Cruising has become a popular vacation, allowing travelers to explore multiple destinations while enjoying luxurious amenities and entertainment.
If you have booked your first cruise or are considering going on one, you may wonder what to expect. From the diverse range of activities and dining options to the welcoming crew and stunning ocean views, a cruise offers a unique and unforgettable experience.
Things To Bring On A Cruise
This article will guide you through what to expect on a cruise and the essential things you should bring to make the most of your voyage. Whether you’re embarking on a Caribbean cruise or exploring the beautiful landscapes of Europe, you’ll want to be prepared for the adventures that await. So, let’s delve into the exciting world of cruising and discover how to make the most of your time on board.
Preparing for Your Cruise Vacation
When preparing for your cruise vacation, there are some crucial steps to consider to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Firstly, it’s essential to research and choose the suitable cruise activities and destinations for you and your travel companions. Whether you prefer lounging on the beach, exploring historical sites, or trying out adventurous water activities, selecting the correct itinerary will make all the difference.
Regarding packing, it’s wise to focus on versatile outfits that mix and match easily. This will help you make the most of limited cabin space while still looking stylish. Additionally, it’s a good idea to pack essentials in your carry-on bag, such as travel documents, medications, bathing suits, and any other personal items you may need immediately upon boarding.
It’s also crucial to research your chosen cruise line’s dress codes and weather conditions before packing. This will ensure you have the appropriate attire for formal nights and other events requiring specific dress codes.
Moreover, knowing the potential weather conditions will help you pack suitable clothing and accessories. I often look at the weather forecast before packing and then again before and during my cruise. Depending on where I am traveling, I can understand the temperate ranges during my sailing. I can find out if it will be very rainy, super cold, or hot during my cruise.
Lastly, be sure to visit the cruise line’s website or FAQ section to familiarize yourself with any specific guidelines regarding cabin space and what items are allowed on board. This will help you maximize your cabin space and avoid unnecessary surprises during embarkation day.
By following these steps and researching, you can effectively prepare for your cruise vacation and make the most of your time at sea.
When preparing for a cruise vacation, travel documents should be at the top of your packing list. The most important document to have is a valid passport. However, bringing a photocopy of the front page is also a good idea.
Sometimes, sailing with just a birth certificate may be an option. However, checking with your cruise line and destination is always recommended to ensure that a birth certificate is sufficient. The birth certificate must be an original or certified copy from the Office of vital statistics or that initially issued it.
You cannot use a photocopy or a notarized copy; it will not be accepted. A passport is always recommended, especially in an emergency where you may have to be flown home via an international flight or another issue requiring a passport. Having a passport makes things much easier and gives you some peace of mind if needed.
Having the necessary travel documents with you ensures a smooth embarkation process and fully allows you to enjoy your time onboard without any unnecessary worries. So include your passport or photocopy and any other required identification documents on your cruise packing list.
Credit Cards and Cash
It essential to consider your financial needs while exploring different international locations. Credit cards are widely accepted on cruise ships and tourist destinations. However, having multiple credit cards with different issuing banks is a good idea, as some merchants may have preferences or restrictions.
Cash becomes essential in specific ports of call, especially in more remote or less touristy areas. Local markets, small shops, and street vendors may only accept cash payments. It’s always advisable to carry some local currency to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and make transactions hassle-free. However, You can often use nearby ATMs to retrieve local currency for your day’s visit. We did this when visiting different cities during our European river cruise during the Christmas Markets. We had to try a fresh Chimney Cake while in Budapest!
To ensure the safety of your finances, a wallet or money belt is an essential item to bring on a cruise. These accessories provide a secure way to carry cash, credit cards, and essential travel documents onboard or during onshore excursions. It’s always wise to divide your money and cards between different compartments of your wallet or money belt, reducing the risk of losing everything in case of theft or misplacement.
