The Ultimate Cruise Packing Checklist

A big white cruiser

By: Sally Norton

Going on a cruise is a luxury everyone should indulge in at least once. It's the cool ocean breeze, an abundance of amenities, and non-stop fun activities all packed into one magnificent vacation. Who doesn't want that, right? So, if you booked a cruise vacation recently - you're in for a treat! However, before you start enjoying your life on a huge ship, you have to pack. While this isn't so exciting, it's necessary. After all, you'll be on a cruise for at least a week, so you have to make sure you packed properly. To help you, we created the ultimate cruise packing checklist so that you don't forget anything. Let's cruise along with this article!

A suitcase packing according to the ultimate cruise packing checklist.

Packing for a cruise trip is not easy, but it's not impossible either, especially if you follow this ultimate packing checklist.

Essential documents

On top of your cruise packing checklist should be essential documents. This may seem obvious, but just because it is, we usually end up forgetting a document or two. If this happens, we can have a lot of problems. To avoid this unpleasant and stressful situation, here is the list of most important documents you should pack right away:

  1. Passport or a government-issued birth certificate as proof of citizenship as well as an ID card (make a few copies of these documents just in case).
  2. Airplane ticket - if you're traveling by plane to your cruise departure port, don't forget your plane ticket - paper or a digital one.
  3.  Documents you need to get on a cruise issued by your travel agency.
  4. A copy of your medical insurance card as well as your medical history.
  5. A vaccination certificate or a negative PCR Covid-19 test (if needed).

Editor's tip: Keep all your documents in one place and copies in another, so if you lose anything, you'll always have an alternative. Additionally, don't carry your original documents with you while on the cruise. Instead, keep them safe in the room and bring copies.

Carry-on backpack

Many people don't know this, but it usually takes a while before your luggage is delivered to your cabin on the first day of your voyage. However, that doesn't mean you can't start having fun right away. Just stuff your carry-on with a few essentials, and you'll be good to go! Here are some must-haves for your carry-on:

  • A change of clothes or two
  • Swimsuit
  • Flip-flops
  • Basic toiletries
  • Snacks and water
  • Medication and mini first-aid kit
  • Phone and headphones
  • Portable charger
  • Wallet

The great thing about your carry-on backpack is that you can use it later for shore excursions and tourist attractions along the way.

A woman with luggage ready to get on the ship

Carry-on is just as important as your luggage, so make sure to stuff it with all the essentials.

First-Aid Kit

Although you are likely to enjoy every day of your cruise in great health, it is wise to be prepared for minor ailmentssuch as a headache, a scratchy throat, or a blister. So, don't forget to bring the first-aid kit. This can be a compact toiletry bag containing the following remedies:

  • pain medications, antacids, and nausea medicine
  • cough drops
  • allergy medicine
  • adhesive bandages and antiseptic wipes
  • wristbands and skin patches
  • ginger chews

Toiletries and self-care products

Since cruise ships are like all-inclusive hotels, you'll have almost everything you need in your cabin. Still, there is some stuff you'll have to bring with you, especially if you have a special hair or skin-care treatment. So, let's see what should be on your cruise packing checklist toiletries-wise:

  • Shampoo, conditioner, and a hair mask (you'll get the first two on the ship, but not the third one)
  • Make-up
  • Toothbrush, dental floss, mouth wash, toothpaste
  • Skin-care products
  • Hairbrush
  • Cologne/perfume
  • Deodorant
  • Razor and shaving cream
  • Face towel (if you have problematic skin and can't risk and use the one you get on the ship)

Proper Clothing 

When packing clothes for your cruise vacation, you'll definitely need swimsuits and casual clothes for the day. On the other hand, you'll have to bring more elegant attire for dinner. Dinner on a cruise is more formal than lunch. So, for ladies, consider business-casual attire, and for men, pants and a collared shirt will do the job. On "formal night", you may dress up in cocktail dresses, gowns, suits and ties, even tuxedos if you like more sparkle and glam.

Of course, don't forget to pack a hat and a few casual dresses for the day activities!

Editor's tip: Check what's the level of formality on the cruise before you start packing, so you don't have to rent appropriate clothing once you get on board.

A woman on a cruiser looking at the ocean

Many cruises have a dress code, so make sure to pack accordingly.

Pack layers

Everybody expects hot weather mixed with a fresh ocean breeze the whole time. However, sometimes it can get a little chilly, so you'll definitely need a sweater or even a light jacket, especially at night. Try and pack warmer clothes that aren't very bulky, or if they are - try and use them as a travel pillow as well. Be creative and economical with your packing.

This especially applies if you booked a river cruise instead of the ocean one. While you can expect good weather there as well, rivers tend to be colder than oceans. So, pack smart!

The bottom line is - don't pack just swimsuits and t-shirts; make sure you have some warmer clothes for chilly evenings or even mornings.

Electronics

It's 2021, and we can't live without electronics. Not even on vacation. So, when you start packing, make sure all the crucial electronic devices are on your cruise packing checklist. Here is the list of gadgets you'll probably need:

  • Phone
  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • Chargers
  • Headphones

Keep your belongings safe while on the cruise

Cruises can take up to a month. While this is an excellent opportunity for you to relax and de-stress from everyday life, you have to think about what to do with your belongings at home. So why not keep them safely stored by renting storage while traveling? This is a great way to spend your vacation without worrying about all your items. The storage unit environment is excellent as the temperature is controlled, there is no mold nor moisture. More importantly, you won't have to worry about anyone stealing your valuables - they will be safely locked in the unit for however long you need them to be. One less worry, right?

It's time to pack!

Packing can be dreadful; we all know that. However, if you follow this ultimate cruise packing checklist, you'll be packed in no time, and more importantly - you'll pack everything you need. So, make sure to stick to this list, and soon you'll be sipping cocktails by the pool on the best vacation in your life. Bon voyage!