Expert Cruisers Share Cruise Packing Tips

Packing for your first cruise can be rather daunting. Luckily help is at hand!  We’ve asked some of our favourite cruise bloggers to share their expert cruise packing tips.  Combined this cruise loving crowd have been on hundreds of cruises and have picked up some great cruise packing tips along the way.
what to pack for a cruise

AD We have been or could be if you click on a link in this post compensated via a cash payment, gift or something else of value for writing this post. See our full disclosure policy and privacy policy for more details.

This cruise packing guide features the extras you should pack to ensure you cruise like a pro!

Cruise packing tips for sea days


Theresa – Essential Cruising

Be sure that you pack all the necessary documentation (i.e. passports with enough validity).  Also check in advance what documentation you need to travel with if either you are travelling as a single parent or cruising with somebody else’s kids.

Towel pegs

Victoria – Lost Ashore

Cruise ship decks can be windy even when it is baking hot. Fun novelty pegs, stop your towels blowing away and as such ultimately make sunbathing more comfortable around the pool deck.

LED torch

Richard – Visit with Us

It may sound a bit bonkers but we always pack a little but powerful LED torch. You never know when or if a blackout was to occur and if you keep it in your bedside table, you can lead everyone on your corridor to safety like some sort of action hero!

Highlighter pens

Becky – Cruise Addicts – Rate, Rant & Review

Highlighter pens are so useful.  Just highlight your fave activities in the ships newspaper to make sure you don’t miss on all the onboard fun!

Oceanview Cabin On Princess cruises

Extension cable & magnets

Danielle – Cruise Miss

I always pack an extension cable as there are never enough plug sockets in the cabins!  I also never cruise without magnets – ideal for hanging pictures etc on the wall and your cruise itinerary.

Multi USB travel charger

Sanna – Vegan Cruiser

The pool deck on Navigator Of The Seas

For me a must for the cabin, instead of a bulky/large extension lead, is a multi USB travel charger. I’ve got both EU and US ones which takes a lot less space. Most electrical items charge with USB cables these days – phone, camera, e-reader, etc so they are really handy.

Phone Case

Emma – Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People

I always pack my phone case that has a card pocket on the back!  It means I never lose my cruise card as I always have my phone with me. (The plastic case acts as a barrier between the phone and card too which stops it from deactivating).

Travel Sewing Kit

Gavin – Holidays at Sea

I always pack a travel sewing kit. It’s handy for any of those buttons that work themselves loose. Also helpful if you need to make any adjustments for the extra pounds as your cruise goes along!

Snacks (essential if cruising with kids!) 

Flavia – Ships and Champagne

When I’m travelling with my son I tend to pack crisps, biscuits and squash just in case I need something quick when we are in the cabin. Until now I have travelled as a single mum and it is no fun trying to get the other end of the ship with a child having a meltdown. Whipping out a packet of crisps or some biscuits, bides you a bit of time.

Drinks on the Balcony

Alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks

Sarah – Extraordinary Chaos

To save money when cruising with kids it’s worth popping a couple of small bottles of cordial concentrate into your bag. Complimentary soft drinks depend on the cruise line you are sailing with.  For example P&O Cruises offer just water and hot drinks for free.  Royal Caribbean also offer lemonade and fruit squash in their buffet restaurants.

Most cruise lines allow passengers to bring some alcohol onboard on embarkation day.  For Royal Caribbean the limit is two bottles of wine or Champagne (750 ml each) per cabin to be brought on during embarkation day.  For P&O Cruises you are allowed to bring on one bottle of wine per cabin.  (Check out our Royal Caribbean drinks guide for more information about the drinks packages you can purchase before you travel or whilst onboard). 

Bigger clothes!

Ben and David – Cruise with Ben and David

Clothes a size up (for the second half of your cruise) for when you put on weight from eating all the yummy food and drink.

Washing powder and stain remover

Anna – The Cruise Blogger

Washing powder and stain remover is probably my number one item followed by towel pegs and adapters. Buying washing power can be expensive on board (and it’s not always very nice) and stain remover is impossible to get hold off. Also lingerie bags are great for washing anything delicate.

