Whether you’re a first time cruiser or a seasoned pro, we want packing for your Caribbean cruise to be (almost) as great as your Caribbean cruise vacation! So, we made this 7 day cruise packing list — with printable cruise packing checklist — to make it easy!
Okay, maybe that’s a reach! But, this 7 day cruise packing list will sure make packing a whole lot easier. We’ve thought of everything you need, so you can pack without having to make lots of lists!
The article includes lots of great cruise packing tips, too, because a cruise vacation should be fun and carefree!
So let’s get to that 7 day cruise packing list, shall we?
Table of Contents
- What to pack for a 7 day cruise
- Cruise packing tips and hacks
- A few more great cruise packing hacks
- Get your FREE Cruise Packing List!
- What NOT to add to your cruise packing list
- To learn more about cruising
- Frequently Asked Questions
What to pack for a 7 day cruise
Here’s everything you need to include on your 7 day cruise packing checklist!
Clothes for the cruise
When it comes to clothes, here’s what you need to pack for a 7 day cruise:
- 5-7 Casual outfits for daytime — shorts and t-shirts,
- 3-4 Casual dresses or pants and blouses for dinnertime,
- 2 pairs of Khakis or slacks and 3-4 polos for the guys,
- Two dressier outfits for the formal nights:
- Dressier dresses for her (Easy cruise wardrobe ideas: What to wear on a Caribbean Cruise)
- A suit, two dress shirts and one tie for him,
- A couple of swimsuits,
- Water shoes or flip flops,
- A sweater or jacket
Check out our article on how to choose a cruise wardrobe if you want more specific ideas, like how to pack with a capsule wardrobe (which is a wardrobe built around a base color like tan, black, or navy). Our cruise wardrobe article answers questions about cruise line dress codes for women, clothes for men, and the best cruise clothes for kids. The article even discusses which shoes are best for shore excursions and sea days! And… why you should pack at least one pair of socks.
If you’re taking a Disney Cruise to the Caribbean, get our Disney cruise packing list, which has includes items specific to sailing on Disney Cruise Line.
Of course, there are lots of other cruise essentials to include on your 7 day cruise packing list. These include things you’ll need for shore excursions and to make your cabin just a little more relaxing.
Hats and sunglasses
Sun hats and sunglasses are really important for both shore excursions and sea days on the ship. My husband usually brings a couple of baseball hats.
For the kids, we prefer sun hats that cover the back of their necks so we don’t have to fuss quite so much with sunscreen!
Reusable water bottle
Especially for sea days, an easy-fill, reusable water bottle such as this space-saving, lightweight water bottle is handy to have around. Water dispensers are located throughout cruise ships, at the buffet restaurants, bars and coffee stations.
If you don’t have a reusable water bottle, the cruise lines provide small, disposable water cups. But, who wants to walk back and forth all day? It’s vacation! Fill that water bottle, then get comfortable in your lounge chair and enjoy the day!
A beach bag
A beach bag is handy for shore excursions and sea days! I use this adorable, large beach bag just about every day on a cruise vacation. It’s super cute! And, it holds a lot, so it’s handy for beach shore excursions, souvenir shopping and sea days by the pool.
The bag is fully lined to keep wet towels from soaking through, and it is easy to clean! There’s room for four towels, plus sunscreen, beach reads, sunglasses and a water bottle.
Many cruise destinations now require reef friendly sunscreen. We use Reef Repair Sunscreen. It’s a mineral based sunscreen that smells great and is easy to apply. (A friend of mine visited me recently and used my sunscreen. She raved about how great it smelled! And, she didn’t burn in the hot southern sun!)
If you’re flying to your cruise port and planning to pack carryon only, get Reef Safe Sunscreen in TSA approved travel sizes! It’s a lot cheaper than buying sunscreen on the ship.
Makeup and bathroom essentials
Cruise ships provide soap, shampoo and conditioner. There’s also a blow dryer in each cabin. So, if space is limited and you don’t need a specific soap or shampoo, you can save space and use what the ship provides.
There are some bathroom essentials you’ll need to pack.
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste,
- Razor and shaving cream,
- Makeup: I recommend a lay-n-go makeup bag like this to lay out on the counter in the cabin that’s easy to pack away when done,
- Hygiene products,
- First aid kit
If you do happen to forget any bathroom essentials, the cruise ship store does offer basic items and you can shop in most ports. Expect to pay a premium onboard the ship. And, in port, you might not find your favorite brands.
Cell phone, charger and waterproof phone case
If you plan to do anything near water on shore excursions, a waterproof case is a good idea for cell phones.
We use a waterproof drybag with lanyard when we go kayaking, tubing or paddleboarding to protect our phones and still have access to the camera.
PRO TIP: Practice sealing the bag at home before you go, especially if you’ve never used a drybag before. Or, if your bags are older, double check that they still seal. Here’s how we test them: Put a paper towel in the drybag, seal it shut, then drop it to the bottom of a sink full of water. Leave it for 20 minutes. If the paper towel stays dry, the drybag is ready for vacation!
