Knowing what to pack for your cruse vacation will help ensure you have a more seamless and comfortable cruise experience. The key to successful packing is by planning what to bring based on your itinerary, shore excursions, and the destinations you plan to visit.  In this way, you’ll have everything you need for your various onboard and in port activities.

The most important items to pack for your cruise vacation can be broken down into five main categories including your must-haves, important items, carry-on, clothing and other items. The typical cruise is seven nights long, so checking in a bag or two may be expected. Along with a checked bag, bringing a carry-on will be necessary to hold all your important and must-have items for your cruise.

5 Tips – What to take on a cruise

Best way to pack for a cruise

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1. Must-Have

These are the essential items that can make or break a vacation.

  • Travel documents – passport, boarding pass, cruise tickets
  • Wallet with ID, credit cards, and cash
  • Phone and charger
  • Camera (such as a DSLR if you are an avid photographer)
  • Over-the-counter medication in a small toiletries bag
  • Prescription medication

2. Important Items

Pack your important items in your carry-on for quick-access when certain situations arise.

  • Glasses or contacts (and contact solution)
  • Toiletries
  • Travel jewelry case for your accessories
  • Cross body bag (for going onshore or spending time around the cruise ship)
  • Layering pieces, such as a cardigan or a sweater
  • Swimsuit or gym wear
  • Change of clothes (as a proactive measure in case your luggage gets lost)Sleepwear

3. Carry-on

Bringing a carry-on bag is necessary for your cruise vacation, especially one that is lightweight and can serve multiple purposes such as a day bag for excursions, or to take with you to the pool. A carry-on bag will allow you to have your must-haves and important items readily on hand. In addition, luggage may take up to a few hours to arrive to your stateroom from the time you check in, so having a carry-on bag will allow you to enjoy the onboard activities immediately.

4. Clothing

Cruise vacations are casual by day, whether you’re on the ship or on shore. In the evening, attire varies depending on the cruise line and occasion. Keep in mind that what you pack will also be dependent on the time of year that you travel, the cruise line, and the itinerary.

Most cruise lines have an informal dress code and atmosphere on board, so packing smart casual apparel will do.

  • Long-sleeve shirts, trousers, khakis and a jacket for men
  • Casual dresses, pants, skirts and tops for women
  • Jeans
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sandals
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Lightweight rain coat

On some cruises, formal dinners or parties are part of the fun. But you don’t need to rent a tuxedo just for the trip. If the cruise line you are cruising with has formal evenings don’t forget to pack your dressy attire as well!

  • Dark suit
  • Dinner jacket and dress pants
  • Cocktail dress or a gown
  • Dress shoes

5. Other Items

Depending on the type of itinerary or the season you will be travelling in, you may want to consider packing items to help make your vacation as enjoyable as possible. This is especially important when packing for any excursions you may have planned.

  • Sunscreen and after-sun lotion
  • Re-sealable plastic bags (good for storing wet bathing suits or carrying food onshore)
  • Small, foldable umbrella
  • Translation books or pre-downloaded translation app for visiting foreign-speaking ports
  • AC extension cord or adapter
  • Binoculars (for viewing wildlife)

Hopefully this article helps to answer questions you have about what to take when going on a cruise.  If you found it helpful consider bookmarking this post as a reference for future packing guidance so that you’re ready for any situation onboard and ashore. Knowing what to bring is just one element of a vacation so enjoy your next cruise and we look forward to helping you with any future travel plans.

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