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28 Top Caribbean Cruise Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

cruise ship in the caribbean sea
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There’s nothing like setting sail on a beautiful cruise ship venturing down to the Caribbean Sea. As the precipice of paradise – you can hop between the Bahamas, Aruba, Jamaica, the BVIs, Grand Cayman, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Honduras, and 700+ other scattered islands and territories.

Knowing what to bring on a cruise can be tricky, so we’ve created this checklist to make your life easier! We’ll guide you on what to wear on a cruise, what to pack and what NOT to bring, plus the answers to common Caribbean cruise FAQs. Bon Voyage!

Us on a Southern Caribbean cruise.
Us on a Caribbean cruise!
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What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise – 28 Essentials

  • 1. Neck Wallet

    Caribbean cruises are notorious for stopping in crowded, touristy destinations where you’re likely to be a natural target for pickpocketing and petty theft. Avoid this by bringing along a trusty neck wallet, which will hold your phone, passport, wallet, and other valuables and can be tucked securely beneath your clothing.

    Neck Wallet

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  • 2. Motion Sickness Patches

    Despite the large stabilizers on cruise ships, you may still feel some wobbling. Not to mention, you’ll ride smaller boats for excursions that are not nearly as stable, and cruise ships are often too large to enter beach town ports, which means you must take little tender boats to reach land. These smaller vessels can turn you green real quick! So if you are prone to motion sickness, pack this natural remedy that will prevent nausea and illness.

    motion sickness

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  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    The rise of cybersecurity attacks and ransomware threats has gone up by 550% in the Caribbean, according to a recent Mandian Advantage Report. Don’t fall victim to preventable ransomware, malware, or data phishing scams – a reliable VPN like NordVPN will protect your sensitive information, such as credit card numbers and passwords, from hackers who could potentially steal your identity. I learned this first-hand when I had my credit card number stolen at our Airbnb (apparently, even the places that appear credible and safe – are not).

    Especially on crowded cruise ships and in touristy port cities, it’s essential to activate your VPN before connecting to public Wi-Fi networks at airports, pubs, coffee shops, hotels, etc. (and this includes your cell phone). A VPN will also ensure you can access websites like YouTube, Netflix, PayPal, and other frequently censored sites in the event that they’re blocked in your host country.

    Virtual Private Network (VPN)

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  • 4. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

    Everybody knows that cell phones, water, and sand simply don’t mix. Using a waterproof phone case will keep your selfie game strong, even when you’re in the pool or splashing at the beach during your cruise. This one is reliable and SUPER inexpensive.

    Universal Waterproof Phone Case

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  • 5. Travel Clothesline

    You’ll end up with loads of wet towels and swimsuits every day on your Caribbean Cruise. Don’t allow sogginess and mold to prevail! Dry everything quickly by bringing a clothesline with you. This one is awesome because it comes with its own clothes pins and can easily be hung both indoors and outdoors.

    travel clothesline

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  • 6. Travel Insurance for Caribbean Cruises

    Don’t leave for your cruise without travel insurance! It may seem safe because sometimes you’re departing from your home country – but! Your domestic provider will NOT follow you outside of the border and this could leave you without coverage. You never know what can happen on the high seas, so make sure you’re covered in case of an emergency to avoid paying out-of-pocket for expensive medical bills. A simple transfer to the mainland starts at $25K (I’ve seen it cost up to $90K depending on location), and that’s before arriving at a hospital for treatment!

    Faye is our top pick because they offer a 100% digital experience. With their mobile app, you can buy coverage, make claims, and get reimbursed – all without ever having to deal with endless paperwork. They’ll cover you for common issues like lost or stolen luggage, medical expenses, and flight cancellations. And they have incredible add-ons for pets, extreme sports, and the ability to cancel your trip “for ANY reason!” Which is extremely valuable these days.

