10 Things to Pack for a Cruise

Prior to our cruise on the Carnival Sunshine a year ago, we scoured the internet, message boards and talked to friends for what to pack. Based on what I read and learned, here is my list of 10 things (or groups of things) to pack for a cruise.

Number 1 on our list of 10 Things to Pack for a Cruise: the obvious! - SahmReviews.com

(1) The obvious: Sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen, two swimsuits, casual outfits, dress outfits, something to wear over a swimsuit, electronics and their respective chargers and toiletries.

Number 2 on our list of 10 Things to Pack for a Cruise: Sanitizing Wipes - SahmReviews.com

(2) Wet wipes. There is very little time between cruises and there are a lot of staterooms to clean. Use these to wipe down the knobs and handles in your room. It only takes a few minutes and allows you an opportunity to get to know your stateroom.

(3) Drinks. Some cruises offer soft drinks as part of the package. Carnival charges extra so we carried on a six pack of Coca-Cola and a small case of water. The water was great for excursions and the pop was a nice treat. We also brought the allowed two bottles of wine but didn’t drink either!

Number 4 on our list of 10 Things to Pack for a Cruise: water shoes! - SahmReviews.com

(4) Water shoes and sandals (Water proof, preferably.) If you plan to hit the local beaches, having shoes that you can wear into the water is great. No worries about stepping on something either on or off of the beach. We brought lightweight sandals in our ship-to-shore bag along with our towels and water that we wore during shopping and returning to the ship. We went during then rainy season and the decks were perpetually wet. Having waterproof sandals saved us the worry of our shoes being ruined and also allowed us something to wear while our beach shoes were drying.

Number 5 on our list of 10 Things to Pack for a Cruise: medicine/first aid products - SahmReviews.com

(5) Medicine / first aid. Aside from prescription medicines, it doesn’t hurt to pack a little extra. I tossed the travel first aid kit that we keep in the car into the suitcase. In addition, I had a thermometer, adult and children’s ibuprofen, cold medicine, lozenges, band-aids, sea bands and … I forgot the Pepto Bismol and regretted it. If you aren’t used to eating such rich foods, you may need this.

(6) A watch. For every member of your party, including kids. Whether you want to meet up for dinner, a show or just want everyone to check in, this is necessary. We didn’t find clocks anywhere on the Carnival Sunshine. There wasn’t even an alarm clock in our stateroom. In the real life world, we don’t always need a watch because we carry our phones everywhere. On the cruise, unless we knew we would be taking pictures, we often just left our phones in the stateroom leaving us clueless as to what time it was. We allowed the kids some freedom but wish we had the kids wearing watches so they knew what time to meet us!

Number 7 on our list of 10 things to pack for a cruise: a mesh bag - SahmReviews.com

(7) A mesh tote bag and a closed tote. When you go ashore, you’ll want a bag that aerates your wet stuff and a waterproof one for things that you don’t want to get wet. We found that a string backpack was light and small (both for packing and wearing) yet big enough to toss a few necessities in.

(8) A gym padlock. A combination lock is something I take with me whenever we travel. If we go to a beach or water park, it is nice to be able to padlock your tote bag to the chair. Not to secure the chair, but to secure your belongings. Just wrap the tote bag straps around the chair and secure the lock so the bag cannot be opened. Yes, you can rent lockers but it can be inconvenient for more than one person. If you just want a place to stash your sandals and sunscreen, this does the trick. It isn’t theft proof but it is a deterrent.

Number 9 on our list of 10 Things to Pack for a Cruise: a travel mug! -  SahmReviews.com

(9) A reusable coffee mug or tumbler and travel size dish soap. It’s not necessary, but sure is handy… Especially if you did like I did and get up early so you can sit, read a book and drink coffee or juice. Each morning, I went for coffee and juice but since I brought a reusable glass that wasn’t good for hot drinks, I ended up filling up a few of the cruise ship coffee cups to carry back. You’ll be glad you grabbed the dish soap when you try filling up coffee after lemonade.

(10) A light jacket. It gets chilly at night and sometimes during the day if it rains!

Hopefully your trip will be an enjoyable one and this list will help you feel more prepared!

Planning to travel on a cruise? Here's a list of 10 things you should pack. - SahmReviews.com

38 thoughts on “10 Things to Pack for a Cruise

  1. some really good points,,i am a seasoned cruiser,,I would add to that list a disposable rain poncho,,you can get them at the dollar tree easy,,I also take ear plugs with me in case there are unruly and rude ppl who do not keep quiet while you are trying to sleep,it amazes me how many ppl walk down the halls of staterooms at night yelling and screaming so loud,,pocket hand sanitizer ,,if someone gets sick on the ship you want to keep your hands clean,,

  2. Some really great ideas for any vacation. Coherently presented and reasons given that I would never think of. I am hoping for a cruise in my future, so this list will be in my back pocket. Thank you. Great post.

