We took our first cruise long before Pinterest — or blogging — was a thing, so I didn’t have a handy list of cruise essentials to help me pack for a Caribbean cruise.
There was no convenient cruise packing list to make planning easy!
Though, our travel agent did provide a general list of things to pack, covering the basics.
More than ten cruises later, I can pretty much pack for a cruise without thinking about it. These cruise essentials work for every cruise line, whether you need a Royal Caribbean packing list, a Disney cruise packing list, or a Carnival packing list. These are the most helpful things to bring on a cruise.
⇒ New to cruising? Download our FREE cruise packing list! ⇐
Since we cruise regularly, I have a small bag of cruise essentials, those cruise cabin must haves, that I include every time I’m packing for a Caribbean cruise.
We have found these cruise essentials and gadgets to make cruising both relaxing and fun!
Common questions about cruise packing
- 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.
- 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.
- Do I have to dress up for dinner on a cruise? Nope! If you don’t want to pack dress clothes, the buffet restaurant (usually near the pools) is open for meals. You can wear shorts and a t-shirt all day — and evening — if you want to!
- 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.
- 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.
Quick list of cruise essentials for packing for a cruise
- Beach towel clips
- Bathroom spray
- A water bottle
- USB charging station
- Portable clothesline
- Door caddy
- Cruise lanyards
- A lightweight daypack
- Magnetic hooks
- A flashlight or nightlight
Cruise essentiaIs: Cruise cabin “must haves” for a great vacation.
Since cruise cabins are small and luggage space is limited, which cruise essentials should you make room for when packing for a cruise? And WHY?
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: Towel clips in your cabin bathroom can be used to keep track of which towel belongs to whom throughout the day!
- 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.
- A large water bottle — I love my morning coffee, but I don’t like having to go back to the buffet three times to get enough. And, 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. A stainless steel bottle, that keeps coffee hot and ice water cold, is the answer! This stainless steel water bottle is insulated, won’t break and doesn’t leach metal flavor into your drink. The wide mouth and three lids make it versatile for all your needs.
- A USB charging station — Cruise ship cabins are tight on space — with very few outlets. On a Carnival cruise, we had one double outlet for the whole cabin, which was really tough! A USB/power charging station lets everyone charge their devices without taking up all the outlets in the cabin. We use ours on the dresser below the TV to keep the dressing table from getting too cluttered. Remember: Cruise lines do not allow extension cords or surge protectors, so make sure the USB charging station you take is cruise compliant.
- A portable clothesline — Small cruise cabins with limited hanging space make finding a spot to dry swimsuits and beach clothes quite difficult. Before we started carrying this clothesline, our swimsuits hung on just about every non-fabric surface in our cabin. NOTE: Do not use this on your balcony — Cruise ships do not allow you to hang anything outdoors!
- A door caddy — Cruise ship bathrooms, like the cabins, are small. With limited storage space — especially in a cabin sleeping four or five people — having a place to store everything is important. DISNEY CRUISE LINES does not allow over the door organizers and if you use one, you are liable for any damage done. Their bathrooms are also larger, so storage is less of a concern. Other cruise lines have not banned over the door organizers. I like this one because it has a tie to anchor it to the door handle and keep the organizer from swinging.
- Seabands — Fight motion sickness the natural way with Seabands. I have not ever experienced sea sickness, but one of my kids gets sick the moment the ship pulls away from the dock. This is as about as cruise essential as it gets for us!
- Cruise lanyards — BUT not just any lanyard to carry your cruise pass card, this one! It has a retractable reel that 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! If you don’t already have cruise luggage tags, this is a great option: It includes cruise lanyards and luggage tags for easy travel! Thanks to reader, Ila, for sharing this recommendation!
- A lightweight daypack — Used for both shore excursions and to pack all those little things I seem to find in our cabin after setting out my luggage for the cabin steward the last night of the cruise, this tiny pack takes little space in my luggage, but it has 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.
- Magnetic hooks — Add easy storage space with these magnetic hooks that attach to cabin doors and other surfaces. Great for hanging lanyards on the back of the cabin door or hanging robes and beach towels. 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 would be great for kids!
