Cruise Packing Guide: What to Bring & What Not to Bring
I remember the first time I took a cruise I had no idea what to pack. Now, after 25+ cruises, I have it down and hope this guide will help you to not stress over what to bring (or not to bring)!
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Things to pack
This guide is something I've shared with friends and family to help prepare for their upcoming cruises. I hope it helps you easily prepare too! Not everything on this list is essential but there are a few things that I pack that are unique to cruising. I've included links to some of my favorite items!
Boarding pass - Most cruise lines now do this digitally from their app so no need to print.
Passport - Make sure it is valid until at least 6 months after sailing.
Cash - You will only need this for while you are in port, as ships are generally cashless and everything will be charged to your room.
It's easy to overpack clothes. Most days you will spend in your bathing suit/cover up during the day and get dressed for dinner each night. Depending on how you plan to cruise, if you are going to the Main Dining room or a Specialty restaurant for dinner, you'll want to change out of your bathing suit and into another outfit for dinner. This will mean you'll need to plan one outfit for dinner each night. Depending on the Cruise line, most no longer have "dress codes" for dinner. You can dress up or dress casual as much as you'd like. I suggest bringing items you can easily wear more than once. Skirts/pants/shorts you can wear with multiple tops. If you are a "go to the buffet for dinner" type of traveler, you can stay in your casual daytime clothes.
Dressy pants/skirts/sundresses for ladies
Khakis/dress pants/shirts for men
Lightweight sweater or jacket - Sometimes the dining rooms are chilly.
Sports bras/workout clothes - If you plan on staying active while on board!
Bathing suit/cover-up - I recommend bringing at least 2 so you always have a dry one!
Purse - Only if you want to accessorize your dinner outfit, otherwise not needed!
Most cruise lines provide basic toiletries in the bathrooms. These typically include shampoo, conditioner, body wash or soap. Some people prefer to bring their own. If you forget anything, there is a gift shop on board most ships where you can buy these items.
Sunblock - I love this one!
Portable speaker/charger - We love to play music while we are getting ready for dinner!
Travel fan - If you like a breeze or the sound of a fan while you sleep. I have one like this.
Portable charger - This one is my favorite that I've had.
USB plug - Most cruise cabins have 2 plugs. In todays world, we have many devices to charge so we always bring along this charging cord.
Lanyard for your card - Find one that shows your style. Here's an example.
Beach bag - I love this one that locks.
Towel clips so your towel doesn't blow away!
Cruise luggage tags - You will need to print luggage tags before you leave home. I love these luggage tags that make it easy to attach your cruise ship luggage tags to your bags.
Luggage scale - Bringing home more than you took? Don't get caught paying overweight baggage fees at the airport!
Magnetic hooks - The walls of a ship are metal! I use these around our cabin to hang our hats, wet bathing suits, daily itineraries, etc. I have these.
Binoculars - Fun to see passing ships & islands.
Reusable cup - Keep your drinks cold at the pool or take a cold drink with you off the ship.
Ziploc bags - To wrap any souvenirs that may leak.
Garbage bags - For dirty clothes.
If you need luggage tags, lanyards and a plug, here's a great option that has them all!
Pack anything you may need for your first day on board in a carry on you bring with you on board: swimsuit, change of clothes for the first night/dinner, medications, etc. Luggage is usually delivered to your stateroom by 3-4pm on embarkation day, however there could be delays and this will ensure you have everything you need for the first day!
At the end of your cruise, you'll also be able to pack your luggage and set it outside your room the night before disembarkation. You can use your carry-on bag to carry off essential items you'll need your last night.
P.S. Don't forget to keep an outfit to wear off the ship before they take your luggage! This will save you having to walk off in a borrowed robe!
Things not to pack
After every cruise I walk by the "naughty table" where they have things laid out that someone tried to bring. These items are on the "No No List." By avoiding bringing these items, you'll avoid delays in your baggage being delivered to your room.
Most cruise lines do not allow anything with a heating element (besides a curling/straightening iron) as these things are fire hazards. So leave these things at home:
Weapons & ammunition are also not allowed on board.
Drones are also not allowed to be used while sailing. Some cruise lines do not allow them at all, while others will allow them as long as you only use them while in port.
Need to Know
Most cruise lines have similar rules on what you can/can not bring on board but it's always best to check their FAQ as you can usually find the answers you need there.
Looking for more cruise inspiration? Check out Fora Advisor Adam Gallagher's guide, An Insider's Guide to Solo Cruises.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on Cruises.