  3. Of course bring the sunscreen… but unless you’re used to the sun’s intensity when it reflects off of the water you’ll also need aloe or some equivalent sunburn relief. Also, don’t forget the motion sickness medicine!

  4. I definitely agree with all of these buti would definitely need motion sickness medicine before even looking at the boat, im a giant baby on the water!! I would also have finished that wine! 😉

  5. That sounds like some great advise about what to pack if you are going on a cruise. I have never been and truthfully really don’t want to even with my friends all trying to get me to go. Maybe I will forward this to them!

    1. I could have passed on doing the dishes also, Kristy, but since it was only one glass or cup each day, it was totally acceptable. Especially since the trade-off was being able to veg with a book and beverage for longer spells at a time. 🙂

  6. These are great tips. My husband and I want to take a cruise after the kids are old enough and I would be clueless what to take… Thanks for sharing. I am pinning and share.

  7. Great list! I am hoping to go on a cruise with my husband in the next few years. With little kids we haven’t been able to make it work yet, but once the baby is out of diapers, I am going on a cruise!

  8. I SO want to go on a cruise. I’d love to just be able to SIT AND VEG for a while. Great list, some of the things listed I would have never thought of!

  9. Ok I never thought of the wet wipes. Totally makes sense though – Did you get the bath area too? I think I am would bring lysol if I go on a cruise. LOL Thanks for the tips!!!!

  10. Of course, I’ve never been on a long cruise – loved your photos with and content – I would never have thought of a coffee cup, gym lock and well wet wipes are a great idea to have when traveling anytime, right. Thank you and looks like your trips was just wonderful 🙂

  11. Great list! I’ve been on many cruises and always look for a good comprehensive list so that I don’t have to worry about forgetting things! One thing that I know I want to bring next time is some type of walkie talkie communication device. Cell phones do not work out on the sea and it’s great to be able to contact your traveling companions!


  12. If you are prone to seasickness, some ginger gum and seasick medication are good to have. I’m susceptible to it but have never experienced it on a large ship.

  13. Oh I can verify the truth of this article, although I’ve only been on one cruise. It was quite memorable and I’d love to go again. Especially with the kids, Disney cruises are a lot of fun. Thanks for posting this.

  14. I see seasoned cruisers think this is a good list – I’m glad I saw this post as I would freak if I have the opp to go on a cruise, about what to bring or more rather, what not (I tend to overpack)! Thanks!

  15. All great tips! I would never have thought of a light jacket – good one! I’ll save these in case I am ever lucky enough to go on a real cruise. (So far I’ve only “cruised” on the Staten Island Ferry!)

  16. All of these are great tips! I would add a long sleeved light weight shirt, (I like a cotton button front), if you are going to be outside all day, and tend to burn easily. It can double for a swimsuit cover up also. I also take a hand held battery operated fan for those hot climates that make you feel as though you have stepped into a sauna. That has saved me at Disneyworld too.
    A hat that has a good sized brim, and good sunglasses are a plus. Speaking of glasses; if you need them to read, and have an extra pair, consider taking them.
    I tend to overpack too, and now try to take clothes, and accessories that mix and match, so I can pack fewer outfits. There is laundry service on the ship that is fairly reasonable, so you can have clothes you want to wear again cleaned. You will probably buy some t-shirts too, so probably won’t need as much clothing as you think. You will be glad you took less if you have to do much luggage lugging!
    Hope this helps, and happy cruising!
    Just remembered; I always take a wide, lightweight scarf I can stuff in my purse or tote. Even if we are going somewhere hot, it can get cold in some parts of the ship. It can feel especially cold coming into the air conditioning from the heat outside. The scarf takes up little room, is lightweight, and I don’t need to worry about it wrinkling.


  18. As very seasoned cruisers, we don’t take alot of this. Also, info about Carnival is incorrect…no bottled water (or bottled anything) is permitted to be carried onboard. 6, 7, 8 and 9 are all more than we pack. But the more you cruise, the better you will get.

  19. I never were on a cruise. But I’m m going on one with a few of the Daughters
    and grandchildren and Great- GrandChildren and some of there spouses to be later down the road.LOL. And I’m m packing now and I even pack flashlight for at night going to the bathroom. And some other things we might need. Coffee Cups and glasses with lock lids. And Vitamans. A small fan. And something for extra plug ins. And a small nightlight too. And sticker pads to stick on the room if we would get apart somewhere. This will help to know where the other person went. Have a great cruise everyone

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