25 Fabulous Tips on Packing for a CRUISE

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Cruises are FABULOUS. Even better when you pack PROPERLY. I have great tips for packing.

7.  Don’t forget your passport and your important papers.  This is the one thing that could keep you from boarding the ship.   Make copies of all your important travel documents and stash them in the bottom of your suitcase, just in case yours are misplaced or take a photo and Email it to yourself just in case.

Every cruise, at least one or two unhappy couples end up being left at the dock because their paperwork isn’t right. So sad.  Check and double check your paperwork, especially if you have a custody situation with your children or if you are taking grandchildren.

Bonus tip:

Take a photo of your luggage before you leave.  Then if it goes astray, you can show the purser exactly what your bags look like.

8.  A little reading material, but don’t bring a big stack of books.  Most ships have a very nice (and free) library of available books left behind by previous passengers.

9.  Comfy shoes!  Seriously – comfy, comfy shoes.  I swear by Bob’s flats – no socks needed and they are comfy and breathable.  Even small ships have miles and miles of walking every day.  Wear a Fitbit  or other step-counting device – it will make you feel better about the chocolate lava cake!


10.  A few dressy clothes, but don’t go nuts with packing lots of elaborate outfits.  Our first cruise, we had three large suitcases full of FAR too many clothes, including several fancy outfits for the kids that they never even touched.

After that, we got much smarter!  We also had four people and six large suitcases of stuff in a tiny inside cabin – trust me, you don’t want to do that!

Pick light and easy items that you can mix and match. Try to color-coordinate your outfits – I stick with mostly black, grey, and tan and then add scarves and chunky jewelry to brighten things up and add variety

Most cruises have one or two formal nights – don’t take the word FORMAL too seriously.  Some people go completely Joan Collins for this, but most people just wear something a little extra dressy.

11.  Menswear tip – there is usually a formal wear shop on board – AVOID IT like the plague.  It will be the most expensive tux you’ve ever rented!  We were able to rent a tux from a local shop and keep it with us for the week.  It was far cheaper than even one night at the shipboard rate.  It came with two shirts and a reversible vest, so it did nicely for both formal nights.

12.  Toys – If you are bringing your kids, pack just a handful of toys and select things that travel well.  Legos = NO, Transformers = Yes, Barbies with a zillion outfits and accessories = No, Polly Pockets = Yes.  Just pick things that will keep their attention for a while.  Older kids, have them bring a notebook and write a journal to remember the things they are doing each day.

13.  Toss in some gallon Ziplock bags – great for damp swimsuits, extra snacks, dirty shoes, and any other thing you don’t want touching your clean clothes.

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  1. I have decided to print a calendar and put excursions on. You can add spa appointments as you go. Did you know the walls are metal? Ours were -magnets were our friend. For notices to each other.

  2. Great tips! We also like to bring a laundry hanger thing that we can just hang in the shower to dry bathing suits etc. Hope you had a great trip! Found your post at the #SITSSaturdaySharefest

  3. Highlighter is a great idea for any vacation where you have activity options. I’ve never thought of that one, but will be adding to my suitcase!

    • Surprisingly, I had never thought of bringing it anywhere BUT a cruise, but I sure could have used one at last months Build Your Blog Conference. There were 4 or 5 class options every 2 hours and I kept forgetting which ones I’d picked. I’m going to add it to my conference packing list.

    • By the way, you should totally come next year. It’s only $99 if you get an Early Bird ticket and you can come and be one of my roommmates.

  4. Thank you for sharing all of these tips. We are going on our first cruise in June. It won’t be a typical one, but I’m sure I can apply a lot of the information you have shared here. Pinning this for later!

  5. Jean davis says:

    Great tips! I also take water bottles so I can fill up on the lido deck and carry them to the other ship activities. Otherwise you get thirsty and succome to purchasing drinks (OR you have to walk a mile to get a drink). Also, instead of buying the soda card, either made do with the free iced tea and lemonade, or take along flavor packets for the water. Fanny packs are good for excursions also. I will be using some of your ideas on my retirement cruises, thanks!

