Table of Contents

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

33 Top Cruise Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring
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We love cruises because they’re the best of both worlds: you get to see many destinations and attractions – and yet you still have the same accommodations, reliable tasty food, and entertainment every night. They are unbelievably awesome for families and our two young kids still talk about how much they loved the “big boat!”

Below you’ll also find suggestions on what to wear on a cruise, our list of the top items to bring, and what NOT to pack. Bon voyage!

Us on a Southern Caribbean cruise.
Us on a Caribbean cruise!
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What to Pack for a Cruise – 32 Essentials

  • 1. Natural Motion Sickness Patches

    These little miracle workers are absolutely incredible. I normally get seasick, so the days out at sea can be quite hard. I’ve tried many different remedies — from sea bands to homeopathic pills to Dramamine (which has horrible drowsy side effects). But these new motion sickness patches work like magic! On our last cruise, I thought I was going to puke, then remembered I had them. I simply stuck them behind my ears and BAM! I wasn’t sick for the rest of the trip.

    motion sickness

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  • 2. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    A travel towel is a must-bring on a cruise. Cruise lines say they provide towels — but they can be a bit scarce. When they are available, they’re bulky and too big to carry on day-long excursions. By having your own travel towel, you can ensure that you’ll always have one that is compact and light as a feather. Moreover, this one dries 10x faster than cotton so you won’t have to lug wet towels after a long day at shore.

    HERO Travel Towel - Blue

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  • 3. Magnetic Hooks

    Did you know that most ship doors have steel inside which makes them magnetic? We bring along these magnetic hooks for all of our cruises because storage is scarce, and these are so useful to hang wet clothes, towels, or anything you want to keep off the floor. You can also use it like refrigerator magnets to hold up the port itinerary, restaurant contact info, and the onboard event schedule.

    Magnetic Hooks

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  • 4. Neck Wallet

    Whenever you leave the boat, you will be told to bring your SeaPass (your room key) and a passport (or equivalent ID). This convenient little pouch safely stores your passport, driver’s license, cash, credit cards, and travel documents. If you happen to be stuck in a traffic jam (this happened to us!) or your taxi breaks down on the way back to the port and you miss your boat – you’ll be happy you have your passport with you. Additionally, it will keep everything secure so pickpockets can’t access your valuables at one of the ports.

    Neck Wallet

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  • 5. Travel Insurance for Cruising

    Your domestic insurance plans will not follow you overseas, so don’t gamble with your coverage. Cruising can make you think you’re still in America because that’s where the journey may start, but think about where you’re going and if you’d like to be in a foreign hospital, paying out-of-pocket during an emergency. An airlift from a cruise ship generally starts at $25K, but goes up depending on how far you are from the mainland. I’ve seen it cost up to $90K in Europe and that’s before arriving to a hospital for treatment!

    No one plans to get sick, so prepare for the unexpected. Faye is our go-to provider because they are modernizing the entire industry. As the first 100% digital provider, reimbursements are sent through their app when you need it most. You won’t have to deal with endless paperwork to make claims for theft, baggage loss, flight delays, or medical expenses. You can even get coverage for hurricanes & inclement weather, or the ability to “cancel for any reason.”

    Faye Travel Insurance

    Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

  • 6. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    Ships – even big, stable ones like cruise ships – tend to rock back and forth. They also leave a lot to be desired as far as countertop space and you may find yourself shrugging in disbelief at your 25-square-foot bathroom!

    Let me paint you a picture – you’ve traveled across the world to cruise through the Baltic, Mediterranean, Caribbean, or wherever. You’re either fussing with dozens of plastic sacks to hold your liquid items in TSA-approved bags, or you’re scrambling with loose bottles all over your cabin – just waiting for that BIG wave that will knock the ship’s stabilizer out of whack, sending your expensive perfume or delicate products crashing to the floor.

