Cruise Packing List - Pack Smart for Your Cruise

Your Essential Guide to What to Bring on a Cruise


  • Categorize your packing into sections like clothing, toiletries, electronics, and medications to avoid overpacking and last-minute scrambling.

  • Consider buying nifty little things that can enhance your comfort on a cruise, like extension cords, travel-size laundry kits, and wrinkle-release sprays.

  • Look into cruise travel protection plans for extra security and safeguard your travel in case of lost luggage, trip cancellation, or medical emergencies.

Unlike a traditional vacation, where a quick dash to the store solves any packing faux pas, a cruise demands a more strategic packing approach. That’s because, on a cruise trip, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking ocean vistas, not the convenience of a nearby store to remedy a forgotten essential.

This cruise packing checklist will ensure that you have everything onboard to transform your cruise into an unforgettable escapade. From essential documents to clever must-haves, get ready to set sail, fully prepared.


Things to Consider When Packing for a Cruise

Travel with confidence (and style) with these packing considerations for your upcoming cruise.

Double-check the baggage rules

Cruises often involve flights, so you'll need to follow both your airline's and cruise line's baggage limitations. Don't forget to factor in any weight restrictions for both checked and carry-on luggage as well.

Destination climate and activities

It is a no-brainer that your cruise packing list depends on where you're going. Are you boarding the cruise to the sunny Caribbean or the glaciers of Alaska? Both have pretty different packing scenarios, right? Knowing the climate will help you pick the right clothing.

Length of your cruise

A two-week odyssey would require a more streamlined approach than a weekend getaway. For longer cruises, consider outfit repetition and also mix and match different pieces. A shorter trip gives you room to create a more elaborate selection of wardrobes. Consider wrinkle-resistant and quick-drying fabrics to reduce laundry needs, which can be expensive onboard. Or else, you may also carry a mini laundry kit to freshen up clothes in a pinch.



Get The Right Kind of Bags

Before discussing what to pack for a cruise, let’s figure out what you are packing it into. Here are different types of bags you may consider for your cruise trip.

  • Carry-On: Choose a carry-on that meets airline size limits and features pockets for essentials like medications, travel docs, and a change of clothes for easy access during your trip.

  • Day Bag: A day bag is meant to carry along your everyday essentials for shore excursions or exploring onboard while keeping your hands free. Choose a comfy backpack, tote, purse, or money belt based on comfort, function, and what you plan to carry.

  • 4-Wheel Spinner Suitcase: Consider a four-wheeler suitcase that makes it easy to navigate crowded terminals and ship hallways. You may also look for a built-in TSA lock for added security and expandable compartments.

  • Beach Bag/Wet Bag: Choose a spacious, preferably mesh or water-resistant material tote bag to carry towels, sunscreen, snacks, etc. Plus, a bag with a separate compartment for wet items could be very convenient.

Now, let's pack and fill these bags with everything you need for an unforgettable journey.

What to Bring on a Cruise in Your Carry-On

Think of your carry-on as your "just-in-case" bag. It could be your lifeline for the first few hours of your cruise and potentially longer if your checked luggage gets delayed. Here are some of the most important things to pack for a cruise in your carry-on.

Must-Haves for Carry-On

Bonus Carry-Ons

Change of Clothes (including undergarments) + Shoes

Wine or Champagne (750 ml)

Travel Documents (passport, cruise tickets, etc.)

Swimsuit and Cover-up

(for quick change)

Essential Medications

Book or Magazine

Travel-sized Toiletries (3.4 oz or less)

Empty Water Bottle

Earplugs and Eye mask

Small Travel Charger/Portable Power Bank

Sunscreen & Hat

Light Snacks

Pack a change of clothes, essential medications, travel documents (including passport and any visas), and travel-sized toiletries for a quick refresh upon arrival. The bonus carry-ons can be selected or dropped on the basis of the space available and your personal preferences.

You may also bring wine or champagne in your carry-on luggage on a cruise, but there are restrictions and policies to consider. Typically, one sealed bottle of wine or champagne per person at embarkation. And, of course, don’t forget to pack a corkscrew too.

Essential Documents (Keep them Accessible Yet Secure)



Let’s talk paperwork. Yes, it's a not-so-fun part, but having these documents in order is super important for smooth sailing during embarkation. Here's a rundown of the essential documents you would need for your cruise.