    Faye Travel Insurance

    Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

  • 7. Packing Cubes

    Packing cubes will revolutionize the way you pack for vacation. You’ll be more organized than ever when you separate your clothes and belongings into distinct vibrantly colored cubes. We love this set because you can have different colors for every family member, and the separate dirty and clean laundry cases are a nice touch too!

    packing cubes

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  • 8. Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

    While the ship will have purified water, some of your Caribbean port destinations may not have the safest tap water available. Whether you’re out at sea on snorkeling tours or ziplining through the jungle – you will appreciate having autonomy over your own water supply. The Grayl water bottle is our favorite. It’s a bit pricey, but the quality reflects it, removing harmful bacteria, pathogens, chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals, and microplastics.

    Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

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  • 9. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    Ships provide nice fluffy towels, but you don’t want to lug these bulky items ashore for excursions. You can’t go wrong with a microfiber travel towel for your trip. This one dries 10x quicker than cotton so you’ll be able to hang it up in your cabin and use it again and again throughout the cruise.

    HERO Travel Towel - Blue

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  • 10. Luggage Straps

    Cruising involves a lot of trust with your baggage – you’re probably flying to your departure port and will need to check luggage (where airlines are not exactly known for their gentle baggage handling). And THEN you arrive at a port where you hand over your bags to be dropped off at your cabin. After your cruise, you will leave them at your cabin door so they can be transferred to a bag retrieval warehouse at the port as you disembark, wherein you will find your bags that have been sorted by color (basically in a sea of generic bags that all look the same!)

    Chaos, right? But it won’t be stressful – especially if you have these colorful luggage straps that reinforce your luggage and make it easy to identify your belongings in a crowd. The staff generally won’t ‘baby your bags,’ and millions of bags are damaged or lost each year. I feel peace of mind attaching these adjustable straps to all of my cases (checked bags to reinforce the zippers, and carry-ons to snatch any souvenirs I’ve picked up along the way). I’d recommend these to any cruiser or flyer.

    luggage straps

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  • 11. Beach Bag

    We were overjoyed to discover this beach tote with an attached cooler. You can throw your essentials like towels, shades, reef-safe sunscreen, and books in the top section, as well as drinks and snacks in the insulated bottom cooler. Bonus points that it’s waterproof and very spacious!

    Beach Bag

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  • 12. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

    Keep potential thieves out of your bags with a reliable pair of luggage locks. These 4-digit combination locks will ensure your belongings stay safe whether your bags are in transit or sitting unattended in your cabin. I’ve also found that bringing a spare lock or two is always a good idea in case you need to lock away valuables in a gym or pool locker.

    luggage locks

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  • 13. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    Whether you’re strolling through a coastal town or relaxing on the ship, you’ll want to make sure your electronics are well-charged and don’t die at an inopportune moment. Slip this lipstick-sized portable charger in your pocket, beach bag, or daypack to use as a backup battery. It has saved us when we needed to call for an emergency ride back to the ship before port departure.

    Lipstick-Sized Charger

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  • 14. Cooling Towels

    Soak up the sun in paradise while staying comfortable with one of these clever cooling towels. They are small enough to bring just about anywhere but get seriously chilly! All you do is wet the towel, wring out excess water, and instantly it becomes 20-30 degrees colder than the air temperature. They’re great for days spent sunbathing on the deck, outdoor activities, or when walking around coastal cities.

    towel pink

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  • 15. Hangover Relief Pills

    It’s not called a ‘booze cruise’ for nothing! With mai tais, piña coladas, and generously inclusive drink packages – you’ll need a preventative measure to stop a hangover in its tracks. Don’t forget that the combination of alcohol and tropical sun is a recipe for dehydration. Cheers is a top-notch brand for detoxing alcohol from the body more quickly so you can skip the suffering, supplement your electrolytes, and keep the party going!

    Hangover Relief Pills

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  • 16. Swimsuit Cover-Up

    The dress code in the Caribbean Isles is relaxed and casual. You’ll definitely want a cute cover-up to throw on over your swimsuit throughout the day. This makes it easy to stroll along the shore or stop into a charming beach cafe or bar. You’ll feel much more comfortable wearing more than just your swimsuit.

