Congratulations—your cruise is booked and visions of vacation are dancing through your head. Now there’s only one thing left to do before sailing off into the horizon: pack your bags.
The task of packing for a cruise can feel daunting, given all of the special considerations—there are temperature variations between ports of call, onboard dress codes to adhere to, and different types of shipboard activities and shore excursions that you can sign up for.
And, of course, destination consideration comes into play. A cruise packing list for an active, outdoorsy cruise to Alaska is going to look a lot different than one for a laid-back beach trip to the Caribbean, or for a sophisticated city-hopper sailing in the Mediterranean.
Have no fear: our expert-compiled cruise packing list will make sure you’re the savviest sailor at sea—and the best dressed one, to boot. After all, you want to spend your precious time in port shopping for spectacular souvenirs—not some forgotten sundries.
And remember that the beauty of a cruise vacation is that once you get everything into your bag, you only have to unpack one time after boarding the ship. So simply zip through this comprehensive list of things to pack for a cruise, and you’ll be packed like a pro and ready to go in no time.
What clothing, shoes, and accessories do I need to pack for a cruise?
A cruise vacation covers a lot of ground, which means you’ll need a lot of flexibility with your wardrobe, too. You can generally count on transitioning from daytime casual to Evening Chic aboard the ship, and you should also be able to segue from a fun-in-the-sun beach outing to a rainy-day city walking tour with ease.
Consult the weather forecasts closely in the days leading up to your trip, and think in terms of layers and mix-and-match ensembles to make sure your suitcase doesn’t burst at the seams. Don’t be afraid to recycle your more gently worn outfits: Rest assured that your fellow cruisers will be none the wiser if you don the same duds twice.
For laid-back days spent walking around the ship or port, you’ll want to have a good selection of comfortable and casual clothing. Check the weather, and stick to a cruise packing list with a good selection of shorts, jeans/khakis, sundresses/skirts, and T-shirts (both long- and short-sleeved) and tank tops.
The evening takes on a dressier air aboard the ship, so be sure to consult with the cruise line dress code to make sure you’re synced up on the expected style. On Celebrity’s polished Evening Chic nights, dress or button-down shirts, sweaters, and slacks (including designer jeans), with an optional blazer, will cut it for the men, while ladies can step out with cocktail dresses, a skirt/blouse combo, or a polished pantsuit (nice jeans with an elegant top will do).
If you’d like to go all-out with tuxedos and evening gowns, you absolutely should—it’s your vacation, after all. Celebrity’s sailings of seven nights or longer have two nights designated as Evening Chic, while shorter cruises have one. All other days permit smart casual attire in the evenings.
Study the weather forecast and be sure to bring along climate-appropriate outerwear. When you’re packing for an Alaska cruise, for instance, you’ll almost certainly need lots of layers, with waterproof outerwear, winter hats, and gloves on hand.
Even in the Caribbean, you might find yourself in need of a sweater or sweatshirt once the sun sets, and the same goes for a spring or fall stroll in a Mediterranean port.
Don’t forget sun hats and baseball caps for sunny days out on deck or in port, while women might appreciate a dressy scarf or shawl to drape over their shoulders for sophisticated evenings aboard the ship.
Beachwear & Activewear
Whether you’re splashing around on the pool deck or beachside, you’ll want to bring along at least a couple of swimsuits so they can dry between uses. Cover-ups offer added protection on sun-kissed days, as well as an easy transition in attire from swimming to grabbing a bite to eat.
Keep in mind that ships are equipped with gyms and outdoor tracks, fitness classes abound, and many ports welcome runners, kayakers, bikers, and other active types—there’s no need to skip out on your fitness regime if you don’t want to, so bring along your activewear, too.
You’ll want comfy pajamas to cozy up in after a long day spent exploring port.
Pack comfortable walking shoes for long excursions in port, whether it’s a pair of sneakers or comfy flats. Sandals and flip-flops are must-haves for pool and beach days, while dress shoes are de rigueur for fancier evening dinners on board.
If the weather is going to be very rainy, the beaches rocky, or if there are mountains you’re looking to climb, be sure to bring along appropriate footwear, too, like rain boots, water shoes, or hiking boots.
Don’t forget the trimmings! Bring some jewelry if you like, though, as with any trip, you’ll want to leave your best pieces at home. Though staterooms have safes, you’d be wise not to flash expensive baubles in port. Gents may want to finish off their looks with belts and ties.
