Cruise Ship Tips

Cruise like a pro, right from the get-go!

What to pack for a Cruise – accessories and necessities

So you’re going on a cruise vacation! Congrats! Time to get excited! At some point, you will need to pack.. so, to get you started, let’s dive into what you should be bringing with you on your cruise.

Of course, everyone’s needs will vary, and your specific items may differ from other people’s, but there is a general rule of thumb here that you can take into consideration as you pack that suitcase. Typically, cruise lines allow 1-2 larger size suitcases per person, plus a carry-on size bag or backpack per person.

As a person who has cruised a number of times before, I can assure you that you don’t necessarily want to over pack and bring too much. Less is definitely more in most cases. In the beginning, I would tend to over pack, assuming I will need multiple outfits for each day. This simply doesn’t play out as much of your day will be spent lounging’ by the pool in your swimsuit, or you’ll dress for the day and spend hours on an excursion in port. In general, cruises lasting a week will require the following… of course, the longer the sailing, the more clothing you’ll need to consider, unless you are fine with using the ship’s laundry service. 

For a Caribbean cruise, of course you’ll want hot weather clothing but for Alaska and Canadian ports of call, depending on the time of year, be sure to pack a coat and cold weather accessories! You may want to bring a light sweater or a hoodie with you regardless of where you’re going as windy nights on the ship can be chilly. Also, inside the dining rooms likely they will have the air conditioners running, so be prepared for that.


  • swimwear and appropriate cover-ups (I take a minimum of 2 swimsuits)
  • flip-flops/sandals/water shoes
  • casual tops: tees and/or tanks
  • maxi/sun dresses and/or skirts
  • shorts/jeans/long pants
  • pajamas (or something comfy to sleep in)
  • sneakers or comfortable walking shoes
  • elegant attire for dress-up night, if your ship has such an event: cocktail dresses, nice top and skirt combo, or button down shirts and slacks, with nice shoes to match
  • workout attire, if you’re into using the ship’s gym – don’t forget the sports bra and athletic socks!
  • enough underwear for daily use
  • appropriate bras for each type of outfit
  • a long sleeved tee, hoodie or cardigan sweater for those windy/chilly nights on the top deck or balcony
  • any specialty clothing you may require, such as golf attire if you plan to golf in port, or athletic clothing for hiking, etc


Pack clothes that can be layered, perhaps adopting a color theme to bring everything together. Bring pieces that can pair together and be worn multiple times throughout the cruise..jeans, basics, and solids tend to work well. Keep your statement pieces minimum… nothing wrong with a loud print here and there, but make sure you can pair that loud print with a basic.

Be sure to consider your shoes as well, pick shoes that can be dressed up or down and try to keep them neutral. Remember, shoes can weigh a suitcase down quite a bit. My last cruise, I wore a pair of white sandals as I boarded, and those same sandals went with 90% of my outfits. I brought 1 pair of silver “dressy” shoes for elegant dinners, a pair of sneakers for working out/walking around in port, a pair of flip-flops for the pool and spa, and a pair of golf shoes for my golf excursion.


  • jewelry/hair accessories
  • hairbrush/comb
  • sun hat/ball cap
  • any prescription medicine you require
  • ladies sanitary needs
  • shaving needs – razors, creams/gels
  • specific shampoos/conditioners (most ships provide basic shampoos, but usually not conditioners)
  • face wash/body wash (most ships provide body wash gel but if you’re brand loyal you’ll need to bring your own)
  • deodorants, perfumes
  • makeup as you see fit
  • basic first aid kit: bandages/antiseptics, heartburn/indigestion relief, painkillers of choice
  • sunglasses
  • sunscreen/burn relief
  • a beach bag/backpack to use on the pool deck or onshore for port/beach days


wondering what NOT to pack?

random cruise/travel accessories:

There are so many awesome products out there that you can purchase and use on your trips. Many can be found at your local dollar store or online.

Reusable filtered water bottle – this is a must have for me. I can have fresh filtered water anywhere, anytime if I bring my own water bottle. Fill up in your stateroom and carry around the ship, fill up before you head out to port for the afternoon, have next to your bed at night.. it will always be available for clean, fresh water – for free. No need to buy expensive bottled water onboard when you bring your own water bottle.

Lanyards to hold sign & sail cards – you can pick up a lanyard in your ship’s store, or grab one for super cheap pre-sailing at the dollar store. They make them in every conceivable color and style, so be creative and express yourself, find one that you love!

an over the door pocket organizer – to hold all your random stuff. Keeps everything handy and off the very limited counter space. Also, nothing will fall if the ship hits choppy waters! I keep one hanging on the bathroom door so everything is very accessible.

magnetic clips/hooks – for holding…well, anything! The walls of your stateroom are usually magnetic.. think like a giant refrigerator.. you can stick all your daily paperwork to the walls, hang up wet swimsuits, etc. Very easy way to stay organized at sea!

dry erase board & marker – you can leave notes to your roommates or room steward, or even hang it on the outside of your door so random cruisers can leave you messages! It’s a super fun way to interact with other passengers.

door decor – be creative and decorate your door with a little personality! Not only is it fun, but super functional when you’re walking down the super long ship hallways.. every door looks the same. Stand out and make it easier to find your room!

travel alarm clock – don’t oversleep and miss your excursions or favorite activities!!

towel clips for deck chairs – keep your towel from blowing away!

highlighter/pens for marking your itinerary for must-do activities

headphones/speaker – for music in your stateroom or balcony (just be sure to be respectful of your neighbors and keep the volume in check.)

extension cord/charging ports for your stateroom – most staterooms have only 1 plug and with all the tech we all have these days, that just won’t do! Save yourself some stress by bringing a charging extender that can charge multiple devices at once! Everyone wins! 

pop-up, flat folding hamper – to hold dirty laundry in your stateroom. these are fabulous because they fold down flat for easy packing and then pop up easy! throw it in your closet and you’re good to go!

air freshener or dryer sheets – to keep your stateroom and suitcase smelling fresh

You’re ready to set sail!

Bon Voyage!!

I would love to hear your cruising must-haves, what do you pack for your cruise vacation that you can’t cruise without? Leave your comments and suggestions below! Happy cruising to all! -Kate

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