    Swimsuit Cover-Up

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  • 17. Affordable Underwater Camera

    An affordable underwater camera is the perfect tool for capturing those Caribbean Cruise memories. This camera is ideal for vacations like this because it’s waterproof, small, and nearly indestructible. You’ll treasure the HD footage for years to come and not have to break the bank on a GoPro or cheesy studio photos that the cruise line provides at a steep fee.

    Affordable Underwater Camera

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  • 18. Universal Power Adapter

    Most cruise ships will use the same outlets and voltages as in the United States and Canada. That said, if you’re traveling from another country or plan to plug anything in the port cities, you’ll definitely want to bring a reliable universal adapter like this one. You can trust the quality since this company believes in its product enough to offer a lifetime replacement guarantee.

    Universal power adapter

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  • 19. Discounted Tickets on Caribbean Attractions

    Get Your Guide is our favorite booking service for top-notch excursions that support local tour guides. They offer flexible cancelation and discounted rates (often much cheaper than the excursions sold by the cruise lines).

    Swim with the dolphins in Cancún, venture to the Isla Mujeres by sailboat, spend a lazy day in Jamaica, and chase waterfalls in Grenada. With swimming pigs in The Bahamas, snorkeling in Aruba, a wildlife sanctuary in Honduras, abandoned shipwrecks in Barbados, and the Mayan Ruins of Belize City – you will have no shortage of epic activities to keep your itinerary full!

    Discounted Tickets on Caribbean Attractions

    See all Caribbean attractions at ➜

  • 20. Rash Guard

    The Caribbean sun shines more powerfully because it is closer to the equator. Since the UV index could be at a skin-damaging level, a rash guard is a wise precaution. This one is stylish, minimizes sunburns, and makes chilly waterfall swims more tolerable as well.

    Rash Guard

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  • 21. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    Be sure to pack an umbrella for when you get off the ship to explore. Islands and coastal towns tend to have sporadic rain and are located in hurricane-prone areas. While the risk of a storm is low, don’t let a few showers put a damper on your day! I’m a huge fan of this travel umbrella because it is compact, extremely well-made, and can fit up to two people underneath.


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  • 22. Activated Charcoal (Food Poisoning Fix)

    The Caribbean is full of rich delicacies. When you disembark in the various port cities, there’s no question you’ll be enticed to try them all. If your body isn’t used to the cuisine or you eat something that leaves your stomach feeling unsettled, be sure to take activated charcoal tablets that will quickly expel the toxins in your system.

    Activated Charcoal (Food Poisoning Fix)

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  • 23. Waterproof Backpack

    We always find a backpack nifty for exploring on land. Since you’ll be snorkeling, hiking, and enjoying moisture-prone areas, we can speak from experience that it’s slightly devastating to watch your daybag slosh around a dingy boat, getting every item completely soaked! Preserve your cash, phones, books, and other delicate items by opting for a waterproof design.

    Waterproof Backpack

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  • 24. Mosquito-Repellent Wristbands

    While mosquito-borne illnesses are not associated with every Caribbean region, in recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in Zika, Dengue, and other preventable infections. Bring a deet-free spray and combine it with these wearable wristbands. They are natural and safe for children, made with citronella and other oils that repel those pesky little gnats!

    Mosquito-Repellent Wristbands

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  • 25. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    If you’ve never seen a cruise ship bathroom, you’re in for a real treat 🙂 Spanning a whopping 25-square feet on average, you’ll basically have a tube the size of your body to shower in, plus a toilet and sink. Since there is barely room to turn around, this hanging toiletries bag will be your new best friend where storage is concerned. It unfolds to display 4 large pockets that will hold all your self-care items, helping you to maintain your routine (and sanity!)

