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Cruise Packing Guide - Cruising Earth

Cruising Earth - Information, Guides & Tips

Cruise Packing Guide

Pre-Cruise Checklist

Cruise Packing Tips

  1. Keep Important Documents With You
    • Keep your Government Issued IDs (passport/license) and cruise documents (boarding passes, purchase confirmations for dinner/drink packages and excursions, etc.) with you, never pack them in checked luggage.
      • Exception: Once onboard place all your Government Issued IDs and important documents securely in your cabin. For most cruises all you will need while onboard is your Cruise Issued ID. You should have your Cruise Issued ID with you at all times both on and off the ship for the duration of the cruise.
    • Keep cruise ship boarding passes with you at all times prior to boarding. It happens multiple times every cruise, someone has placed important documents like boarding passes in checked luggage that has already been taken away. You definitely don't want to start your cruise off this way.
    • If immunizations records are required, keep those with you.
    • Always print out important documents and have the hard copy with you. Don't rely on electronic devices to be charged or to have internet access.
    • Cruising Earth recommends using an RFID Protected Travel Documents Wallet. It will keep all your important documents safe and in one place.

  2. Cruise Carry-On or Check-In?
    • What you pack in your cruise carry-on might be all you have access to your first day aboard. If you can't live without something, for a few hours or a day, pack it in your cruise carry-on.
    • Your cruise checked baggage will be delivered to your cabin typically by dinner time on the day you board. Luggage deliveries to cabins can be delayed for numerous reasons, plan ahead with your carry-on. Usually the first dining night does not have any dress code restrictions for this reason.
    • Cruise Carry-On Recommended Packing Items:
      • Passport / ID / Cruise Documents - You will need all this for the entire boarding process, which continues even after they take away your checked bags.
      • Credit Card(s) / Cash - A credit card will typically be required to setup your onboard account
      • Medications - Never trust prescriptions to checked-in bags, bags can arrive late, anything can happen. Keep all prescriptions in your carry-on.
      • Swimwear - If your ship has any pools or hottubs and you want to use them right away on the first day be sure to carry on your bathing suit or wear it underneath your clothes.
      • Cell Phone / Camera / Valuables - You typically will have cellular service while in port and while close to shore, roaming charges may apply if out of your home cellular area. Never check-in valuables.
      • Change Of Clothes - Dome cruisers like to carry on an extra outfit in case luggage does not arrive prior to dinner.
      • Kids Care Products - Diapers, pull-ups, wipes, bottles, snacks, toys, etc. Basically anything your kid can't live without for a few hours or more.

  3. Be Aware Of Dress Codes
    • All cruise lines will have slightly different dress codes. Some cruise line's dress codes include a clean T-shirt and jeans as acceptable evening attire, while others require a jacket and tie if you want to dine in the main restaurant. You don't want to feel out of place on your vacation, be sure you are familiar with your specific cruise line's dress code.
    • If you like to dress up most cruises have formal nights. Some cruise lines also offer onboard tux rentals (you should rent prior to cruise to be sure on availability of your size).
    • Jeans have now become a standard pant option for dining rooms on casual nights for some cruise lines. While other cruise lines still do not allow jeans anywhere after 6:PM in public areas. Check your specific cruise line's dress code, be aware it may have changed since you last cruised.
    • How strict a cruise line is enforcing their dress codes is also as diverse as the dress code themselves. It is always better to be safe any comply as best you can to dress codes whenever possible.

  4. Toiletries
    • You will find basic toiletries available onboard in your cabin, such as soap and shampoo. If you are particular about your products be sure to bring your own with you. If travelling by air in the United States be sure to remember the TSA Liquids Rules and get TSA compliant bottles. Hair dryers will be provided, but again if you are particular it is recommended you bring your own with you.

  5. Try Not To Overpack
    • Most people usually overpack when preparing for their cruise, especially on their first cruise. Nothing like packing 4 outfits per day only to need 2 of them. Returning home from a cruise not having used half the clothes you packed and hauled is definitely a downer.
    • There will likely be onboard laundry services available.
    • Leave room for souvenirs! Whether it's clothes, jewelry, duty-free gifts, etc. you'll likely be coming home with more than when you left. Plan ahead and bring a foldable duffle bag. It won't take up much space in your suitcase and it'll work great in helping to get your new additions home safely. You can also check it in or carry it on for the flight home if needed.

  6. Onboard Laundry Services
    • Most ships will offer some sort of laundry service.
    • Laundry services typically will cost you extra. Some cruise ships do still offer self-service laubdry machines, but most now require all laundry services to be completed by cruise staff.
    • Using onboard laundry services can help lighten your cruise packing and is especially useful for long cruises.
    • Some cruise lines will offer cheaper laundry services on one day, typically this is mid-cruise.

  7. Bring The Basics With You
    • Some items like over-the-counter medications, batteries, sunscreen, etc. will usually be available for purchase onboard. You will have limited options onboard and those options will be priced significantly higher than at home. Bring items with you to save time and money.
    • Cabins tend to only have one or two power outlets available. If you've got more than a couple people in the cabin a compact power strip will come in extremely useful for charging all of your electronic devices.

  8. Air Travel Regulations
    • If traveling by air, be aware of any regulations and restrictions for carry-on and checked baggage for the countries in which you will be passing through airport security.
    • The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Liquids Rules:
      • Carry-On Bag: Liquids, gels and aerosols will be in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces, and those containers must be inside a single, clear, 1 quart zip-top bag. Each traveler can have one bag.
      • Checked Bag: All containers larger than 3.4 ounces (regardless of amount inside) must be in checked baggage.
      • Exemptions: If you use a medication that comes in liquid, aerosol, gel, cream, or paste form and the container is larger than 3.4oz, it's exempt from the rules. Similarly, if you're carrying baby formula, breast milk, or other liquid foods for your child, these are also exempt.

      • TSA Liquids Rules

Cruise Essentials & More

Never Cruise Without It!

This section contains items that members of the Cruising Earth staff have said they'd never want to cruise without. These are typically small dollar items that can help make a large impact on the overall enjoyment and success of your next cruise. These items make great holiday, birthday, and anniversary gifts for new and veteran cruisers!

Note: This following products may use affiliate links which can earn Cruising Earth a small commission at no additional cost to you.

View our full list of Cruise Essentials & More on our Amazon Storefront:
Cruising Earth Amazon Storefront

Travel Comfort & Luxury

These items can make your cruise vacation and travel a little more enjoyable at a minimum to very luxurous. Have you been putting off that new iPad or DSLR camera? How about a fun instant camera for the kids? These items also make great holiday, birthday, and anniversary gifts for new and veteran cruisers!

Note: This following products may use affiliate links which can earn Cruising Earth a small commission at no additional cost to you.

View our full list of Cruise Essentials & More on our Amazon Storefront:
Cruising Earth Amazon Storefront

Luggage & Bags

Luggage has come along way over recent years. Now may be a good time to replace or upgrade yours. Lighter, more secure, more durable, longer lasting, and easier to maneuver luggage has arrived. Most luggage comes in at least a few different color options, click on link to see all options. In this section we cover our staff and members favorites for cruising luggage and bags.

Note: This following products may use affiliate links which can earn Cruising Earth a small commission at no additional cost to you.

View our full list of Cruise Essentials & More on our Amazon Storefront:
Cruising Earth Amazon Storefront

Page last updated: Wed Feb 07, 2024
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