Important papers for a cruise
Every time we cruise, we see someone at the cruise port without the proper documents. It is quite sad to watch someone not be allowed to board the ship because they don’t have proper ID. (I am sure it’s more sad to be the one who didn’t get to cruise, anyway…)
Even though you upload all your information for check-in before you get to the port, you still need to provide these documents to board the ship!
So, even if you forget your clothes, don’t forget your cruise documents! I never pack cruise documents in my luggage, but carry all essential documents in my purse/day bag.
Essential cruise documents include:
- Passport (or birth certificate for closed circuit cruises, which start and end at the same port, though a passport is strongly encouraged),
- Boarding passes (printed or on cruise line app),
- Identification (driver’s license or state ID),
- Credit cards/cash/gift cards for onboard purchases,
- Medical insurance cards,
- Travel insurance information (if purchased), and
- Shore excursion confirmations and meeting instructions.
BUDGET CRUISE TIP! You can sometimes find cruise line gift cards at Target or Costco in the United States. If you’ll be cruising, purchase gift cards at a discount at these retailers to pay for gratuities, shore excursions you book through the cruise line or onboard shopping.
Extras for the cabin
Some accessories for a cruise make your cruise vacation a bit easier and more enjoyable. We always carry these items when we cruise!
- Retractable cruise lanyards so your keycard is always handy.
- A Cruise line approved USB outlet to provide more plugs in cabins with limited outlets. Some people recommend a cruise line approved power strip, but they take up a lot more space in luggage, so I prefer the USB outlet. It’s great for charging multiple phones at once.
- Over the door shoe caddy to organize bathroom supplies, flip flops and kids’ toys. You cannot use an over the door shoe caddy on Disney Cruise Lines, but since their cabins have a bit more storage space anyway, the shoe caddy isn’t as necessary.
- Sea bands wrist bands for motion sickness,
- Poo-pourri spray for the bathroom,
- Money belt, like this slimline money belt with RFID protection, is large enough for a passport, credit cards and cash,
- Towel clips, which we use for beach towels AND for bathroom towels (each member of the family has their own towel clip color so we know whose towel is whose!)
And that’s all you need to pack for a 7 day cruise.
But, the ultimate cruise packing checklist would be incomplete with out important cruise packing tips!
Keep reading for helpful tips on how to pack for a seven day cruise to make it even easier! Because who wants to spend hours packing?
With our helpful cruise packing list and tried and true cruise packing hacks, you’ll be packing like a pro for your 7 day Caribbean cruise!
Cruise packing tips and hacks
You probably know that a cruise cabin on most cruise lines is fairly small with limited storage. These cruise packing tips and hacks make it easier to pack everything you need so it all fits in the cabin!
Best luggage for cruise travel
The best luggage for cruise travel should have good durability, a lightweight design, lots of packing space and TSA compatible locks. I also prefer bags with wheels! My favorite luggage companies are:
- Samsonite — Long recognized for quality luggage with a great variety of luggage options in varying price points, Samsonite is hard to beat. For carry-on bags, I like the Samsonite 20-inch carryon with spinner wheels and TSA lock, a lightweight, polycarbonate bag that comes with a 10 year warranty! The bag is expandable, but may exceed carryon size limits if used that way.
- Level 8 Luggage — A newer brand, designed to help people travel efficiently, these bags are lightweight with the most spacious interiors I have encountered. The wheels, handle and TSA locks are all tested for durability. I got the Level 8 Road Runner carryon with computer pocket and TSA locks this summer and it has lived up to the claims.
- eBags softside luggage — A great choice for those who need easy-carry luggage or luggage that collapses for compact storage. It’s been around a long time, and the heavy duty fabric, zippers and backpack straps make it a good choice for adventure travelers. Our kids have inherited our eBags luggage and it has stood up to years of college! The eBags Mother Lode Underseater is a compact underseat bag to keep things close at hand.
Here’s a good cruise packing hack. On your cruise, store luggage under the bed in your cruise ship cabin. Each day, put dirty dark clothes into one suitcase and dirty lights into another suitcase. It keeps clothes from piling up in your tiny cruise cabin AND makes packing to go home a whole lot quicker!
Packing cubes help organize clothes and make packing a bit more compact. But, compression packing cubes are even better!
To use compression packing cubes, fill the packing cube with clothes and zip it shut. THEN, watch the magic, and use the compression zipper to squeeze that packing cube tight. You can pack twice the clothes in half the space!
We CONFIDENTLY recommend the Well-Traveled compression packing cubes. Their packing cubes are GREAT quality, and they come in a variety of colors so each member of the family can have their own color of packing cubes. On a scale of 1-10, my husband (a soft spoken guy who rarely raves) gives them a 10! In fact, he likes them so much, he was even willing to help me pack for our last cruise!
Here’s another good cruise packing hack! To reduce wrinkles, lay shirts flat on top of each other. Fold arms in, lay a swimsuit in the middle and fold shirts over the swimsuit like a burrito. Then, place in the packing cube, zip shut and compress. My husband was a doubter, but our clothes didn’t wrinkle!
