Cruise Essentials: Must have cruise Accessories (2024)

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We took our first cruise long before Pinterest — or blogging — was a thing, so I didn’t have a handy list of must have cruise accessories. You know, those cruise essentials that make a tiny cabin livable when shared with others.

There was no convenient 7 day cruise packing list to make planning easy!

Though, our travel agent did provide a general list of cruise essentials, covering the basics (passport, dress code), he did not include must have cruise accessories to make the trip easier.

More than ten cruises later, I can pretty much pack for a cruise without thinking about it.

I know the cruise essentials I need, no matter which cruise line: Royal Caribbean, Disney, Carnival or Celebrity. These must have cruise accessories are the things that take a cruise vacation from good to great!

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We have found these cruise essentials and gadgets make cruising both relaxing and fun!

First, some common questions about must have cruise accessories

  1. What should you not bring on a cruise? Every cruise line has a list of forbidden items, intended to keep cruise passengers safe. These include: irons, hot plates, weapons, hoverboards and other dangerous “toys,” and surge protectors. These are NOT allowable travel accessories for a cruise because they pose a danger to the ship and/or other passengers.
  2. Why aren’t surge protectors allowed on a cruise ship? Surge protectors present a fire hazard as they only stop the live current, not the neutral current in an outlet. This greatly increases the risk of fire. While surge protectors aren’t allowed, you can use a cruise power strip! In fact, we highly recommend it!
  3. How many bags can I bring on a cruise? The truth is luggage is technically unlimited on a cruise ship. But, cruise cabins are small and storage space is quite limited. Cruise lines recommend you bring no more than two pieces of luggage per person. We use Well-Traveled Brand compression packing cubes to travel and absolutely love them!
  4. Can I bring a full size shampoo on a cruise ship? Yes, you can bring full size shampoo on a cruise ship. HOWEVER, airlines limit the amount you can carry. So, if you’re flying to your cruise destination, follow TSA regulations.
Compression packing cube sitting in an open suitcase.
Compression Packing Cubes let you get a lot more in the suitcase!

Cruise essentiaIs: Must have cruise accessories

Since cruise cabins are fairly small with limited storage, it helps to know which cruise essentials really are must have cruise accessories. There’s not much room for stuff you won’t use!

Here’s what we recommend! And WHY!

  • Beach Towel Clips — The cruise line provides beach towels — yay, space saver. But, when every beach chair has the same color towel, it can be hard to find yours. Beach towel clips secure the towel to the beach chair and make it easier to find yours after taking a trip to the buffet for a midafternoon snack! Reader tip from Sally: You can also use towel clips in your bathroom to keep track of bath towels there, too!
towels hanging on a bathroom door with blue and white clips, essential travel accessories for a cruise to keep the bathroom organized
We used towel clips to color code the bath towels on our last cruise!
  • Poo-Pourri Bathroom Spray — I probably don’t need to explain this. Let’s just say cruise cabins are small. There’s no escaping what happens in the bathroom. This might be one of the most critical must have cruise accessories for the cabin.
  • A large water bottle — When I’m lounging poolside with a good book, I want to make sure I have plenty of water to stay hydrated. While ships offer water, lemonade and coffee all day long, the cups are small. They tip over easily. We find having water bottles a cruise essential for relaxing sea days.
  • A USB charging station — Cruise ship cabins are tight on space with very few outlets. A USB charging station really is a must have cruise accessory, especially if traveling with teens! USB/power charging stations let everyone charge their devices without taking up all the outlets in the cabin. Remember: Cruise lines do not allow extension cords or surge protectors, so make sure the USB charging station you take is cruise compliant, like the one we recommend here.
  • A door caddy — Cruise ship bathrooms are very compact. A door caddy is most definitely one of our favorite must have cruise accessories to stay organized. I like this one because it has a tie to anchor it to the door handle and keep the organizer from swinging. NOTE: Disney Cruise Line does not allow over the door organizers, but their bathrooms are larger, too. 🙂
  • Seabands — Fight motion sickness the natural way with Seabands. One of my kids gets motion sickness the moment the ship pulls away from the dock, but he also loves cruising. Sea Bands make a huge difference for him.
  • Cruise lanyards — BUT not just any lanyard to carry your cruise pass card, this one is THE must have cruise accessory to include! The retractable reel means you never have to take the card out of the lanyard or take the lanyard off your neck to unlock your stateroom door, pay for onboard purchases or present to cruise staff. I’m all about making life easy, so goodbye traditional lanyard and hello cruise lanyard with retractable reel!
  • A lightweight daypack — Used for shore excursions and for last minute packing going home, these tiny packs take little space in my luggage, but have tons of space when needed. Lightweight and water resistant, it’s especially great for cruise travel! My husband considers this the single best item of all the cruise essentials.
See what I live with? Though, he will be happy not to carry this bag next cruise! It’s heavy!
  • Magnetic hooks — Add easy storage space with magnetic hooks that attach to cabin doors and other surfaces. These must have cruise accessories provide a convenient spot to hang lanyards, swimsuits that need to dry or other items. Make sure you get 100 pound magnets as those that hold less slide down the wall. We added this to our cruise essentials on our last cruise and we stayed a lot more organized. This is a reader recommended idea! Thanks, Sam.
  • Quick Dry Aqua Socks — I know flip flops are really popular on cruise ships. BUT, they just don’t work for me. If my feet get wet — which happens on the pool deck all the time — my foot slides on the flip flop and I lose my balance. NO GOOD! A friend recommended that I get aqua socks instead, which are lightweight, have a grippy rubber sole, pack flatter than flip flops and protect my feet just as well. I think, even if adults are unwilling to give up the flip flop look, these are great must have cruise accessories for kids!
  • Cruise cabin nightlight or mini flashlight — Especially if traveling with kids or grandparents, nightlights become safety cruise essentials. And if you have an interior cabin, which has no natural light at all, these are definitely must have cruise accessories for cabin safety. I like this battery operated nightlight which is motion activated. Just stick it up and let it do its job. These mini flashlights have a strap, so they can hang from a magnetic hook next to each bed! On our last cruise, the cabin was really tight, and we had to step ON our daughter’s bed to get past her to the bathroom. The motion operated nightlight definitely helped us keep from stepping on her to get to the bathroom. This is another great reader recommendation!
  • A pop up, mesh laundry basket — Cabins are small. Socks get lost. This takes care of all that!
Mesh laundry basket with clothes in it.

And there you have it, the complete list of must have cruise accessories, those cruise essentials to take your cruise from good to great!

AND, if you pack them in a Well Traveled packing cube, they’re ready to go every time you are!

Cruise essentials: More posts to help you plan the perfect cruise vacation!