Please remember to let your credit card company or bank know about your travel plans before leaving to avoid any issues with foreign transactions. Many places may cause a hold on your account and this can be difficult to fix while your one a cruise or in a foreign port, potentially without any cell phone service.
Clothing & Accessories
When it comes to what to pack for a cruise, clothing and accessories are important items to consider. The right clothing can make all the difference in your comfort and enjoyment while onboard and during onshore excursions. From swimwear to formal wear, it’s essential to pack a variety of options to suit different activities and occasions.
Along with clothing, accessories such as hats, sunglasses, and comfortable shoes are also important for protecting yourself from the sun and exploring new destinations. Additionally, items like waterproof phone cases, packing cubes, and travel alarm clocks can enhance your cruise experience. Let’s explore some key clothing and accessories to bring on a cruise.
Formal Events and Attire
Formal events and attire play a significant role in the cruise experience, adding a touch of elegance and glamour to the journey. Different cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival, have varying dress codes and expectations regarding formal nights.
For men, options range from dress shirts paired with dress pants or khakis to blazers, suits, or even tuxedos for those seeking a more sophisticated look. Women often opt for cocktail dresses or gowns, but dressy pantsuits can also be stylish.
It’s important to note that the dress code for formal events can vary depending on the cruise line and even the specific voyage itinerary. It is always recommended to check the cruise line’s website or documentation for specific dress code requirements for each night.
Royal Caribbean, for instance, has formal nights where guests are encouraged to dress up, while Carnival offers more flexible options, including elegant nights where dress code expectations are more relaxed.
When packing for a cruise, including attire for formal events is crucial to enjoying the experience fully. Being well-prepared can help make formal nights unforgettable, adding that extra touch of luxury to an already incredible vacation. So remember to pack those cocktail dresses and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Beachwear & Water Activities Gear
Packing the right beachwear and water activities gear is essential for a fun and comfortable trip. Here are a few essential items to consider including in your suitcase:
1. Swimsuits: Pack a few swimsuits to ensure you have options for different activities and days by the pool or beach.
2. Cover-ups: Lightweight and easy to pack, cover-ups are perfect for transitioning from the beach to the ship’s common areas.
3. Workout clothes/activewear: If you plan to stay active during your cruise, pack workout clothes and activewear to take advantage of the onboard fitness facilities or participate in activities like yoga or dance classes.
4. Water shoes: Water shoes are a must-have for excursions to rocky beaches or water-related activities such as snorkeling or kayaking. They offer protection and grip on slippery surfaces.
Water shoes are especially important if you plan on exploring coral reefs or hiking to waterfalls, where rocky terrain can be encountered. They provide comfort, prevent injuries, and allow you to fully enjoy your adventure without worrying about sharp rocks or getting your regular shoes wet.
Cruise Ship Pool Deck – Footwear And Safety
You may wish to also find a pair that can be used around the ship’s pool as it can become very hot and extremely slippery at times. I bring a pair of Croc’s that are both comfortable and waterproof. Their are many options but, be sure to have something that is best for your and will keep you safe from a fall.
Including these items in your packing list will prepare you for beachside relaxation and exciting water activities during your cruise vacation.
Everyday Clothes and Shoes
When going on a cruise vacation, it’s essential to pack the right everyday clothes and shoes to ensure comfort and practicality throughout your trip. Whether lounging on the ship or exploring ports of call, proper attire is essential.
For casual days on the ship or during port stops, opt for comfortable and relaxed clothing such as shorts, jeans or khakis, sundresses or skirts, T-shirts (both long and short-sleeved), and tank tops. These everyday clothes will keep you cool and allow for easy movement as you do your activities.
It’s also vital to consider dressing appropriately when visiting religious sites or participating in certain cultural excursions ashore. In some destinations, modest attire may be required, which means covering your shoulders, knees and avoiding revealing clothing. Having a lightweight wrap or shawl handy is always a good idea.