    On a moving vessel, stability is key. And this bag will keep everything in-place, organized, and leak-free to spare your sanity. Thank us later!

    hanging toiletry bag

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  • 7. Travel Clothesline

    You’ll end up with plenty of wet towels and swimsuits every day on your cruise, and you won’t have tons of room in the bathroom to dry things. Pack along this compact clothesline to extend your laundry system! You can hang it on the balcony or from the bathroom to the closet for a convenient dry station. This one is awesome because it comes with its own clothespins and can easily be used both inside and outside.

    travel clothesline

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  • 8. Universal Waterproof Phone Case

    Between docking on flimsy transit boats, playing along the shore, boating on excursions, and swimming at the ship’s pool – your phone is more vulnerable to water than usual. Protect your lifeline with an affordable waterproof phone case. This one has a universal fit so any phone will be functional underwater, able to take stunning pictures and mini-movies (with sound!) It’s made by a woman-owned business in Hawaii and could literally save you thousands!

    waterproof phone pouch

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  • 9. Flotation Strap

    Don’t neglect to attach these brightly colored flotation straps so your device floats and is easy to spot. I’ve dropped my phone taking pictures on the water and it’s fallen into a murky lake where I couldn’t find it again. I’ve also had a camera fall into a sharp coral reef where it was unretrievable. Learn from these mistakes and attach the float strap!

    Flotation Strap

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  • 10. Luggage Straps

    You may not realize how often your bags are out-of-sight while cruising, or how rough the transit process can be. If flying to your cruise port, the airline staff are notorious for being less-than-gentle in their baggage handling. Then, you’ll pass your bags to the cruise staff who have strict deadlines and cannot “baby” your bags. The last thing you want is a suitcase explosion with everything busting out of it because of haphazard handling.

    To protect your bags from unnecessary damage, use these luggage straps that can withstand 700+ lbs of tension force. They are an elegant solution for taking the pressure off your zippers (especially after you’ve done a little shopping on vacation!), and the bright colors make it WAY easier to spot your bag for pickup instead of accidentally grabbing someone else’s generic black suitcase.

    luggage straps

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  • 11. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    Cruise ships are not the safest place to surf the internet and even when stopping at ports, you’ll likely want to hop on random Wi-Fi networks at restaurants, coffee shops, and beachside hangouts. Even if they seem credible, public places have tons of creepy onlookers monitoring your activity, which could risk your passwords, credit card details, and private identity.

    I experienced this first-hand when my credit card number was stolen from an Airbnb that I thought was safe. I’ve learned my lesson and now use NordVPN to browse the internet worry-free. They offer exceptional service at an affordable price, so it’s really a no-brainer for any kind of travel. Not to mention, if you’re cruising through a region that has online censorship (predominantly in the Caribbean, Europe, and Eastern nations), you’ll need a VPN to use your favorite sites. Nord offers 6,000 servers in 60 countries, so there’s basically nothing on the internet you won’t have access to.

    Virtual Private Network (VPN)

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  • 12. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

    Between flying to the port, handing over your bag for delivery at your suite, and exploring cities that are targeted by pickpockets – these TSA-approved luggage locks are crucial to a worry-free travel experience. Many tourist-filled destinations are hot spots for thieves that work in groups to distract and rob you. We put these locks on our suitcases and backpacks to keep this preventable crime at bay. A lock should deter any sticky fingers and this set is 10x harder to crack than typical 3-digit locks.

    luggage locks

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  • 13. Natural Hangover Relief Pills

    Alcohol and sun are not a good combo and when you’re cruising, you may find yourself getting a lot of both. While you’re making the most of that all-inclusive drink package, use these natural hangover prevention pills made with vitamins, electrolytes, and other safe ingredients like Dihydromyricetin that actually help a lot! The one we like is called Cheers and was featured on Shark Tank. With proven liver support that detoxes alcohol faster, it worked for us!

    hangover pills

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  • 14. Packing Cubes

    Organization is key when packing for a cruise because unless you can afford a penthouse – your stateroom will be tiny! These economical luxury organizers are flexible and zippered so that you can pack them and place them neatly into your luggage and then place them directly into the drawers of your room without needing to unpack. You can label each cube (tops, pants, that sexy dress, swimwear, essentials, etc.), and they keep your items contained so that you never have to rummage around for what you need. Besides offering sanity and bliss, they also free up space for that duty-free merchandise you may be bringing home!

    packing cubes

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  • 15. Gorgeous Dress

    By day, a cover-up may do the trick – but by night, you will need something a bit fancier! From the multiple dining options onboard to the inevitable dance club and lounge visits, this sexy cocktail dress is the ideal evening look. Most people go on vacation to feast and there will be no shortage of meals on a cruise ship, I like that this look covers my tummy yet hugs the curves for a modest look that complements all body types. We’re going for – affordably chic while looking like a million bucks!


