15 Surprising Cruise Essentials You Need To Be A Maritime Pro

There is nothing better than having a cruise booked and you are counting down the days until you set sail.

We absolutely love cruising! Oddly enough, one of my favorite aspects of going on vacation is PACKING!

There is just something so satisfying about following my cruise checklist and knowing that we will be comfortable at our destination.

Whether you’re wondering what to pack for a Caribbean cruise, are looking for some essential cruise accessories, or are looking to cover your bases and make sure your complete cruise checklist is thorough enough, I’m sure you’ll find more than a few things on this list that you hadn’t considered before! 

Being blessed with the opportunity to cruise many times we are confident this cruise list will be extremely helpful as you get ready to enjoy some serious vacationing while saving money.


Cruise Essentials To Pack – General Use

By following a cruise packing list you ensure you don’t make any big travel mistakes. Below are 15 essential items that you have to bring when you cruise.


1. Over the Door Shoe Organizer

The best cruise tip I have ever received! An over the door shoe rack is an essential item that we bring every time we cruise. Interior cabins can have very limited space. This item allows for so much extra storage!

Each time we have brought our shoe rack with us we have either hung it outside the bathroom door facing into the cabin or on one of the closet doors to hide away. Another great benefit to the shoe rack is that it folds down small for easy travel in a carry-on or luggage.

For the price and space it provides you, it is a no-brainer when packing! Consider getting a second one to be able to easily organize shower toiletries or kid’s toys for quick access while you’re away!


2. Cruise Must-Have Power Strip


This item has fallen second on our list because it is also an essential cruise packing item. In the cabins the outlets are limited. One way we can be sure we will have enough outlets is to bring a power strip. With phones, tablets, camera cords, laptops, and hair straightener it is definitely a benefit to having the extra space.

*If you’re taking a cruise that ends up with even a one-night stay in an international hotel, make sure that the plug and the outlets match! European wall outlets, for example, are 100% NOT compatible with American plugs!


3. Cruise Lanyard with ID Holder


While packing for previous cruise vacations, I came across a packing article talking about bringing a lanyard. If you have never cruised before, every transaction completed on board is done with a card you are given on when you arrive.

The card is used for everything (room entry, drink purchases, embarkment at a port)! Having the lanyard was crucial in always knowing where this all-important card was located at all times.


 4. Stay Healthy on Your Next Cruise by Packing Hand Sanitizer


One thing about going on a cruise for your vacation is that there are a lot of people in one place. Make sure that you do not ruin your trip by getting sick and pack hand sanitizer. Especially use it before meals!

When you head into the dining room for dinner imagine how many people touched the menus before you. Take the proper precautions and clean your hands frequently.


5. Put a Refillable Water Bottle on Your Cruise Checklist!


If you can make room in your suitcase, this reusable bottle is essential because you will not have to refill your cup multiple times. You can bring it right up to the bar or to the buffet to fill your cup up with anything you want.

Most of the cups are small so having your own cup will allow you to lay back and catch more rays. Also perfect for staying hydrated when you get to all the ports and need filtered water.


6. Over the Travel Shoulder Bag

One of my favorite bags that is perfect for any vacation is an over the shoulder bag. The bag is the perfect size to fill it up with items for day excursions and being able to throw it over my shoulder. I love that this bag is crossbody and you can throw in items for the beach or whatever off boat excursion you partake in.


7. Sea-Band Wristband

Each cruise was unique to the amount of movement we felt while on board. Out of the four the cruises, there was only one time where the boat was really rocking where I was feeling sick.

As soon as I placed these bands on my wrists, I began to feel better. The price is excellent and you can reuse them again over your trip. Another benefit is that they are small and will not take up any room in your luggage.

There is even a kid’s size version, which is perfect to put on your checklist for cruise packing with kids!


8. Wet Bag & Laundry Bag

You’re going to be at the beach, in the ocean, and in the pool that’s on the boat, so you’re going to have wet swim clothes at some point. If you’re off the ship and need to change out of your wet swim clothes it’s awesome to have a waterproof wet bag as a way to get them back to your room without getting everything else around you wet too!

Having a laundry bag is a perfect way to separate your clean clothes from your dirty clothes, both during your trip and for an easy way to unpack and prep for post-vacation laundry when you get back home! I mean let’s face it — especially if you’ve got kids in tow, who like to mess up a tidy suitcase (theirs or otherwise), it would be nice to at least be able to separate out everyone’s dirty underwear!


9. Night Light

Having a portable night light is especially true if you need to pack for kids on a cruise (but it’s nice for adults too, to avoid suitcase-stubbed toes)!


10. “Classic” Entertainment

Sure, we’ve all got smartphones today, so we’re never truly capable of being “bored,” right? 

If you’re anything like most cruisers, though, you’ve definitely got some “lounge chair time” in your itinerary (otherwise it’s not much of a restful vacation, is it). Take something like a book or a kindle (don’t forget to load it with a few ebooks from your kindle unlimited subscription before you leave home!) so you can enjoy that time but still feel like you were “doing something.” 

Make sure to bring a few actual toys for the kids, especially younger ones. Even cruises geared towards little kids (like the Disney cruises) might actually be too much for some kids and giving them a way to be entertained but able to unwind in the room is a wise move, mama!


