How to Pack for a Cruise

How to Pack for a Cruise

Booking a cruise immediately brings to mind days basking in the sun, discovering different ports, and exploring all the thrills onboard. One key to a well-prepared cruise vacation is well-packed luggage.

Follow along for expert tips on how to pack for a cruise, no matter the length of your itinerary, and start your cruise packing list here.

What to Bring on a Cruise

Cruising is a great getaway, and in some cases, you can even get a tax deduction for your travels. Cruise packing is a bit different than packing for other trips. Knowing what to bring (and what not to bring) can make a world of difference.

Large suitcases will probably hold everything you need, but they take up a lot of space. Good news: Most cruise ship cabins are designed to store full-sized suitcases under the bed.

Pro Tip: It usually takes time to get your luggage delivered to your cabin. Pack a carry-on or backpack with everything you will need to board and for the first few hours onboard.

Related content: The Pros And Cons Of Carry-Ons Vs Large Suitcases

How to Pack

First, review your trip’s itinerary and the shore excursions you booked. Will you be exploring Caribbean islands or enchanted cities in Iceland? Hiking or just walking a lot? Working out, enjoying the spa, or spending days at the pool? Make your list starting with the activities you will take part in.

The climate and time of year should help guide you. Some countries have rainy seasons or climates that vary dramatically from summer to winter and inland to the shore.

Cruise Essentials


Aside from various activities onboard and onshore, cruises often host themed events and formal nights. While these events are optional, you need to plan accordingly if you wish to take part.

Learn how to pack your costumes, formal attire, and other delicate items to keep them looking great.


Staying organized is key to any hassle-free trip. Packing cubes keep you organized and can be used to separate items by the day or activity.Hanging toiletry bags give you easy access to packed items without taking up limited counter space in your cabin bathroom.

Pro Tip: Pack a foldable backpack, tote, or other travel bag to use on excursions or when you need extra space for all the goodies you buy during your travels.

Grooming Needs

Many cruise lines provide in-cabin toiletries, like shampoo, conditioner, and hand lotion. Find out ahead so you can skip bringing them. Bring your own sunscreen and bug repellant, if the itinerary commands it.

Warning: Before packing your curling iron or flat iron, check with the cruise line. Many companies do not allow any heat stylers onboard for safety reasons.


Outlet adapters are key when travelling internationally. Don’t depend on the ship having the right plug. Pack a portable backup battery to keep your phone and other devices charged during long days on shore.

A dry pouch or dry bag also comes in handy to keep electronics safe for water-related excursions like snorkelling.

Important Documents

A travel document organizer is helpful to store your passport, visa, travel insurance documents, vaccination card (if necessary), and emergency contact information.


Your cruise key card is used for everything from opening your cabin door to charging items at the poolside bar. A lanyard is the best way to keep your key card handy at all times.

Motion Sickness Medicine

It’s always smart to pack motion sickness medicine or anti-nausea bracelets, just in case.

Portable Fan

While your cabin will likely be air-conditioned, a portable fan will keep your space feeling fresher and can be used for white noise to help you sleep.

Magnetic Hooks

Cabin walls are usually made of metal. Buy a pack of magnetic hooks and use them to hang your jewelry, sun hats, beach bags, lanyards and more.

Tip on What to Pack for a 5-Day Cruise

Shorter cruises probably won’t allow you enough time to have laundry done, so you will need to pack enough bathing suits and certain clothes that won’t be reused.

Tip on What to Pack for a 7-Day Cruise

Longer cruises require more clothing options, but having laundry done onboard is usually an option to help you pack light. Otherwise, week-long cruises often have increased baggage allowances to let you bring everything you need and more.

With these helpful packing tips, you’ll be sailing into cruise bliss in no time.

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