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  • 16. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    Considering you will have long days at stops with potentially unpredictable power grids – you will be happy to have a portable charger. This one is our favorite because it’s about the size of a lipstick tube yet charges multiple devices in a day. We throw it in our backpack and can enjoy excursions without worry. It’s also nice because the ship is HUGE and you don’t want to walk (what feels like miles) back to your suite for a quick charge. Party the night away, feel free to explore, and always stay connected with the ability to snap that perfect Instagram selfie when traveling in foreign destinations.

    Lipstick-Sized Charger

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  • 17. Activated Charcoal (Food Poisoning Remedy)

    Do not leave home without these charcoal tablets. Cruising often offers a false sense of security. You think, “Oh I’m on an ‘American’ boat, food will be safe. There shouldn’t be any problem with food poisoning or stomach viruses, right?” Wrong. You will most likely be visiting foreign countries like Mexico, Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Maarten, Honduras, Greece, etc., and all of these places are known for serious traveler’s diarrhea. Unfortunately, cruise ships are notorious for folks getting sick at the buffets. These puppies will save the day. No one wants to spend their whole vacation in the tiny ship’s swaying bathroom. Trust me! (Of course, you should always consult your doctor).

    Activated Charcoal (Food Poisoning Remedy)

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  • 18. Cooling Towel Set

    Most cruise destinations are for hot locations (even during the winter months) so traveling with this cooling towel is a necessity for me. I hate feeling overheated and even though the comfort of air conditioning is available inside the ship, the deck is often scorching and AC is hard to come by at the port. If I’m strolling through the streets, visiting markets or other tourist attractions, I always carry this towel with me. For relief, you simply wet the towel, wring it out and apply it to your neck or shoulders for instant comfort. The towel is chemical-free and comes in a small case that prevents the other items in my daypack from getting damp.

    towel pink

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  • 19. Swimsuit Cover-Up

    I am madly in love with this cover-up! It’s my go-to whenever cruising or visiting coastal towns. I just throw it over my swimsuit and feel totally comfortable traveling through the boat to the beach or on an excursion. It’s sexy but modest and comfortable enough to wear while walking around the cruise ports or casually exploring the ship. The lightweight material makes it dry super quick and it’s breathable – plus it’ll take up no room in your suitcase.


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  • 20. Affordable Underwater Camera

    Cruises almost always take you to crystal-clear seas and underwater cameras are really fun to have in tow. We got so many great videos of my little son in the waves, my hubby snorkeling, and me hanging on the beach thanks to ours. We really like this little camera because it’s a fraction of the price of a GoPro but still works beautifully in 4K. Leave the DSLR at home, this camera will help you document all those breathtaking moments or that priceless underwater family self portrait.

    underwater camera

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  • 21. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    Most cruises go to locations that experience a surprising amount of rain. On the several cruises we’ve done, there have always been rainy days where we wished we had a travel umbrella to avert getting drenched! When you’re out at sea, it’s often wildly windy too, so you’ll want one that is windproof. The additional benefit of an umbrella is you can also use it for sun and UV protection on those really hot days that will likely burn you otherwise.

    travel umbrella

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  • 22. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    Cruising is an amazing (and duty-free!) opportunity to pick up gifts and souvenirs wherever you drop anchor. There are also luxury stores onboard that frequently sell popular brands and hand-crafted jewelry. This “just in case” bag folds to the size of a large sandwich when empty, but when full, it can carry your tax-free treats like liquor, luxury purses, cosmetics, skincare, clothes, ornaments, photos, art, and exotic souvenirs from your daytrips. If flying to your port, it’s also a brilliant way to save yourself carry-on fees since it counts as a personal item bag.

    Just in Case bag

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  • 23. Kid’s Snorkle & Life Vest

    While adult rentals are readily available, it is much more difficult to find a child’s snorkel mask that actually fits your little one’s face! In many destinations, rentals may not even be available. This anti-leak snorkel mask is essential for families that plan to do any water activities. The full-face design feels safer to new swimmers because can simply breathe normally without a mouthpiece. Don’t forget a safety life vest that will give your kiddos full confidence in the water!

