17 Top Cruise Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2017 Update)

What to bring on a Cruise

1) Clothes: Men and Women – When you’re selecting clothes for your travels, you want to keep in mind the cultural norms of the places you’ll be going, the weather there, and what you’ll be doing at each spot. Then plan accordingly. On a cruise, it’s probably a good idea to take enough clothes to last the entire trip. Paying to have them washed while you’re en route can get expensive, particularly on boats that don’t have self-service laundry facilities. Of course, nothing’s stopping you from washing a few items in the sink if you run out of things to wear.

2) Cellphone and assorted paraphernalia – You know the drill. Anything that you need to keep your phone fully operational needs to go along for the ride. You’ll definitely need a phone charger but you might also want to bring along amemory card, an extra battery, and possibly a data roaming plan.
View on Amazon.com ➜

3) Toiletries – Whatever you need to stay healthy and presentable, be sure to bring it along for the ride. Items that fall in this category tend to vary from person to person but they normally include bath related items, grooming supplies, and other hygiene products you might need. Other folks might even go so far as to bring along nail clippers, curling irons, and mini sewing kits. It really does just depend on what you think you’ll need.

4) First Aid Supplies – Don’t forget to bring along the supplies that you’ll need for dealing with common trip ailments such as cuts, abrasions, headaches, bug bites, and sunburn. Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are also good to have on hand.Just don’t forget your prescriptions and be sure to keep them in their original packages.

5) Durable Luggage – It’s always a good idea to buy luggage that can take a beating because it quite often does. If you’re going on a short cruise or dealing with budget carriers, using small backpacks or suitcases tends to work best. However, you may still want to go ahead and check at least one bag per group so that you can bring your own drinks.Groups that are traveling together will also want to put some of everybody’s clothes in each suitcase in case one or more bags are lost en route.

6) Multipurpose Bag/Carryon – Ditto with carry-ons but not so much. All valuable should go in the carry-ons as should things that you might need before you’re reunited with your luggage such as books, music players, computers, swimwear and beach gear. In a pinch, this can also double as a laundry bag.

7) All Relevant Paperwork – This includes things like passports, IDs, insurance cards, and any documents that you’ll need in order to be allowed on the ship. These items should go in your carry-on, purse, or daypack so that you can access them easily and keep an eye on them. Don’t put them into checked bags. Not only is doing so a security risk, your luggage will be taken onto the boat hours before you will be allowed onboard so you won’t have access to your paperwork when you need it.

8) Bathroom Door Organizer – As seen here, these devices come in handy for arranging your toiletriesin the small bathrooms that are often found on cruise ships. You can easilyfind door organizers in the household sections of places like Target and Walmart. They may be labeled as being shoe organizers but they will just fine when it comes to keeping your bathroom gear tidy.

9) Beverages – Travelers need to read the regulations carefully but they may be permitted to bring along a bottle or two of wine or a case of soda/beer. However, large quantities of beverages are generally not permitted onboard. I personally love this guy’s idea of sandwiching your wine bottles in between your sneakers to keep the occasionally careless baggage handlers from breaking it all over everything. You might still want to take the added precaution of sealing it up in a plastic bag before putting it in your shoes. That also ought to keep your wine from smelling like feet and prevent it from getting your gear if it does break.You may want also to bring a corkscrew for opening the wine.

10) Beverage Container – This could be a water bottle or it could be a large, insulated mug of some sort.You might even want to bring along both. Although most water based beverages such as coffee are free on board the ship, having your own sturdy mug means that you don’t have to bother with the flimsy disposal cups that are often handed out. You also can get enough coffee in one trip to keep you going rather than constantly running back for refills. Although having a water bottle certainly comes in handy for shore excursions, there’s nothing stopping you from taking your coffee with you when you leave the boat if it’s in a travel mug.
View on Amazon.com ➜

11) Walking Shoes: Men and Women – You’ll want to bring along comfortable walking shoes (probably sneakers) and something dressy for fancy occasions. If you have a pair that can be used for both purposes bring them along instead to lighten your load. Just remember that many cruise lines provide a variety of outdoor activities for guests and you don’t want to be without closed toed shoes when faced with a rock wall. However, the shipboard dress code may dictate that you wear fancier footwear on other nights so make sure to read the fine print.
View on Amazon.com ➜

12) Flip Flops or Waterproof Shoes – You’ll need these for coming and going from the pool, if your ship has one. They’re additionally good to have along if you plan on stopping at the beach during your travels. Just be sure you’re not taking along the cheap kind because those don’t usually have much traction and they tend to be very slippery on wet surfaces.
View on Amazon.com ➜

13) Destination Guidebook – You want a destination specific guidebook so which one you’ll need varies based on the trip you’ll be taking. If you don’t speak the local language, make sure that the book also contains a basic phrase guide so that you can communicate basic information if the need arises. Some guides even come in pfdformats. This allows travelers to download them to their electronic devices rather than drag along large, cumbersome books.

