Knowing what to pack for a 7 day cruise can be overwhelming, especially for first time cruisers. A 7 day Caribbean cruise packing list makes it much easier.
With a cruise packing list, you will know how to pack for a 7 day cruise so so you don’t forget the important things. Instead, you can focus on all the fun you’ll have whether traveling to the western Caribbean, the eastern Caribbean or even Bermuda!
With a complete cruise packing list, you can check off each item as you pack it. Then, you’ll know you’ve packed everything you need to enjoy your cruise.
• Updated December, 2019 •
Since most U.S. based first time cruisers take a cruise to the Caribbean or Bahamas, this post focuses on those destinations. Read on to learn:
- How to pack for a 7 day cruise,
- What to pack for a Bahamas cruise,
- What to pack for a Disney cruise,
- What to pack for a Carnival cruise,
- What to pack for a Royal Caribbean cruise.
This post also includes answers to questions like:
- Can you take snacks on a Carnival cruise? (Yes, with limitations)
- Can you take a CPAP machine on a cruise? (Yes… we’ll tell you how below)
- Can you take an iron on a cruise? (No… and please don’t try to sneak one on, either. It’s a serious safety issue!)
- Can you take sports equipment on a cruise ship? (Yes… but there are regulations for when to use the equipment)
Let’s get to those cruise packing tips and hacks you need to cruise like a pro, whether you’re cruising on a budget or you’re in a luxury suite.
Cruise wardrobe essentials: What clothes should you wear on a cruise?
Twenty years ago, cruising was a luxury. People dressed up for dinner just about every night and it was hard to pack light. Today’s travelers prefer a resort casual vibe and less luggage (thanks airline restrictions), but most cruise lines still offer a formal night, theme nights and the like. Knowing how to pack for a 7 day cruise can save you money on airline luggage costs and make sure you also have everything you need for a great vacation!
When you use our 7 day Caribbean cruise packing list, you can fit everything you need for a week-long cruise in one suitcase!
Need luggage? This one is fabulous!!!
Here’s a general list of what to pack for a 7 day cruise:
- Daytime: Swimsuit, cover-up, 4-5 pairs of shorts, 5-6 shirts, and wardrobe essentials.
- Evening: Dress-casual slacks and collared shirts for men, and slacks/skirts with tops for women or dresses.
- Formal and themed nights: Suit and tie for men, dressy dress for women, and theme night clothes per cruise line suggestion.
- Bathroom supplies.
- Cruise essentials to make the most of your cruise experience (Shop cruise essentials here!)
For those, like me, who prefer more details, read on.
How to pack for a cruise: Women’s cruise packing tips
When you think about how to pack for a 7 day cruise, it can be hard to figure out how everything will fit. Use these cruise packing tips to make it easier:
- Choose one color palette and build around that. I love navy — and use it for a base when I cruise. My pants, shorts, dresses and accent pieces all coordinate around that one color.
- Pack a few pieces of jewelry to mix and match throughout the cruise.
- Add layers — you’ll want a sweater or wrap for breezy late nights on the top deck or for air conditioned shows in the theater.
- Bring gym clothes if you plan to climb the rock wall or work out.
- Consider two swimsuits when you pack for a 7 day cruise because it can take a while for one to dry.
- Pack one pair of dress shoes, a pair of daytime shoes, and gym shoes if needed.
How to pack for a cruise: Men’s cruise packing list
We use a great strategy to pack light for the guys, even when we pack for a 7 day cruise! Wear a casual shirt to dinner (except on formal nights), then wear that shirt another day later in the trip for a shore excursion, so the shirt is used two days not one. That way you avoid over packing for your cruise vacation.
For formal and semi-formal nights, my husband wears the same suit. On formal night, he wears the tie and jacket. On semi-formal night, he either goes with a fun tie (or no tie) and skips the jacket. Pack two swimsuits, five casual daytime outfits, essentials and accessories.
How to pack for a cruise: Cruise packing list for kids
If you really want to enjoy your kids, let them be kids! Pack nice outfits for formal night, but something they can be comfortable in. Pack five or six outfits (a couple extra for babies), two swimsuits, a jacket, sweater or hoodie, and comfortable shoes!
I recommend comfortable sandals with a heal strap like these so they don’t slip and fall!
What else to include on your 7 day Caribbean cruise packing list
Cruises are almost all-inclusive, so you don’t need to bring a whole lot of extras. When you’re thinking about what things to pack for a cruise, pack the things you really need and leave the rest behind.
We bring sun essentials, like a beach bag, sunscreen and sunglasses. We also bring our cell phones and chargers, though we try to leave the computers at home! Books or Kindles are great to relax on sea days.
It’s also important to bring all required cruise documents: boarding passes, reservation confirmations (including any shore excursions booked before the cruise), required identification (a passport is best) and cash/credit cards. That’s about it!
But it’s easier when you use a printable cruise packing checklist to keep track of everything!
What can you not bring on a cruise?
When working on your cruise planning checklist, it’s almost as important to know what not to pack for a cruise! If you pack something that is not allowed, it will be confiscated at the luggage screening.
On all cruise lines, weapons, illegal drugs, flammable liquids, irons, candles, and most small electrical appliances are banned. Curling irons and flat irons are allowed for hair, but I mostly go with a pony tail!
Because cruise line policies change, it’s best to check what’s allowed before you go. Here’s a 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
I’ve been asked many questions about cruising through the years. Here’s a Cruise FAQ, which might be especially helpful for first time cruisers who want to know what to pack for a 7 day cruise or for a cruise to the Bahamas!