Absolutely Essential

  • Valid Passport: First things first, your passport might be essential for smoother embarkation and lets you explore foreign ports freely. Make sure it's valid for at least six months after you plan to return.

  • Visas: Depending on where your cruise takes you, you might require visas for specific ports of call in the countries along your route. If needed, obtain the necessary visas well in advance to avoid any delays or denied entry.

Cruise Essentials

  • Key Travel Documents: Beyond your passport and visa, there are other essential documents you can't leave home without. Confirmation emails for cruises, hotels, and flights, along with any printed boarding passes, are essential. Double-check you have them packed before departure.

  • Travel Insurance Documents: You've likely done your research and chosen a great travel insurance plan for your cruise – that's excellent planning. To ensure you're fully covered, pack your travel insurance documents and keep them somewhere you can easily find them if needed.

  • Medical Insurance Card: Include a copy of your health insurance card or other medical documents that might be helpful on the trip. It is also a good idea to research any medical care you may need before leaving.

Pro Tips:

  • Photocopy key documents (both paper & digital) and store them separately from the originals. Also, keep a list of emergency contacts (credit card companies & home) on hand.

With all your documents organized and easy to find, you're practically boarding the ship.

Cruise Packing List for Clothes



Now comes the fun part: choosing which fabulous outfits will join you on your cruise (or maybe a shopping spree is in order?)


Here are some important clothing options to consider when packing for your unforgettable cruise adventure:

Casual wear

Comfortable sundresses, shorts, T-shirts, and lightweight pants are perfect for daytime activities.


Include workout clothes for onboard fitness centers or active shore excursions in your cruise packing list.

Poolside Wear

Pack at least two swimsuits and cover-ups for poolside lounging and shore excursions.

Sleepwear & Undergarments

Carry enough comfortable undergarments and pajamas for the duration of your trip.

Layering Pieces

Even warm destinations can get chilly at night, so pack a layer (light sweater or jacket) for comfort.

Formal Wear

Most cruises have formal nights. Pack a dress, skirt, or pantsuit for women, and a collared shirt, dress pants, and a jacket/tie for men.

Multitasking Items (Optional)

Consider packing some versatile items like a scarf or sarong that can be used as a beach cover-up or a wrap for cooler evenings.

Sun Protection

Keep a pair of sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes or a hat that provides shade to your face, neck, and ears.

Even if you forget something, no problem. Most cruise lines offer a rental service, so you can still look sharp for the occasion. Also, while packing light is ideal, research onboard laundry service costs to see if a few extra outfits are worth the convenience.

Comfort Footwear

Don't forget your feet. The right footwear will compliment your cruise outfits and ensure comfort throughout your trip. Consider carrying a pair of:

  • Walking Shoes
  • Dress Shoes
  • Flip-Flops or Sandals
  • Water Shoes

Opt for versatile footwear; for example, a pair of stylish sandals could work for both poolside and casual evenings. Also, since cruise decks can get wet, pack shoes with good tread.

Packing enough comfortable socks might seem obvious, but it's an easy item to forget. Pack enough pairs for your entire trip to keep your feet happy throughout the cruise.

Medication and Preventive Care

Cruises offer the perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience, prioritize your well-being by packing these essential items.

Pack Your Prescriptions
Pack enough of all your prescribed medications for the entire trip, plus a few extra days as a buffer for any unexpected delays. Keep them in their original labeled containers for easy identification during security checks.

Personalized First Aid Kit
Build a personalized kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers. Consider adding allergy medication, antacids, and motion sickness medication if needed.

Sun Protection
Sun can be quite unforgiving, especially if you are cruising in the tropics. And, based on whether you are planning on underwater activities, go for reef-safe sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Don't forget an after-sun remedy like aloe vera gel to soothe any potential sunburn.

Gadgets and Equipment



Your smartphone might be great at multitasking, handling calls, photos, texts, entertainment, and more. But consider a few additional gadgets for a better experience in your cruise packing list:

  • Camera
  • Tablet
  • Headphones
  • Portable Charger
  • Power bank
  • Universal Adapter

Pro Tip: Download any necessary apps (like the cruise line's app, maps for ports of call, etc.) beforehand for offline access if needed.


