smoother than that first margarita
Our 2021 Cruise Packing List is the only checklist you’ll need in preparation for your cruise vacation. From the “essentials” to the “extras,” we’ve got you covered.
We’re constantly asked “what to pack for a cruise.” To make it as simple as possible, we’ve created this printable PDF Cruise Packing List. Click that link, let us know your itinerary, and we’ll email your customized checklist.
Here’s a low-res version of what we’ll email.
Use the button above to add this to your Cruise Packing Pinterest Board.
We’ve also included your cruise necessities below. Each section of the list is broken up to provide a bit more detail. When advising our community to pack a “dress shirt,” we often have follow up questions. Or when suggesting a “cruise power strip” we’re given blank stares. That’s why you’ll find images and a short description to go along with many items on our checklist. Hopefully that helps to avoid any confusion.
This is probably the trickiest set of items on our cruise packing list. Depending on where you’re cruising to and from, your clothing items will vary. Your specific itinerary will also have an impact on your packing list. If sailing for 7 days, you’ll obviously need more stuff than a 3 nighter. Seven-night cruises are the most common, so we’ll assume that below.
With our downloadable packing list, we’ve included a “Quantity” column. Feel free to use this to set the number of pieces for each article on the list.
As a woman, what clothes will I need for my cruise?
Athletic Shoes: You’ll be doing a LOT of walking. You’ll need a comfortable set of sneakers for the extra-long walks when exploring the ship, port, or hitting the gym.
Casual Shirts: For strolling around, breakfast, port-stops, and more, throw on comfortable, casual shirt.
Dress Shirts: Pack dressier shirts / blouses for night-time activities like dinner, shows, and lounges.
Dresses: Expect at least one “formal night” on your cruise. Check with your agent or the line to see how many you’ll have and consider bringing a dress for each you plan to attend.
Gym Clothes: Cruise ships are equipped with running tracks, beautiful gyms, rock climbing walls, and many more opportunities to get active. Bring an outfit or two to get in on the action.
Jacket / Windbreaker: The top deck of your ship will be windy (guaranteed). Also, ship venues will have the A/C cranking. Have a light jacket or windbreaker to keep comfy.
Jeans: Jeans are great for mid to late day activities like bingo, exhibitions, snacking, etc.
Leisure Shoes: You’ll want shoes somewhere between a sandal and a sneaker for walking around the ship or port in mid-range distances.
Pants: Whether sweatpants or slacks, we’re sure you have your favorite pants you’ll want to take on vacation.
Sandals / Flip Flops: Hopefully you’ll spend a good amount of time poolside or visiting cruise port beaches. Sandals are a must.
Shorts: You’ll want a few sets of shorts to slip on during the day.
Skirts: Pack some longer skirts for night-time activities or shorter skirts for day-time activities.
Sleepwear: If you have a favorite set of jammies, make sure to stick those in your luggage. Your cabin could be warmer or colder than you’re expecting, so plan appropriately.
Swimsuits / Cover Ups: You’ll probably want some swimsuits for the pool, jacuzzis, beaches, or maybe even waterslides. We bring 3-4 pairs for a 7-nighter. Your expected to cover up when popping into the buffet and other eating venues, so pack some cover ups for ease.
T-shirts: We typically pack 7 casual shirts + t-shirts for the week. Also, we love wearing a funny cruise shirt on Day 1 of the cruise. When wearing, you’re guaranteed to make ship mates that you’ll see throughout the week.
Undershirts / Bras: Don’t forget the basics. The ship store will not have your favorite brand!
Underwear: Don’t forget to pack that pair you’ve been saving for vacation.
These are in the “very easy to forget” category of our cruise packing list. You won’t realize you forgot some of these items until you get ready for dinner on Night One of your cruise.
Not this time. Use our accessories checklist to assure that you’re fully accessorized throughout your sailing.
Sunglasses: The top decks of your ship will be super bright. Not to mention the powder-white sands at port. Grab a UV-protected set of sunglasses for extra care.
Watches: Cruise ships are infamous for their lack of clocks. As such, cruise passengers are infamous for missing out on events. Consider bringing a watch that easy to change. Cruise ship staff may ask that you set your clock to a specific time (ship and port times can actually differ) to assure you’re back on board before the ship leaves.
Hat: We take a few hats with us. Some for “dress up” and then possibly another for the gym or jogging track.
Belts: This is probably one of the most forgotten items. A missing belt can ruin the whole outfit. Please note that cruise ships have been known to mysteriously shrink belts.
Jewelry: There are two schools of thought here. The first is to pack your fancy jewelry that you otherwise don’t get to wear in “real life.” Strategy Two is to only include the cheap stuff on your cruise packing list. We see the logic in both and will let you decide.
Purses: We bring purses for night-time activities (dinner, shows, bars) and small handbags for the essentials. Typically, one of each will do.
Journal: If you’re like us, you enjoy capturing your cruise vacation in time. There’s nothing better than sitting top deck with a warm coffee and journaling about the amazing cruise thus-far.
Another set of easily forgotten cruise packing list items… Toiletries! If you forget dental floss, you’ll probably be just fine. Forget your contacts, though, and things could get a bit less enjoyable.
Below, you’ll find a list of the essentials you’ll need in your cruise bathroom.
Shaving Cream and Razors: Just know that your cruise cabin bathroom will be tiny. There’s very little space to maneuver, in case that impacts your choice of shaving devices.
Toothbrush and Toothpaste: A tube of travel-sized toothpaste will last one person the full week… unless you really like the taste of toothpaste.
Tweezers: It always happens. You think to yourself, “I won’t need these.” Then two days into your vacation, you really wish you had them. They take up so little space, just pack them!
Makeup: You’ll have seven full nights to get all “made up.” Make sure to take advantage of all!
Makeup Remover: After a few drinks, it’s so easy to just hit the hay without washing off “your face.” Make it easy on yourself by packing some proper makeup remover.
Contacts & Solution: There will be plenty to see. Make sure you’re able to fully take it all in by packing your contacts and solution.
Hair Brush: “Salt hair don’t care” is a phrase that feels appropriate here.
Deodorant: Travel-sized may not be enough. Bring a full stick just to be “sure.”
Floss: Food will be in abundance. And some of it may come in the form likely to get caught up in those teeth. You’ll be glad that you packed floss.
Facial Cleanser: Your face will undergo a daily subjection to lotion, salt, sand and more.
Shampoo & Conditioner: We use the cruise ship stocked shampoo and conditioner, but can appreciate that some like to add these to their cruise packing list.
Moisturizer: Unlike a hotel, typically a cruise cabin will not come equipped with moisturizer. Bring your own to stay hydrated.
Face Lotion: Keep your face healthy from the sun, lotion, makeup, and salt air from the week.
Some people prefer to unplug on their cruise. Not us. We like to enhance our cruise experience with our favorite gadgets.
Whether watching our favorite movie on the back deck of the ship, jamming to our favorite song while jogging the track, or capturing a wide shot of the port, we appreciate our electronics while cruising.
Here are the items our family packs for each cruise.
Camera & Memory Card: Smartphones are great for capturing most photos. But, to get that underwater shot or for museum-quality photos, we like to bring our own gear.
Video & MP3 Player: We use this less on the cruise than we do traveling to our ship. While waiting for our plane or our embarkation group to be called, this is a great option to pass the time.
iPhone: We try to limit our phones to photos, the ship’s texting plans, and emergency contacts.
Laptop & Charger: We’re much more motivated to curate and edit photos / videos as we go rather than days or weeks after our cruise. A laptop is the easiest way to do that.
iPhone Charger: Bring a good charger, not a dollar-store version. You’ll find yourself waiting in your cabin while your device charges and you’ll want to limit that downtime. A good charger will achieve that.
Cruise Cabin Power Strip: Your cabin has just one outlet. Turn two outlets into five with a small power strip. Note, cruise lines ban most power strips.
This power strip is cruise approved.
eBooks: Another great way to spend the time. We love curling up with our favorite e-book while the sun sets. Make sure to download before you board the ship, as internet will be gone (or terrible) once at sea.
Earphones: Don’t forget your favorite earbuds or noise cancelling headphones.
You’ve waited so long to finally set sail and you deserve this vacation. Don’t let anything, like a sunburn or seasickness, ruin it for you.
Below you’ll find the “must-have” health & wellness items for your cruise packing list. It’s better to be prepared and to sacrifice a little bit of luggage space then to wish you had some of these essentials once on your ship.
Compression Socks: Many in our community complain about the “swelling” that occurs on a cruise ship. We’ve also heard from many that compression socks are the best way to control this ailment.
Water Bottle: This is an absolute essential. It’s surprisingly inconvenient to find a glass of water on the ship. Pack this and never get parched.
Reading Glasses: While you won’t have access to your Wall Street Journal, you will be reading the Daily Planner and Dinner Menus with frequency.
Tissues: Always an essential when traveling, particularly with children.
Dramamine: Seasickness can be devastating to your cruise experience. If Dramamine isn’t your cup of tea, here are 32 other ways to prevent / treat seasickness (including a cup of tea).
Prescription Meds: Hopefully an obvious item on our packing list.
Vitamins: Your diet is in for a roller coaster of a ride. Bring vitamins and/or probiotics to supplement your health.