- Can you take prescription drugs on a cruise? Yes! Prescription medications are allowed on a cruise. I recommend that you bring all medications in their original packaging. That way, if you get sick or injured, the ship’s doctor has easy access to your medical information.
- Can you bring an iron on a cruise? No! Irons are strictly forbidden because they pose a fire hazard. Instead, pack a couple of small bottles of Downy Wrinkle Releaser: Spray clothes, hang them in the bathroom while you shower, and they’ll look great!
- Can you bring weed on a cruise? No! While marijuana is legal in some states, it is not legal on a cruise ship. Instead, mellow out in a lounge chair on the pool deck!
- Can you bring alcohol on a cruise? Probably. Most cruise lines allow you to bring one or two bottles of wine on board, but the uncorking fee is pretty hefty! Check with your specific cruise line to make sure you know what’s allowed (see below for a link to the most popular family cruise lines)
- Can I bring my sports equipment? Yes and No. On the ship, all sports equipment is provided. You cannot use your own, and that includes pool noodles. But, if you plan a shore excursion, you can take your own equipment if it’s not provided. If you’re planning on a relaxed beach day shore excursion, I found these great inflatable pool noodles. They pack flat and are great for floating on those Caribbean blue seas!
- Can I take snacks on a Carnival cruise? Yes and No. Prepackaged snacks are allowed on cruise ships, but homemade foods, beverages, fresh fruits and vegetables and fish are not allowed on board. That includes shore excursions. If you buy fresh fruit or a beverage on a shore excursion, finish it before returning to the ship. It will not be allowed on board. If you take a deep sea fishing excursion, you must arrange to have your fish shipped home. It cannot be brought on board either.
- Can I take my CPAP machine on a cruise? Yes. Your CPAP machine should be carried in your carry on luggage. If you bring your own distilled water, it also needs to be hand carried on board. It might be easier to pre-arrange the purchase of distilled water through the cruise line.
- Do I need to pack beach towels? No. The cruise line provides beach towels for use on board and for shore excursions. Cruise staff usually passes towels out as you leave the ship and has bins available to drop them off when you return. NOTE: If you sign out a towel and don’t check it in on return, you might be charged the cost of the towel.
- Do I need a passport for a cruise? Yes and No. If you are an American cruising from a US port and returning to the same port, you don’t technically need a passport. However, since most cruises visit foreign countries, it’s best to have a passport in case you should become sick or injured. The $145 investment is worth the peace of mind having a valid passport provides.
What are the rules for cruise luggage?
Most cruise lines don’t have a set limit on luggage, but when you’re trying to figure out how to pack for a cruise to the Bahamas or things to take on a Caribbean cruise, remember that less is more! You can only store two or three bags under your bed, so space is tight.
My favorite cruise luggage is the Chester Travels bag — great name, eh? It’s awesome for so many reasons:
- It’s easy to pack with two compartments that zip closed. The space between holds a couple dresses or blouses without slipping so they don’t wrinkle.
- The luggage has sturdy wheels and a telescoping handle so it’s easy to carry.
- The luggage LOCKS so when I set it outside my cabin before going home, I know my contents are secure.
The key to a great cruise is to make sure your cruise luggage tags are securely fastened to the handle of your luggage. That’s the only way the cruise staff knows where to deliver your luggage. Before your cruise, you’ll print out your luggage tags. You can tape them to your luggage, but I find cruise luggage tag holders to work better.
- Cruise luggage tag holders for Disney, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Line
- Cruise luggage tag holders for Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line
What to pack in a carry on bag for a cruise?
You’ll want to carry some items with you when you check in for your cruise. First time cruisers tend to carry more than more experienced cruisers — I know I sure carried too much the day we boarded! This list includes everything that should be in your carry on bag for a cruise:
- 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?
- A 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.)
Some things you do NOT need in your carry on bag for a cruise. Just pack these items in your cruise luggage.
- A change of clothes. You’ll have access to your cabin before dinner so you can change. And if your luggage arrives late, don’t worry! Dinner the first night is quite casual.
- Beach towels. Towels are provided for guests by all major cruise lines. You can use them for shore excursions, but remember to return them to the ship or you’ll be charged for them.
- Chargers for electronics. Make sure phones, cameras, e-readers and computer are fully charged the morning of the cruise and pack the chargers in your checked luggage. Less is best for cruising carry-ons.
Some final cruise packing tips and hacks
Tip One: When I travel, I always take a photo of my checked luggage. If my luggage gets lost — or held by cruise security — I can show staff exactly what the bag looks like, making it quicker and easier to retrieve.
On a Carnival cruise with my mom, security held one of my bags because something apparently didn’t look right to them. I went to guest services and showed them my photo. They retrieved my bag and explained it needed a hand search. Two minutes later, search uneventful, I had my bag and enjoyed a lovely vacation.
TIP TWO: If traveling with someone else, divide your checked items into two suitcases. That way, if one is lost or delayed, you both have something to wear. This is a great tip for all travel, not just cruise travel.
TIP THREE: When packing, ask yourself, “Do I need this?” If the answer is no, leave it out. If the answer is, “But if XYZ happens, I might need….” leave it out.
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If you aren’t ready to pack just yet, save this cruise packing tips and list for later. That way, you’ll have it whenever you need it!
If you love cruising (or want to learn more), you might like these posts:
- Cruise Essentials — Little extras to make your cruise vacation even better!
- Cruising 101: How to navigate the cruise terminal
- What’s the best cruise line for families? (with infographic comparison)
- Cruising 101: What you need to know about shore excursions
- Cruise mistakes: What first timers need to know