Cruise Vacation Packing List

Everything You Need to Take on Your Cruise

Cruise ship boarding
••• Lyn Holly Coorg / Getty Images

Packing for a cruise is one of the worst parts of your vacation. The only thing most cruise travelers dread more is unpacking when they get home. To lessen this dread, a comprehensive packing list is essential. Anyone who has forgotten some important item and then had to purchase it at double the price on the cruise ship or in a port of call will know that such a list can be invaluable.

One important packing tip: If traveling with a companion or spouse, divide your checked items into two suitcases.

That way, if one is lost, you will both have some clothing to wear. It would be terrible for your spouse to have all of his/her clothes and you to have nothing but your carry-on. Also, be sure to carry-on anything that you cannot live without for a couple of days (medicines, swimsuit, clean underwear), just in case your luggage is lost or delayed.

Cruise Travel Essentials

Use this cruise packing list as a starter and modify it for your personal tastes. You may not need everything on this list, but all are items worth considering. 

Travel Documents, Wallet Items, and Paperwork Packing List

  • Airline tickets or e-ticket confirmation
  • Cruise documents
  • Passports and visas (if necessary) or other proof of citizenship 
  • Vaccination certificate (if required)
  • Driver's license and auto insurance card - in case you decide to rent a car when ashore
  • Medical insurance cards and medical history (especially if traveling alone)
  • Copy of prescriptions and list of all medicines you are taking
  • Another government-issued picture ID (e.g. driver's license)
  • Credit cards (be sure to call credit card companies before traveling to alert them you are traveling outside your normal area)
  • ATM card (be sure to call your bank to notify them you are traveling)
  • Pre-paid phone card or SIM card for mobile phone (these can also be purchased at your destination)
  • Cash (some in small bills for tipping or buying low priced souvenirs)
  • Copies of airline tickets, cruise tickets, passports/visas, itinerary: Pack one copy in your carry-on, one copy in your checked luggage, and leave one copy with someone at home. Alternatively, you can scan the documents and email an electronic copy to yourself so that you can access them from any computer terminal.
  • Contact numbers to report lost/stolen credit cards or traveler's checks
  • Emergency numbers at home
  • Currency conversion chart
  • Wallet
  • Watch

Reading Material and Necessities Packing List

  • Glasses, contacts, contact cleaner
  • Extra reading glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Reading sunglasses
  • Guidebooks and other port of call information
  • Foreign language phrase book or dictionary
  • Maps
  • Reading material (books to read while on the plane or lounging by the pool; if you pack an electronic book, don't forget the charger)
  • Journal or notebook and pen/pencil (for making notes to tell your friends back home about your experiences)
  • Business cards with email address to give out to new cruise friends
  • Home and email addresses of friends/relatives back home (for sending postcards, emails, or gifts)
  • Photo album (to share pictures of those adorable kids, grandkids, or pets with new friends)

Electronics and Camera Equipment Packing List

  • Plug adapter and converter (most electronic items like cameras, computers, and e-books do not need a converter, but do need an adapter in hotels)
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Tablet or e-book and charger
  • Laptop computer
  • Binoculars
  • Underwater camera (for snorkeling or beach days)
  • Digital camera and manual
  • Extra memory cards for digital camera
  • Batteries for digital camera
  • Battery charger
  • Extension cord/power strip with multiple plug-ins
  • iPod or mp3 player (for listening on the airplane, walking on deck or on a treadmill)
  • Small travel alarm clock (battery operated)
  • Lighted dial clock for cruise ship cabin
  • Small flashlight
  • Nightlight

Medicine Kit Packing List

  • Earplugs or "ear planes"
  • Small first aid kit (band-aids, Q-tips, vaseline, Dramamine, antibiotic cream, bandages, anti-diarrhea medication, cortisone cream, aspirin/Tylenol/Advil)
  • Germicidal hand cleaner
  • Handi-wipes (for cleaning hands when ashore)
  • Hand lotion
  • Rubbing alcohol or foot lotion for soothing tired, hot feet
  • Bug spray (not for your cabin on the ship, but for those pesky mosquitoes and "nonos" ashore)
  • Sunscreen/sunblock and lip sunblock

