Norwegian Jade

The Most Useful Items to Pack for a Cruise

Are you a cruise lover? Are you itching to get back out onto that ocean or sea? With cruises starting back up, you veteran cruisers might have already booked your next cruise. Or are you booking your first ever cruise and are looking for ideas on what items to pack for a cruise?

I am a veteran cruiser and have been cruising since I was a little girl, so I have certainly learned over the years what are some of the best items to pack before you board your cruise. So hopefully I can help you here and give you some ideas on what to pack.

Here are some of the most useful items to pack for a cruise!

Packing for a Trip
(Photo Credit: Canva.com)

1. Swim Wear

Siting by pool side on the cruise ship

Depending on what cruise line you choose, there could be multiple pools and hot tubs to swim around and relax in. There can be a kids pool, adult only pool, an everyone pool, as well a multitude of hot tubs. There can even be a slide into the pool. What fun is that for the kiddos.

Some swim wear items to pack for your cruise are:

– Bathing Suits (For you and the kiddos)

I would personally bring more than 1 because on a cruise you may constantly be in the pool (except when your touring on land of course) and you may find that your bathing suit is still wet from the day before. And It is not comfortable having to put on a wet bathing suit.

– Cover Up

– Sandals/Flip Flops

You don’t want to have to go to the pool in your socks and sneakers. Bring sandals and flip-flops that you can just slide right in before and after you go to the pool.

– Sunglasses

While some pools may be inside and you won’t need your sunglasses, you may want to take a dip in the outside pool and get some sun, so don’t forget those sunglasses. You may also want them when you’re on land touring, especially if it’s somewhere sunny and warm.

– Sunscreen

Just like with the sunglasses, if you are at the outdoor pool or just lounging around the pool or even on land touring, you may want to put suntan lotion on so you don’t burn. And definitely don’t forget to put it on the kiddos. Their skin is more sensitive than yours and may burn a lot easier and faster than you.

Tip #1 – You may want to apply sunscreen every 2 hours on the kiddos. But if you are anywhere in the Caribbean, you may want to re-apply even more than that, maybe every 45 minutes to 1 hour, especially if they are in the water where the sunscreen can get washed off even faster. The Caribbean sun can be really hot. I know back in 2012 when I went on a cruise to the Caribbean, we were on the beach and were re-applying sunscreen on us every couple hours and we still burned. So be careful!

– Tote Bag

A tote bag can be a good idea if you have some things you want to carry down to the pool, such as a book/kindle, a puzzle book, sunscreen, camera, floaties for your child, extra clothes, etc.

Pool on top deck of cruise ship
(Photo Credit: Canva.com)

2. Formal Attire

If you are new to cruising, you will learn that there are formal nights, semi-formal, and casual nights in the main dining rooms on the cruise. There are usually 2 formal nights. And while some cruises/cruise lines does not require formalwear, but instead is optional, such as Norwegian Cruise Line, other cruises/cruise lines it is required. But even if it’s optional it can be fun to dress formal for a nice dinner in their main dining room. And on some formal nights, you can even have professional pictures taken.

So it is good to bring 2  sets formal wear clothing. Some options to pack for your cruise are:

– 2 Formal Dresses

– A Suite Jacket and Pants

You should only need 1 suit jacket and pants being able to re-wear them for the 2 formal nights, just changing out the dress shirt and tie.

– 2 Men’s Dress Shirts

– 2 Ties

– Heels

– Men’s Dress Shoes

– Stockings (if needed)

3. Semi-Casual Clothing

You don’t have to dress up every night for dinner, but you may want to get a little dressier than your casual every day clothing. If that’s the case you may want some semi-casual clothing for dinner.

Some semi-casual options to pack for the cruise are:

– Skirts

– Women’s Blouses

– Men’s Dress Pants/Khakis

– Men’s Polo Shirts or Collared Shirts

4. Casual Clothing

Lounging on the top deck of a Norwegian Cruise Ship

Your casual clothing would be good for touring on land and going on those fun shore excursions.

Some casual clothing options for that on-land touring would be:

– Shorts

Pack shorts for warmer climates.

– Jeans/Pants

Pack jeans and pants for cooler climates, such as Alaska. Or pack them just in case you have some cooler nights or it’s raining, making it a bit of a cooler day.

– Casual Shirts/T-Shirts

– Undergarments

Don’t forget those undergarments such as bras, underwear, under shirts, socks.

– Sneakers

I recommend bringing and wearing sneakers when touring and hopping on shore excursions because they will be better for your feet if there is a lot of walking, unless of course you are going to the beach or a waterpark.

