11 Cruise Packing Tips for the First Time Cruiser

In this post, I’m going to give you 11 packing tips for the first-time cruiser which will help solve the headaches about what to pack and what not to pack for a cruise.



The countdown to your cruise in single digits it’s time to get packing

With the excitement building and the countdown to your first cruise in single digits it’s time to get packing. Just the thought of this sends shivers down your spine, your palms are sweaty and one look in your closet sends you running with frustration.

This is a scenario that many travellers fear each time they have to pack for a vacation.

Have no fear, with these 11 cruise packing tips you’ll never need to panic or have sleepless nights worrying that you’ve packed the right things. More important though is that you don’t forget something and won’t over pack.

What are the first things that come to mind to pack for a vacation?

Swimwear, beach towels, sunscreen, camera, shampoo etc. That’s a good start, but just pulling things together like this is where most travellers go wrong.

By thinking about what you’d need and use each day would fill your bags to over capacity and believe me, you’d be missing some of the most important items for your cruise enjoyment.

Before packing a single thing, ask yourself these questions

You might be thinking that sounds easier than it is, and yes it may be, but with a few answers to realistic questions and some savvy cruiser knowledge, you will be perfectly packed for your cruise.

Questions like;

  • What is the dress code on your ship?
  • Do you intend on eating in the main dining room on formal/elegant nights?
  • Are you a person that’s likely to be in the pools each day?
  • Will you be breaking a sweat in the fitness centre every day?
  • Does your cruise ship have a self-serve laundry?
  • Would you be willing to pay to have your clothes washed and pressed by the ship at a cost?

Answers to questions like these will make it a lot easier to pack. Also, using a checklist of things to pack for a cruise is a handy tool to have.

Take Moni & I for example. We often eat in the main dining room and enjoy the dressing up and hence we pack a suit, dress shirts, ties, bow tie, dresses, jacket, blouses all for these occasions. We like to look smart in the evening.

I like to enjoy the pool but not every day, so one swimwear set is enough, Moni is not a water baby and so only one swimsuit is needed just in case. Neither of us are gym junkies and therefore we have no need for training gear, sweat bands, sports socks, multiple tank tops etc.

We always have soap with us and wash our clothes in the sink or shower each day and hang them up to dry, this limits the amount you need. We don’t often give our dirty washing to be done onboard unless we get a special offer.

Do you see how answering these simple questions will determine what you need to pack!

Savvy packing tip: it’s not just about what to pack, it’s also about where to pack it. What should you always have in your carry-on and what must go in your hand over luggage.

Let’s start by looking at what we consider MUST be packed for a cruise, apart from that huge smile and a happy to be alive attitude.

Don’t forget that these are our suggestions, there is no strict rule that say’s what you have to have or not, but I’d hate for you not to be able to enjoy something because you forgot your undies or hat, lol. You get what I mean…

To help you out, I have a F.R.E.E printable cruise packing checklist that you can download and tick off items as you pack them. That way you’ll know exactly what you’ve packed and what’s missing.

Ultimate cruise packing checklist

Ultimate cruise packing checklist


The 11 packing tips for first-time cruisers

1. Daytime clothing on a cruise; socks, undies, bras, shorts, casual trousers, casual skirts, sundresses, blouses, t-shirts, polos, casual shoes. You can wear any combination from these all around the ship, inside and out on the deck.

2. Pool, beach and activities gear for a cruise; swimwear, cover-up wear (sarong or t-shirt, shorts) flip-flops or crocs, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, maybe running shoes/trainers for the gym and an extra pair of shorts or workout gear.

3. Evening attire for a cruise; dark socks, tights, undies, bras, casual trousers, smart trousers (part of a suit) shirts, ties (bow tie) suit, (cufflinks if needed), polos, skirts, dresses, cocktail dresses, long gowns, dress shoes, clutch or purse, belts, throw or scarf, accessories cosmetic jewellery, watch. Note that shorts, T-shirts and swimwear are not allowed to be worn in dining rooms or the buffet restaurant.

4. Sleeping attire; pyjamas, lingerie, robes, the less you need the better.

5. Going ashore attire for a cruise; depending what you intend doing you might need comfortable walking shoes or just a pair of flip-flops, will you need to cover up with long sleeves (visiting temples etc), hats, day bag, hand sanitiser or wet wipes. Note that you should always have your cruise card and photo I/D with you at all times.

6. All weather attire for a cruise; sweater or cardigan, windbreaker or fleece, rain jacket or poncho, scarf, gloves & beanie.

7. Bathroom toiletries you need to pack for a cruise; toothpaste & brush, shaving needs, cosmetics, hair products, deodorant, feminine products. Note that body wash, soaps, shampoo conditioner, hair dryers are all provided.

8. Electronic items to take on a cruise; camera & lenses, kindle or similar, video camera, universal travel adaptor, surge protection power board, external power pack, cell phone, all chargers for each item.

9. Miscellaneous items to pack for a cruise; flashlight, day bag, expandable washing line, washing detergent, swiss army knife, highlighter, zip-lock bags, duct tape, lanyard.

10. Items you should always keep with you; cruise e-tickets, all other travel documents, passports, visas, another photo I/D, vaccination records, wallet, credit/ATM cards, cash, reading glasses or contacts, prescription drugs and medication, a copy of doctors prescriptions, computer if you have it.

Savvy packing tip: always wear the heaviest and thickest clothes that you can whilst staying comfortable on travel days like embarkation and debarkation.

11. How to save space when packing for a cruise; when choosing your clothes, take items that can mix and match with each other making three outfits into five or more. Pack small items inside larger ones, such as stuffing items like socks in your shoes. Use packing cubes to keep your case compact, neat and tidy.

Roll or lay flat your items, whatever works best for your type of luggage. Pack your empty day bag, just in case you have a hard time when packing to come home, or in case you need to adjust the weight at an airport.

If you intend buying some souvenirs which can be worn, like t-shirts, shorts etc then don’t pack them or at least be prepared to leave some things behind.

Bonus tip

12. What not to pack on a Cruise; apart from the obvious, (I hope they are obvious to our readers), you should not pack items like Irons, Steamers, Coffee makers, Candles, Incense burners, Flammable Liquids like Lighter Fluid, Fireworks, Chemicals like Bleach or Paint, Bows & Arrows, Baseball Bats, Cricket Bats, Skateboards, Martial Art Equipment, Handcuffs, the list could go on and on but you get the drift. This is not a complete list of things not to pack, each cruise line will have their own set of prohibited items.

If you haven’t already checked out our ultimate cruise packing checklist then that should be your next place to go. Enjoy and happy relaxed packing.

Did you find this post helpful? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, so don’t be shy.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply