Must-Have Cruise Essentials: What to Pack

Packing for any trip can be stressful, but packing for a cruise is a whole different ball game! If you forget something, it’s not like you can head to the nearest Walmart and find something cheap to get you by. What you pack is what you’ve got, so pack with intention! We recently took a 4-day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, and here are some key items that you definitely want in your suitcase.

What to Pack and Why

Airport Travel

The first thing to consider when going on a cruise is your travel outfit! It may not seem like that big of a deal, but when you’re going from a snowy climate to a tropical one, you’re going to want options. Also consider your airport travel… comfy is best! Shoes that are easy to slip on and off as well as comfy, no belts, and clothes without a lot of pockets. We both opted for leggings, a simple t-shirt, and a comfy zip-up pullover. Airplanes are notoriously cold, so having a sweatshirt is the ultimate way to work smarter, not harder! Plus, once you arrive at your destination, it’s easy to slip on and off!

two friends in matching zip up jackets sitting on lounge chairs near a pool with lanyards around their necks

Added Bonus

Taking tennis shoes and a pullover are not only necessary for airport travel, but they’re excellent for cold nights on the cruise! YES! Even when you’re on a ship, it can get a little chilly, so you’ll always want to be prepared. Our last night on the cruise was cloudy and cold, so we were grateful to have our comfies on!


There are different necessities for the cruise itself, and some items can vary depending on what excursions you take, but let’s talk about BASIC cruise essentials.

Must-Haves for the Cruise

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19

These are in no particular order, so read the whole list! Also… there are some items that didn’t make this MUST HAVE list, so there will be Honorable Mentions at the bottom!

1. Clothes Clips – Cruise = wet clothes. Have you ever tried to dry clothes in a tiny room? It’s a little difficult, but these clothes clips make it easy. In each cruise cabin, there is a retractable line in the shower that you can use to hang wet clothes on. Hence… the clips. Your clothes will be able to dry overnight and you’re good to go!
2. Wet/Dry Shoes – One of our excursions this cruise was a “Zip and Dip”. We hiked up a mountain for 45 minutes in the Dominican Republic, went through 5 zip lines over jungle, and then slid down several natural waterfalls. It was a blast! A MUST for this excursion were closed-toe shoes, and for good reason! These shoes were easy to pack, kept our toes safe, and dried quickly on the way down back to our bus.
3. Poo-Pourri – Cruises and bathrooms… Need we say more? 🙂 Also, public bathrooms. Just bring this and thank us later.
4. Portable Electronic Charger – What we loved about this charger was that it was lightweight, but was able to charge several different kinds of devices.
5. Compression Packing Cubes – There are a TON of clothes to pack for a cruise! You’ve got your airline travel clothes, excursion clothes, lounge-around-the-pool clothes, and night clothes. Let’s not mention if there are any theme nights (which there usually are) you’ll need clothes for that! These cubes help to organize everything while in your suitcase AND they compress your clothes down to a packable size!
6. Motion Patch – We didn’t end up needing things (thank heavens!) but several people need them. If you don’t want to wear a patch, we have a friend who is a Cruisin’ Queen recommended these. They won’t make you drowsy!
7. Cross Body Bag – Keep your essentials close to you with a cross body bag! Not as bulky as a backpack, but won’t fall off your shoulder like a beach bag.
8. Sunglasses – We’ve both had these sunglasses for a few years. We wore them when we went to Hawaii together, and both wore them on our cruise. They’re heavy duty, polarized, and classicly stylish. We love them!
9. Family Passport/Document Holder – Traveling with your passports can be scary! You definitely don’t want to loose them, especially when traveling with little kids. This passport holder holds A LOT of passports and is slim! It also can hold credit cards and cash!
10. Turkish Beach Towel – A travel towel is a MUST. You definitely don’t want to use the cruise ship’s towels. They’re bulky, and usually a bright color that will definitely clash with your cute swimsuits. Ha! This beach towel is soft, compact, rolls up in a cute carrying case, and is perfect for laying out in the sun.
11. Anti-Chafing Stick – IYKYK, #amiright This saved our lives after the waterfall excursion and our snorkeling excursion! Don’t be caught without it!
12. Travel Pill Cases – Organize your medications and supplements in style! We actually use these on a day-to-day basis, but they’re essential for travel as well.
13. Cruise ID Lanyards – Yes, you’re going to want these. Quick access to your cruise ID is absolutely necessary. When you’re wearing a cute swimsuit and don’t have a place to put your ID, you’ll want this lanyard. It’s also beneficial for when you’re in port and need to get in and off the ship quickly.
14. Luggage Set – Not only is this luggage set stunning, but it’s functional as well. Check it all out, and you’ll see why we love it so much!
15. Waterproof Phone Pouches – Forever capture your memories with this pouch! While in Grand Turk, we went on a snorkeling adventure where we swam over coral. Next to this coral was was “The Wall” where the ocean suddenly drops over 7,000 feet! It was one of the craziest things we’ve ever experienced, and surreal to looking down into the abyss. We were able to capture all of it thanks to these pouches!
16. Wet/Dry Bags – When on your excursions, you’ll need to put wet clothes in a safe place that won’t get everything else wet.
17. Cruise Luggage Tags – At first, I wasn’t convinced we needed these. On my last cruise, I just used tape for my cruise tag, but I loved having these tags this time around. Don’t be without them!
18. Travel Power Strip – Oftentimes, cruise cabins come with just one outlet, which can be problematic if there are multiple devices that need power! This power strip is compact and will allow you to charge all the things in your cruise cabin!
19. Foldable Backpack – I wanted a backpack for our excursions, but didn’t want to use my nice travel backpack. This backpack was easy to pack in my luggage and easy to unfold. It was lightweight while wearing it around our ports, roomy enough for all our essentials PLUS souvenirs, and had places for water bottles.

Honorable Mentions

As promised, here are some Honorable Mentions! They’re not absolutely necessary, but will make traveling easier!
* Mesh Beach Toy Bags
* Travel Jewelry Box Organizer
* Liquid IV
* Comfy Sandals – These and these are our favorites.

There You Have It!

We look forward to a lot more travel, and are excited we have the essentials to do so! Do you have any travel essentials? We’d love to know!

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