- Cruise cabin nightlight or mini flashlight — In the past, I’ve relied on my phone to help me see in the dark. But, especially if traveling with kids or grandparents, a nightlight or flashlight is a great idea. I like that the battery operated nightlight is motion activated. Just stick it up and let it do its job. The mini flashlights have a strap, so they can hang from a magnetic hook next to each bed! This is another great recommendation from Ila, especially now that my whole family has phones. I had forgotten how much a nightlight or flashlight helps, especially for kids and those with interior cabins!
Easy shopping for cruise essentials
If the list above seems intimidating, I found a great little company that offers CRUISE ESSENTIALS packages — the best cabin must haves for cruise travel curated by a small, family owned business to make cruise packing less stressful.
Shop for all your cruise cabin must haves at the Peach Plum!
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There you have it, cruise essentials — those cruise cabin must haves — to take your cruise vacation from good to great!a
Cruise essentials: More posts to help you plan
- Ultimate Cruise Packing Tips with FREE printable packing list
- Avoid these cruise mistakes: What first time cruisers need to know
- Cruising 101: Everything you need to know about shore excursions
- Hilton Day Pass in Nassau, Bahamas
- How to eat healthier on a cruise and still enjoy it!
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This article is full of information. I am very much impressed. Thank you
Lester Ackley says
This is amazing thanks for sharing this blog I become fan of your blogs now. This blog is so interesting and informative.
Lizzie Lau says
I haven’t been on a cruise in years, but this is the list I wish I had seen before the trip. I’ve been looking at Alaska cruises lately.
Kita Bryant says
I loved going on a cruise. This is definitely a list I wish I had before I went on it!
We’ve never been on a cruise, but hopefully, we get to do it someday. That being said, thanks a lot for these tips.
Ruth I says
Reading through this, I keep on saying that it’s all important! I didn’t know these simple things would be so special when on board.
These are some great tips. The lanyards were a must for us to. Also, another essential that I would add would be a waterproof phone case.
Chef Dennis says
I really love Caribbean cruise! It’s really fun and exciting. Thank you for sharing this list of cruise essentials. This will be a lot of help.
Jenn @ EngineerMommy says
I’ve never been on a cruise but my cousins go on them every few months. This all sounds like a useful set of essentials to have on hand!!
Denay DeGuzman says
This is such a helpful post! My husband and I are planning to take a cruise later this year. It’s been a long time since our last one, so this refresher on what to take is wonderful!
Terri Steffes says
It’s been 20 years since my last cruise but I am planning another inthe next 18 or so months. This was a great list for someone who didn’t even have a cell phone the last time I went!
Thanks for sharing your tips and must-haves. We just went on a cruise last month. I can’t wait until our next one.
Pinned this! As an avid cruiser its always great to pick up new tips I havent thought of before
Brianne Tursi Manz says
I must say that you are a seasoned cruiser! I will definitely use your essentials guide for our next one! A lot of these items I’d never think of taking!
Amber Myers says
I will keep these in mind for sure. I hope to go on a cruise one day with my family. I always worry I’ll forget something!
I have never cruised before, but it’s definitely in my near future. I never would have thought to bring all of these things, like the door caddy and the poo pourie, but can definitely see where they would come in handy. Thanks for sharing your cruise knowledge with us!
Liz Mays says
This is a good reminder. My BF and I really enjoyed our first cruise together so we plan on doing another one!
Michelle Cantu says
The little things that make a huge difference. This is a great list of necessities, thank you.
Sarah Bailey says
Now this is an ultimate post – I would have no idea where to start parking for a trip and hands up I wouldn’t have thought of poo-pourri but it all makes sense!
melissa chapman says
I have never gone on a cruise so this will be the first thing I read before I go. Making good use of the small quarters is such a good idea and seasickness could ruin a trip.
Mitchell A Chaitin says
I have been on a few cruises, and some of these things neve came to mind. This is a fantastic list. Especially the poo-potpourri!