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 were no convenient cruise packing lists to make planning easy! Our travel agent provided a general list of things to pack, but it covered only the basics. Ten plus cruises later, I can pretty much pack for a cruise without thinking about it.
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Since we cruise regularly, I also have a small bag of cruise essentials that I include every time I’m packing for a Caribbean cruise. We have found these to be the most essential items and gadgets to make cruising both relaxing and fun!
In no particular order, here is our list of cruise essentials:
- 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, use the towel clips in your cabin 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 ship, 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. Most cruise lines do not allow extension cords or surge protectors. This model is cruise line compliant (per this writing in 2020).
- 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!
- 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 Essentials I’ll be getting before I cruise again!
Like anyone, I get smarter the more I do something. At least I appear smarter. When it comes to cruise essentials, I always keep an eye out for items that will make cruising easier, which leads to even more relaxing! These items are on my list of cruise essentials to buy before my next cruise.
- 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 on the way to my cruise, but it has tons of space when needed. Lightweight and water resistant, it’s especially great for cruise travel! My beach bag has been our go-to for this role, but it’s heavy, and cumbersome. This lightweight pack with shoulder straps means hubby might even carry it for me!
- 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!
And there you have it, cruise essentials to include when packing for a Caribbean cruise! We have a great Facebook post for this topic! If you are on Facebook and want to add a recommendation, join us there. OR, leave a comment below with cruise essentials you always take. Obviously, I’m always up for new and improved ideas!
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