Did you know that January and February are two of the most popular months to book cruises? It makes sense when you consider the weather. There’s nothing like freezing temperatures and buckets of snow to make you want to book a one-way ticket to somewhere warm! Cruises are one of the best ways to see multiple sunny destinations in a single trip.
It can be a little difficult to plan everything and figure out what to bring for first-time cruisers. The biggest help when planning a cruise is to book with Get Away Today! They not only do the hard work of finding the best deal and taking care of the paper work, but they know all the best tips and tricks to make sure your cruise is smooth sailing.
Once you’ve booked, it’s time to daydream even more about your upcoming vacation. But where do you even begin with packing for your cruise? What to pack for a cruise can be tricky because you are going to be tight on space, but we’ve got you covered with this list of the best things to pack for your first (or fifth!) cruise.
At home with the kids? Instantly access any of these printable activity bundles to keep them learning!
What to Pack For Your Cruise Carry-on:
First off, we’ll look at what should go in your carry-on. You’ll have this bag with you the entire time you’re traveling. There are some important things you should have in there, including:
- Travel documents: You’ll want to have your ID, passport and all documents easily available because you’ll need to show them a few times. Another pro-tip is to have copies of your IDs and passports. It’s a great idea to leave extra copies with a family member staying home, just in case.
- A pen: This may seem silly, but it’s a lifesaver when filling out the paperwork before and after a cruise. You’ll have everything filled out in no time and not have to worry about asking people around you to borrow one.
- Bathing suit: It’s going to take a few hours for your checked baggage to arrive in your stateroom aboard the ship. You won’t have to miss out on any fun if you already have your bathing suit ready to go! Surprisingly I have found some of my favorite affordable swimsuits on Zulily and Amazon (especially if you like the boy-short style bottoms, Amazon is the place to get them).
- A bathing suit cover up or change of clothes: If you get tired of swimming before your luggage arrives, you won’t have to wait to change out of your wet suit.
- Prescriptions in their original package: It’s always recommended to keep your prescriptions on your carry-on, no matter where you’re traveling to.
- Gora. If you are cruising, you are going to be doing a LOT of beach activities. If you haven’t already invested in a GoPro, now is time. Cruise lines charge a fortune for photos that they take for you, and it’s best not to take other camera equipment with you on your excursions if it’s not water-proof.
Toiletries You Should Be Packing For Your Cruise:
Now, let’s talk about toiletries. Obviously, you’ll want to bring your toothbrush, deodorant and everyday items. It’s easy to forget about things that you don’t use on a daily basis, though. Some of those are:
- Sunscreen: This may seem obvious, but this is an item more often forgotten than remembered. You’ll save money by making sure you remember to pack this instead of buying it from the ship’s store. If you’re flying to your port, you’ll need to check any large bottles, but you can keep a small bottle (three ounces or less) in your carry-on.
- First aid kit and medication: No one plans on getting sick while on vacation, but it does happen. You’ll avoid the hefty fees from buying cold medicine and band aids aboard the ship if you bring them with you.
- Aloe Vera: Where there’s sun, there’s usually sunburn. Be prepared by packing your own Aloe Vera or Aloe Vera-infused lotion. Your skin will thank you!
- Bug spray/cream: This will depend on your cruise itinerary, but is a great thing to bring if you’re visiting any ports known to have pesky friends.
What Clothes to Pack for Your Cruise:
Clothes for your cruise are next on the list. You want to remember that the most important thing is to pack light. Cruise staterooms aren’t the biggest and you won’t want your wardrobe taking up all the space, especially if you have more than two people in the cabin. Here are some essential clothing items to remember:
- Light jackets and/or sweaters: Temperatures can drop during the night, even when cruising the Caribbean or Bahamas. You don’t want to take up a lot of room with a bulky jacket, so light jackets and sweaters are perfect. They don’t take up much room and are easily layered to keep you warm.
- Pants: It’s always best to bring at least one pair in case you are out and about on the top deck when it’s chilly. Try to opt for cloth pants as they’re easier to fold and take up less room than heavier jean material. Palazzo pants are wonderful for cruises because you can dress them up, or go casual depending on what you wear with them.
- Hat and/or sunglasses: You’ll be getting plenty of sun while you lounge on the top deck, so make sure to remember these items while packing. You can always grab them from the gift shop as a souvenir if you do forget!
- Formal wear: The amount of formal or semi-formal nights will differ with each cruise, but every cruise has at least one. You can always check the cruise line’s websites for guidelines on what to bring for these nights. Amazon has affordable formalwear options for this.
- Roll your clothes: This isn’t a tip on what to bring, but how to pack more efficiently. By rolling each item of clothing, you’ll take up less space in your suitcase. Plus, they’re less likely to wrinkle when rolled! You can even use hair ties to wrap around your rolled clothes if you’re worried they won’t stay rolled up. That way, you won’t have to look far for a hair tie when you’re on board either.
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s look at some miscellaneous Cruise packing items that make a big difference. You’ll still be packing light with these small items, but they’ll help make your cruise even better:
Miscellaneous Things to pack for your cruise
- Travel Beach bags: Whether it’s a beach bag or a sling bag, you’re going to appreciate it when you reach the different ports. You can keep all your essentials close to you while you explore. You can even pack another bag specifically for souvenirs if you don’t mind checking it or carrying it as your personal item on your way home.
- Packing Cubes. This is really important if you are cruising! You will be very limited on space and this will help you stay organized and find things when you need them.
- A water bottle: This is perfect if you’re going on a cruise that includes unlimited drinks. You can refill it whenever and it will help you remember to stay hydrated, too! THIS ONE is my absolute favorite because it keeps water cold ALL DAY, and doesn’t have fancy parts that need to be cleaned (I’m kind of a water bottle snob, I have tried SO MANY. So I know what I’m taking about on this one). This one is my fave for younger kids.
- An over-the-door shoe hanger: This may sound strange, but these are a life saver when it comes to more room in the bathroom. Simply hang it on the bathroom door and fill the pockets with your toothpaste, lotions and anything else you’d usually keep on the counter. It keeps the bathroom uncluttered and you’ll easily be able to find what you’re looking for each morning.
- Wet-Dry bags and Ziploc bags: These are great to bring so that you can keep your dirty clothes separate from the clean ones in your bag. Plus, you can pack your swimsuit up even if it isn’t totally dry yet!
- Travel Detergent: If you’re going on a longer cruise and plan to do laundry on the ship, you’ll save money by bringing a small bags of powdered detergent with you. What would cost you a few cents on land can easily cost a few dollars on the ship. Pro-tip: doing laundry on the ship helps you pack light even for the longest of cruises.
- Cruise Lanyard: you’ll want these for your sea pass cards! If you wait to buy them via the cruise line, you may pay 10 times the price! Get them ahead of time.
Hopefully, these tips help you pack for your first cruise with ease. Don’t forget that the most important tips are to pack light and coordinate with your itinerary. If you do forget a few things it’s not the end of the world, either. The stores on board the ship will likely have it – you’re not the first to forget a thing or two!
No matter what, just remember to relax and have fun. It’s not every day that you get to lounge in the middle of the ocean or visit an exotic island. Make sure to book your cruise with a travel agent (we recommend Get Away Today) because they have access to special extras that can’t be price-matched if you go direct. They’ll take care of all the details and find you the perfect cruise for your next family vacation, just mention that Mother’s Niche sent you!
And don’t forget to pin this post for easy reference later:
What are YOUR favorite cruising tips?!