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28 Top Cruise Essentials for Your Cruise Packing List

Have a cruise booked? Need a cruise packing list? Whether this is your first-time cruise or you’re an avid cruiser, it’s time to make sure you have the cruise essentials you’ll need. Don’t forget to hit print on the cruise packing list pdf printable below.

During every cruise vacation, we learn new cruise tips. On our last cruise (before Covid hit) on the Celebrity Equinox, we watched as everyone’s beach towel stay perfectly in place over their beach chairs while ours kept annoyingly slipping off the back.

How did they do this? With beach towel clips. Something we thought was such a frivolous item and yet, we sat by the pool or at the beach, wishing we had a pair of beach clips.

Obviously, we returned from our cruise and added them to this cruise packing list.

On our last cruise, we spent 10 days in the Southern Caribbean with Celebrity Equinox. We visited the ABCs of the Caribbean: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. We also made a stop in Key West, and unfortunately, our port-of-call to Grand Cayman was canceled. No matter the number of port-of-calls, it’s still 10 days on a cruise ship. So when we pack, we need to make sure we’re not missing anything.

When you embark on a cruise ship for vacation, you are temporarily moving in. The cruise ship becomes your home for the next 7, 9, or 12 days of your itinerary. Sometimes longer. It’s important that you bring some comforts and cruise necessities that will help you feel more at home. 

We don’t have a dozen cruises under my belt, yet. Most of what we’ve learned is from research prior to cruising. Followed by experience. Also, we get a ton of advice from my friend Kim, who is the cruising Queen.

We loved having this conversation with Kim. There are essentials for a cruise she likes to bring with her that are absolutely genius, and important to her. And yet, personally, we can live without them because our needs are different.

That’s the thing, everyone’s needs are different. And that is okay.

What are your must-haves for a cruise?

While these are cruise essentials, we highly encourage you to look over this cruise packing list and see what will fit your cruising needs. We give explanations and cruise tips below for the things to bring on a cruise and why they will help maximize your cruising experience. There may be items on this list that you may have or may not have thought of.

With COVID-19 in mind, we added items that may seem obvious, but need a reminder.

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Cruise Packing List

Cruise Essentials: Cruise Cabin Items

1. Power Strip

One of the things everyone should bring on a cruise is a power strip.

Your cabin may have one power outlet or maybe two if you’re lucky. Is that enough?

We all have cellphones, cameras, and other technology we may want to charge at the end of every night. You may plan to put your cellphone away and never use it, which is not a bad idea. Think about everything you will be bringing and what you will need to plug in to charge.

If it’s more than one person in your cabin, the power strip will be for everyone and their electronics.

‼️ Important: Surge protectors are banned on cruise ships. Bring a plain power strip.

Our personal preference is a power strip with USB outlets. You fix two problems with that.

2. USB Adapter

Sometimes we bring a laptop, multiple cameras, our phones, and well, personally, we need more USB ports. We enjoy recording our experiences.

If we don’t bring a USB adapter, we can’t plug everything in at once at night before bed. Imagine your camera dying in the middle of the day, all because you didn’t have a full charge due to sharing one USB port with other devices. Who wants to keep returning to the cabin to swap out these devices throughout a cruise day on the ship?

Definitely don’t want that to happen. Make sure you have enough USB ports.

30 Fun Things to Do on a Cruise: Free Activities to Paid Ones

3. Over the Door Toiletry Organizer

We discovered and ordered the most amazing toiletry organizer, which we used in Kauai, and then on our Celebrity cruise.

Why is it amazing? Because we packed both our toiletries in this organizer and it fit nicely in our luggage pouch. When we unpacked in our Kauai Airbnb and then in our cruise cabin, we just unfolded it open and hung it up in the bathroom. It’s perfect.

There are different varieties on Amazon to choose from that will fit your family’s needs.

If you’re taking a flight prior to your cruise, it may not be the perfect scenario for you because of the rules. When we travel together, we do check-in one luggage that is slightly bigger than our carry-on.