    Shark mask snorkel kids

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  • 24. Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

    Mosquitoes are an issue in most of the places frequented by cruise lines, puerly because all of the most sought-after tropical locations are perfect for these bloodsucking pests. To protect yourself, be sure to bring these mosquito-repellent wristbands that are natural and non-toxic. I always recommend a deet-free option to keep chemical exposure to a minimum. These wristbands are safe and effective, much easier to wear than having to reapply a spray over and over.

    Mosquito Repellent Bracelets

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  • 25. Water Bottle with a Built-in Filter

    While the ship will have plenty of filtered water, the same can’t be said for your onshore excursions. Whether you’re ziplining through the jungle, exploring a port city, or sailing on a catamaran for a snorkeling trip – it’s wise to have your own water on-hand. This Brita bottle filters water and makes it taste considerably better. Much better than using wasteful plastic bottles the entire time!

    Brita water bottle teal

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  • Shore excursions via Get Your Guide are usually way cheaper than the ones offered by the cruise lines (who often jack up the price to take a hefty commission). Using this website also allows you to see authentic reviews from other travelers before you decide which excursion or activity to book.

    Based on the most popular cruising ports – some activities to check out include: Swimming with dolphins in Cozumel, attending an authentic luau in Hawaii, and whale-watching in Alaska. Whether you’re cruising through the Bahamas or the Greek Isles, they offer discounted experiences like snorkeling with wild pigs in Nassau, visiting the best wineries in Santorini, and climbing the ancient Mayan Ruins of the Mexican Riviera.

    get your guide

    See all popular attractions at ➜

  • 27. Long-Sleeved Swim Rash Guard

    Being that most tropical destinations are closer to the equator, the sun in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Southern Caribbean can be extremely harsh. I almost never burn and I turned red like a tomato on our first trip! It was a good reminder of the importance of covering up whether on the boat during cruising days or lounging at the beach. My husband is fair-skinned and cannot go to the beach without using a men’s rash guard. This one (pictured) is super stylish and flattering for women while offering serious UPF/UV sun protection – you can’t go wrong with it.

    rash guard

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  • 28. Water-Resistant Backpack

    A water-resistant daypack is a seriously non-negotiable item for me when cruising. Not only are you literally surrounded by water all day, but the little boats that bring you to excursions and land can easily soak your things. My backpack actually fell in the water once and all of my stuff got ruined… Learn from my mistakes and protect your essentials with this backpack. Whether boating, snorkeling, or just docking – you will be happy to have it. This one folds up into its own tiny storage pouch when not in use.

    Water-Resistant Backpack

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  • 29. Slip-On Mesh Water Shoes

    In tropical locations, it’s likely that you’ll be in and out of the water while you’re exploring or taking part in shore activities – and flip-flops are not going to cut it. You’ll want something comfortable that can go from land to sea so you can wear them while walking around beachside towns or trails and then hop right into the water for some snorkeling. You don’t want to worry about getting sand or water in your heavy hiking shoes, causing you to slosh around and be weighed down. Plus, there are many beaches and reefs where it’s not a good idea to go barefoot, so these mesh water shoes are a safe solution.

    Slip-On Mesh Water Shoes

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  • 30. Sand-Resistant Beach Bag

    One of the many things we love about cruising is island-hopping, so you can get a taste of each destination and return to the ones you enjoy most! Most stops will involve a beach along the coastline and you’ll want a sand-proof bag. This one is perfect for carrying swimsuits, snacks, changes of clothes, snorkels, etc. and even comes with an insulated cooler at the bottom for keeping your drinks nice and cold. Plus it’s compact and weighs next to nothing when empty.