Here are some must-have toiletries you may consider for a comfortable experience onboard:

  • Basic hygiene essentials: Facial cleanser, moisturizer, deodorant, Q-tips, cotton balls/pads, perfume or cologne, nail clippers
  • Oral care: Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
  • Shaving supplies: Shaving cream and razor (if applicable)
  • Personal care: Makeup and hair care products you typically use
  • Feminine hygiene: Pack enough to last you for the duration of your cruise (if applicable)

What to Do if Your Baggage is Lost or Delayed on a Cruise?



No one wants to lose their bags, but sometimes things happen beyond our imagination. By staying calm, taking action, and having a plan, you can reduce the inconvenience of such a situation.

For starters - protect yourself against baggage loss with cruise travel insurance, even before you board the ship. Look for plans that specifically include coverage for baggage loss, delay, theft, or damage.

Also, coverage limits may vary significantly, so choose a plan that offers sufficient protection for your belongings. For instance, AXA’s Travel Protection plans offer tiered coverage options. The Gold Plan extends baggage loss coverage up to $1,500, while the Platinum plan can go up to $3,000. First, assess the value of your belongings and then choose a plan that offers sufficient financial protection.

If your bag indeed goes missing:

As soon as you realize your bag is lost or delayed, follow these steps.

1.Report the Issue

Whether your bag goes missing at the airport, on the ship, or during a port call, immediately report it to the appropriate party (airline, Guest Services, local authorities).

2.Document Everything

Obtain a written report from the cruise line or airline with details of the lost or delayed baggage. You may purchase essential items like a change of clothes and toiletries to hold you over. But it's essential to keep the receipts, as they will be crucial for reimbursement.

3.File a Travel Insurance Claim

If you have travel insurance, review your policy for specific instructions on filing a claim. Gather the required documentation, including the report from the cruise line/airline, receipts, and a copy of your travel insurance policy.

You must pack your carry-on with your cruise essentials, like a change of clothes, medications, and toiletries. So even if your checked luggage is delayed, you’ll have some backups.

Plus, you can further protect your cruise trip with additional coverages, like:

  • Medical expenses It covers any unexpected doctor visits or treatments on board or on a port of call.
  • Trip cancellation or interruption. In the event that you have to cancel or cut short your trip for a covered reason, you’ll get reimbursed for pre-paid bookings.
  • Missed connection. If you miss your connection to the cruise due to a covered reason, this coverage can help pay for costs to get you to the ship or back home.

To know more about how to file a claim or choose the most suitable travel protection plan for your cruise, you may contact AXA’s travel insurance specialists.

FAQs Related to Cruise Packing List and More

Q. Are there any specific packing tips for travelers with dietary restrictions or food allergies?

Bring your own snacks you know are safe to eat. Avoid relying solely on ship options. Cruise lines often have allergen info online. During shore excursions, take the help of staff & dining crew to pack yourself allergy-safe meals.

Q. What are some alternatives to bringing alcohol on a cruise?

While passengers are often permitted to bring a limited amount of wine or champagne per person at embarkation on many cruise lines, other sorts of booze are prohibited on board. Those looking for a similar experience can explore zero-proof cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages.

Q. How can I pack efficiently for a cruise with multiple destinations and varying climates?

It is suggested to pack for the hottest and coldest destinations first. Then, build layers for in-between climates. Go for versatile pieces you can mix and match. Also, tailor your packing list closer to the departure date based on specific forecasts for each destination.

Q. Are there any specific packing considerations for families traveling with young children or infants on a cruise?

You would want to pack enough diapers, wipes, formula (if applicable), and baby food for the entire trip, plus extras in case of delays. Carry a few of your child’s favorite toys, books, and activities to keep them entertained during travel and onboard. Check the cruise line’s website or contact them to know about options for renting out cribs or highchairs onboard.

Q. What are some essential items to pack for specific cruise activities like snorkeling or hiking excursions?

Look into specially designed reef-safe sunscreen and sunglasses. Although you can rest snorkel gear (mask, fins, snorkel), it is advisable to bring your own for a proper fit and hygiene. Invest in some good water shoes that provide a good grip on slippery rocks or coral reefs. Also, pack a tube of rash guard in your first aid kit, as fins or buoyancy vests may cause chafing.

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