When it comes to footwear, comfortable and practical shoes are a must. Pack a pair of sneakers or walking shoes for exploring the ship and participating in onboard activities. Bring a pair of sandals or flip-flops for beach days or water-related excursions. And remember to include a pair of versatile and comfortable shoes for evenings or formal nights, such as flats or loafers. If your cruise is going to Alaska, you may wish to pack some hiking shoes or boots to make you more comfortable if you walk trails during an excursion.
Hair Care Products and Accessories
When packing for a cruise, remember to include the essential hair care products and accessories to keep your locks looking fabulous throughout your vacation. First and foremost, bring a brush or comb to keep your hair tangle-free and looking its best.
Pack your preferred hairstyling tools if you have specific hairstyling needs, like straightening or curling. This could include a flat iron, curling iron, or a hot air brush.
To maintain your desired hairstyle, remember the necessary hairstyling products. Bring along your favorite hairspray, mousse, or gel to keep your hair in place, no matter the activities you partake in onboard or during your shore excursions.
Hair accessories are also worth packing. Whether it’s hair ties, hair clips, or headbands, these can keep your hair out of your face during active days or dress it up for formal nights.
While some cruise ships provide complimentary shampoo and conditioner, the quality and choice might not suit your liking. To ensure you have the products that suit your hair type, it’s advisable to bring your own. If space allows, packing your preferred body wash can also enhance your overall shower experience.
By including these hair care products and accessories in your cruise packing list, you can maintain your desired hairstyle and keep your hair healthy and beautiful throughout your vacation. Note, a hair dryer is normally provided in most cruise ship staterooms.
Jewelry and Other Accessories
When it comes to jewelry and accessories, packing the essentials for your cruise vacation is key. Here are a few must-haves to consider:
1. Versatile Jewelry: Bring pieces that can easily complement different outfits. A pair of stud earrings, a simple necklace, and a few bracelets can go a long way in accessorizing your looks.
2. Travel Jewelry Organizer: Invest in a travel jewelry organizer to keep your jewelry tangle-free and protected. These organizers have separate compartments and pockets to store your earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Choose one with a secure zipper closure to prevent any travel mishaps.
3. Jewelry Organizer Bag: Travel jewelry organizers come in different sizes, so choose one that suits your needs. Consider a jewelry organizer bag if you have a more extensive jewelry collection. These bags often have multiple compartments and removable pouches, allowing you to customize the organization based on your individual pieces.
4. Accessories: Remember other accessories that can enhance your cruise experience! Pack a stylish hat to shield you from the sun, a pair of sunglasses for the bright days, and a lightweight scarf for breezy evenings.
Using a travel jewelry organizer can avoid the frustration of tangled necklaces or misplaced earrings. It not only keeps your jewelry organized but also prevents damage during transit. Find the right size and consider buying a jewelry organizer bag for convenience. With your essentials adequately packed, you’ll be ready to enjoy your cruise with style and ease.
Toiletries & Personal Care Items
Taking care of your personal hygiene is essential while on a cruise vacation. Pack all the necessary toiletries and personal care items to keep yourself fresh and clean throughout your trip. Start with the basics like toothpaste, toothbrush, and dental floss.
Remember to bring your preferred shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in travel-sized bottles to save space in your luggage.
Moisturizers and sunscreen are also essential to protect your skin from the sun’s rays. For women, pack your makeup essentials and feminine hygiene products. Remember to bring any necessary medications and first aid items in emergencies. While most cruise ships provide towels, bringing your travel towel and washcloth is always a good idea.
Sunscreen and Bug Spray
When packing for a cruise, sunscreen, and bug spray are two essential items to bring along. The Caribbean sun can be extremely strong, and protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is crucial. Sunscreen helps in preventing sunburns, premature aging, and even skin cancer. Therefore, choosing a sunscreen that suits your skin type and provides adequate protection is essential.
