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All aboard! Your ultimate guide for what to pack for a cruise

Here are your cruise must-haves for your next trip at sea. Bon voyage!

Published May 31, 2024
4 min. reading time
a large cruise ship on sail in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Photo: Unsplash/ Peter Hansen

Aye, aye, Captain! Heading out to sea? 

To start your travels on the right foot, it’s important to make sure you pack the right essentials.

But if you're a first-time cruiser or haven't been for a while, knowing what to bring can be tricky. 

Sound familiar?

Well, you're in luck! We've created a helpful guide on what to pack for a cruise so that you have a smooth sailing trip.

Read more: Top lightweight luggage options

Your cruise essentials list

Samsonite Freeform Large Spinner Suitcase in navy
Samsonite Freeform Large Spinner Suitcase
$195.99 at Samsonite
CALPAK Stevyn Duffel Bag with Shoe Compartment in baby blue
CALPAK Stevyn Duffel Bag with Shoe Compartment
$112 at CALPAK
Scout Bags Original Deano Tote Bag in blue, white and black
Scout Bags Original Deano Tote Bag
$49 at Scout Bags
Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag for travel in aqua
Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag
$29.99 at L.L.Bean

10 things to bring on a cruise 

From lightweight suitcases to hanging toiletry bags and comfortable sandals, here’s what to take on a cruise.

High-quality luggage and carry-on bags 

Packing your belongings is only half the battle. You'll also need quality luggage to store valuables and belongings as you travel between destinations and stay aboard the cruise ship.

Samsonite Freeform Large Spinner Suitcase in navy
Photo: Samsonite

Samsonite is one of the top luggage brands in the US so you can be sure your bags will survive your travels.

With its lightweight design for easy maneuverability, roomy packing capacity and plenty of strength and lasting power, this suitcase has all the bells and whistles you expect from a high-quality piece of luggage.

Read more: Find out how to pack your suitcase like a pro

Smart cruise rule #1: Always pack your essentials in a reliable carry-on bag. 

With a spacious capacity for clothes and accessories, a bottom compartment for your shoes and a sleek design, this weekender bag is your go-to accessory as you wait for your main luggage.

This bag also has a trolley sleeve that lets you attach your luggage.

The perfect beach bag for poolside relaxation, beach trips and other adventures onboard.

It has heavy-duty straps for holding all your items, a burst-proof bottom so nothing will fall out and a folding design to save you room when not in use.

Read more: Check out more of our favorite beach bags for travel

A hanging toiletry bag 

Ship cabins have fewer storage options than hotels, so a travel-friendly toiletry bag can provide a convenient place to store all your necessities.

Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag for travel in aqua
Photo: L.L.Bean

Personal Organizer Toiletry Bag

You save $4.96 (14.19%)

This travel-friendly hanging toiletry bag will save lots of space in your cabin.

With extra-tough fabric that prevents water from getting inside and liquids from spilling out, a handy mirror and plenty of different-sized pockets, this accessory is a great way to keep your toiletries in one place.

Comfortable footwear 

A comfortable pair of holiday shoes will keep your feet supported all day long, whether you're exploring on excursions, strolling the cruise deck or cooling off in the pool.

Trust us, your feet will thank you for it.

In terms of functionality and style, these sandals are perfect.

Its energy return footbed, soft yet supportive cushioning and amazing arch support make this shoe a must-have for anyone stepping on board or exploring the dock of their destination.

Fellas, we didn’t forget about you.

Featuring a classic design, a memory foam lining for enhanced cushioning, enhanced arch support and extra grip and traction, these sandals are perfect when you have long days on your feet.

Sunscreen for the whole family

When sailing to hot destinations, sunscreen is essential to protect your skin from sun damage, aging and harmful UV rays.

Neutrogena Beach Defense Sunscreen Spray in yellow bottle
Photo: Amazon

Ideal for the whole family, this lightweight, fast-absorbing sunscreen spray offers UVA and UVB sun protection along with up to 80 minutes of water resistance for swimming and other water activities.

We especially love how easy it is to apply and reapply all over the face and body — especially over those hard-to-reach areas.

Read more: Protect your face from sun damage with the top sunscreens

A camera for capturing precious moments

Taking a cruise allows you to see the best of the world and make new memories with fellow cruisers.

What better way to capture these precious moments than with a durable camera?

Whether you're vlogging your cruise ship adventures or splashing around in the pool, this waterproof camera helps you capture every moment.

Among its features are an optimal zoom for capturing distance shots, 16 megapixels for clear, quality images and dustproof and shockproof construction.

Share photos and videos with your family and friends easily by connecting it to your smart device.

Read more: Shop disposable cameras for snapping sweet memories

A wall outlet extender for multiple devices

Everyone wants to stay connected even when on the go. Wall outlets are great for keeping all your devices charged — whether it is your cellphone, tablet or laptop.

Many major cruise lines do not allow surge protectors or extensions for safety reasons, so ensure your accessories meet your ship's requirements.

 6-in-1 Multi Plug Outlet Extender in white with usb ports
Photo: Amazon

Say bye-bye to bulky power strips and hello to easy and convenient charging wherever you go with this multi-outlet plug.

Compact and travel-friendly, it comes with three USB ports, optimal charging speeds and a space-saving design.

Most importantly, since it comes without surge protectors or extensions, it’s fully safe and compliant for use on major cruise lines.

Sea-bands for relief

Do you suffer from motion sickness? You’re not alone.

It’s a worry that first-timers and even frequent cruisers have, but there are precautions and products to help you cope, so you can fully enjoy your trip. 

Inspired by traditional remedies, these reusable wristbands are designed to naturally relieve nausea, vomiting and motion sickness as you travel.

They work essentially by applying pressure to acupuncture points on your wrist, so they’re drug-free.

What is not allowed in luggage on a cruise?

Major cruise lines prohibit many items, so here are a few you shouldn't bring on board:

  • Drugs

  • Alcohol

  • Weapons 

  • Firework

  • Flammable substances

  • Sharp objects

  • Drones

  • Unsealed food items 

  • Surge protectors or extension cords

Make sure you check the rules and allowances of your specific cruise line as you pack, too.

woman on board a cruise ship
Photo: Unsplash/ ben o'bro

What are the best clothes to wear on a cruise?

Not sure what kind of attire you should wear once you’re onboard? Here are a few clothing items you should consider:

  • T-shirts or tank tops

  • Skirts or shorts

  • Capris or jeans

  • Flip flops/water shoes

  • Swimwear

  • Walking shoes

  • Bathing suits/cover-ups

  • Casual daytime attire 

  • Evening attire for formal dress codes

So, what should be on your cruise checklist?

Ready to seas the day? Here’s what to pack for a cruise:

Safe travels!

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Prices updated on 05/31/2024. We are not responsible for any changes to the prices mentioned above.

Lauren Pascal Professional Headshot
Written by
Lauren Pascal

A self-proclaimed ‘obsessed TikTok user,’ Lauren Pascal uses her knowledge to help readers shop for trendy new products. Lauren is also an experienced travel writer and recently wrote informative pieces for travellers during the pandemic.