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The Ultimate Cruise Packing List
There are a few considerations to think about when considering your cruise packing list.
Are you cruising in tropical climes or more temperate regions? Into that you must also consider the time of year you are cruising.
This ties in with destination and what kind of plans you have for your cruise. Do you intend to do lots of adventurous activities, in which case you will need to pack some athletic clothing and good walking shoes or trainers.
Length of Cruise
How long you will spend on the ship will determine how much you need to take with you.
After that, I would then split your wardrobe into 3 mains categories
What you want to wear onboard the ship during the day:
- Swimwear and sportswear as well as comfortable clothes to lounge/sleep in
- Items include swim shorts/trunks, flip flops, sun hat, workout clothes, shorts and t-shirts.
Depending on your itinerary you may need some extra items for when you venture on land:
- Suitable footwear for walking and hiking
- A lightweight waterproof jacket
This will vary according to your cruise line and length of the cruise so check the rules before you pack:
- Smart shorts and trousers, button-down shirts and a sports jacket or blazer
- Smart pair of shoes that can be worn with shorts or trousers
- For more formal occasions you may need a full suit and tie, or even black tie. Some ships will even offer tuxedo rental onboard (although this is less common now).
Keeping all of the above in mind, we have compiled a list of our recommendations with everything you may need for a fun-filled trip on the high seas.
Choosing Your Travel Bag
Packing for a cruise can be daunting. Not only do you have to pack for the ship, but for beach days, city walks & airports as well. How do you pack for it all without bringing the proverbial kitchen sink?
This list will make packing for a cruise as easy and stress-free as possible!
American Tourister Jetglam
|This ABS and polycarbonate collection is a great suitcase due to its stylish looks and practical usage. It’s lightweight, very sturdy and easy to move around.|
Sometimes loading luggage onto a ship can take a while, and although your cruise line will endeavour to deliver your luggage to your cabin as early as possible it may not reach you until later on the first evening. So it's very handy to have a carry-on bag with a change of clothes/toiletries etc for that first evening. Also ensure you pack any medicines and important items in your carry on.
In case you’re separated from your checked bag or other items, you should always make sure that you have the following with you in your carry-on:
- House Keys
- Cash & Cards
- Copy of Itinerary.
Here are some daypacks we really like.
If you have not used packing cubes before we can highly recommend them. They are super useful. Packing cubes are relatively small containers made of fabric, often in a rectangular shape, used for packing clothing. They come in all shapes and sizes. They zip close and are small enough that you can fit several into a carry-on bag, suitcase, or backpack. We always pack one with an outfit for the first day or evening and carry in our carry on.
Bago 4 Set Packing Cubes
|We personally use these packing cubes when we travel and they come in a variety of colours and sizes. The larger we used for shirts/trousers and the smaller for socks/umderwear.|
Eagle Creek Specter Tech Cube Set
|Eagle Creek are a well regarded brand and one of the first to implement these new style 'compression' packing cubes. Create even more space in your luggage with these stylish cubes.|
Eagle Creek Travel Garment Folder
|Another innovative idea for those that hate folding clothes when travelling. Each garment folder comes with an instruction board (that doubles as the folding board).|
Cruise Packing List - Clothes
As stated before what clothes you pack depends on your destination. Cruises run all over the world in various climates so it’s necessary to check on the weather where you are headed so that you can organise your cruise packing list accordingly.
Most cruises run year-round in warm climates or during warmer months in certain places, so the clothing on this packing list is geared mostly towards warm and sunnier destinations.
Female Cruise Packing List
You often hear the word Capsule Wardrobe these days too which is basically a small wardrobe of interchangeable items that coordinate well. For most women this will consist of a pair of tailored trousers, denim jeans that look good with heels and flats, a neutral shirt, T-shirts for layering, a little black dress, a trench coat, high heels and a pair of boots. Not all of this will be suitable for a cruise (hopefully no need for a trench coat) but the concept works well when you are travelling so try and match styles/colours.
Tops and Bottoms
With all that lovely food on offer, you are going to want to hit the gym at some point right? Well, perhaps but comfy easy to wear shorts are always a good idea. A few laps of the jogging track is never a bad idea anyway.
Depending on your cruise line and the length of your cruise there will often be one or more formal nights. This is your chance to dress up in your glitziest outfits for the evening. The option to dress up is usually optional these days but it is fun to participate so we recommend taking at least one nice outfit along with you.
Comfy leggings are always boon as they are so versatile. Have a yoga lesson onboard, perfect. Need something to throw on to go get that early morning coffee, ideal.