  6. Some ships do not have outlets in the bathroom. I find that battery-operated tea lights make good night lights. Depending how bright they are, you may want two in the bathroom.

    If you are on a ship with inside balconies, it is fun to put up window clings to identify your room from below.

    • You know, I never thought about using those little battery operated ones. I think I’ll add that to the post. That way you aren’t taking up one of your valuable outlets and they are very small and don’t take up any extra room. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Catherine Young says:

    I can’t tell you how happy I am to have come across your blog! We are going on our first cruise in two weeks, taking my parents on RC Oasis for their 50th Anniversary, we are very excited but nervous and your well thought out and very detailed list really helped to put some of my fears to rest….thank you so much for sharing this valuable information!!!

    • Thank you! I’m so glad you appreciated the tips. Cruises are so much fun, but it’s kind of nice to have a little advance warning about what to expect. Did you check out my other post on how to save money on a cruise and how to manage the buffets without doing too much damage to your waistline? They definitely will try to get you to spend money on stuff you don’t really need, but if you’re smart about it, you won’t have a big bill at the end.

  8. Brilliant tips! I never went cruising, and your advises are extremely helpful. I am so glad you shared them. It’s very good idea to involve the kids in packing, I am gonna try it with my daughter next time. I am curious what she gonna pack. Greetings

  9. Thanks for the great packing list! Love your practical suggestions and easy to look at webpage. :o)

  10. I think the suggestion about bringing medicines was right on. We have taken snack foods, candy, gum, and pop on board. And on Carnival, if you go to the Purser’s desk, and ask, they’ll provide you with “carnival” playing cards, for free, or they did last time I cruised with them. We’ve also taken a soft side cooler, and our steward kept ice in it for us. Cruises are a great value. Additionally, my brother went to a store called Gabriel Brothers before his honeymoon cruise, and purchased a tux. Gabe’s is the ” Big Lots” of department stores, And I think he paid about $50. for it.

    • $50 bucks for a tux is a great value and he’ll be able to use it again and again. Unlike our clothes that go out of style quickly, men can wear a tuxedo forever.

  11. Something to add about the cards. Most ships with Casino’s have huge stacks of cut decks that they cannot use anymore and often they will just give them to you if you ask, at most they may charge you $1-2.

    • That’s a great tip. Thanks for sharing. My sons collect decks of cards, so they would have been happy if I’d brought them home some.

  12. Great tips!!
    I am going on my 4th cruise April 16th but i always like to see what tips other people have. Very helpful tip putting a magnet on your door to help you find it! I don’t know how many times i tried my room card on other peoples doors!!

    • That’s funny! I wonder how many people were freaking out thinking someone was breaking into their room! This time, my cabin was right by one of those metal strips in the hallway. For the first day, I kept thinking people were rattling the doorknob, but it was just people clicking their wheely bags over the metal strip. Fortunately, I’m the soundest sleeper ever – I used to live down the street from a fire station…

  13. These are all great tips, thank you for sharing!

    • That’s great, especially coming from a cruise magazine. Feel free to share some of these tips with your readers. I popped over to your site – you’ve got some fantastic photography. I just wish I could take photos like that.

  14. Thanks going on allure of the seas in december , these tips are really good ! Definitely taking a landyard and ziplock bag !

    • You are going to have such a wonderful time! I almost went on a different blogger’s cruise on the Allure of the Seas – it looked like a wonderful ship! Hope you enjoy your trip.

  15. I LOVE this list – I will do it all, except the toys!! But a deck of cards? Yes! Thanks for sharing this. Oh, it will be so helpful

  16. Stopping by from SITS blogging. Thanks SO much. We’re cruising soon and I needed this checklist.

  17. Wow, it seems like you do have this under control. Haha. I hope you have a great time on your cruise!

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