Packing for a cruise can seem overwhelming – especially if it’s your first cruise. There are so many things to remember and certainly plenty of important things you don’t want to forget. I’ve put together a list of must-haves to help you stay organized, protect your essentials and maximize your cabin space.
What to Pack On Your Cruise
Technically a lanyard isn’t required but it sure is helpful for keeping up with your ship keycard – just clip on your card and wear it around your neck. Since your keycard is pretty much your passport to the ship – it serves as your room key, your form of payment and your ID to come and go from the ship – you definitely don’t want to lose it.
Check out these fun cruise themed lanyards or how about this cute necklace-like lanyard for the ladies. The ship’s gift shop sells lanyards but they can get pricey, especially if you’re buying them for the whole family. A little planning ahead can save you some serious green.
Hanging Toiletry Bag
Not only does a hanging toiletry bag organize your bathroom essentials and make packing them a breeze. It’s also a space-saving hack to maximize space on a cruise since the cabins are infamously short on storage.
This bag is a great option because it features a 360° swivel hook, large side pockets and a fold-down flat design even when fully packed. This bag is made of water-resistant material and comes in multiple colors appealing to both men and women.
Not only does a fan provide white noise, it also adds a much-needed chill to the air after a day in the hot sun. While the cabin thermostats can be set to keep the room cool and comfortable, a fan is a must-have on my packing list. Personally, I just like a little air movement to sleep well and a small, lightweight fan always does the trick.
We pack a fan similar to this one because it’s compact, self-standing and has three speeds. Be sure to check with your cruise line for specific requirements on size and how to pack as some allow fans only in your carry-on luggage.
Cruise cabins are notorious for being short on outlets. Usually, there’s one in the bathroom (meant for electric razors only) and one in the main cabin and that’s just not nearly enough. Between phones, camera batteries and other electronics to charge, you’ll likely be short on socket space for extras such as a fan or electric toothbrush unless you have an extension cord or power strip.
You might want to get a power strip with USB ports (like the examples above) depending on what you plan to plug-in. Generally speaking, most cruise lines allow power strips, multiple plug adapters and extension cords as long as they don’t have a surge protector but be sure to reach out to your cruise line to clarify what’s allowed.
You’d be surprised how useful this little accessory can be. Cruise ships can be really windy and your towel is no match for mother nature. These towel clips keep your towel in place on your beach chair and they also come in handy if you want to hang wet clothes in the bathroom. Use them on your cruise, at the beach and even at home after your cruise.
Reusable Water Bottle
It’s always a good idea to take water with you when you leave the ship or head out on an excursion. You’ll want to be sure to stay hydrated, especially if you plan to be in the sun for an extended amount of time. Most ships have portable safe-to-drink water on the Lido deck that you can fill your bottle from for free.
I always throw a reusable water bottle in my bag when packing for a cruise. I’ve talked about both my Bobble Water Bottle and my RTIC Water Bottle in other posts. I like both for different reasons. The Bobble is BPA free and has a built-in filter. It’s also super lightweight and comes in multiple colors and two sizes – an 18.5 oz and a 34 oz. However, I tend to reach for my 36 Ounce RTIC water bottle because it holds a little more and I know it will keep my water cold all day long.
Much like the towel clips, this accessory is often overlooked and underestimated. Did you know the walls of the cruise cabins are metal? I didn’t until I saw someone else using hanging magnets on one of our early cruises. Once I figured out the magic in these, they quickly became a must-have on my packing list. They really help keep your cabin organized and utilize the wall (or ceiling space) because they’re just so handy for hanging things like hats, swimsuits and even your lanyard.
Hat & Sunglasses
A good wide-brimmed fishing or bucket hat will keep the sun off your face and neck and if you have sensitive eyes, you’ll want a good pair of sunglasses, too. Ladies, if you’re looking for a more fashionable option, check out this wide brim straw hat.
A baseball hat does the trick too but don’t forget to apply a little extra sunscreen on the back of your neck. I purchased this hat before our last vacation and it’s my current go-to. While I like to get that nice island glow, my face and scalp do burn more easily than the rest of me. A hat is a must to keep me out of lobster face territory and avoid a sore, itchy burned scalp. I don’t like the sun to be in my eyes either and always pack sunglasses, too.
Waterproof Case For Phone
A cruise is a wet vacation – from the pool on the lido deck to a beach day or snorkeling excursion, you’ll likely use your phone to take photos and you’ll definitely want to protect it with a good waterproof case. Keep your phone dry and safe with a waterproof case while still using the phone’s touchscreen, text functions and more. This one comes in a variety of colors and has a neck strap so you can go hands-free. I have a similar style waterproof case for my phone and yes – it’s also pink.
Motion sickness medicine
Motion sickness medicine comes in many forms – from pills like Dramamine or Bonine to wrist bands and patches. Most people have a favorite method and swear by it. Find what works best for you if you are motion sickness prone and even if you’re not, it’s still a good idea to pack some medicine in your bag just in case.
I’m not one to get seasick but you better believe I loaded up on the Dramamine before my first cruise and even now, I pack a small travel size bottle just in case of rough seas. I would rather be prepared and not need it than need it and not have it or have to pay double to get it on the ship.
I learned very quickly why a pair of slip-resistant sandals is so important on a cruise. The decks are often wet which makes them very slippery. On our first cruise, I slipped on a wet spot and went down, whacking my knee in the process. Thankfully, I wasn’t seriously injured beyond a good bruise.
Now, I always pack my crocs flip flops – thanks to their superior comfort and grippy bottoms, they’re perfect for a cruise. I’ve walked around all day while in port and wear them around the ship. Just in case you want to run-up to the lido deck for a quick cup of coffee or suddenly need a late-night slice of pizza, they’re easy to slip on, too.
It’s ok, go ahead and giggle. I won’t judge. I debated listing this one because it’s just one step down the ladder to full-on potty talk but here’s what I have to say – the cabins are small and the bathrooms are even smaller. And when on vacation most people tend to overindulge in food (and there’s no shame in that) but if you’re sharing a cabin with your partner or entire family, spare them all and just toss a travel size bottle of this stuff in your bag. Yes, it really works. You can thank me later.
Now you know what’s on my must-pack list. What’s on yours? Seasoned cruisers – did I miss anything that should be on this list? Let me know in the comments below if so.
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