Cruise Packing List

What are the must have items for a cruise? Whether you are a first time or repeat cruiser, there is always room for improvement when it comes to packing for your cruise. Outside of the usual things I pack for any vacation, here are some things I pack specifically for cruises:

  • $1 bills: Tips for porters ($2 per bag), room service ($2-5 depending how much food ordered), and self-service laundry (change available in the laundry room or from front desk). I try to bring at least $20 worth.
  • $50-75 cash in $5, $10, & $20: Cash tips on top of cruise line gratuity for excellent crew members. We usually wind up giving extra tips to our room attendant, waiter, assistant waiter, and any exceptional crew members who help us out. U.S. dollars are fine on any American cruise line, meaning you don’t need to tip in Euros on a European cruise.
  • Address labels: for your disembarkation luggage tags
  • Battery-operated alarm clock: most cabins do not have a clock
  • Power Strip: cabins have very few plugs to recharge your electronic gadgets
  • Small flashlight or night light: it’s pitch black at sea
  • Hair elastics: outside decks are very windy for women with long hair
  • Highlighter: to highlight interesting activities on the daily schedule
  • ID Lanyards: onboard the ship, cruises are cashless so leave your wallet and purse in your cabin safe and wear your cruise card around your neck. You can also get a retractable ID holder.
  • Insulated lunch bag & Ziplock bags: if you plan on packing lunch for a busy port day
  • Laundry detergent & dryer sheets: for self-service laundry. I HIGHLY recommend 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets! Each sheet contains both detergent and dryer sheet so you don’t have to worry about messy liquids and powders. If you plan to do your own laundry, don’t forget to bring quarters too. DO NOT USE POD DETERGENTS like Tide Pods! Most cruise ship washing machines are not high efficiency and your pods can leave a stained gooey mess on your clothes and clothes of people using the machine after you.
  • Magnets: Cabin doors are made of metal so I put our cruise itinerary and weather forecast on the back of the door
  • Magnetic hooks: Hang your ID lanyards on the back of the door
  • Post-it notes & pen: for writing little notes to your room attendant. I stick them in the middle of the bathroom or desk mirror so he/she will see it.
  • Sea sickness prevention aids and remedies
  • Waterproof watch: you’ll be hard pressed to find a clock anywhere in the public spaces on the ship, including the pool areas
  • Small scissors or pocket knife: to cut off airline & embarkation luggage tags. Your airline tag should be be removed before arriving at the port. Your embarkation tags should be cut off before leaving out your luggage for disembarkation.
  • Clear Packing Tape (Tear By Hand): for attaching and securing embarkation luggage tags
  • First Aid & Medicine Kit
  • Downy Wrinkle Releaser: Cabins don’t have irons and cruise lines do not allow you to bring your own because they are a fire hazard. A few cruise lines have irons in the self-service laundry but we’re seeing more lines taking them away.
  • Reusable Shopping Bag: If you plan to go shopping during your vacation, it’s handy for carrying all of your new possessions and when you decline those plastic and paper bags at stores, it’s good for the environment too! I especially find it handy when buying a few small things from different stores and I can consolidate all those purchases into a single shopping bag. Mine have unique designs so they are easy to recognize if I decide to leave them on a motorcoach or van while making a sightseeing stop. It’s also a great backup when your suitcase won’t close anymore or if you’ve bought fragile items that you prefer to carry on the plane. Reusable shopping bags are easy to find at stores now and you may even have some already on hand. I love my Envirosax Reusable Shopping Bags, which I’ve had since 2009 and they are still going strong 9 years later!
  • Special Clothing: Even if you’re sailing away to a tropical destination or glacier viewing in Alaska, check with your cruise line on appropriate attire for dinner. Some cruise lines have formal nights and you’ll want to bring dresses or a suit, evening bag, dress shoes, and jewelry. Other cruise lines have special themed nights, such as White Hot Party or Pirate Night, so you’ll want to check if your cruise has special nights that you’ll want to dress up for!
  • Bags: Consider what you might need based on your sailing and what you like having with you. Things that I consider bringing are: port purse, backpack, beach bag, and of course the reusable shopping bag I mentioned above


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