14) Snacks (maybe) – If you’re going to have a long wait anywhere en routeor you’re traveling with kids, you may want to consider bringing along prepackaged snacks.Otherwise it’s probably not worth the bother since there is going to be plenty of food available once you get checked in.

Other Things You Might Need

What to wear on a Cruise

1) Don’t forget your swimwear and other beach supplies, particularly if your cruise will be stopping at a lot of these destinations. It might even be a good idea to take an extra swimsuit so that you have one to wear while the other dries.

2) I recommend bringing along a sweater or scarf and a long pair of pants on any trip you plan on taking. This will keep you from being cold if you wind up in a chilly spot, either in port or on the boat.

3) You’ll want to take along a few nicer outfits, matching accessories/jewelry, and possibly extra makeup for the fancier evenings on the ship is a good idea.

4) Don’t forget to bring along closed-toed shoes and a couple pairs of socks, particularly if activities like rock climbing walls and hiking are going to be part of the fun.

5) Have weather appropriate clothes to change into once you get off the plane so that you’re comfortable while you’re in transit.

6) Keep in mind the dress codes practiced on your particular cruise line and those practiced by the locals in the places you will be traveling. You obviously need to dress in a more modest fashion when visiting religious sites than you would if you planned on spending all your time on the beach. Adjust your wardrobe accordingly.

7) You’ll want to make sure that everything you’re bringing along more or less matches. This allows you to switch up outfits as needed without having to drag along another bag full of clothes.

8) If you plan on visiting the gym or working out while you’re on the boat, don’t forget to take an exercise outfit or two.

What NOT to take on a Cruise

1) 🚫 An Overstuffed Suitcase: Taking too much gear is always more trouble than its worth. Avoid bringing along things you’re not going to need like excessive amounts of clothes or shoes. It’s also a good idea to avoid overly heavy books and electronic items. Besides, a suitcase that’s already crammed full of stuff leaves you with no room for souvenirs.

2) 🚫 Valuables: Although there might be some nights where you’re expected to dress up a bit, you’re better off leaving any expensive or heirloom jewelry at home. The same is true of extra electronic devices. After all, it’s far too easy to lose things when you’re constantly moving around.

3) 🚫 Uncomfortable Shoes: This one is a bit obvious but it also goes for pairs that haven’t been properly broken in. If you plan on buying brand-new shoes to wear on your trip, start using them a couple of weeks prior to your departure date. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with painful blisters when you should be enjoying yourself instead.

4) 🚫 Cruise-line Prohibited Items: These vary from company to companybut generally include anythingthat could be considereda weapon or a fire hazard.

5) 🚫 Basic Grooming Products: You can leave the shampoo, conditioner, and soap at home since these will be provided. The same is true for things like hairdryers and irons. The only reason you’d want to bring your own along for the ride is if you’re picky about these products or you need more generous quantities of them than most hotels normally provide.

FAQs about going on a Cruise

1) How long do most cruises last?

It can vary greatly. There are overnight trips to nearby destinationsand then there are some round the world cruises that can take a year to complete. However, most cruises run about a week, give or take a few days.

2) What is included in the basic cost of a cruise?

The basic fees typically include a cabin on the boat, most of your food, some onboard activities, and water-based beverages like tea, lemonade, hot chocolate, and basic coffee drinks. The quoted ratedoesn’t usuallyinclude things like sodas or alcoholic beverages.Some cruises do include alcohol and excursions but others don’t. Be sure to carefully read over the official documents so that you know precisely what your money is going to get you.

3) How much should I budget for additional expenses?

Of course, travelers will need to factor the cost of transportation to and from the port. This might also include airfare and baggage fees for folks that can’t drive to where the ship departs. How much you want to budget once you get on the boat varies based on what activities you want to try out. Depending on how many places a ship docks, the port fees can also vary from trip to trip.
Some shore excursions arenaturally pricier than others. In additional to those things, there’s often an additional charge for internet usage while you’re onboard the ship so you may need to factor that into your calculations as well.

A number of cruise lines even have onboard restaurants that are not included in their meal plans so you have to pay separately for them. If you plan on going to the spa or doing some shopping while you’re on the cruise, you’ll need to adjust your budget accordingly. Most American cruise ships also charge gratuities per guest on a daily basis. The rate does vary slightly from company to company. Travelers should also be aware that onboard spas and bars automatically charge extremely high percentages as “tips” when it comes to their services. If you plan on using them, be prepared to pay more than the listed rates.

4) Is it better to arrange my own excursions or take the ones offered by the cruise line?