One excellent option is Solimo Sunscreen, available on Amazon. This sunscreen is Octinoxate and Oxybenzone free, which is safe for your skin and the coral reefs. It is also water-resistant, perfect for those water activities during your cruise. And the best part? Solimo Sunscreen is affordable, making it a budget-friendly choice for your vacation.
After a day in the sun, it’s important to soothe and moisturize your skin with some Aloe Very sunburn relief gel or other options. COOLA after-sun lotion is also a great product in your cruise bag. It helps to cool and hydrate your skin, reducing any redness or irritation caused by the sun.
Bug spray is another must-have item, especially when exploring tropical destinations and even during an Alaskan Cruise. Did you know some like to joke that the mosquito is Alaska’s state bird? So be prepared during your cruise. Mosquitoes and other insects can be a nuisance and can potentially transmit diseases.
Lip Balm, Moisturizer, and Other Skin Care Products
Taking care of your skin is essential when going on a cruise, as the combination of ocean breeze and sun can lead to chapped lips and dry skin. That’s why lip balm, moisturizers, and other skincare products are essential for maintaining hydration and protection throughout your trip.
Lip balm is a must-have item to moisturize your lips and prevent them from becoming chapped. Choosing a lip balm with SPF is even more crucial, as this will provide an extra layer of protection against the sun’s harmful rays. Sun Bum Lip balm with SPF is an excellent option as it offers moisturization and sun protection, keeping your lips soft, smooth, and shielded from sunburn.
Aside from lip balm, remember to pack moisturizers for your face and body. The ocean breeze and sun exposure can quickly dry out your skin, leaving it feeling tight and uncomfortable. Using a moisturizer will hydrate your skin and create a barrier against moisture loss. Consider bringing a lightweight moisturizer for daytime use and a richer, nourishing one for nighttime.
In addition to lip balm and moisturizer, it’s a good idea to include hand/body lotion in your cruise packing list. Regularly applying lotion will help keep your skin soft, supple, and protected from dryness. Additionally, remember any other skin care products you usually use, such as day and night treatment creams or serums, to maintain your skin’s health and appearance.
By packing lip balm, moisturizers, and other skincare products, you can ensure your skin stays hydrated and protected during your cruise, allowing you to enjoy your vacation without any discomfort or irritation fully.
Makeup, Nail Polish, Hair Styling Products
Regarding makeup, packing only the bare necessities is vital for a cruise vacation. Opt for travel-sized versions of your favorite products to save space in your luggage. Essentials include mascara, eyeliner, foundation, blusher, makeup brushes, and an eyebrow pencil.
To keep your makeup organized and easily accessible, consider using clear plastic zip-top freezer bags. They allow you to see what’s inside and can prevent any spills or leaks from ruining your other belongings.
As for nail polish, choose a few versatile colors that can match multiple outfits. Choose mini bottles or nail polish strips for convenience and to save space in your suitcase.
Cell Phone Chargers and Cords
You will undoubtedly want to keep your cell phone charged during your cruise. Many modern ships now have USB plugs near the beds, desks, or both locations to help you keep your cell phone and other electronics charged. Most cruise lines also have a cell phone App that can be a must to use before, during, and sometimes even after your cruise ends.
CPAP Users / Other Devices
If you are a CPAP user, you must bring an extension cord that will reach from the desk area of the cabin and across the room to your bedside. Most cruise ships don’t have electrical outlets on the side of the bed near the nightstand.
They may have a USB outlet, but that is about it. Most hotels have an outlet on the bedside lamp or the wall. You may have to unplug the clock using the only outlet. If needed and use your phone as an alarm clock, etc.
The CPAP machine often has a nice-sized cord to lay on the floor to reach your extension cord quickly that you can plug in the outlet in the desk area and use at night. Unplug the extension cord from the desk outlet in the morning and stow it under the bed until bedtime.
If you are like me and my wife, we don’t collect cruise cards, but we do collect lanyards we have gathered from some special events.
