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Cruise packing list

What should I pack for my next cruise? I get asked this question all the time. Packing for a cruise has some little differences from packing for a land tour. Here our cruise packing list with some tips to prepare for your trip.

When we travel we love to go with a carry-on. We do not like to check our bags and wait at the airport. Even worst we do not like to check our bag with the cruise line and wait for the bag to be delivered to the cabin. So our number one cruise must have is a good quality carry-on that is large enough to pack for one week worth of clothes!

We know that most people can not fit everything in a carry on so here are some cruise packing list tips.

Cruise packing list for your carry-on

Yous should always have a handbag or a carry-on on top of your main bag. Here are a few essentials you should have with you and never put them in your checked baggage:

Your documents

Always keep your passport, your visas, your driver’s license, and your boarding passes in your carry-on. These items are incredibly important and they should never leave your side. You should also have a digital copy of your passport on your phone in case it gets lost or stolen.


All the medications

if you use medications on a regular basis always carry them with you in your carry-on as your checked bag is lost or delayed. Also, you should have a spare pair of glasses or a spare set of contact lenses if you were them. In case you wear contacts don’t forget to bring with you the cleaning solution (100ml bottle in your carry-on).


Pack a little toiletry bag with some essentials with you such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, and shaving kit in case your main bag gets delayed. You can find all these items at the ship gift shop but they are usually overpriced.


Computers, cameras, tablets, and all the chargers should always go in your carry-on. Those items are valuable and you don’t want to risk checking them. Remember to pack the travel plugs with all the adaptors (In this article you can check the type we bring with us). In fact, some European cruise lines have European standard plugs in the cabins.


Change of clothes

It is always safe to pack a change of socks, clothes, and underwear in your carry on. This in case your checked bag is delayed or lost. Also, for a cruise, don’t forget to pack a swim suite in your carry on in case your main bag takes too long to be delivered in your cabin. This way you can still go to the pool right away.

What to pack in your checked bag

Let’s continue our cruise packing list with your main suitcase. It is very important to plan in advance what you should pack. Here are few tips:

Dress code

You should check the cruise line dress code online to see what is required to wear in dining rooms, lounges, and around the ship. Here are some tips for a perfect cruise packing list.

If the cruise line has formal nights you should pack: evening gowns and cocktail dresses for women and tuxedos, dinner jackets, or dark suits with a tie for men. All the other night should be smart casual: skirts/dresses, slacks, and sweaters for ladies’ pants, and open-neck shirts for men. Formal shoes and regular shoes should always packed.

If you are taking a long cruise with several formal nights you can wear the same outfit several times just change accessories (for men different ties or alternate tie and bowtie).

If you do not want to bring formalwear, and you prefer a more casual vacation, check the dress code for the specialty restaurants or the buffet usually is casual all the time. Also, some cruise lines don’t have formal nights and they have a more casual feel. These cruise lines might be a better option.

During the day the dress code is casual, shorts and t-shirts or polos are usually perfectly fine. Around the pool area swimsuits and t-shirts are perfectly fine.

Some cruises have theme nights (ie: white party, black party, 80’s night, etc.) be sure to pack for the event if you wish to participate.

In your cruise packing list don’t forget to add a swimsuit, even if you are cruising to a cold destination usually the ship has a covered pool or jacuzzi that you can use.

Cruise excursions packing list

If you are planning on doing cruise excursions you should bring comfortable shoes and clothes. Always bring layers, even if you are traveling to a warm destination. Early in the morning or late at night it might be cold. It is smart to bring a rain jacket or a poncho in case the weather gets rainy.

One item that is always on our cruise packing list, is a foldable backpack. It is a great item to bring on an excursion to store everything we need. This is especially important for excursions that last all day.

Don’t forget your workout clothes

If you are planning on using the gym bring workout clothes and shoes. Yous should do the same in case you are planning on doing yoga classes onboard you should include your yoga outfits on the cruise packing list.

On a similar note you might want to pack dancing shoes and outfits. On a cruise there are many dancing opportunities or dancing competitions you might want to do.

Cruising in colder destinations

If you are taking a cruise to Alaska, Antarctica or any other cold destination bring a warm jacket, better if it is water-repellent, even in the summer the weather can be unpredictable. In this case, don’t forget to bring warm and comfortable shoes. Beter if they are waterproof.

Rick and Andrea - Finally Arriving in Antarctica on their Cruise

Laundry service

Just about every cruise line offers a laundry service, some cruise line offer laundromats those are really handy and allow to pack fewer clothes. The laundry service on board might not be cheap but it can be very convenient.

We like to pack as light as possible, and usually we just take a carry on and use the laundry service all the time.

Final tips

Finally you can check our must have gadgets to bring on a cruise article to see what else we bring with us when going cruising.

We hope you enjoyed these cruise packing list tips, if you did please leave a comment below. Also. you can download our travel checklist at the following link.

Happy Cruising!

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