Cruise Packing List: What to Pack for Every Cruise

What are the must have items for a cruise? Whether you are a first time or repeat cruiser, there is always room for improvement when it comes to packing for your cruise. Outside of the usual things I pack for any vacation, here are some things I pack specifically for cruises:

  • $1 bills: Tips for porters ($2 per bag), room service ($2-5 depending how much food ordered), and self-service laundry (change available in the laundry room or from front desk). I try to bring at least $20 worth.
  • $50-75 cash in $5, $10, & $20: Cash tips on top of cruise line gratutity for excellent crew members. We usually wind up giving extra tips to our room attendent, waiter, and any exceptional reception staff who help us out. U.S. dollars are fine on any American cruise line, meaning you don’t need to tip in Euros on a European cruise.
  • Address labels: for your disembarkation luggage tags
  • Battery-operated alarm clock: most cabins do not have a clock
  • Meclizine (Bonine/Dramamine: Less Drowsy Formula): prevent sea sickness
  • Power Strip: cabins have very few plugs to recharge your electronic gadgets
  • Small flashlight or night light: it’s pitch black at sea
  • Hair elastics: outside decks are very windy for women with long hair
  • Highlighter: to highlight interesting activities on the daily schedule
  • ID Lanyards: onboard the ship, cruises are cashless so leave your wallet and purse in your cabin safe and wear your cruise card around your neck. You can also get a retractable ID holder.
  • Insulated lunch bag & Ziplock bags: if you plan on packing lunch for a busy port day
  • Laundry detergent & dryer sheets: for ships with self-service laundry. I HIGHLY recommend Purex Complete 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets! Each sheet contains both detergent and dryer sheet so you don’t have to worry about messy liquids and powders. If you plan to do your own laundry, don’t forget to bring quarters too.
  • Magnets: Cabin doors are made of metal so I put our cruise itinerary and weather forecast on the back of the door
  • Magnetic hooks: Hang your ID lanyards on the back of the door
  • Post-it notes & pen: for writing little notes to your room attendant. I stick them in the middle of the bathroom or desk mirror so he/she will see it.
  • Sea Bands: prevent sea sickness without drugs
  • Waterproof watch: you’ll be hard pressed to find a clock anywhere in the public spaces on the ship, including the pool areas
  • Small scissors or pocket knife: to cut off airline & embarkation luggage tags. Your airline tag should be be removed before arriving at the port. Your embarkation tags should be cut off before leaving out your luggage for disembarkation.
  • Clear Packing Tape (Tear By Hand): for attaching and securing embarkation luggage tags
  • First Aid & Medicine Kit
  • Downy Wrinkle Releaser: Cabins don’t have irons and cruise lines do not allow you to bring your own because they are a fire hazard. Some cruise lines have irons in the self-service laundry but when they are there, there are very few and you are restricted to using the iron in the laundry room.
  • Drinks: Save money & enjoy your favorite brands by bringing your own drinks
  • Extra Tote Bag: Pack an Empty Tote Bag, especially shopaholics!
  • Formal Attire: For formal nights, including dresses/suit, evening bag, dress shoes, and jewelry
  • Day Bag(s): Consider what you might need…a port purse, backpack, beach bag, and reusable tote for shopping

Check out Cruising 101: Cruise Planning Tips, Tools, & Resources for more of my cruise tips!

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