11. Dressy Clothing

It goes without saying that you probably will pack clothes that are slightly different than what you wear on a normal day!

If this is your first cruise, you might be wondering what clothes to pack for a cruise. Many cruise lines, just like resorts, have specific cruise line dress codes for what you can and cannot wear in different parts of the ship — the eating areas, on the decks, etc. 

Don’t limit yourself on vacation by simply forgetting the right clothing! 

Some cruises will be as lenient as requiring you to change into pants for dinner (instead of the dirty shorts you wore all day), and some may go as far as to specify “slacks for men” and “slacks, skirt below the knee, or dress” for women. 

Double check your cruise line requirements (or this handy dress codes article) before you stuff that suitcase because you might find that a garment bag is called for! 


12. Wrinkle-Release Spray

While this isn’t exactly clothing, it’s a cruise packing tip critical to go with those garment-bag-worthy clothing from the previous item in this list. While they’d likely let you in if you look the part, make your trip that much less embarrassing by having some wrinkle-release spray to make sure you look your best! 

(And before you laugh, think of the pictures you’ll take all dressed up!)


13. Workout Clothing or “Get Messy” Clothing

I think a number of first-time cruisers don’t really think about the clothing aspect of packing for a cruise because they don’t entirely know what to expect! 

Double-check your cruise line’s website or pamphlets to see exactly what’s offered — you’ll want to bring yoga clothes if you plan on doing a morning yoga class, gym shorts if you want to use the fitness center, tough but comfortable shorts or pants if you’ll be doing any ziplining or horseback riding, etc. 

Don’t forget a good pair of walking shoes if you’ll be doing any extended time off-ship sightseeing!


14. Two Jackets

“But I’m going on a cruise!” you argue. 

That may be true, but if space allows you’ll want to consider 2 jackets:  a raincoat (just in case) and a warm jacket (if you’re traveling in the winter, from snow country like where we live)!

You never know when the weather on vacation might take a miserable turn, and God-forbid you get delayed at an airport or a canceled return flight on your travels home, for example, you’ll probably regret not having at least an extra, lined, windproof layer between you and a snowstorm while you go from an airport to a hotel! 


15. Medications & First Aid (as needed)

Seasonal allergies, but not during the season when you’re cruising? Make sure you’re prepared in case you react to anything new in the area you’re traveling to!

Mild sedatives, sleeping pills, etc. will be a God-send if you’re having a rough day with seasickness and need to just catch a break from it. 

Bring a small first aid kit so you’re prepared both off-ship and on; you also don’t want to find out the hard way that the cruise ship has higher prices for providing these items! 

Anything you take as a regular or daily medication, try to bring either a freshly refilled bottle with you or at least a couple of days worth of doses with you, in case you were to drop a pill or be delayed during travel to and from home. 

Bring your vitamins! We’ve all heard stories of sicknesses going around a cruise ship and ruining vacations left and right. By making sure you’re taking care of your physical health (and washing or using that hand sanitizer often) while you’re on vacation you’ll help your body be in top shape to try to fight off any germs you might be exposed to!

Make sure you make it TSA approved and leave items not allowed on planes or cruise ships at home. 


BONUS – Cruise Essentials To Remember Before You Leave

Packing up your clothes and all for the actual trip is probably the part of cruise prep that people love the most — you’re dreaming of the weather, the activities you have planned, and (hopefully) the rest and rejuvenation you’ll be able to get! 

But you definitely don’t want to forget a few of these essentials, so that you can get the maximum peace of mind possible to fully enjoy your relaxing vacation!


Pet Care

A lot of people will do great and plan ahead to have their pets boarded somewhere or cared for by family. But just like when you have someone babysit your kids, don’t forget to include a little “in case of emergencies” info for your furry babysitter! 


Hold The Mail

Did you know that you can actually contact your local post office and have your mail put on hold? This is a great idea, especially if you live in busier cities so that no one starts to notice an overflowing mailbox as a sure sign that you might not be home — and your house might easily become a burglar’s target. 

If you’ve got neighbors you can trust, you can also ask them to grab any mail or packages that might show up while you’re gone, so you don’t attract that unwanted attention of a neglected Amazon box on your porch!


Safety First! 

Speaking of neighbors, it’s a good idea to mention to either neighbors or landlords that you’ll be gone for any length of time. That way they can keep on eye out for suspicious activity, fires, etc, and know how to get a hold of you (if possible) if there is an emergency. 


Leave The Light On

Unless you’ve got crazy good night vision, you probably have lights on after sunset most days. Invest in a couple of those cheap plugin lamp timers so that every night a lamp turns on and off at about the same times as it would when you’re home. Having a family room light turn on in the evening like usual and off around bedtime will give the impression that someone is at home, making your home much less of a burglary target. 


Protect Yourself

This covers a few areas, but is worth giving some thought to so you don’t come up against anything unpleasant!

Now that you’re TOTALLY ready for your cruise, well, I hope you don’t have too long to wait until you can actually go enjoy it! Don’t forget to double-check your cruise packing checklist right before you leave to make sure you don’t forget anything! 

What are the go-to items that you bring with you on a cruise?

Share your favorite cruise tips below!