17 Top Caribbean Cruise Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2019)

Updated on April 25, 2019 by Asher Fergusson

There’s nothing like setting sail on a swanky cruise ship for the Caribbean trip of a lifetime.

Perhaps you’re well-organized and start packing your suitcase at least a week before your cruise, but if you’re like me, you may wait until the last minute.

If that’s the case, check out this simple go-to packing list for your vacation. 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!

What to bring on a Caribbean cruise:

1) Suitcase – It’s important to bring a solid piece of luggage when you’re going on a cruise in order to keep your stuff organized, safe and contained. A hardshell suitcase will protect your belongings during your journey, but in some cases a regular soft material is more convenient. This suitcase is perfect to stowaway on the ship, and is roomy enough to fit the variety of outfits you’ll want on board.

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2) Guide Book – There’s nothing more thrilling than reading about your one of your many cruise destinations while you’re on your way there. A guidebook (or the kindle version of your guidebook) is a fun way to pass time on the ship, and will get you educated about and excited for your next docking location. Lonely Planet is my tried and true favorite!

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3) Sleep aid – Some people claim that it can be hard to sleep on cruise ships, especially in the beginning when there may also be a big time change in play, not to mention jet lag! If you feel you might need something to help you fall asleep, melatonin is a good natural remedy!

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4) GoPro – A waterproof GoPro camera is the perfect tool for capturing those Caribbean Cruise moments with your travel buddies or partner. This camera is totally perfect for vacations like this because they’re waterproof, small, and nearly indestructible. You’ll treasure the HD footage for years to come.

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5) Sunscreen – Caribbean cruises mean lots and lots of sunshine! Whether you’re getting your tan on by one of the sparkling pools onboard, or relaxing on a beach where the ship is docked for the day, you’ll need to bring a sunscreen that has a super strong SPF level. This one is hypoallergenic and safe for kids, too. Make sure you apply every hour if you’re getting in the water.

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6) Waterproof Pouch – When you travel anywhere, you need to make sure you bring all the important documents like your plane tickets, passports or visas. Especially on a cruise, it’s vital to bring a waterproof pouch to store all of these documents. Anything that’s made of paper should go inside one of these pouches, just in case.

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7) Laundry Bag – Don’t let your ship cabin stink. Dirty swimsuits and clothing will need a place to go during your stay on the ship, so collect your laundry in a big mesh laundry bag. That way, you can easily throw it all in the washing machine onboard or pass it on to laundry services. Most cruise ships have laundry rooms, complete with irons and ironing boards.

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8) Air Freshener – Even if you’re lucky enough to have a room with a balcony, the air in cabins on cruise ships can notoriously get stale and musty. Fix this issue by bringing a fresh scented air spritzer. Febreze has some great scents in small containers that won’t take up much room in our suitcase, and a fresh-smelling room with make you feel more at home!

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9) Clothes Line – You’ll end up with loads of wet towels and swimsuits every day on your Caribbean Cruise. Dry them out quickly by bringing a clothesline with you. This one is awesome because of its braided design. You can securely hang up anything without using clothespins, and attach it nearly anywhere.

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10) Seasickness Bracelets – In the unlucky event that you or someone in your group is prone to motion sickness, having a seasickness remedy with you is invaluable. Although cruises usually sell medicine on board, it’s much more effective to try to prevent illness before it happens. Slip on one of these tried and tested seasickness bracelets ahead of time.

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11) Tide-to-go Pen – Stains are likely to happen with all of the dining and debauchery that goes on aboard cruise ships! Since your clothing options are somewhat limited since you’re not at home, it’s a smart idea to bring a tide-to-go pen for little spills. That way you can wear and rewear your wardrobe throughout the whole cruise without worrying about embarrassing stains.

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12) Ziploc Bags – Since going on a cruise usually means living in close quarters, organization is absolutely key. Bring a full supply of ziploc bags so that you can stay organized. You can use ziploc bags to store everything from toiletries to clothing to souvenirs. They’re also good for sticking your electronics in when you’re at the pool or beach.

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13) Watch – It’s easy to lose track of time on a Caribbean Cruise. For maximum vacation fun, leave your phone locked up in your cabin before heading out for an afternoon on an island. My advice is to bring a waterproof watch to wear so that you can disconnect but still keep track of the time.

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14) Sunglasses – For all of your sunny-weather island hopping, you won’t want to hit the beach without your shades. Sunglasses will protect your eyes and also add edge to every beachy outfit you might wear. These cruise-worthy sunglasses are cute, classic, and not too expensive!

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15) Beach bag or Backpack – You can’t go to the beach (or pool!) without a bag to put all your essentials. Whatever bag you bring is likely to get sandy and wet, so a beach bag is a great accessory to bring on your cruise. This one is well-made and very spacious. Throw in your sunscreen, shades, guide book and sun hat, and you’re ready to go!

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16) Swimsuit – This one is pretty obvious – your Caribbean Cruise packing list is not complete without a cute swimsuit or two. Some popular styles are one pieces, cheeky bottoms (less tan lines) and high waisted bikinis. This one is comfortable, unique, and very highly rated.

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17) Waterproof phone case – Everybody knows that cell phones and water simply don’t mix. Using a waterproof phone case will keep your selfie game strong, even when you’re in the pool or at the beach during your cruise.

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Other packing list items for a Caribbean cruise:

What to wear on a 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) 🚫 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.
3) 🚫 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.

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!

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