Consider taking an over-the-door shoe rack instead. This is an amazing bathroom storage hack. If you and your family are staying in one cabin together with only one bathroom, this may be the way to go. There is not enough surface space in the bathroom. This will hang over the bathroom door and everyone can stick their toiletries and other items for later use into the pockets.

4. Portable Fan

A portable fan? Surprised? Because we sure were when this came highly recommended. And it is the most popular item on this list.

This portable fan is battery-operated, foldable, and stores easily in your luggage.

Our friend, Kim, likes to use it to sleep at night and to circulate the air that may become stagnant. She won’t cruise without it.

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5. Stand-Up Mirror

A stand-up mirror is another genius recommendation by Kim. Seriously, this one is another hit amongst our readers. So it’s a keeper!

Unless you’re living the suite life, cruise ship cabins are small. Getting dolled up with someone else in the room can become cumbersome. If you’re worried about applying your make-up with a good mirror, this standing make-up mirror is a great option to consider.

6. Magnetic Hooks

Did you know the walls of the cabin are made of metal? This is why magnetic hooks come in handy. Great to hang your lanyard, hat, or any other item you don’t want to just toss around the cabin.

7. Nightlight

The cabin gets really dark when you turn off the lights at night. Normally, it’s great for sleeping, but when you wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, you’ll probably stub your tow on the way. We find a small nightlight that helps us find our way.

We love bringing battery-powered tea lights. It’s a cheap night light and really takes up no room in the luggage. Your local $1 store will have them.

You can check out this travel nightlight.

8. Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are not only helpful to keep things organized in your suitcase, but they make unpacking a breeze. I swear by packing cubes.

Once your suitcase is dropped off in your cruise cabin. Just take your packed packing cubes from your cruise luggage and slip them into the drawers or shelves provided.

Voila. You’ll be out the door having another vacation cocktail.

9. Laundry Bag

This laundry bag has been with us on many trips already. What’s to like about it? It folds up small and you can just toss it into your luggage or carry-on. Once you’re in the cabin, you can throw all your dirty clothes in. At the end of the trip, stuff the laundry bag with clothes and all in your luggage.

Others recommend a popup laundry bag which is great too, but we can’t imagine packing that with clothes in it.

Let’s be real, even a shopping bag will get the job done.

9. Clothespins

Appreciate this tip from a lovely reader and a seasoned cruiser that reminded me of the clothespins.

Bring some clothespins from home with you. In your cabin bathroom, there is a clothing line that you can use to hang up your wet swimsuit or perhaps something you decide to wash by hand in your cabin.

Beach Items to Pack for Your Cruise

Heading on a Caribbean cruise or a beach destination? Check out our beach packing list with the best items to bring for some fun in the sun.

Essentials for a Cruise: Accessories

11. Cruise Luggage Tags

It may or may not be cruise essential, but cruise luggage tags to clip onto your suitcase will help make it easy for you to clip onto your suitcase. A few cruise lines (like Celebrity) will mail out luggage tags, however, many do not. You will have to print the tags prior to embarkation.

What do you do with the printed tags? Some people just staple them onto their suitcase handle. Others prefer to keep it tidy, clear to read, and organized by securing it into a cruise luggage tag.

Pack them so you have them ready prior to embarkation.

12. Coffee Tumble

Word to the wise, if you’re a coffee drinker, consider taking a coffee tumbler with you. You will thank me later!

The coffee mug is still #1 on my list. Coffee is hubby’s BFF.

Those little cups they provide at the buffet are laughable. Since we like to save money when possible, he fills his 24oz Hydro Flask and BOOM, we don’t have to worry about returning to the buffet for a refill. The best part is it’s environmentally friendly.

It’s also safe for everyone around you. Imagine, getting bumped into one of those buffet cups full of HOT coffee. Not fun.

The coffee tumbler will keep your coffee warm longer.

Another cruise read not to miss: The Ins and Outs of Tipping On a Cruise

13. Water Bottles

Speaking of eco-friendly. We always carry an insulated water tumbler off the ship. Fill it up with ice and water at the buffet before you head out of the day.

14. Eco-Friendly Straws

Plastic straws have been banned from many cruise lines. Your fruity drink is no longer being served with a straw.

