What to Pack for a Cruise

We love cruising. It’s one of our favorite forms of travel. Cruises are ultra relaxing; there lots of different cities and/or countries to explore, there is amazing food and entertainment on board, and you only have to unpack once. While there are lots of things that one should pack based on their destination (check out what to pack for an Alaskan Cruise) but there are lots of things that should be packed regardless of the destination. So here is our list of what to pack for a cruise – no matter where you’re heading.

One thing to know: we aren’t going to share things that we feel all people will automatically pack (like clothes, toiletries, and other personal necessities). These will be a collection of our tips and tricks – as well as a few things that we’ve forgotten in the past (that we totally feel the need to share!).

one morning and one evening outfit

The first thing we recommend packing: two outfits per day. No matter what, we end up needing two outfits per day. Whether we end up sweating due to the heat or from exertion, we always have to head back to our room prior to going out for dinner. Since laundry can be either a hassle (or expensive), we like to pack two outfits per day, just in case we get lazy or the laundry situation is out of control.

what to pack for a cruise

With packing techniques, like rolling our clothes and/or packing things into ziplock bags or packing cubes, we fit more things into a single suitcase. Plus, don’t forget – each person can pack a carry on too!

a mini steamer

On our Seabourn cruise, there is a steamer located in the laundry facilities. We’re kind of lucky with how small the cruise line is and how empty it always feels. But, when the laundry room gets crowded (ok, this means there are three people in them!), it’s nice to be able to steam your clothes in the room.

Plus, imagine coming back from a long day out, tired from all the adventures, and knowing that you still have to shower and get dressed for whatever your evening activities are.

I don’t know about you, but I hate having to put on my loungewear, run down a few floors to iron or steam our clothes, and then run back up. It’s so much more convenient to bring your own steamer (or you can try some wrinkle release spray…although we haven’t tried it and don’t know it works).

a backpack

You totally need a good bag for those long days in port. A backpack is the best for this. It’s easiest to tote around, doesn’t put unnecessary strain on one of your shoulders, and it’s perfect for holding all of the things you should tote around with you.

what to pack for a cruise

Some of those things? Water. Wallet – duh! Camera. Portable phone charger. Mini First Aid Kit. And more.

a laptop or book

There will be times on board where you’ll be in your room with “nothing” to do, whether because you’re tired and don’t want to go out or because you’re just feeling a bit lazy (or introverted if you’re like me!).

During these times, you’ll need something to do, other than watching whatever form of satellite tv the cruise line offers or using the precious minutes on the internet package you purchased. We bring a laptop and edit photos during these times or read books (ok, Jamie reads them).

what to pack for a cruise: and don’t forget these things!

sunscreen and insect repellant

The first two things that you should pack when heading out for a cruise is sunscreen and insect repellant. Whether you’re headed somewhere warm or cool, there will be lots of sun and plenty of bugs.

what to pack for a cruise

You don’t want to be wandering around with bug bites or a sunburn, especially when you’re heading out to beach-filled destinations. But, even if you’re out hiking, it sucks to have long sleeves rubbing against sunburnt arms (let’s face it, you’ll still be hanging out around the pool and hot tub in cooler destinations!).

sandals and comfortable shoes

Yes, if you’re heading to the beach, you’ll pack sandals and, if you’re heading to rocky coasts, you’ll pack sneakers or hiking boots. However, no matter which destination you’re heading to, you should pack both.

I’ve been on enough trips (and am old enough to have made a few shoe-packing mistakes) to tell you to be super aware of what shoes you’re packing. You need to choose shoes (because you’ll probably be walking a lot!) that you can wear all day – beware of blisters! – and all night.

Another little tip? Pack bandaids in the bag/purse you’ll be taking off the ship with you. They’ll be there if you need them, and it’ll save you in the long run.

what to pack for a cruise

Now…the sandals. You can’t forget them even if you’re heading to Iceland or Norway. You’ll want to wear something around the ship that’s simple to slip on. Whether you’re heading out for a quick snack or cup of coffee or to the hot tub, sandals are the perfect thing for just that.

a converter

If you’re traveling abroad, don’t ever forget to pack a converter! Although Seabourn has US outlets on board, we can’t forget that the night prior to boarding and the night after disembarking is always in another country, which means another outlet.

Last time, we completely forgot to pack our converter, because we failed to consider those extra nights. We’ve been lucky for sure, staying in hotels that have extras lying around, but we don’t want you to be in the same boat (no pun intended).

Oh, and tell us about your experience. Is there something you’ve forgotten (and regretted)?

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  • Having cruised quite a bit I do have a few more tips.

    All ship cabins are basically metal boxes. Pack magnetic hooks, great for hats and caps and getting back packs and bags off the floor and freeing up drawer space. Also magnetic pins, useful for all the schedules, notices and invites they leave on the bed and counters.

    If traveling Seabourn as you do, they have a $50 set fee for a full bag of laundry, believe me it’s amazing how much you can cram in and it all comes back neatly pressed, hung or folded. Like you I hate dodging back and forth to the laundry.

    A small plug in night light for the incredibly dark bathroom at night.

    Shoes for evening. I’ve really managed to get it it down to 3 pairs by taking one black and one nude pair and something sparkly, this combination will go with just about everything.

    Travel pack of Clorox type wipes. No matter how high end the ship or hotel when traveling I like to wipe everything down before using.

    They usually leave a small basket/tray in the closet with things like laundry bags, repair kits etc. in. I empty this and put it on a shelf somewhere near the door for us to dump our wallets, sunglasses, loose change, key cards etc. in. It’s amazing how much tidier and clutter free the room will feel. I do this in hotels also if we’re there longer than a couple of nights.

    Hope these are useful, Kate