– Coat/Hat/Gloves

These items are good if you are going to a cooler climate, such as Alaska. Now just because you are going to Alaska doesn’t mean you will absolutely need these, but at least they would be there just in case.

In my experience, on an Alaskan cruise, I have actually worn these more on the cruise at night in the middle of the ocean than I needed them on land. It can be pretty decent weather in Alaska in the summer.

Couple lounging on lounge chairs on a cruise ship
(Photo Credit: Canva.com)

5. Loungewear

It’s good to pack some loungewear to either lounge around in the room or even wear around the cruise.

Some ideas to pack for your cruise are:

– Lounge shorts

– T-Shirts

– Sweatshirt

This is great to have in case there’s a cool night on the cruise or even if you have a cool and/or rainy day on land.

– Sweatpants

– Work-Out Clothes

If you are planning on working out, don’t forget those work-out clothes or you can even bring them to lounge around in.

For working out, you can bring, yoga pants, shorts, sneakers, hair tie to pull up all that hair, muscle shirt, sports bra, etc.

Stretching on the deck of a cruise ship
(Photo Credit: Canva.com)

6. Sleepwear

You’ll need that sleepwear to head to bed.

– Pajamas/Nightgown

– Slippers

7. Accessories

Don’t forget those accessories, especially for those formal nights. Those formal nights are probably when you will be looking for these accessories the most.

– Belt

– Jewelry

– Watch

– Purse/Clutch/Wallet

– Umbrella

Always pack an umbrella because you never know if it will rain where you’re headed.

Take it from someone who had gotten caught in a torrential down pour with no umbrella, having to walk miles back to the cruise ship. It was not fun, but funny at the same time.

8. Toiletries

You can’t go on a trip without the essential toiletries.

Make sure you have all these when heading on a cruise or any trip for that matter.

– Toothbrush/Toothpaste

– Dental Floss

– Hair Products

These can be hairspray or gel or any other hair product you may want to put in your hair.

– Shampoo/Conditioner

Note: They will have shampoo and conditioner in the bathroom that you can use if you don’t want to pack yours. Or you may want to pack and use your own. Up to you. I always bring my own.

– Soap/Body Wash

Note: Just like the shampoo and conditioner, there will also be soap in your bathroom if you don’t want to pack your own.

– Deodorant

– Make-Up

You’ll certainly want your make-up for those formal nights.

– Brush/Comb

– Moisturizer/Lotion

– Contact Lens and Solution/Glasses 

Bring whichever one you wear, if any.

– Feminine Products (if needed)

– Nail File/Nail Clipper/Tweezers

9. First Aid/Medical Items

You’ll most definitely need to pack some first aid and medical supplies just in case because you never know what can happen.

– Aloe Vera

This is in case you forgot that sunscreen or didn’t put enough on and ended up getting sunburn. Aloe Vera will relieve the burning.

– Medications/Vitamins

Make sure you pack any prescription medications or vitamins you and your children or anyone in your family are currently taking.

– Dramamine/Motion Sickness Bands

Not everyone can handle the swaying of a ship or boat, so if you are one that gets motion or sea sickness but you still want to try a cruise, Dramamine and the motion sickness bands work great.

– Pain Relievers/Allergy Medication

Make sure to pack Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Benadryl, tums, just to name a few because you never know if something will happen and you’ll need one of these. Also don’t forget children’s Tylenol and Benadryl, etc.

– Band-Aids

– First Aid Kit

– Insect Repellant

This might not be a bad idea to pack just in case you go somewhere where there may be a lot of bugs and you may need bug spray. I personally have not cruised anywhere where I needed insect repellant but you never know.

10. Paperwork/Documents

Keep all your paperwork and documents for your trip together and organized.

Some documents you may need are:

– Passport

– Flight Tickets

– Itinerary

– Luggage Tags for Cruise

– Shore Excursion Paperwork/Tickets

You’ll want to book your shore excursions prior to the cruise so the they aren’t all booked up. And once they are booked and you have boarded the ship, your shore excursion tickets will be in your stateroom waiting for you. 

However, if they are not in your stateroom, you can always go to the shore excursion desk and request them.

– Cash/Credit Cards

– Insurance Cards

You should always carry these just in case something happens. It’s not guaranteed that you will be able to use them where you may be going, but still take them.

11. Electronics 

There are definitely some electronic necessities that you may need to bring.

Here are some:

– Camera

You’ll want a camera to capture those moments and memories.

– Cellphone

Always bring your cellphone. You most likely will not be able to use it on the ship especially if you are in the middle of the ocean/sea, but you may be able to use it on land.