A wristwatch is key, especially when cruising between time zones (so you won’t stress about missing the boat while out on excursion), while an umbrella or poncho can help save a rainy day.
Topping your cruise packing list should be your eyeglasses and sunglasses. Do be sure to bring along some protective cases, too, to help keep them intact during all of your travels.
Once you get the luggage unloaded, you’ll want some smaller bags on hand for the many adventures that await during the course of your cruise. A daypack and/or beach bag is essential for toting items while in port. Ladies may want to consider two purses: one casual handbag for daytime excursions, and an evening one better suited for dressier occasions.
Adding a collapsible tote to your list of things to pack for a cruise is a good strategy to help carry any extra souvenirs you might acquire along the way.
Other handy add-ons include a handful of plastic bags (for garbage and storage), ziplock bags (for waterproof storage and organization), and a wet bag (for trips to the beach).
Do bring a laundry bag along for storing dirty duds, and—especially so if you are on a longer sailing—consider doing some laundry mid-trip rather than overpacking. Ships offer laundry service, which will help you avoid overpacking.
What hygiene products do I need to pack for a cruise?
Apart from clothing, shoes, and accessories, you’ll want your stateroom bathroom and vanity well-stocked with all of your favorite personal hygiene products from home.
While your stateroom will come stocked with premium bath amenities, you might want to bring travel-sized bottles of your preferred products, too. Other cruise packing list must-haves include a facial cleanser, moisturizer, deodorant, shaving supplies, lip balm, Q-tips, and cotton balls/pads.
Pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and mouthwash, too. Contact lens wearers should bring all the related gear (including a case and solution), and a pair of tweezers and a nail file and/or clippers will surely come in handy, too.
Hair & Makeup Products
Hair can require extra taming when coming in from a day at the beach or a windy sea day up on deck. Be prepared with all the hairstyling products, accessories, and tools you need, as well as a brush/comb, too (note that hairdryers are provided in each stateroom).
Bring along your makeup (and don’t forget the makeup remover). You might also want a small bottle of perfume or cologne to spritz from, as well.
Health & Safety Products
Cover your health and safety bases by carting along any necessities like medications (including seasickness remedies, as needed), pain relievers, vitamins, feminine hygiene products, birth control, as well as a basic, personalized first-aid kit.
Other things to pack for a cruise include sunscreen (and aloe vera for relief, just in case you miss a spot), as well as insect repellent if you’re sailing somewhere tropical.
Keep hand wipes and sanitizer close on hand to help keep the germs at bay while you’re on the go.
What documents do I need to pack for a cruise?
Sure, it’s vacation, but that doesn’t mean you can get by on sunshine and frothy drinks alone. You’ll need some essential documentation and a properly stocked wallet to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.
Wallet & Money Belt Items
You may want to trade in your wallet for a money belt while on your trip. Whichever route you choose, be sure to bring cash (including small bills for tips), an ATM or debit card, and credit cards.
Tuck away your driver’s license, too (as well as an international driver’s license if you plan on renting a car abroad). Foreign travel also means having a passport on hand that’s stamped with any visas, if necessary.
You’ll also want to have your medical insurance card, as well as any travel insurance information, on you at all times.
Documentation & Contact Info
Be sure to bring along key travel documents, like airline tickets, hotel info, and maps and directions. The cruise line will send you designated luggage tags, too; add those onto your luggage before embarking the ship.
Make sure you have copies of key documentation and information as backup, should anything get lost or stolen on your trip. Keep photocopies separate from the originals, and consider having scanned copies saved somewhere digitally, too. Also have important phone numbers available (like for credit card companies or emergency contacts back home), as well as the mailing and email addresses for any friends or relatives you might want to write to while away.
It’s also prudent to keep copies of any prescriptions you take, as well as a list of medications and your medical history, should any medical incidents arise.
Travel guides can come in handy to read up on the ports that await you, while a pen and journal will allow you to jot down anything that might come up on the trip—or to document your vacation memories for posterity.
What technology items do I need to pack for a cruise?
These days, all of those electronic gadgets that we love could take up a suitcase all their own! To be digitally entertained and easily catch up with emails and news back home, keep your cell phone and laptop (or tablet) high on your cruise packing list.
Your cell phone might be all you need to take pictures, listen to music, and have an alarm clock for the morning. If that’s not the case, you might want to bring along a proper camera (with lenses, memory cards, etc.), music (and a player), and a travel alarm clock.