Arranging your own excursions is certainly cheaper than taking the ones sponsored by the cruise line. However, if the port is located far enough away from the nearest city, you might be better off to take the cruise’s official excursions rather than risk missing your boat.Budget travelers might instead choose to walk around the port city for free or head to the nearest available beach rather than go on prepackaged excursion. Some people might even opt to stay on the boat during their stay in port in order to have all the ship’s attractions to themselves.

5) When is the best time of year to go on a cruise?

It depends entirely on where you’re going. Different destinations are at their peak at different times of the year. Read up on the places that your cruise ship will be visiting and adjust your plans accordingly.

6) Do you have tips for making a cruise more enjoyable?

Perhaps the most sensible tip is to arrive at the city nearest to your departure port a day or two ahead of time. This will give you enough time to recover from your flight, possibly enjoy the city itself, and not worry so much about getting to the boat before it leaves. You’ll also want to check and double check to be sure that you have the proper paperwork that you need to embark before you get to the gangplank.

When the boat is on the move, there are a number of things you can do to improve the quality of your stay. If you’re not a big fan of children or crowded spaces, check out the adults only areas. These spots tend to be less crowded and less noisy than areas where families are welcome. If you don’t like making conversation with strangers, you might want to dine out while you’re in port rather than eat in the main dining area. Night owls might also want to check out the discos on board, even if that’s not normally their scene, since not much else happens on the boat after midnight. Also: check out this article as well as this one for even more tips.

7) Do I need a passport to go on a cruise?

Americans don’t need a passport if the cruise they’re going on in begins and ends in a US port. For cruises that end or begin in a foreign port, you’ll need a passport. However, most cruises do require an official ID of some sort before they let people onboard so make sure you see what documentation they will expect.

8) What about for shore excursions?

If the cruise will be stopping in other countries and you plan on disembarking while you’re there, you probably need a passport. American run territories like the US Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico are the main exceptions to this rule. Of course, you can still get off the boat at any port stops in the United States if you’re an American citizen.

9) How can I avoid spending a fortune on drinks?

The easiest way to do this is to take as much as you’re allowed with you. The amount does vary by company so read the fine print. Most cruise lines will typically allow travelers to bring one or two bottles of wine. Or you can drag along soda or beer, if that’s more your speed. The restrictions tend to apply more to alcoholic beverages than soft or sports drinks. Therefore, you might be able to keep bringing more on as your supply runs out.Just keep in mind that some cruise lines won’t allow this.

As was pointed out here, using flavored powder for the complimentary water onboard is another good way to get around the bizarre drink regulations. You can eventake your preferred brands of coffee, hot chocolate, and tea to brew up the drink of your choice. All the same,most of these drinks are available for free so there’s really no need to bother, unless you have very specific beverage preferences.

Another good idea is tobuy a bottle of wine and have it marked with your room number so that you can drink the rest of it later.You might even want to look at getting a beverage card that allows you to pay a flat rate per day instead of paying for them individually. However, do the math to make sure that it will save you money. It often doesn’t. This can likewise be the case with the daily drink specials, which might not actually be any cheaper than they were originally.

10) How can I avoid other sneaky fees?

Do your internet browsing while you’re in port instead of on the boat to avoid paying for pricey service while you’re onboard. Switch your phone to airline mode (which turns off the internet features) in order to avoid scary roaming charges.Meanwhile, take advantage of the free activities and food. Don’t pay for “special” meals or snacks that are just going to cost you extra. You’ll also want to minimize your participation in any activities that require additional funds like visiting the casino or seeing onboard shows.

11) How can I get a good deal on a cruise package?

Keep in mind that shorter cruises tend to be cheaper overall and they often have a lower per night price rate than longer ones. It’s no secret that inside cabins tend to be cheaperthan ones with a view or a balcony. Prices alsotend to be lower for groups, especially since these travelers can share cabins and buckets of overpriced beer. It’s certainly not surprising that it’s cheaper to traveling during hurricane season since the itineraries at such times change based on where the storm is going. (Relax! It’s not headed where you are.) Prices also go down when school is in session and you’re far less likely to encounter wild children running loose in the hallways than you might otherwise.

12) What are some ways to stay within my budget?

You’ll want to bring along everything that you’ll need so that you don’t have to purchase anything from the pricey stores onboard or deal with the limited selection in some ports. Of course, it’s always a good idea to avoid visiting any shipboard stores if you’re low on funds. The same is true of places like the casino where, like in the Hunger Games, the odds are definitely not in your favor. Don’t go overboard when it comes to purchasing souvenirs either. Get only one or two affordable items while you’re in port. It’s even better if the things you buy can be used later.

I personally like to buy cooking supplies or clothes as mementos because they don’t collect dust at my house. Seashells from the beach are likewise good, free souvenirs and you can bring them back on the airplane if they’re cleaned up and there’s no animals still living inside them. However, check the local laws before you do this. Some places won’t let you pick up shells off the beach and you certainly don’t want to get slapped with a scary fine for what was supposed to be a free souvenir.