Cruise Packing List: How to NOT be a newbie aboard!

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Cruise Packing List: How to NOT be a newbie aboard!
We all know that packing for a cruise can be challenging. You want to be sure you have everything you need, but you also don't want to overpack and end up lugging around a bunch of stuff you never use. Keep reading to know what to pack and avoid looking like a complete newb on the cruise!

All set for a cruise but not sure what to pack? 

I understand how difficult it can be to figure out what you need without a cruise packing list for your first big vacation onboard. While large cruises generally have everything you'll need in store, they're usually at a higher price. After all, nobody wants to look like a complete newbie needing to buy everything important you've missed on the Cruise.

We've put together the ultimate packing list for first-time and seasoned cruisers, complete with all the essential items you'll need to enjoy a stress-free trip. Be super prepared for a no-stress vacation on your next cruise!

The Perfect Cruise Packing Checklist 

The biggest challenge when packing for a cruise is preparing for various activities and weather conditions. 

On any given day, you might find yourself exploring a new town, lounging by the pool, or participating in onboard activities like dance classes or trivia contests. And with temperatures varying from hot to cold and sometimes even rainy, you'll need to pack outfits for every occasion.

To help you stay organized and avoid overpacking, this cruise packing list has everything you'll need for your cruise, from essential items to nice-to-haves. 

So whether you're embarking on a Caribbean adventure or a Mediterranean getaway, be sure to pack these items to make the most of your trip!

cruise carryon
Photo by Taylor Beach on Unsplash

Must packs or highly recommended packing list:

Clothing & Footwear

  • Lightweight clothing for warm weather
  • Sweaters or jackets for cooler weather
  • Loungewear
  • Casual Tops and shirts
  • Swimsuit
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Dress shoes
  • Sandals
  • Sneakers
  • Walking shoes
  • Outdoor Shoes
  • Gloves
  • Mittens
  • Scarves
  • Belts
  • Casual purse or backpack
Packing for a cruise
Image Courtesy - Pexels


Toiletries & Medications

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair stylers
  • Beard cream
  • Shaving supplies
  • Body lotion
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Motion sickness medication (if needed)
  • Insect repellent or bug spray
  • Safety pins
  • Prescription medications
  • Over-the-counter medications (e.g., ibuprofen, allergy medicine)
  • Supplements
  • First-aid kit
  • Sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes

Make sure to check with the cruise to see what they'll provide and what you'll have to bring yourself!

cruise medications to pack
Image Courtesy - Pexels

Travel Documents & Money

  • Passport
  • Visas (if required)
  • Cruise tickets
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Credit cards and cash
  • Copies of essential documents (e.g., driver's license, birth certificate)
  • Boarding pass and cruise documents

Navigation (Optional)

  • Compass
  • Map
  • GPS Device

All of the items you can easily access for free by downloading the apps through PlayStore or AppStore!

Entertainment (Optional)

Other Useful Items

Tips to Organize Cruise Packing List

Now that you know what to pack for a cruise, it's time to organize your belongings. 

The best way to do this is to create a packing list of everything you'll need for your trip. This will help ensure you don't forget anything essential and make packing a breeze.

  1. When creating your list, we recommend using a packing app or Pilot's notes tab. These apps allow you to create a personalized packing list based on your destination, travel dates, and activities. They also offer helpful tips on what to pack and what to leave at home.
  2. Another great way to stay organized is to use packing cubes. These handy little cubes help keep your belongings organized and tidy, so you can easily find what you need. Packing cubes come in various sizes and can be used for everything from clothes to shoes to toiletries.
  3. Finally, don't forget to label your luggage. This will help ensure that your bags don't get lost or mixed up with someone else's. You can use luggage tags, Sharpies, or personalize your bags with stickers or photos.

What to put in your carry-on bag

Now that you know what to pack for your cruise, it's time to start packing! But before you do, you should pack a carry-on bag with essential items like your travel documents, medications, and electronics. This will come in handy if your luggage gets lost or delayed.

