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What To Pack For A Cruise Vacation

by | Jan 26, 2021 | 0 comments

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Are you cruising in tropical climes or more temperate regions? Into that you must also consider the time of year you are cruising. Some cruises such as a transatlantic crossing will require a more varid wardrobe.


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

It’s not only important where your cruise will take you but how long you will spend on the ship. This will determine how much you need to take with you. Most cruise lines do have a laundry service but these are usually expensive.


What clothing are you going to wear onboard the ship during the daytime/seas days:

  • Comfortable clothes to lounge/sleep in
  • Swimwear and sportswear 
  • Sneakers, 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 & hiking
  • lightweight cotton clothes for warm climates
  • Waterproof jacket if cruising in cooler climes


This will vary according to the cruise line & length of the cruise so check the rules before you pack:

  • Smart shorts and trousers, button-down shirts & blazer
  • Smart pair of shoes 
  • For formal occasions, cocktail dress, full suit and tie, or even black tie. 

The Ultimate Cruise Packing List


Travel Bag

Deciding on what to pack 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!

Carry On/Daypacks

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.

Zomake Ultra Lightweight

Lightweight, durable and foldable – this backpack is a must have no matter how long your trip. It comes in a variety of colours.

Gonex Foldable Sports Duffel

This bag is made of strong waterproof material. It is surprisingly durable and lightweight .

Oarencol Anchor backpack

This Oarencol Unisex Classic backpack is made of waterproof resistant material. It is surprisingly durable and lightweight .

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:
  • ID
  • Wallet
  • House Keys
  • Medications
  • Valuables
  • Camera
  • Phone
  • Laptop/Tablet
  • Pen
  • Cash & Cards
  • Glasses
  • Copy of Itinerary & Passport

Packing Cubes

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/underwear.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set

Eagle Creek are a well-regarded brand and one of the first to implement these new style ‘compression’ packing cubes. Super usefule and handy

Eagle Creek 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). We love using these when we travel.

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.

Athletic Shorts

With all that lovely food on offer, you are going to want to hit the gym at some point right? Well, perhaps.  Comfy easy to wear shorts are always a good idea. 

Evening Dress/Gown

Depending on your cruise line and the length of your cruise there will often be one or more formal nights. So you must consider this when deciding what to pack for a cruise.

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. You can go full Cinderella at the ball or just wear something tasteful with some nice jewellery and a fancy clutch bag


A wardrobe staple. A good pair of jeans can be mixed and matched with a nice top for the evening or a casual T in the day.


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.

Long Sleeve Shirt

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.

Sun Hat

A sun hat is a cruise vacation essential. Not only will it complement your outfit, but it’ll also keep you safe from harmful UV rays. There are plenty of summer hats out there in all shapes and sizes. If you can pack it flat or roll it up even better.


No tropical cruise is complete without a sundress. Ideal for dinner onboard, shore excursions, or even a day at the beach. They can be so versatile.


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

Bathing Suit

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.


Swimsuit Cover Up

As mentioned before a bathing suit cover-up is a quick and stylish way of moving about when you are not relaxing on your sunlounger or beach towel. 


Sports Bra

Ideal if you plan on being active during your cruise vacation. Hiking, jogging, kayaking or simply hitting the gym.

Footwear and Accessories


For a warm-weather cruise, definitely bring along a pair of sturdy/comfortable sandals to wear onboard the ship or on casual day trips.



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!


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. Some even look like training shoes so can be worn on and off the beach.


Male Cruise Packing List


Vacation, holidays, travel, sea and people concept. Man with backpack enjoying traveling


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


Tank Tops and T-Shirts


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!


Long-Sleeve or Sweatshirts

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. A comfortable pair of athletic shorts are also a good idea for activites such as excercising in the onboard gym or using some of the ships sports facilities.


Dress Shirt

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 dress shirt is a great way to look smart.


The Tuxedo Question

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.


Nice Pants/Trousers

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.



Jeans are a mainstay of any travel wardrobe. Hard-wearing and flexible. Couple with a  t-shirt for that casual look or with a blazer for something smarter. Black or dark blue work best of looking for something a little smarter.