Other "Necessities" Packing List

  • Duct tape or strapping tape
  • Extra plastic cable-lock ties for securing luggage for the return trip (better than locks, but one-time use only)
  • Extra luggage name tags (in case yours are lost on the outbound trip)
  • Ziploc bags of all sizes and garbage/laundry bags
  • Corkscrew (be sure to put in checked luggage)
  • Swiss Army knife or something similar with screwdriver head, etc. (be sure to put in checked luggage)
  • Small umbrella
  • Collapsible travel pillow for those long airplane flights
  • Crazy glue
  • Playing cards
  • Sports gear (e.g., snorkeling gear)
  • Shoehorn (for getting those shoes back on your swollen feet)
  • Sewing kit and scissors (pack in checked luggage)
  • Travel-sized detergent
  • Clothespins
  • Empty folding tote bag (for souvenirs or the beach)
  • Hats/caps/visors
  • Insulated large coffee mugs

Women's Cruise Clothing Packing List

  • Bras (include strapless if needed for evening wear)
  • Panties
  • Lingerie/nightgown/pajamas/robe
  • Compression stockings (for airplane flight to prevent swollen ankles)
  • Exercise/walking socks
  • Trouser socks or pantyhose
  • Camisole/slip
  • Purses (day and evening)
  • Belts
  • Scarves
  • Gloves and stocking cap(if expect cold weather)
  • Walking shoes
  • Walking sandals
  • Rubber sandals for reef walking and beach
  • Evening shoes
  • Costume jewelry and extra watch
  • Swimsuit
  • Swimsuit cover-up/pareo/sarong
  • Thongs/flip-flop shoes
  • Work out clothes and jog bra
  • Dress/outfit for informal nights on ship
  • Dress/outfit for formal nights on ship
  • Dress/outfit for casual nights on ship
  • Shorts
  • Tops of all types (sleeveless, short-sleeved, long-sleeved)
  • Capri pants
  • Slacks
  • Windbreaker jacket
  • Sweatshirt
  • Evening sweater
  • Raincoat with hood

Women's Sundries and Miscellaneous

  • Blow dryer (most cruise ships provide, so this is optional)
  • Curling iron or curlers
  • Comb/brush
  • Hair gel
  • Hairspray (non-aerosol)
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Shower cap
  • Bar soap in plastic container
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Tweezers
  • Make-up mirror
  • Make-up and make-up bag
  • Make-up remover
  • Cleanser
  • Moisturizer and freshener
  • Nail polish and remover
  • Nail clippers and file (be sure to pack in checked luggage)
  • Razor and shaving cream

Men's Cruise Clothing Packing List

  • Underwear (briefs or boxer shorts)
  • Undershirts
  • Pajamas and robe
  • Compression socks (for airplane flight to prevent swollen ankles)
  • Exercise/walking socks
  • Black dress socks
  • Belts
  • Gloves and stocking cap (if you expect cold weather)
  • Walking shoes
  • Walking sandals
  • Rubber sandals/shoes for reef walking and beach
  • Evening or dress shoes
  • "Docksider" casual shoes
  • Tuxedo jacket and pants (or dark suit)
  • Tuxedo tie, suspenders, and cummerbund
  • Tuxedo cufflinks/studs
  • Sport jacket
  • Regular ties
  • Tuxedo shirt
  • Dress shirts
  • Swimsuit
  • Swimsuit cover-up
  • Work out clothes/T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Casual shirts
  • Slacks (casual and dress)
  • Windbreaker jacket
  • Sweatshirt
  • Raincoat with hood

Men's Sundries and Miscellaneous

  • Comb/brush
  • Shampoo and hair products
  • Bar soap in plastic container
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers and file (be sure to pack in checked luggage)
  • Razor and shaving cream (or electric razor and supplies)