Luggage tag holders
Cruise lines use special luggage tags to make delivery to your cabin easier. Before your cruise, you’ll print the tags on paper and attach them to your bags. But, the paper tags tear easily delaying delivery to the cabin.
We strongly recommend these luggage tags to protect your paper tags so your luggage doesn’t get lost.
- Royal Caribbean (RCCL) luggage tag holders
- Carnival luggage tag holders
- Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) luggage tag holders
- Disney luggage tag holders
- Celebrity Cruises luggage tag holders
A few more great cruise packing hacks
Cruises are nearly all-inclusive, so you don’t need to bring a whole lot of extras. The ship provides swim towels, endless food and water stations. When you think of things to put on your 7 day cruise packing checklist, pack the things you really need and leave the rest at home.
When you board the ship on embarkation day, the cruise terminal is pretty hectic. You’ll drop off all your luggage with cruise line tags for the cabin stewards to deliver to your stateroom.
Keep a SMALL carry-on bag (tote size) that includes only what you need for the first afternoon onboard the ship.
These items include:
- ALL cruise boarding documents (boarding passes, photo ID, passport, and anything else the cruise line requires). When I say what the cruise line requires, I mean requires! If you don’t have the required documents, you can’t cruise!
- ALL medications. If checked luggage gets lost or delayed, you can’t easily replace prescriptions.
- Swimsuits. HINT: Have boys wear their swim trunks as shorts! If girls have 2-piece suits or tankinis, they can wear theirs under clothes, too. Simple cruise packing hacks make life so much easier, don’t you agree?
- ONE bottle of sunscreen.
- All valuable electronics. If you must bring a computer, carry it with you. Cruise lines have computers available on-board, so consider using those instead. It’s a whole lot easier!
- Camera. Make sure batteries are fully charged so you don’t have to carry those.
- Valuable jewelry if planning to bring any. (I don’t recommend it. Simplify with a few costume pieces and pack in checked bags.)
- Diaper bag for younger kids with enough diapers and wipes, baby food/bottles, and a couple toys to get through 6 hours. (Of all the family cruise tips, this is my favorite. Think of what you’d normally pack for a one day outing. That’s all you need for your carryon diaper bag.)
And here are a few bonus cruise packing hacks, learned over many Caribbean cruises!
- Divide everyone’s clothes among several pieces of luggage rather than doing one suitcase per person. That way, if a piece of luggage does get lost, you’ll still have some clothes for everyone.
- Take a photo of your bags before handing them over to the cruise staff. One of my bags lost its paper luggage tag (see, I learned the hard way). I had a photo of my luggage on my phone. I showed them the photo and was quickly reunited with my bag onboard the ship.
Get your FREE Cruise Packing List!
Now that we’ve explained what to include on your 7 day cruise packing list and shared some awesome cruise packing tips, it’s time to download your FREE cruise packing checklist!
It includes everything listed above, item by item, in a handy cruise packing checklist to make packing easy. There’s even a page to write notes for any extras you need like specific medical supplies, reminders for shore excursions, pre/post cruise hotels and car rentals.
Cruising should be fun — and hopefully this checklist makes packing EASY! 🙂
What NOT to add to your cruise packing list
When making your 7 day cruise packing list, it’s important to know what is NOT allowed.
On all cruise lines, weapons, illegal drugs, flammable liquids, irons, candles, and most small electrical appliances are banned.
Here’s the link to the four major family cruise lines’ lists of prohibited items:
- Carnival Cruise Lines Prohibited Items List
- Disney Cruise Lines Prohibited Items List
- Norwegian Cruise Lines Prohibited Items List
- Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Prohibited Items List
To learn more about cruising
To learn more about cruising, read these articles on choosing the best cruise line
- What’s the best cruise line for families? (with infographic comparison)
- What’s the best cruise line for teens? (Written by my teen)
- Comparing Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines
- Carnival cruise lines for families
- Tips to save on a Disney cruise
These articles answer most essential questions about cruising! I hope you find them helpful.
- Cruise Essentials — Little extras to make your cruise vacation even better!
- Cruising 101: How to navigate the cruise terminal
- Cruising 101: What you need to know about shore excursions
- Cruising 101: A beginner’s guide to SEA DAYS!
- Cruising 101: Tips for disembarkation (the day you have to leave the ship)
- Cruise mistakes: What first timers need to know
And, don’t forget to download our FREE cruise packing checklist! Save it to use for every cruise you take. It’s a pretty handy checklist for any beach vacation, too!
Frequently Asked Questions
Carry only what’s essential for embarkation day. This includes cruise boarding documents, medications, sunscreen and swimsuits for the first afternoon, and any valuables (camera, phones, computers). Plus, any kid stuff you need to get through 4 hours or so until cabins are ready.
There are no limits on how much luggage you can take on a cruise. However, most cruise lines limit the number of bags they will have the cabin stewards manage for you. Check your cruise line for cabin steward limits. (At least 2 bags per person)
Most cruise lines do NOT allow alcohol to be brought on board for personal consumption. Check with your specific cruise line to see its policies.
Yes, full size products are allowed on cruise ships. However, if traveling by air, you have to follow the TSA 3-1-1 size rules for all items.
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