that have a dedicated ironing room onboard (Carnival & P&O Cruises are two that come to mind) but for the most part you have to rely on the cruise lines expensive laundry service. One solution we have found is to bring along a wrinkle release spray. Theya re suprisingly effective and whilst they wont get out the most stubborn of creases they will eliminate minor ones. Just spray, wait a minute and then smooth out with your hands or gently pull the garment to fix it. 

9. Flash Drives

Whilst this section does not necessarily relate to cruise ships its always hand to carry something that will enable you to back up those precious photos and videos you take whilst on vacation. Wifi is notoriously expensive and slow onboard cruise ships and I have found that I am unable to back up to my usual cloud services such as google photos. So I always take a few flash drives with me. These listed below I have all used. They are very small, compact and lightweight. I always go for around 64gb which will store around 960 videos, an amazing 20,000 photos and 16,000 songs. You can go larger or smaller but with most modern smartphones taking 4k video and 12mp photos you can use up space very quickly. Take care when buying as they have diffrent connecters. For my iPhone and iPad the SanDisk has a lightening connector. If you are unsure or have more than one kind of connector you could try a multi version like the Avomoco which has lightening, USB-C and micro connectors. The Kingston are ideal for your laptop and transfer data very quickly.

10. Portable Night & Reading Lights

Last but not lease on our list of essential cruise item are portable night lights.

How many time have you awoken in your cabin for the call of nature. How many of those times have you walked straight into the small coffee table in the middle of the room. I have had many a bruise to show for it. You can turn on the bedside light but they are often way too bright and if like me I hit all the wrong switches and turn on every light much to the displeasure of my partner. So last year we invested in a small mini light that was egg shaped and we kep on all night in the bathroom. It shone a soft diffused light under the door that was a great guide toward the bathroom. Small motion sensor lights are a clever idea too. Insomniacs will love a smaller (softer) bedside reading light as well.

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