    Sand-Resistant Beach Bag

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  • 31. Sand-Resistant Beach Blanket

    A high-quality beach blanket is hard to find but will be a game-changer when cruising. This one by Wellax is made of parachute-like material that drys in no time, and sand can’t stick to it – no more sand grains in your picnic snacks! It folds up into a little carry bag and even has a pocket for your belongings such as keys and cell phones. Pair it with the travel towel and you will have everything you need for a low-stress day in the sun.

    beach blanket

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  • 32. Natural Deodorant Wipes

    Tropical = humid. As much as we love the warmth and crave it year-round, it can leave you feeling sticky and a bit more “fragrant” than you’d prefer. Instead of feeling uncomfortable, stinky, or dousing yourself in a perfume shower – opt for natural deodorizers. These lovely single-packed wipes are made for travel so they are smaller than a pack of gum. I love that they are gentle on my sensitive skin and you will feel fresh as a morning rose, no matter where you may roam!

    Natural Deodorant Wipes

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  • 33. Packable Sun Hat

    Since the most popular cruising routes sweep across the Bahamas, Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Hawaii, and Alaska – you will always need a decent sun hat. This one is my go-to because it is wide-brimmed and sweat-resistant, but most of all, it is packable! I’ve never met a hat that didn’t look completely destroyed and disheveled after a day in my suitcase. But this one rolls up to maintain a chic shape, making it ideal for wanderlusters that don’t want the sun in their eyes all day.

    Packable Sun Hat

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What to Wear on a Cruise

Setting sail on a cruise is the trip of a lifetime. On the high seas, you may find yourself relaxing by sparkling pools on the top deck, docking for day trips to different coastal cities, exploring the world’s cultural gems, and dancing to live music on the ship. Be sure to pack for every occasion – think swimsuits, breezy cotton clothing, sun hats, and a few spiffier outfits to wear to dinner.

There are cruises that go to almost every corner of the globe. No matter where you’re going, get ready to pack your bags, hop on board, and set sail.

What should WOMEN wear on a cruise? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

On your cruise, definitely keep it casual during the day. You’ll be spending your days outside mainly, so dress for the weather (hopefully tropical!). Bring swimsuits, tank tops, loose shorts, cover ups and sundresses. Make sure to bring the right accessories, like sunglasses, sun hats, or visors. Sandals are a cruise staple. Bring some athletic clothes and comfortable closed-toed shoes to wear while exploring the cities you’ll dock in, and in case there is a rock climbing wall on board! Dining attire is usually “cruise casual” in ship restaurants, so bring some casual-cute clothing like simple dresses, and nice flats. Make sure to bring a beach bag to take to the pool or out sightseeing.

What should MEN wear on a cruise? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

Men should wear casual and comfortable clothing on a cruise. Bring swim trunks, tank tops, cotton shorts, and loose button-downs. For day trips to explore port cities, bring walking shoes and clothes that are comfortable to hike in. As far as shoes, you should pack slip-on sandals, athletic shoes or sneakers, and maybe a pair of loafers to wear around the ship. If you’re planning on dressing up for dinner, bring a nice pair of khakis, and a few good shirts.

Knowing what to pack for different types of cruises can be tough – we go into detail about the most common cruise types below.

Caribbean Cruise​ – Get ready for some seriously tropical weather if you’re headed on a Caribbean cruise. Bring extra sunscreen, aloe, a couple of extra swimsuits, and a sarong or two.

Luxury Cruise​ – Higher-end cruises come with all sorts of special amenities. Depending on the ship, some come with rock climbing walls, ziplines, ice, and inline skating, surf and skydiving simulators, water slides, and basketball and volleyball courts. Pack a wide variety of clothing for these, including athletic gear and fancier dinner attire. Dresses, suits, dress shoes, and heels are a good call.

Adventure Cruise​ – Some cruise lines seek out exotic itineraries in the Arctic, Antarctica, Galapagos, Amazon, and other less mainstream destinations. If you’re going on one of these once-in-a-lifetime adventures, check the weather and pack accordingly. This may mean packing rain jackets, waterproof pants, wetsuits, etc.

Disney Cruise​ – Disney really understands what parents and small children need on vacation, from entertainment and dining to childcare. If you’re headed on a Disney Cruise, check out this packing list for all our tips.

How to dress correctly for activities on a cruise – (Click to expand)
Day Trips & Sightseeing​ ​ – – Cruises frequently make pit stops at different port cities and islands. Usually, you will have the day to explore the area, and give your sea legs a break. Sightseeing, dining, souvenir shopping and walking around are all popular activities on cruise stops. You may even get to spend the day at the beach. Bring comfortable clothing, walking shoes, sunglasses, a daypack, and always check the weather before you leave the ship.