Rain Jacket

Weather can be unpredictable. Be prepared for anything with your rain jacket! This is a must for any kind of cruise. Lightweight and packable is best.


Board/Swimming Shorts

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.



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. I love these white Stan Smiths by Adidas. They go with anything and look cool no matter your age.



Keep the sun out of your eyes and your head protected! We really like these Panama style hats (that can be handily rolled for easy packing) but there are so many other styles to choose from. However, a hat with some sort of brim or visor is recommended, such as a baseball cap


Flip Flops

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. Personally we are big fans of the Rider brand as they are stylish and comfortable.


Underwear & Socks

Boxers or briefs? Whatever your preference, be sure to bring enough underwear for the whole trip! If you’re headed for a tropical destination be sure to bring breathable socks to avoid sweaty feet. If somewhere cold then opt for ticker socks to keep those toes toasty warm.


Now that you’ve got your clothes for the cruise sorted out, here are some other essential items that should be packed into your bag as well.


Keep yourself protected against harmful UV rays with some strong sunscreen. A high SPF is recommended, especially because the sun reflects off of the water, leading to the potential for some nasty burns. If you are swimming in tropical waters then it is an idea to purchase some reef-friendly sunscreen. This product by Thinksport has a perfect score on EWG, and doesn’t contain any biologically toxic chemicals. It is water-resistant for up 80 minutes and is absorbed easily by your skin.



A good pair of sunglasses is key for any adventure at sea. Go for a pair with polarized lenses to help tone down the glare from the ocean. These Oakleys below are great but there are plenty of alternatives around.


 Bug Spray

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.  We personally use this Lifesystem brand which has kept us bite free in the tropics of Malaysia and the Caribbean.



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.

  1. Shampoo & Conditioner
  2. Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  3. Razor
  4. Deodorant
  5. Body Lotion
  6. Nail file/clippers
  7. Wet wipes

On a personal note, I always try to take something that I can use to exfoliate the skin on my face. Something gentle. The warm weather (which opens the pores) together with the use of sun creams and after sun lotions can really clog them up and cause outbreaks. A gentle exfoliator will really help prevent this. I had to buy some on the ship once which was super expensive so I alway take with me now.



Remember the days when you used to travel and had to take 20 CD’s in a pouch with you so you could listen to your own music? Or had to stock up on rolls and rolls of camera film to capture those holiday moment? I realise I am showing my age here but things have certainly come a log way since those days. We have phones with megapixel cameras that can also play thousands of music tracks a the touch of a button as well as allowing you to pick and read a librarys worth of books. While this is amazing and saves so much space there are some other “gadgets” that you might want to consider taking along to enhance your experience.


 Night Lite

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.


E-Book Reader

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 too.



You’re definitely going to want some music on the plane ride over or while relaxing while on the ship. We can personally vouch for these excellent Sony  (below) which are extremely comfortable with excellent sound. These are a little on the pricier side but there are some good cheaper alternatives if you shop around.


 Portable Power Bank

Keep your electronics fully juiced when not near an outlet with a power bank. 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 to two devices at once. I charged my iPad Mini from around 30% to 100% in little over an hour. Size matters when it comes to power banks and the power bank you choose will depend on the item or items you want to charge. A typical modern smartphone like an Apple iPhone 12 0r  Samsung Galaxy S21 have batterys that range from around 2800mAh to 4000 mAh so you would need a power bank to match or even better exceed this level.


Multi-Port USB Charger

As cruise ships become more modern you will find that some do have USB charging ports within the cabin already. That said it’s always a good idea to bring you own multi-port charger so that you can charge multiple devices at once. Be sure to get one with an interchangable plug so it can be used in both the US and Europe.



If like me you are always on the lookout for marine and sea life from your vantage point on board the ship then a good pair of binoculars are a must. These Nickon Prostaff 3S are the pair I use and I love them.


Other Optional Items


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. 

Playing Cards / Travel Games

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 easy to include in your cruise packing list.

Dry Bag

If you plan on kayaking, snorkelling 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.

Necessary Medicine

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.

Happy cruising! 

About Patrick O'Halloran


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