What to Pack for a Cruise | Islands

What to Pack for a Cruise (Plus 10 Things You Wouldn’t Expect)

Take the stress out of packing for a cruise with this packing list.

Knowing what to pack for a cruise can be tough. Daytime attire tends to be pretty casual (thinks swimsuits and flip flops) while evening outfits should be more on the business-casual side if you plan to have dinner in a fancy restaurant or dining room.

If you’re sailing for three nights, there will likely be at least one formal night, and if you’re sailing for seven, you can probably expect two. Be sure to check with your cruise line directly on how they expect you to dress (a good rule of thumb: aim to be overdressed rather than underdressed). Women should wear a dress or a nice blouse and slacks, while men can wear a suit and tie, or a button-down shirt with a blazer and slacks or khakis. And although dress codes have become more relaxed over the years, we still recommend saving the jeans until after dinner.

Here’s a handy packing list, outlining exactly what to pack for a cruise, plus ten things you wouldn’t expect to bring.

What to pack for a cruise

What to pack for your next cruise vacation.

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What to pack for a cruise for men:

  • Shorts
  • T-Shirts/tank tops
  • Jeans (for after dinner)
  • Formal attire: khakis or slacks, blazers, button-down shirts, suit and tie
  • Walking shoes
  • Formal shoes

What to pack for a cruise for women:

  • Sundresses
  • Maxi skirts
  • T-shirts/tank tops
  • Shorts
  • Jeans (for after dinner)
  • Formal attire: nice dresses, khakis or slacks, blouses
  • Heels, wedges or nice flats
  • Walking shoes
  • Bathing suit cover up

What to pack for a cruise for everyone:

  • Swimsuits
  • Sunscreen
  • Toiletries
  • Medications
  • Jacket or sweater
  • Undergarments
  • Workout attire
  • Hat or sunhat
  • Camera
  • iPod and headphones
  • Kindle, books, magazines
  • Charging cables for all devices
  • Dramamine or ginger pills
  • Earplugs
  • Sleep mask

Pro-tip: Be sure to leave space for souvenirs and alcohol.

What to pack for a cruise in your carry-on:

You’ll probably have to wait several hours before you can access your stateroom, so keep these items with you.

  • Travel documents
  • Wallet
  • Swimsuit
  • Change of clothes
  • Medications
  • Toiletries

10 things you wouldn’t think to pack for a cruise

These items may seem quirky, but you'll want to pack them for your next cruise. Here’s why.

1. Power strip You’ll need extra outlets to charge everyone’s electronic devices.

2. Extra clothes hangers Most cabins only come with a few and you’ll want to hang all of your formal attire.

3. Bathroom door organizer Cabin bathrooms are small, so hang this on the door to organize toiletries and maximize space.

4. Bottle of wine Most cruise lines allow passengers to bring one bottle of wine per person.

5. Post-it notes Leave notes for your cabin mates or your steward.

6. Thermal coffee mug Skip the small coffee mugs at the buffet and bring your own for maximum caffeine intake.

7. Refillable water bottle If you drink a lot of water throughout the day, filling your own water bottle is a must.

8. Waterproof dry bag Take this on excursions to keep your electronics nice and dry.

9. Clothespins The best way to hang wet bathing suits and towels to dry.

10. Antibacterial wipes Chances are you’ll be surrounded by 5,000 other cruisers, so protect yourself from germs.

Pro tip: Pack for your cruise using a duffle bag or soft-sided suitcase so it takes up less space in your cabin.

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