Pools​ – Almost every cruise ship has at least a few pools and hot tubs. Bring your swimsuit, obviously, and a few cover-ups. Sun hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are must-haves.

Ship Restaurants​ – Going to dinner on the ship is a great excuse to dress glamorously. Keep it classy with a little black dress, sundress, or nice jeans and a tank top. For men, chic slacks and button-downs are key.

Outdoor activities​ – – ​If you have any outdoor activities or tours planned during any of your cruise stops, make sure you pack accordingly. Consider bringing comfortable walking or hiking shoes, and workout attire. It may be a good idea to bring some athletic clothes, in case you want to rock climb, spelunk into a cave, or pursue any other outdoor adventure on your trip

What NOT to Take on a Cruise

  • 1.DON’T PACK too much

    An overstuffed suitcase is always more trouble than it’s worth. Avoid bringing along things you’re not going to need like excessive amounts of clothes or shoes. Besides, a suitcase that’s already crammed full of stuff leaves you with no room for souvenirs.

  • 2.DON’T TAKE expensive jewelry

    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. After all, it’s far too easy to lose things when you’re constantly moving around, and the risk of theft is not worth taking.

  • 3.DON’T BRING 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.DON’T PACK 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.

  • 5.DON’T TAKE anything prohibited by the cruise line

    The vary widely but the lists are ALWAYS made available to travelers, so you’ll be able to research the items you can’t take. Fire hazards, certain chemicals, weapons… the logical items that you can’t normally travel with anyway.

  • 6.DON’T BRING heavy items

    You’re already going to be lugging around bags so save yourself (and your back) some trouble by leaving heavy books and electronics at home. If you’re a reader (and there’s a lot of lounge time on the ship!), opt for a Kindle or a similar e-reader.

What NOT to wear on a cruise – (Click to expand)
It’s hard to go wrong with what you wear on a cruise. Leave the warm winter jackets and ugg boots at home, if you are going somewhere tropical. Super nice clothing is not necessary, unless you are going on a luxury cruise and want to dress to the nines.

FAQs about Going on a Cruise

  • 1. How long do most cruises last?


    It can vary greatly. There are overnight trips to nearby destinations and 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. Longer cruises often have a majority of their days at ports, of course, but there may be a couple of travel days where you’re on the water and have to seek entertainment on the ship itself. Don’t worry – cruise ships are infamously well-stocked with various entertainment.

  • 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 rate doesn’t usually include things like sodas or alcoholic beverages. Some cruises do include alcohol and excursions but others don’t – the ones that do will charge higher fares, so you’ll have to consider how much you’ll be taking advantage of those free drinks. For some, it’s well worth it, but for others it’s wiser just to plan on paying for each drink out of pocket. 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?

    snorkeling child

    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 are naturally pricier than others.

    In addition 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. One of the best things about cruises is that you’re largely in control of how spendy you need to be – you can do activities at every port that cost money, or you can lounge around at inexpensive or free beaches and chill in the sand.

    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?

    whale watching cruise

    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 excursions. 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?

    breakfast on the water

    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 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?

    Santorini Oia Greece

    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?

    Margarita cocktail glasses on a beach bar table with people, sunset, sea and mountains background

    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 even take 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 to buy 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?

    Netherlands view from a ship

    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 cheaper than ones with a view or a balcony. Prices also tend 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.

    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 be at other times of the year.

  • 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 are 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.

  • 13. Are cruises safe?

    cruise boat by Malta

    Yes. News about cruise mishaps has cropped up in the past few years, but believe it or not it’s extremely rare for big problems to occur on cruises. They’re quite safe, they’ve been operating for decades, and they seldom have big problems. That said, it’s always better to opt for the more reputable cruise lines when possible, and travel insurance is a good idea no matter where, when, and how you’re traveling.

    One factor to take into consideration is which destinations your cruise will be stopping in: if there are issues or travel warnings about those countries, it may be better to choose another cruise route. Cruise services, though, are actually quite good about modifying their routes to avoid any danger, so it’s not a huge issue.