Perfect for cooler evenings up on the top deck or harsh air-conditioning in the dining room. A long sleeved top is a perfect and stylish answer to both.
Cruises to Alaska or Northern Europe can often involve inclement and temperate weather so a lightweight, foldable raincoat is a great way to keep the elements at bay.
Imagine a relaxing day at the beach and you need to head to the shops to look for some souvenirs to take home. Many Caribbean ports of call frown at people wandering the aisles in just bikini bottoms or swimwear so pop on a pair of shorts and you are good to go.
No tropical cruise is complete without a sundress. Ideal for dinner onboard, shore excursions, or even a day at the beach.
Perfect for those cruise in colder climes, especially if viewing those spectacular glaciers in Alaska from the top deck of the ship.
Lounge pants are great for a cruise. Whether you’re hanging out on the deck, sitting on your balcony or in your cabin, it’s nice to have a pair of comfy pants to throw on.
Lightweight cotton T's are great for mixing a matching with a pair of shorts for a day ashore or with a nice pair of jeans or pants in the evening.
Undergarments and Beachwear
Perhaps an obvious choice but even if you are not cruising in sunnier climes there are the pools and jacuzzis to think of, so always pack some of your favourite swimwear.
As mentioned before a bathing suit cover up is a quick and stylish way of moving about when you are no relaxing on your sunlounger or beach towel. Click the link above (or image below) to see a variety of options.
Ideal if you plan on being active during your cruise vacation. Hiking, jogging, kayaking or simply hitting the gym.
Be sure to bring enough underwear to last the entire trip, especially if there’s no laundry service on your cruise.
Footwear and Accessories
If you’re taking a more active cruise where you’re going to be walking a lot, pack a pair of sneakers so you’re comfortable on your feet for a long period of time. If you want to hit the onboard gym or run the jogging track, you’re going to want to have a pair of shoes for working out!
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. Some even look like training shoes so can be worn on and off the beach.
An infinity scarf is a great accessory if you don’t have pockets or want to keep your valuables extra safe. With a hidden pocket, an infinity scarf gives you a secure place to store anything you want to keep close to you for easy access. Think credit cards, money, maybe even your seapass card!
Male Cruise Packing List
As mentioned above, the kind of clothing you should pack greatly depends on the type of cruise you’re taking and the general destination.
Remember to pack lots of comfy clothes to hang out in, outfits to wear while touring cities, and athletic clothes to wear on treks during land excursions.
Tops and Bottoms
Stay cool while cruising in a tropical destination by bringing lots of breathable t-shirts and tank tops. Cotton is preferable. You’ll be wearing these every day so be sure to pack enough to last your entire trip!
Great for cooler nights, layering, or keeping warm when there’s air conditioning. Have either a long sleeve shirt or sweat to throw on whenever you’re feeling a little bit chilly.
Tropical destinations are warm, so pack shorts that are comfortable, breathable and look good. Cotton Chinos shorts are classic and paired with a nice T are great for day wear and with a nice shirt great for evening wear if you want a classy casual look.
Have a pair of comfortable shorts to wear for activities like hiking or exercising in the onboard gym.
There will be at least one night on your trip where you’ll need to look extra presentable. The Captains Gala perhaps or one of the dressy formal nights. Although Tuxedos are not essential it is fun to dress up. At the very least a nice Blazer is a great way to look smart.
Whilst on most cruise lines these days it is not mandatory to wear a tuxedo on formal nights anymore we think it is still nice to dress up if you can. If you don't want to go the 'whole hog' with bow tie and cumberbund then dressing that little bit smarter than casual is usually the norm. Our advice? If you wouldn’t wear it to a job interview, don’t wear it to formal night unless you want to feel out of place. If you really want to stay casual then that is fine but bear in mind you might be restricted to eating in the Buffett that evening. Again it does depend on the cruise line in question. There are many variations to the dinner suit but you can't go far wrong with the classic black/white ensemble as below.
Again you can't go far wrong with a nice pair of chinos. They are perfect for warmer climes. Look stylish and can be both smart and casual depending on how you style them up. Coupled with a nice pair of white sneakers and a chambray shirt. You have a classic look.
Undergarments and Beachwear
Bring along board shorts or your preferred bathing attire (please leave the speedo's at home) so that you can partake in all the water activities. Kayaking, boogie-boarding, snorkelling or simply wallowing in the onboard jacuzzi.
Boxers or briefs? Whatever your preference, be sure to bring enough for the whole trip!