For some, slurping a piña colada just doesn’t seem right. Personally, we like to have a straw with our frozen drinks. What do we stir our drink with? However, we do know how important it is for the environment that we start eliminating plastic to keep our oceans safe.

Now, you have the option to bring your own straws, many cruisers do, and others don’t care about having straws. It’s all up to you.

Some cruise lines like Celebrity will provide you with paper straws. We highly suggest checking with your Cruise Critic Community if straws are being provided on the cruise ship. Until all cruise lines decide to provide alternatives to plastic straws, we highly recommend looking into eco-friendly ones that are either biodegradable or reusable.

15. Lanyards

Lanyards are sold on the cruise ship. If you don’t want to wait, there are plenty of pretty options on Amazon for great prices. And yes, you’ll need to carry your cruise ship card with you whenever you leave your cabin.

Cruise Tip: After you receive your ID Card, stop by guest services or the casino and borrow their hold puncher. Punch a hole into the corner or the top of your ID card. Now you hook it to your lanyard.

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16. Beach Towel Clips

One of the things we could have used during our last Celebrity cruise, while on deck by the pool or at the beach was beach towel clips. I saw so many people with these clips on their chairs and I quickly learned why.

The towel does not stay draped onto the back of your deck chair. It’s the most frustrating thing having to fix it over and over again. And if it’s windy, forget it! We will not forget to add this to our cruise packing list next time.

17. Waterproof Phone Case

A waterproof phone case is great to have on any vacation that involves water activities. It has come came in handy multiple times for us during cruise shore excursions including kayaking in Harvest Caye and in Costa Maya.

There are different kinds, but the cheapest and most popular option is the universal waterproof phone pouch. It’s easy to roll up and pack. Takes up hardly any room. This is something that is always in my arsenal of travel essentials.

You can also look for waterproof phone case houses like this one that is suited for your phone.

18. Ziplock Bags

Probably the most versatile and useful item you can bring is Ziplock bag. You think you may never need them, but then you come to find that you’ve used them all by the end of the trip. From stuffing wet clothes into a bag to organizing last-minute items for your luggage, Ziplock bags will come in handy.

We suggest bringing gallon and quart-sized bags.

Environmentally friendly reusable storage bags will work as well.

19. Beach Bag | Travel Backpack

You’ll need a beach bag or travel backpack that you can carry with you to the port. It will also help carry some of the items on this cruise packing list like the sunscreen, water bottle, beach towel clips, and the towel itself… amongst other things.

We have a backpack from Oakley that hubby has carried with us all over with our travels for over 10 years. That’s basically our go-to. I do also like to carry a beach bag where I can store things like my flip-flops, an extra set of clothes, towels, and stuff.

Do and take what’s best for you. You will definitely need a bag of some sort.

20. Travel Umbrella

You never know when you’ll need an umbrella. The cruise ship won’t be handing passengers umbrellas unless you’re in a suite.

For the most part, if it’s raining when you arrive at port, you may want to stay on the ship. That doesn’t stop everyone. A little rain didn’t stop us from going snorkeling in Roatan.

Pack the travel umbrella. You never know which way the weather will turn. Sometimes the forecast is not accurate, especially when heading to the Caribbean.

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Cruise Essentials: Toiletries & First Aid

21. Sun Screen

Planning to sunbathe on the pool deck? Pack sunscreen.

While we do mention sunscreen on our beach packing list, we can’t forget to mention it on our cruise packing list.

22. Sunburn Relief

Have you ever gotten a sunburn so bad that you ended up paying for overpriced aloe at the port? Just me?

In Hawaii, no matter how much sunscreen we lathered on, the sun was so strong we had some serious sunburns. We discovered this after sun moisturizer in Kauai and it’s amazing. We highly recommend it.

23. SeaBands

Because you never know when you will get seasick make sure to bring sea bands or a motion sickness patch just in case.

We’ve been told that if you eat a green apple (always available at the buffet) or take ginger pills that help with motion sickness too.

