What to Pack for a Cruise

Getting ready for your cruise? Make sure your trip goes smoothly – here’s helpful tips on what to pack:
  • This packing list form is ready to print. Extra cruise- specific items to consider bringing:


  1. Label your luggage:
    • Do not put a home address on luggage tags (luggage will be returned to an empty house!).
    • Put your business card or write the address in your luggage tag.
    • Mark your suitcases with a bright-colored tape, ribbon or rubberbands so it's be easy to identify.
  2. Remove old white airport tags (the ones with the barcodes on them).


Some cruise ships have dress codes for certain parts of the ship or restaurants. Check with your cruise line.

WHN EXPERT TIP: Look the Part

If the ship has a formal night, pack one nice outfit (hopefully, you have many shirts/pants, skirts that you can switch around). In the ships that don't have a lot of dining options, they require folks - even if they are eating in the buffet - to be dressed. You can ignore them, but you will get stared at
Jacqueline Church Simonds, frequent cruiser and publisher of Happy Sails: The Carefree Cruiser's Handbook

WHN EXPERT TIP: Weather Appropriate Packing

If going to a warm place, pack your swimsuit and *cover-up* (many cruise ships ask that you not wander around the decks in your thong). If going to a cold place, think layers, with thermal silk underwear as the first layer
Jacqueline Church Simonds, frequent cruiser and publisher of Happy Sails: The Carefree Cruiser's Handbook

Special Items

  1. Big items
    If you're bringing bigger items (golf clubs, scuba gear, strollers), check with the cruise line to see if these items are available to rent. It might save you some extra room and travel expenses.
  2. Extra cash
    Bring plenty of cash for your end-of-cruise tips. Some cruise lines will add suggested gratuities to your onboard account which you will take care of at the end of the cruise. Check with your cruise line's policies so that you know when and what will be charged.
  3. Be sure to pack a good watch.
    You'll need to watch the time on your shore excursions in order to make it back to the ship on time.
  4. Small day bag.
    Also, consider packing a small day bag to use just for your shore excursions to carry your money, ids, camera and any other essentials.

    WHN Reader TIP: Extra Bags

    Pack a few resalable plastic bags in a variety of sizes. It helps with so many things like keeping sand out of your camera, returning from the pool with a wet suit is easier, and taking snacks on the go are very simple too. I like the ones with a slide resalable top - it prevents accidental opening
    – Diana, Fremont, CA
  5. Pack a carry-on bag just for the boat.

    WHN Reader TIP: Smart Use of Carry-On Luggage

    When you check in to the ship, your bags will go through security and might not be brought to your room until a few hours later. Pack all important items that you might need in your carry-on (meds, special need items, swimsuits, other entertainment items).

    • Not sure what to pack in your carry-on? Read What's Allowed In Your Carry-On Luggage. Do NOT put valuables in bags you are checking (electronics, jewelry, camera, money, credit cards, etc.). Put them in your carry-on if you can.
    • Bring all medications in your carry-on. They should be in their original labeled container. Bring prescription copies as well as a list of the generic names.
  6. Be sure to leave room in your luggage for souvenirs, clothes, gifts, etc.
What NOT to Pack
  1. Don't pack jewelry and valuables. You may want to look nice for the events on board but it's best to leave the valuable items at home.
  2. Cruise lines may have limitations or safety restrictions on what is allowed on board and what isn’t.
  3. Certain items may only be allowed to use off the boat at the ports (rollerblades, scuba gear, etc.). Check with your cruise line.

    WHN TIP: Are Outside Beverages Allowed?

    If you're traveling on certain cruise lines, you will not be allowed to bring any beverages (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic) on board. Check with your cruise line about their policies before packing.

    Updated: 5/2009