All those gadgets will need charging, too, so don’t forget those chargers. A power strip (preferably with built-in USB ports) can help ensure that the stateroom has more than enough juice to go around.
If you’ll be spending a lot of time by the pool and beach, do consider a waterproof phone case to help protect your cell phone. And if you’re staying abroad at hotel pre- or post-cruise, don’t overlook voltage adapters, as needed.
Finally, if you’re headed somewhere with great wildlife—like Alaska, for instance—a good pair of binoculars is sure to up those wow-factor moments.
What else do I need to pack for a cruise?
There are a few more odds and ends to help ensure that your cruise packing list is seamless. Toting along some favorite snacks, chewing gum, and a reusable water bottle is a smart move to keep you satiated and hydrated on the go, whether at the airport or in port.
Travel aids like earplugs, a travel pillow, and a sleeping mask can help make long flights or car rides more comfy. A pack of travel-sized antibacterial wipes is always a good idea to help wipe down germ-prone surfaces as needed.
Consider bringing along some reading materials for lazy afternoons on your balcony or by the pool, whether you prefer paperback or e-books or magazines.
If you’re headed somewhere with loads of time for sand and surf, you might want to bring along your own snorkel and goggles so that you can set off on snorkeling excursions at whim.
If you’re traveling with kids, there’s a whole world of age-appropriate gear to consider, like diapers, strollers, toys, and games.
Finally, don’t forget to tuck away your house and car keys somewhere safe—you won’t need them until the end of your trip, but you’ll want to be able to find them in a snap, when the time comes for your trip to conclude.
The Ultimate Cruise Packing Checklist
Tick off this handy cruise packing checklist to ensure that all of your vacation essentials make it into your bags. Just note that some of these items will be optional, depending on factors like your cruise destination, duration, weather, and the types of activities you choose on your cruise.
- T-shirts/tank tops
- Dress shirts
- Cocktail dresses/gowns
- Dressy pantsuits
- Hats/sun hats
Beachwear & Activewear
- Workout clothes/activewear
- Leisure shoes
- Dress shoes
- Specialty footwear (hiking boots/rainboots/water shoes)
- Glasses cases
- Daypack/beach bag
- Collapsible tote
- Plastic bags
- Ziplock bags
- Wet bag
- Luggage locks
- Laundry bag
- Laundry kit (detergent/wrinkle-release spray/stain remover)
- Dental floss
- Facial cleanser/skincare products
- Lip balm
- Shaving cream
- Contact lenses/case/solution/eye drops
- Nail file/clippers
- Cotton balls/pads
Hair & Makeup Products
- Hairstyling tools
- Hairstyling products
- Hair accessories
- Makeup remover
Health & Safety Products
- Sunscreen/aloe vera
- Insect repellent
- Feminine hygiene products
- Birth control
- Pain relievers
- First-aid kit
- Seasickness remedies
- Hand wipes
Wallet & Money Belt Items
- Wallet/money belt with cash/ATM card/credit cards
- Driver’s license/international driver’s license
- Medical insurance card
- Travel insurance information
Documentation & Contact Info
- Travel documents (cruise boarding passes/airline tickets/hotel info/itinerary/etc.)
- Printed/personal luggage tags
- Maps and directions
- Travel guides/phrase book
- Prescriptions/list of medications/medical history
- Copies of passport/important documents/credit cards/etc.
- Important phone numbers (credit cards/emergency contacts/etc.)
- Addresses/e-mail addresses for friends/relatives
- Small notebook/journal
- Cell phone and charger
- Laptop/tablet and charger
- Camera/lenses/memory cards/batteries/charger
- Voltage adapters (for international pre-/post-cruise hotels)
- Alarm clock
- Power strip
- Music and player
- Waterproof phone case
- House/car keys
- Snacks/chewing gum
- Reusable water bottle
- Travel aids (earplugs/sleeping mask/travel pillow)
- Pleasure reading (magazines/books/e-book with charger)
- Antibacterial wipes
- Kids/baby gear (diapers/toys/games/etc.)
Now that you can pack like a pro, the only thing missing is your cruise ticket and you’ll be all set to go! Browse itineraries on our 14 sophisticated ships, which set sail to more than 300 destinations across the seven seas. Simply visit our website to book your dream cruise today.