Footwear and Accessories
For beachwear, wandering around the ship, or casual strolls, it’s always a good idea to bring along a pair of flip-flops for easy and comfortable footwear.
Definitely pack a pair of reliable closed-toe shoes on any cruise you take. Be sure to bring along sneakers for longer walks, gym trips, or even for a run along the shore.
If you’re headed to a tropical destination, be sure to bring breathable socks to avoid having sweaty feet. But if you’re going somewhere cold, opt for thick socks to keep your feet toasty.
Cruise Packing List: Essential Items
Now that you’ve got your clothes for the cruise sorted out, here are some essential items that should be packed into your bag.
Keep yourself protected against harmful UV rays with some strong sunscreen. A high SPF is recommended, especially because sun reflects off of the water, leading to potential for some nasty burns. If you are swimming in tropical waters then it is an idea to purchase some reef friendly sunscreen.
Keep the sun out of your eyes and your head protected! We really like these Panama style hats but there are so many other styles to choose from. However, a hat with some sort of brim or visor is recommended.
Many cruises in tropical climates come with a side of pesky mosquitoes. Not so much an issue when you are at sea but on those land based excursions they can be a nuisance, as we found out to our cost on a trip to a Mayan Temple once. We recommend any product with DEET although you should only use near natural clothing fibres such as cotton or linen.
Cut down on plastic this trip and bring along a reusable water bottle. It’ll make it easy to keep hydrated on the ship, shore excursions or the beach. This collapsible one saves a ton of space in your luggage too.
Some cruises may provide you with complimentary toiletries. There is often shower gel and condition in the shower. However, this isn’t the case on all ships so best to take some along with you.
At any rate, it’s nice to have your own products with you when far away from home. Here’s a list of toiletries I recommend bringing along with you.
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Body Lotion
- Nail file/clippers
- Wet wipes
You know how it is. You wake in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom. You don't want to turn the light on for fear of disturbing your sleeping partner so you gingerly make your way in the dark to the bathroom. You always forget that coffee table until it smacks you in the shin. These handy, motion sensitive night lights are a great solution. Not so bright to wake everyone but more than enough to see where you re going.
Depending on where you are, the plugs may not be the same as in your home country. Be sure to bring a universal adapter so you’re prepared for any kind of outlet.
We know some people prefer traditional paperback books but when you are travelling a Kindle is a no brainer. Potentially thousands of books at your fingertips. A Kindle also trumps a tablet or an iPad as there is no glare from the screen meaning you can read comfortably even in bright sunlight. The newer versions even have a backlight making it easier to read in dim light.
You’re definitely going to want some music on the plane ride over or while relaxing while on the boat. We can personally vouch for these excellent Sony WH-H900's which are extremely comfortable with excellent sound. They are a little on the pricier side but there are cheaper alternatives if you shop around.
Keep your electronics fully juiced when not near an outlet with a powerbank. Just don’t forget to charge it! We personally use this one from Anker. It's a little bit on the heavy side but it can power up two devices at once. I charged my iPad Mini from around 30% to 100% in little over an hour.
Cameras come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges and whilst smartphones have increasingly good inbuilt cameras they still cant compete with a dedicated camera.
Be sure to take extra SD cards, batteries and all necessary chargers!
This classic looking camera has huge zoom capability. Panasonic started the tend for making excellent compact cameras for travellers. The TZ Series (ZS Series in the States) is one of the most highly regarded of the genre.
The king of compacts but with a price tag to match. It's small enough to be pocketable, yet has a premium build, a pop-out built-in electronic viewfinder and stacks of features – not to mention great image quality and 4K movie capture from its 1-inch sensor.
Great little camera with a great price. Water, shock, dust and freezeproof so good for all cruise conditions.
Other Optional Items
Journal/ Notebook & Pens
Keep track of what you’re doing and the amazing things you’ve seen by writing them down in a notebook or journal. I have fond memories written down from previous cruises. Little memories I had forgotten.
Keep yourself entertained during downtime with a deck of cards or a fun travel game. Especially handy if you have a lot of seas days such as a transatlantic cruise. They are small and easily to include in your cruise packing list.
If you plan on kayaking, snorkeling or even just sitting on the beach during your cruise, it’s a good idea to invest in a dry bag to keep your valuables safe and free from water. A dry bag comes in handy no matter what water activity you’re doing and is sure to keep your things nice and dry.
Besides any prescriptions you may take on a regular basis and over the counter painkillers like Tylenol or Advil. You can usually purchase these onboard but the prices are usually very steep.
Hopefully, this cruise packing list has helped you decide what to bring for any kind of cruising adventure.