Cruise Packing List: What to Pack for Your Adventure at Sea

A cruise vacation is an invitation to explore the world from the unique perspective of its vast oceans and rivers, and the first step on this voyage is packing your suitcase. It’s about dressing for gala dinners under the stars and gearing up for adventurous excursions ashore.

Packing for a cruise vacation requires planning to ensure you have everything you need for activities, events, and weather conditions. Before packing, you should check with your cruise line for any specific recommendations or restrictions, as some items may not be allowed on board.

Travel Documents

  • Passport & Visa: Ensure your passport is current and check if your destinations require a visa​​.
  • Boarding Passes & Cruise Tickets: These documents are essential for boarding the cruise and participating in any booked excursions​​.

Clothing Essentials

Packing organizers like cubes or compression bags can help save space and organize your belongings throughout your trip.

  • Daytime Clothing: Start with the basics of what you plan to wear daily. Consider the activities you’ll engage in, like swimming, formal dinners, or excursions​​.
  • Climate-Friendly Clothing: Select clothes suitable for the climate of your cruise destination. This could mean lightweight attire for tropical climates or warmer layers for cooler regions​​.
  • Evening Attire: Many cruises have formal nights, so pack evening wear such as dresses, suits, or cocktail attire​​.
  • Jackets/Cardigans: Even if you are cruising to a warm location, a light jacket or cardigan is advisable for cooler evenings and windy conditions on the deck​​.
  • Versatile Shoes: Pack shoes for various occasions, including formal events, casual walks, and water activities.

Toiletries & Medications

  • Personal Hygiene Items: Bring your toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and other personal hygiene products.
  • Medications: Don’t forget any prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter drugs for seasickness, pain, or allergies.

Extras For Children

  • Entertainment and Comfort: Favorite toys, games, and comfort items like a blanket or stuffed animal.
  • Snacks: Kid-friendly snacks for picky eaters or when food isn’t readily available.
  • Clothing: Extra clothing due to the likelihood of messes or spills.

Miscellaneous Items

  • Magnetic Hooks/Wall Hangings: Cruise cabin walls are often magnetic, allowing you to organize your space more efficiently with magnetic hooks or wall hangings​​.
  • Sun Protection: Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are must-haves for protection against the sun.
  • Entertainment: Books, e-readers, iPods, and portable gaming devices can be great for sea days.
  • Electronics: Chargers, power strips (non-surge protected), and adapters are crucial for keeping your devices powered.
  • Backpack/Beach Tote: You’ll need a good bag for shore excursion items like towels, dry clothes, and water bottles.

Cruise Packing List FAQs

Can I Bring My Own Alcohol on a Cruise?

Cruise lines have varying policies regarding bringing alcohol on board. Most mainstream lines allow passengers to bring a limited amount of wine or champagne in their carry-on luggage but restrict or prohibit hard liquor and beer. For example, it’s common for cruise lines to permit one or two 750 ml bottles of wine or champagne per stateroom. However, if you consume that alcohol in public areas or dining rooms, a corkage fee may apply.

Can I Bring Water Bottles or Soda on a Cruise?

Bringing water bottles or soda on a cruise is subject to the cruise line’s policies. Many cruise lines allow passengers to bring a limited amount of non-alcoholic beverages onboard, which can include water and soda. This is typically restricted to a certain quantity per stateroom and must be carried on in your hand luggage, not checked bags.

For instance, some cruise lines may allow each passenger to bring a small quantity, such as a 12-pack of 12-ounce cans, at the beginning of the cruise. However, other cruise lines may be more restrictive and not allow any beverages to be brought onboard. Instead, they offer drink packages.

Can I Bring Snacks on a Cruise?

Most cruise lines do not allow passengers to bring homemade, pre-cooked, or perishable foods on board. Sealed, pre-packaged snacks are usually permitted.

Are Drones Allowed on Cruises?

Generally, most cruise lines do not allow the use of drones on board due to safety and privacy concerns. However, some may allow you to bring a drone on board with the understanding that it can only be used off the ship, at port stops, and in compliance with the local laws and regulations of the destination.

What Items Are Not Allowed on a Cruise?

On a cruise, certain items are universally prohibited to ensure all passengers’ safety, security, and comfort. These typically include weapons such as firearms, knives, and other sharp objects with blades longer than a certain length. Illegal drugs and substances, including marijuana—even in places where it is legal—are not allowed. Items that could be used as weapons, like pepper spray, martial arts gear, and realistic weapon replicas (toy guns), are also banned. Flammable liquids and explosives, including fireworks, are strictly prohibited due to the severe fire risk.

Packing For Your Cruise Vacation

Packing for a cruise vacation is an exciting part of the journey, a preamble to the adventure that awaits on the high seas. As you check items off your tailored packing list, remember to prioritize essentials, consider the specific activities you’ll engage in, and familiarize yourself with the guidelines of your chosen cruise line regarding allowed and prohibited items. Bon voyage!


Alexandrea Sumuel - Groves is a nationally syndicated travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog. Her work has appeared on MSN, YAHOO!, Euronews, and FOX, ABC, and NBC affiliates across the United States. 

Alex travels to experience, eat, explore, and occasionally escape! She collaborates with destinations, vacation property management companies, and hospitality technology firms to provide her readers with exclusive insights and information.