Lanyard for cruise card

Me! Lisa from Travel Loving Family

To save you the inconvenience of constantly going in and out of a bag to retrieve your *cruise card pack a lanyard to carry around your neck instead.  (Maybe stick to a handbag for formal nights!)   *A cruise card is all you need when at sea, it’s your cabin key and it’s registered with your credit card details so you can use it to buy drinks, items in the shop, etc. So with it hanging around your neck you literally have everything you need whilst at sea. 

And our favourite cruise packing tip is…. A washing up bowl!

Andrew – Solent Photographer

When we took both our sons on their first ever cruises as babies, we took a washing up bowl… We had the strangest looks and comments such as “are you washing up to pay your fare?”, but when they saw us, in the shade by our sun beds with some water in the bowl, and our baby playing with his toys in it, we were greeted with “wow, what a great idea”. Both boys loved it, and was a great way to enjoy our days at sea!

Cruise packing tips for port days

Enjoying A Port Day In Vigo

Large day bag

Claire – Tin Box Traveller

A bag which can double up as a pool bag for carrying towels, suncream, book etc to go to pool, that can also be used for sightseeing and visits to the beach on port days is a cruise essential.

Sun protection and after sun

Donna – Like Love Do 

You can buy essentials including sun cream from the onboard shops, but they have a fairly limited range to what you would expect to find ashore. If you are loyal to a particular brand, buy it before you cruise.

Refillable plastic water bottle

Marcus – Sparkx

May seem a little daft but I always take a reusable water bottle (you can get nifty collapsible ones). The water on cruise ships is some of the cleanest in the world and I don’t like the thought of having to use anymore plastic than I have to or constantly get additional plastic bottles on board (plus costs can start to mount up if you’re constantly buying water, if you don’t have a drinks package).

First aid kit

Elizabeth – Cruise like a Godmother

I always pack a first aid kit particularly useful for port days.  I include a few plasters, tea tree oil (brilliant for insect bites and spots, and any small cut or graze, as it’s a natural antiseptic), paracetamol, vitamin C tablets, aloe vera gel for sun burn and an indigestion remedy.

Note pad

Laura – Cruise Lifestyle 

Grand Canal - Port Guide: Venice with kids

I always take a little notebook with a page written out with all the details I need for each destination e.g. bus times, excursion meeting points, best bars, restaurants so I can rip it out and put in my handbag at each cruise port.

Other items you may wish to pack for a cruise:

Sea sickness tablets, bands and/or ginger products

Dress/suit carrier to prevent clothes from getting creased

A kindle for reading which saves on luggage weight

Local currency for each of the ports you are calling into

Symphony of the Seas Teens slides onboard the ultimate guide

Comfortable walking shoes for exploring ports

Cruise packing tips: What should you leave at home?


Save space in your suitcase and leave your towels at home.  Towels are provided onboard the ship and can be used both onboard around the pool and for port days.

Prohibited items

Cruise ships have a lengthy list of prohibited items including some that may surprise you such as imitation weapons e.g. toy guns and homemade food.  Check the FAO section of the cruise line you are travelling with prior to cruising to prevent any items being confiscated from you by security.

I hope you found these cruise packing tips handy.  If you have any tips to add we would love to hear from you! 

Lisa Jane, Travel loving Family


  • admin

    Donna and Sarah ( Cruising For All ) Sarah Christie and Donna Vallance are experienced travel writers and cruise enthusiasts specializing in cruising. They are passionate about exploring new destinations and have dedicated themselves to sharing their knowledge and insights with fellow travellers. They provide valuable information, tips, and recommendations for all cruisers. They strive to make cruising accessible and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of their interests, budgets, or accessibility needs. Their articles and reviews are well-researched, comprehensive, and written to help readers make informed decisions and have unforgettable cruise adventures.

    View all posts

4 thoughts on “Expert Cruisers Share Cruise Packing Tips”

  1. Thank you, due on my 1st cruise next summer and really helpful tips. Do you pay for the towels on board

  2. Towels an face cloths are free including being laundered. Just pop them in the bin provided and your canbon strward will replace them immediately.

  3. Whoops! Must read text before hitting send?

  4. Taking small hangers for children’s clothes.
    I actually pack the children’s clothes on the hangers and then just hang them on the rail when unpacking.


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.