Pain Reliever: This can come in handy for common headaches or less common ailments like sore feet from tearing up the dance floor.
Feminine Hygiene Products: Also available at the ship’s sundry store if needed.
First Aid Kit: You can always visit your ship’s medical facility when needed, but we like to have this on-hand for minor cuts and scrapes as well.
Photocopy of Medications: In the rare case that you and your bags are separated, this will come in handy. This can also double as a shopping list while in Mexico… totally joking – please don’t do that.
Hand Sanitizer: You’ll find stations around your ship’s dining and bathroom areas. We like to have this for the plane, port, and also more remote areas of our cruise ship.
Lip Balm: The cruise line gift shops likely make a killing charging 5x the cost of lip balm for all those forgetting to pack this essential item.
Sunscreen: Double up on your favorite sunscreen. We want to see you cruising for many years to come.
This is one of the more boring categories, but essential to get right on your cruise packing list.
You can forget many of the items on this list and solve that omission with your credit card. Forget that, though, and you’re in some deep waters.
Double-check this section of your list to assure everything is checked here.
Cash: Don’t worry about foreign cash. The almighty USD is all that you’ll need at any of your cruise ports.
Credit Cards: Always default to your credit card rather than your debit card when on a cruise. You’ll be much more protected in situations where it’s necessary.
Passport & ID: Technically, you probably won’t need your passport. But if you have an active passport, we strongly encourage you to bring it.
Photocopies of ID’s: In the case that your ID or passport is stolen, this will be critical. Consider hard copies and digital copies as backup.
Insurance Information: Most personal insurance plans aren’t covered on cruise vacations. You’ll want cruise-specific coverage. Here’s a great article on what you’ll need and what you can expect to pay.
Pen and Paper: You’ll need a pen to fill out boarding and customs docs. A pad of paper could also come in handy for those note-takers out there.
Boarding Pass: The cruise line will email your boarding pass. When showing up to your embarkation port, they’ll ask for this. It’s not 100% necessary, but will save some time.
Excursion Confirmations: It’s a good idea to book shore tours in advance. Search all major providers using Gangwaze. Once booked, print and pack your confirmations.
Emergency Numbers: Include essential contacts back on shore in the case that someone needs contacting in an emergency.
While the items below aren’t 100% essential to your cruise packing list, they can seriously enhance your cruise.
This is, by far, the most fun packing category. In the lis below, we’ve included the best of the best “extra” items to buy in preparation for your sailing. To see more of these items, check out our post, 29 Cruise Essentials on Amazon.
For some of these items, we’ve included links to the best of these suggestions found on Amazon. All have been thoroughly tested and get our seal of approval.
Cruise Luggage Tag Holders: Your cruise line will email your e-tags before your cruise. They’ll advise you to staple these to your luggage. We’re better than that.
Cruise Luggage Tags on Amazon.
Playing Cards: Gin Rummy has never been more fun than when played listening to the crashing ocean waves.
Bottle of Wine: Most cruise lines allow you to bring one bottle of wine. Don’t lick a gift horse in the mouth… or whatever that expression.
Travel Pillow: Great for the plane ride, but also wonderful in your deck chair.
Ear Plugs: Your cruise neighbors and their noise level is entirely up to chance. Be prepared.
Cruise Lanyards: Never lose your cruise key card again. Also protect money and credit cards while at port.
Cruise Lanyards on Amazon.
Cruise Cabin Night Light: One of the most brilliant cruise products we’ve ever used. Invaluable for the pitch-black cruise cabin in the middle of the night… and it’s magnetic to stick to your cabin wall!
Cruise Cabin Nightlight on Amazon.
Cruise Cabin Hanging Organizer: Staterooms are tiny. Add this to your cruise packing list to become the most organized cruiser on your deck. Make sure it’s flame retardant, as with this one.
Cruise Hanging Organizer on Amazon.
Collapsible Tote Bag: This is perfect for trips to and from the pool and also lugging stuff around port. And it collapses to the size of a wallet for easy packing.
Collapsible Tote Bag on Amazon.
Travel Laundry Bag: For those soiled clothes piling up in the cabin corner.
RFID Money Belt: Keep your essentials safe while at port. Your credit cards can be stolen these days from across the room without RFID protection.
Snorkel: If you have extra room and plan to snorkel, this is a great addition to your cruise list. You can pick one up for the price of a rental once you get to port. And you won’t have to french kiss a used piece of plastic.
Cruise Staff Thank You Cards: These will turn good service into amazing service and it’s heartwarming to do. We’ve seen cruise staff in tears and never go without these.
Cruise Crew Thank You Cards on Amazon.
If you haven’t yet, you can use this link to download your cruise packing checklist. Feel free to add or edit it as you’d like. We hope that it helps to remember everything that you need.
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