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1st Time Cruise Packing

Packing For Your First Cruise

Going on your first cruise can be nerve racking when it comes to packing.  This document is designed to help you successfully pack and prepare for your cruise.  Before we get into the suitcase, packing for a cruise is a lot different than any other vacation.  Because you may not be able to pick up whatever you need when you’re out at sea, it’s important to pack carefully for your first cruise. To ensure you don’t forget any of your must-haves, make use of this handy cruise checklist.

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Packing The Essentials

When packing for a cruise, start with a few essential documents. Make sure to bring:

  • Your paper or digital airline tickets, if you are flying to your cruise departure port

  • Your cruise documents

  • Your passport or an enhanced driver’s license and a government-issued birth certificate to show proof of -citizenship (take photos of these documents in case of loss)

  • A certificate of vaccination (if required)

  • A medical insurance card and your medical history

  • Copies of your prescriptions and a list of all medications you’re taking

  • Carry-On Backpack

Your Carry-On Backpack (COB) will play an important part in your journey.  When you reach the terminal port, your luggage will be taken by the porters, and it may take a few hours for it to be delivered to your room.  Be sure to place all your essential documents and items (like medications, epipens, Over-the-counter medicines, etc.) in your COB.  Other items to consider are swimwear, cameras, and other items that will allow you to jump into the fun as you explore the ship and all of the fun aboard.  Later, that same COB will serve as a handy tote when you get off the ship to explore the ports and collect souvenirs along the way.

Cabin Preparation

Non-Surge Power Strip

Most Cabins will have a few outlets at your disposal.  For the average traveler today (armed with phones, tablets, cameras, portable gaming devices, electric shavers, etc.), it will not be enough to charge everything.  Make sure you have enough plug-ins and outlets in your stateroom by packing a non-surge power strip. When shopping, look for one with a few regular outlets and USB ports.

Magnetic Hooks

The doors and walls of cabins are metal, so these come in handy.  You can use them for many things from hanging decorations from the ceiling to hanging wet swimsuits so they can dry.

Hanging Organizers

Few items help keep your stateroom neat and orderly like hanging organizers. A variety of companies sell attractive toiletry bags that can hang on bathroom towel bars and hooks.

Air Fresheners

The smell from the bathroom can linger, so come prepared in case you encounter it.

Alarm Clock

Most cabins will have a clock located somewhere on the television (provided you have it on).  The Alarm Clock may seem to be old school (since most people use there phone for this), however there is something about disconnecting from electronics from time to time.

Night Lights

Some cruise ships have reader lights, but not all.  If you are in an interior cabin, they are especially dark.

What Clothes Should I Bring

Now the most requested item, what clothes should I pack?  The amount of clothes to pack depends on the length of the cruise and on the events happening.  The scenarios to pack for are endless, but let’s make this as practical as possible.  One thing to take into account is that it is perfectly fine to wear the same thing twice on a cruise.  With that said, for a 7-day cruise, having 3-4 outfits is a good idea.  Let’s look at the common clothing.

  • T-Shirts – at least one for every two days of your cruise.

  • Tank tops

  • Shorts – at least one pair for every two days of your cruise.

  • Long pants – at least one pair for nights on the ship.

  • Long-sleeve shirt – at least one for nights on the ship.

  • Underwear

  • Swimsuit – At least two, so that one can dry when you wear the other.

  • Swimsuit cover-up

  • Light Jacket, Sweater, Sweatshirt or Wrap– it can get cool in the evenings on the ship.

  • Belt

  • Hat/cap

  • Sleep clothes

  • Athletic shorts

  • Socks

  • Sneakers – make sure that they are comfortable.

  • Flip-flops or Closed-Toed Sandals – be sure they have anti-slip soles; wet decks can be slippery.

Many ships have events such as Formal Night, White Party (or another color theme), Glow Party, Pajama Party.  Every party has its own dress code, so govern according to it.  I will tackle Formal night since it is a common one.  Think smart-casual dress for women and slacks and a collared shirt for men.

Preparing For Special Events

Many ships have events such as Formal Night, White Party (or another color theme), Glow Party, Pajama Party.  Every party has its own dress code, so govern according to it.  I will tackle Formal night since it is a common one.  Think smart-casual dress for women and slacks and a collared shirt for men.

Formal Clothes for Men

  • Dress shirt

  • Dress pants

  • Dress belt

  • Dress shoes

  • Blazer (optional, if you want to be more formal)

  • Tie (optional)


Formal Clothes for Women

  • Evening gown or cocktail dress

  • Dress pants

  • Dress blouse

  • Shoes/sandals

  • Jewelry/accessories


If you enjoy extra glitz and glamour, you can dress up in cocktail dresses, gowns, suits and ties or tuxedos on “formal night.”

Miscellaneous Items To Consider

When it comes to embarking on a cruise adventure, the type of voyage you choose and your planned activities can significantly influence your packing list.  Here are some items to consider for your voyage.

Resealable Plastic Bags

These universal wonders can be a cruiser’s best friend.  These handy items take up little space in your suitcase, and they keep your smartphone, wallet and other items safe and dry on water-related shore excursions. When you’re ready to pack for your trip home, use them to store wet toothbrushes or bathing suits.

Wrinkle-Release Spray & Spot Stain Remover

With cruise ships not having irons in the stateroom cabins, having a wrinkle-release spray can be a lifesaver for those items that caught a wrinkle scar from that mean ole suitcase.  Sometimes we have those oops moments when we accidentally spill something on ourself or sit on something that leaves a nice reminder that you were there.

A Waterproof Camera

Whether you are taking pictures of the scenic views, selfies or beach adventures, it is a great idea to have a waterproof camera.  It opens up the possibilities of the memories from your journey as you enjoy excursions that have fun in the water (like exploring scenic reefs or cenotes).

Reading Material

In our tech savvy world, many travelers have Kindle and other electronic readers.  For me, I love the feel of thumbing through a paperback book or magazine.  For my fellow Suite and Balcony sailors, it's nothing like reading a book on your balcony and enjoying the sounds of the ocean and feeling the warmth from the sun.

Magnetic Message Board

A lot of fun on a cruise is to decorate your cabin door, and a great way to do that is to have a magnetic board.  If you are with a group, you can leave messages for your friends and family.

A Lanyard For Your Cruise Ship Keycard

Cruise keycards sometimes are easy to misplace or lose.  A lanyard is a great way to keep your keycard.  Some keycards have a hole in one side so that you can put them on a keyring.

Air Fresheners AKA Poopouri

The call of nature will find you even on the seas.  Over the course of your voyage, sometimes the bathroom will develop a smell that may not be a joy.  To help combat that, bring air fresheners or poopouri can help with eliminating the smells.

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