Cruise essentials to pack
Image Courtesy - Pexels

Here are some things to include in your carry-on bag:

  • Passport
  • Boarding pass
  • Cruise documents
  • Cash and credit cards
  • Medications
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Phone and charger
  • Camera and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • Headphones
  • Books or magazines
  • Playing cards or travel games
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes
  • Toiletries
  • First-aid kit
  • Sanitizer and disinfectant wipes
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Hair ties

Should I get travel insurance for my cruise?

Now, you're probably wondering whether you should purchase travel insurance for your trip and if it's worth it.

Travel insurance will protect you from missed connections, lost luggage, and canceled flights. It can also provide financial assistance if you need to evacuate due to weather or illness. That's why we recommend travel insurance before you set sail.

Travelers Tip: Are you looking for travel insurances? Here's our review of the top insurance providers, including World Nomads, SafetyWing, and Allianz travel insurance!

When shopping for travel insurance, read the fine print to know what's covered and what's not. 

We also recommend getting a policy that includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage. This will reimburse you if you must cancel or cut your cruise short due to an emergency.

Things to avoid packing for cruise

Even if you're a seasoned cruiser, reviewing what not to pack is always helpful. This will help you avoid packing unnecessary, space-consuming, or even dangerous items.

Here are some things to avoid packing for your cruise:

  • Illegal drugs (Some drugs that are considered safe in your country might not be on a cruise!)
  • Weapons of any kind
  • Flammable liquids (e.g., aerosol, hairspray)
  • Candles or incense
  • Lighter fluid, matches, and fireworks
  • Pets (except service animals)
  • Hazardous materials (e.g., cleaning supplies, pesticides)
  • Perishable food items (plenty of food on the cruise!)
  • Excessive amounts of cash (thefts are common on cruises)

Folding hacks to save space in your luggage

One of the best ways to save space in your cruise luggage is to use clothes folding hacks. 

These simple tricks will help you fit more into your bags so that you can pack lighter and avoid paying for excess baggage fees.

Here are some of our favorite clothes folding hacks:

  • Fold shirts in half lengthwise and then roll them up.
  • Fold pants and shorts in half lengthwise and then roll them.
  • Pack socks inside of shoes, cups, mugs, or containers to save space.
  • Use vacuum-sealed bags to compress bulky items like sweaters and jackets.
  • Pack delicate items like dresses and blouses in tissue paper to prevent them from wrinkling.

Use these clothes folding hacks, and you'll be sure to save space in your cruise luggage.

Things to bring on a cruise
Photo by PriscillaDu Preez on Unsplash

FAQs Related to Cruise Packing List for Newbies

How many outfits should I pack for a 7-day cruise?

This depends on your daily activities and the dress code for each evening. If you plan on doing a lot of sightseeing during the day, you'll want to pack casual clothes like jeans, shorts, and T-shirts. 

We recommend packing at least two more fabulous outfits for evenings if you decide to go to the ship's dining room or a formal event.

Is there laundry service on a cruise ship?

Yes, most cruise ships offer laundry service for an additional fee. This can be a great option if you're running low on clean clothes and don't want to pack too much.

Do I need to pack my towels for the pool?

No, usually, the cruise ship offers towels near the pool deck. 

However, we recommend bringing a beach towel if you plan to spend time at the beach or do any water activities.

What should I do with my valuables when I go on a cruise?

We recommend keeping your valuables in the safe that's usually provided in each stateroom. 

You can also leave valuables with guest services.

Pack up and Plan!

Packing for a cruise doesn't have to be complicated - by following the packing list and tips, you can ensure you have everything you need for an enjoyable and hassle-free trip. Need a planner to keep everything organized? Try Pilot!

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Collaborate stress-free with your travel companions and have all the features you need all in one place with Pilot. It’s completely free and ready for you to try it out now!

Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

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