Tip#2 – If you are traveling internationally and need to use your cellphone to check in at home, for work or for any other reason, you may want to make sure you have an international plan. And if you don’t, you should be able to get one temporarily just for your trip.

– Chargers

Don’t forget all those chargers for your different devices that you’ll need to use.

– Kindle

– Headphones

– Curling Iron/Straightner

– Hairdryer

Note: There is usually a hairdryer in your bathroom that you can use. However, I sometimes like to bring my own because I have thick hair and sometimes I feel the hairdryers in the rooms aren’t powerful enough for me.

12. For Kids/Babies

Bringing your kiddos or baby with you on the cruise?

Here are some items that are must needs to pack for your kids or babies:

– Pack n’ Play/Sheets for Pack n’ Play

There may not be a whole lot of space in the room to fit a pack n’ play, but it will fit (just might be a little tight) and I feel it’s important to take.

Tip #3 – After the baby wakes up in the morning, I would close it up since it’ll take up a lot of room. That way you will clear up some room to be able to move around a bit easier.

– Stroller

Bringing a stroller might be easier if you are on a shore excursion where you need to walk a lot. It can also be great for walking around the ship.

Tip #4 – But then there will be some shore excursions that will make taking a stroller even harder and more of a hassle. So for those shore excursions, you might want to keep it in your room back on the ship.

Tip #5 – It may be better to bring the umbrella stroller because that’s smaller and will be easier to get around with.

– Formula

– Diapers/Pull-Ups/Wipes

– Diaper Bag

– Diaper Cream

– Books/Games/Toys

Limit these. Maybe 2 books, 2 toys, and 1 game. There may be a lot of other things to do that will take up a lot of your time and may not even play with these

– Stuffed Animal

I would say limit this too. Maybe stick with their favorite stuffed animal that they like to sleep with.

– Children’s/Baby Tylenol/Banadryl/Thermometer

– Baby Shampoo/Soap

– Baby Blanket

– Swimmer Diapers

– Baby Food

– Bibs

– Onesies

– Bottles/Sippy Cups

Other Cruising Tips:

– While some things are included in the cruise like the food (all you can eat), the room, some drinks like coffee, tea, milk, juice, some things are extra like alcohol and soda (you can purchase an alcohol or soda package), the casino, specialty restaurants, purchasing items in the stores.
– You can usually bring your own soda and bottled water, but are limited on how much and the size of the cans/bottles you can take onboard.
– You can also bring your own wine, but are also limited on how many bottles and the size of the bottles you can take. Also you may be charged a corkage fee. I believe some cruise lines won’t charge you a corkage fee if you keep it in your room, but if you take it to the dining room and want them to keep it, they will charge you a corkage fee. Then there are other cruise lines that won’t let you keep it in your room and will charge you a corkage fee no matter what.
– Your room key that you receive will be used for everything so don’t lose it. It’s used to open your room, to get you on and off the ship, and to make purchases. You won’t use any cash (except in the casino) or credit cards. Your room key will be used as your credit card.
– You can pack snacks to keep in your room in case you would like to snack at night or take a snack with you when you go on a shore excursion, especially if food is not included on your shore excursion. Please note: Some shore excursions do include a snack or lunch.
– Rooms on a cruise ship tend to be small especially if you have an inside cabin. So if you don’t like small spaces or are claustrophobic, I recommend a balcony room. Not only are the rooms a little more spacious, but you can open the door to the balcony and go out there if you need some air. Plus, an added bonus, sleeping with the balcony door open is nice to fall asleep and wake up to the sound of the ocean.
Balconies on a cruise ship
So now are you ready for your cruise? Did this list get you all set to pack and hop aboard that cruise ship?

Well, if this packing list helped you pack for your cruise, then subscribe to my blog to receive the printable Ultimate Cruising Packing List. With this printable packing list, it will have the full packing check list you will need for that cruise.

Looking For More Packing Tips:

Traveling with a baby or toddler, take a look at What Essentials You’ll Need When Packing for a Baby or Toddler.

Heading out on a long flight, check out Must Need Items to Take on a Long Flight.

Looking For More Information on Cruising:

Trying to decide on a cruise or a land vacation, why not check out 10 Reasons Why a Cruise is Better Than a Land Vacation.

Or are you thinking about an Alaskan Cruise, read my article on Alaskan Cruise: Tips for a Trip of a Lifetime.

Remember Some of These Most Essential Items to Pack for Your Next Cruise

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What would you recommend packing for a cruise? Give us those recommendations in the comments below!

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