24. Poo-Pourri

Sharing a cabin with multiple people and only one bathroom? A bottle of Poo-Pourri will come in handy. Especially if the bathroom is part of the cabin with little privacy like on the Norwegian Epic. You’ll be happy to have brought a before-you-go toilet spray.

25. Downey Wrinkle Release Spray

Irons are not allowed onboard. They are also not readily available to use in your room. Some Carnival ships have laundry rooms equipped with irons (that’s if they have also haven’t been taken away by now) – if you’re cruising Carnival, definitely verify this before boarding.

Some of us are okay with clothes being a little wrinkled out of the luggage and that’s fine. But for those of us that aren’t, we have the option of using Downey Wrinkle Release Spray. Spray it on the clothes, smooth it out and within mins, your clothes are wrinkle-free. It’s a great quick fix for casual everyday wear.

For formal night, we send those pieces of clothing to be ironed properly on day 1 of our cruise vacation. On your first day, check for specials on dry cleaning and ironing with your cabin steward. Most of the time, it is 50% off. You can go that route as well.

26. Medications & First-Aid Kit

If there are any medications you take regularly, make sure to bring them with you. On top of those, you may want to bring a few over-the-counter medications in case you need them during your cruise vacation.

We have a pill organizer that we fill with meds we may think we will need. You just never know when allergies may hit or you may come down with a stomach bug. Believe us, it really has come in handy.

Some of these are…

  • allergy meds
  • aspirin (Tylenol)
  • anti-inflammatory (Advil, Aleve)
  • cold meds
  • anti-diarrhea (Immodium, Pepto)
  • Dramamine

Make a list of what you think you’ll need.

Always travel with a first-aid kit, but on a cruise ship, it is even more important to have one on hand in case of anything. You can go to the medical office, but they may overcharge you for something as small as a bandaid.

Cruise Essential Tip: More imperative than ever to have travel insurance.

27. Hand Sanitizer & Disinfectants

We normally carry hand sanitizers and wipes with us when we travel. Sometimes in the travel section of your pharmacy or Target, you can find mini disinfectants. With COVID it’s even more imperative to travel with these items.

On cruise ships, you will find hand sanitizer stations set up everywhere. Prior to embarking on the ship or entering the buffet, cruise staff will be posted with spray bottles to disinfect your hands.

We shouldn’t rely on what’s on the ship, try to carry your own to keep germ-free hands between hand washes.

28. Face Masks

When we start cruising again, you more than likely will be required to wear a mask in public spaces and events on cruise ships. Keep up to date with your cruise line and its health guidelines.

– Don’t Miss: What’s Included in Your Cruise

Printable cruise packing list
Hit the button below for a Printable Cruise Packing List. You can also save this image to Pinterest.

Cruise Packing List

Printable cruise packing list
  1. Power Strip
  2. USB Adapter
  3. Hanging Toiletry Organizer
  4. Portable Fan
  5. Stand-up Mirror
  6. Magnetic Hooks
  7. Nightlight
  8. Laundry Bag
  9. Packing Cubes
  10. Clothespins
  11. Cruise Luggage Tags
  12. Coffee Tumbler
  13. Water Tumbler
  14. Eco-friendly Straws
  15. Lanyards
  16. Beach Towel Clips
  17. Waterproof Phone Case
  18. Ziplock Bags
  19. Beach Bag / Travel Backpack
  20. Travel Umbrella
  21. Sea-Bands
  22. Sun Screen
  23. Sunburn Relief
  24. Poo-Pourri
  25. Downey Wrinkle Release Spray
  26. Medications & First-Aid
  27. Hand Sanitizers and Disinfectants
  28. Face Masks


  1. Print this checklist
  2. Check off every item as you pack.
  3. Have a fantastic cruise vacation!

Find this list helpful?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Packing for a cruise is super exciting as it means your cruise vacation is super close. Hope this cruise packing list helps make it a huge success. If you learn anything new or if there is anything I should add to this list, please come back and let me know in the comments.

Also, check out, what not to pack on a cruise, before you start packing.

What’s one cruise item you consider essential? What is on your cruise packing list that’s not on this list? Do you have any cruise packing tips?