So before we cruise, we look at our collection and try to pick one that will serve us best. You can, of course, buy some onboard, but why not pack one you have purchased in the past. The good ones can get expensive, especially if you buy new ones for the whole family.
If you are like me and my wife, we don’t collect cruise cards, but we do collect lanyards we have gathered from some special events.
So before we cruise, we look at our collection and try to pick one that will serve us best. You can, of course, buy some onboard, but why not pack one you have purchased in the past.
Fanny Pack, Day Pack, Cross Body Purse, or Backpack
My wife likes to bring a small bag, a fanny pack, or even a backpack while we go on a shore excursion. We can often put all our beach towels, cameras, phones, sun tan lotion, or spray.
The bag size and type will depend on what type of excursion you have planned. A small fanny pack or bag would be fine for most shore excursions or tours.
At the same time, a backpack would be a better choice for a beach trip or tour that might require more items or space to hold items you may purchase while away from the ship visiting distant cruise ports.
Reusable Water Bottle and Coffee Mugs
You don’t have to pay for expensive water while on a cruise. They have plenty of free-flowing water. If you want something other than just water, you can often find iced tea, juices, and other flavors in the buffet and other locations onboard.
The cruise line cups are often small, so packing a large reusable water bottle can help you stay cool and hydrated without paying extra for bottled water or a drink package.
You can also do the same thing with the free-flowing coffee. Some cruise lines have some great complimentary coffee and teas available at the same stations you find the cold drinks. Why not bring your insulated mug from home and keep your coffee fresh.
Eye Glass Repair Kit
Finding a proper eyeglass repair kit on a cruise takes work and effort. Some ships sell a small kit in the gift ship. However, The small kit may not have enough screws to fix your type of glasses. So this is now a tiny addition to my list of items to bring on board. It has happened to me and my wife at least three times while cruising.
Medication / First-Aid – Be Prepared If You Get Sick
You should pack all your medication and have enough if your cruise or trip is extended. So we bring the whole bottle and not just a certain amount days.
A medical list is also helpful if you need medical attention while away from home and not in the United States. While on a river cruise in Europe, I suddenly became very sick. I was miserable, and we had to wait to visit a small town and try to find a pharmacy. No stores or pharmacies had Tylenol Cold or Flu-like we have at home.
In brief, we had to talk to a pharmacist in a small French village through the only person who could translate English. Luckily, he prescribed some cough medicine and could give it to me simultaneously. I am still trying to figure out what it was, but it worked. So I pack the following.
1. Pain Relievers – We use ibuprofen or Tylenol. Both can be alternated to help break a fever.
2. Dayquil and Nyquil Severe Cold & Flu – This is an essential part of our travel bag after getting sick while cruising.
3. Prescription Medications – Bring all prescription medications and extra days or the whole bottle if your trip gets extended for any reason.
4. Daily Allergy Relief tablets – We pack generic Zyrtec, a non-drowsy Allergy relief medication.
5. Benadryl Tablets – This is an excellent medication for an unexpected allergic reaction or an allergy flare-up you might experience while traveling. It can help clear up a list of allergic reactions you might come across related to foods, colds, or the environment you are traveling in or through.
6. ZzzQuil Sleep-Aid – Ever have a problem trying to sleep while on an international flight? Pack some of these tablets. You’ll sleep like a baby and be better rested when you land overseas. Far more effective than other remedies like Melatonin. This works!
7. Pepto Bismol – Don’t be surprised if your stomach get’s upset during your cruise. When we travel we often are eating and drinking things we normally don’t. We pack some Pepto Bismol to help soothe an upset stomach. My wife was recently miserable during a cruise in Alaska. Luckily, we had some Pepto Bismol tablets packed and it quickly helped.
8. Pepcid AC – Heartburn Relief medicine is another good thing to have on hand that can often be very concerning but, relieved with OTC medicine.
I hope this list of things to bring on your cruise is helpful to you and saves you any heartache or even a expensive visit to the Medical Center during your cruise.