    This one is from Eco Sun, a woman-owned company that makes products I love that are backed by a lifetime money-back guarantee. Plus, part of their proceeds are invested in girls’ education in developing countries and environmental sustainability.

    hanging toiletry bag

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  • 26. Kid’s Snorkel & Life Jacket

    A huge part of the islands’ charm is spending time in the stunning turquoise water. Adults will have a much easier time finding rental equipment and snorkeling gear that fits, but children’s sizes are much less easy to stumble upon. Don’t risk your little ones struggling with a flooded mask – bring your own, like this full-screen option with a breathing tube that stays out of their face. Don’t forget the unisex life vest so they can have full confidence in the water.

    Kid’s Snorkel & Life Jacket

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  • 27. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    While there are some cheesy souvenirs in the Caribbean, there are also incredibly beautiful, handmade, and high-quality gifts that you can bring back for yourself and your loved ones. Use this “just in case” bag to bring home authentic Caribbean rum, pearls from the Cays, jams from Freeport, woven goods from Grand Turks, shells, cigars, jewelry, and much more. This bag counts as your personal item and fits neatly under your plane seat for the flight home.

    Packable “Just in Case” Bag

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  • 28. Reusable Bottle Protector “Wine Wings”

    For any rum, perfumes, oils, or delicate glass-bottled goods – don’t forget these bottle protectors that keep everything intact during transit. Airport baggage teams tend to throw suitcases around with reckless abandon, which can lead to exploding bottles, shards of glass, and wasted spills of your favorite new liquor. These padded bags are reusable, triple-sealed, and a great investment for all future travels!

    Reusable Bottle Protector “Wine Wings”

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What to Wear on a Caribbean Cruise

On a cruise, definitely keep it casual during the day. Bring swimsuits, tank tops, shorts, coverups and sundresses. Dining attire is usually “ cruise casual” in all restaurants on the ship, so bring some casual-cute clothing like simple dresses, a nice pair of khakis, and simple sandals. Some people like to get all dolled up for dinner on occasion, but of course this is optional!

What NOT to Take on a Caribbean Cruise

  • 1.Firearms and ammunition

    Guns, ammunition, any kind of knives, swords, daggers, bullwhips or any other types of weapons are definitely not allowed on cruise ships

  • 2.Coolers

    Normally, coolers are not allowed to be brought onboard. The only exception is for coolers that are needed to carry medications, baby food or items related to dietary constraints.

  • 3.Homemade, pre cooked or other perishable food items

    Cruise companies wants you to spend your money on the cruise ship. You can bring packages snack food, but no homemade meals. You can usually make special requests ahead of time if you have dietary restrictions.

FAQs About Caribbean Cruises

  • 1. How long is a Caribbean Cruise?

    It depends on the cruise. Some cruises last for three days, and others up to two weeks!

  • 2. Is there laundry service on board?

    Usually, there is indeed laundry service onboard, and sometimes laundry rooms complete with washers, dryers, detergent and ironing equipment. Wash and press services are also sometimes available. Check with your particular cruise line beforehand, and plan accordingly.

  • 3. Can you bring your own food?

    It depends on the cruise company you are going with, but generally, you cannot bring pre-cooked or perishable foods. Sealed containers of snacks are usually allowed, though.

  • 4. How can I avoid overpacking?

    Before you commit to bringing anything, make a list of what activities you’ll be doing throughout the whole cruise. Plan out each day’s outfit, and try to stick to items that can be reworn and repurposed. For example, bringing a simple black dress that you can wear during the day with sandals can probably be dressed up at night time with some lipstick and cute jewelry. By bringing multipurpose clothing items, you can pack much lighter.

  • 5. How do I choose the right bag to bring with me?

    It’s all about personal preference! A rolling bag is always a good option if you want to save yourself shoulder or back pain.

  • 6. How can I keep my bag organized?

    Packing cubes will seriously up your packing game. Use them for clothing, socks, accessories, and literally anything else you need to pack. Separate your toiletries using ziplock bags, and always bring an extra bag specifically for dirty laundry.

  • 7. What if the weather is bad at some point during the cruise?

    If the forecast looks like rain, bring a raincoat or poncho just to be safe. If you’re worried about the weather “raining on your parade,” bring a deck of cards or download Heads Up on your phone to entertain your group if you get stuck inside!