If you’re heading on a beach holiday on your next cruise, don’t forget to read my Beach Packing List. Beach towels, snorkel gear, and more!

Don’t forget to share the love on Pinterest:

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Saturday 23rd of October 2021

Once i forgot my swimsuit. Not pretty. They didn't have anything onboard to help and we searched in every port and finally found one I could squeeze into! My husband assured me it was fine. It was WAY to small. I actually wore a bra under it (and it had a DEEP plunging neckline!) Can we all say jacuzzi and suddenly every guy older than 70 is in the tub with me! Oy! And there water slide???? LOL 😣

One time I only took one bra. It malfunctioned - one front fastener on the strap broke and almost hit my husband in the eye when it propelled across the room! 😯 We didn't have a safety pin and tried to fix it with an old earring until our room steward found a safety pin on the ship somewhere because even the gift shop didn't have any!

So, the moral of my story is to be careful with your packing. Check off lists! I put all of my essential stuff on a chair as I remember what I am sure I'd forget.

We are off on a vaccinated cruise on Carnival next Sunday. Bathing suit, a spare and two extra bras plus more masks than one person needs, in the packing cube as I speak! 🤣


Sunday 24th of October 2021

Oh no! I totally envisioned the hot tub scenario. Hubby always says the same, "you look fine" haha - gotta love them for loving us blindly.

Yes, it is so important to be careful with what we pack. There are some things that I've learned my lesson on and learned the hard way that I won't always be able to buy it when I get to my destination.

I'm totally adding safety pins to this list after this comment. Also, going to mention a quick reminder of going over lists and not forgetting swimsuits. Thanks so much for commenting!

Patricia Woodard

Wednesday 20th of October 2021

After 35 cruises I agree with every item. There are some that are new to me but I definitely will include. Another suggestion is plastic clothes pins to hang up lingerie and wet swim suits on the cord in the shower. Thanks for the tips


Wednesday 20th of October 2021

Hi Patricia - That's a great tip! I will definitely add that one soon. Appreciate your comment - made my day!


Saturday 10th of July 2021

Easiest way to weigh your bag is a bathroom scale. If it doesnt fit then weigh yourself, then hold the bag and subtract your weight from the new weight.


Sunday 11th of July 2021

Yes, that's a great tip. Also, a travel luggage scale is a great tool for when you're not near a bathroom scale.


Saturday 10th of July 2021

For a couple you could check 100 lbs of luggage. That seems like a fair amount to me.

Also, the only hassle would be lugging bags around the airport as once on the cruise you are situated. It is not like a European driving trip where you change hotels.


Sunday 11th of July 2021

You just mentioned one of my favorite reasons to cruise... once situated on the ship, that's it. No dragging luggage like when we go on a European adventure. Definitely a nice perk. Thanks for commenting!


Monday 4th of March 2019

I am curious as to how you take all this stuff and still stay under the 50# weight limit for the airlines. Haha. Going on our 2nd cruise in 12 years in a few months. Have been stocking up but need to watch the weight.


Tuesday 5th of March 2019

Hi Karen! Not everyone will pack everything on this list, only what they think they need to make their cruise more comfortable. We manage to always be under 50 lbs unless I start adding too many things from my beach packing list, that's when it starts getting tricky. As we usually travel with a carry-on and then another suitcase that is slightly bigger that needs to be checked in. We also have travel backpacks. When we travel it is also just hubby and I, depending on the cabin, we probably won't need the shoe rack and I may not be in the mood to apply make-up, so no mirror necessary. It all depends, however, most of this is small and light. I also do not like to overpack when it comes to clothes because I used to do this all the time and return home with never wearing half of what I packed. We also always take advantage of laundry on the ship (NCL offers $20 per bag of laundry as a mid-week special). When do we run into problems? On the return flight! Usually, its too many pounds of duty-free foreign coffee that we need to bring home or chocolate! That's when the travel backpacks truly help. :D Hope you have a fantastic time on your cruise! Don't stress about packing every single thing, just what you think you'll need.?You can also buy one of those handy luggage scales and weigh your luggage before you leave your home.?

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