What to pack for a cruise: a beginner's guide (2023)

What to pack for a cruise: a beginner's guide (1)

Tour Package 101 (Photo credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com)

What to pack for a cruise: a beginner's guide (2)

Tour Package 101 (Photo credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com)

Packing for your first cruise can be tricky. After all, cruise ship cabins aren't particularly spacious, dress codes can be confusing, and airline baggage fees are high. In addition to clothing, you should also consider what you'll need on board your cruise.

Mostly travels on main lines such asRoyal Caribbean,CarnivalINoorowie (NCL)has become an almost completely relaxed affair. This makes packing easier than in the past, when you had to shove whole suits and elegant dresses into your suitcase.meet your non-garment packaging measurement needs.

With that in mind, we've put together a simple (yet comprehensive) cruise packing list that includes the clothes you'll need and the things you'll want to take with you. Read our beginner's guide to packing for a cruise.

Check out our updated guide for more on what to wear on your next cruiseDress code for cruise lines.

Clothes a woman should pack for a cruise

What to pack for a cruise: a beginner's guide (4)

Saxsen Norton, actress and model, Hero Otway, model and actress, and Geo Vanna Gonzalez, artist from Miami, have drinks at the Sunset Bar in Celebrity Edge. (Photo: Naima Green/AIPP)

Knowing what clothes to pack for a cruise can be especially difficultcruise lines dress codedoes not always correspond to what is considered acceptable on board. The key to getting the most out of your wardrobe on the high seas is to work with a few basic pieces and combine them as you travel. This is especially useful for evening wear, which tends to be larger and take up moreluggage space.

What women should bring on a day cruise:

From breakfast to dinner, you don't have to worry about your outfit. The name of the game is casual, which makes it easy to pack. If you sail in tropical areas, take a pair of shorts with you every other day of the cruise (in cold climates, replace shorts with trousers or jeans).If you like to spice up your look, choose shorts or airy skirts in different colors .

Focus on lightweight tops: Tank tops and T-shirts are great for all-day wear indoors and outdoors. You'll probably need a top for each day of your cruise (roll it down to save space in your luggage). One or two bathing suits shouldmake the maximum, but don't expect to wear them in the dining room.

Unless you're going on intense shore excursions or planning to take a fitness classuse of the fitness center, you can skip active clothing. If you are visiting religious monuments, remember that you may need to cover your arms and legs.

What women should bring on an evening cruise:

Yes, your cruise ship probably has an evening dress code which is generally easier for women to follow. Try a maxi dress (or similar), a nice romper or a nice shirt with pants (or skirt) - all in the picture. As for trousers and skirts, follow the same rule as for shorts: one for every other day. Pay attention to the colors so you can mix and match them overnight, and if you really don't see the "had it" effect going to fly, stick with itaway from bold designs.

Related: What to wear on a luxury cruise

Men's clothing must be packed for the cruise

What to pack for a cruise: a beginner's guide (5)

Carlos Martinez and Joel Vazquez relax with a drink on the Magic Carpet at Celebrity Edge (Photo: Naima Green/AIPP)

In general, when it comes to packing for a cruise, the same rules apply for men and women. Keep shorts, jeans and trousers to a minimum and make room for bold shirts, tank tops, polo shirts and more.You can give up on a suit or tuxedo. If you want to spice up the styling, consider a sports coat, but it is generally not required.

What men should pack during the day for a cruise:

Stick to the basic rule of thumb when packing for two days. This means a pair of shorts, chinos or jeans for the day (depending on your itinerary). Again, pay attention to colors if you want to mix and match. T-shirts are edibleindoors during the day (t-shirts are fine for the pool, but on some ships they may look inside during breakfast or lunch). For longer cruises, two bathing suits are more than enough. One is enough for short four- and five-day trips.

Write down what shore excursions you are going on and consider an exercise plan before you pack. You may need to add more active clothing. It can help you determine how many workouts you want to do while on board, as well as the number of active shore excursions beforeyou will use up valuable luggage space for more clothes than you need. For most religious monuments, men will also be required to cover their legs and arms, so be prepared and reconsider shorts and tank tops.

What men should bring on an evening cruise:

If you sail on regular cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival or Norwegian, you will need a choice of casual collared shirts (polos, short sleeved button-ups, smart sweaters or long sleeved tops are all fine).chinos or smart, rugged jeans. You're likely to see more of the former than the latter at night, although many ships have casual dining areas where jeans are welcome.sleeves are unacceptable for men in the evening.

As we mentioned, tuxedos are out of place on almost every major cruise ship these days, and you probably won't even see a full suit. But there are some high-end dining options on some regular ships (e.g. Le Bistro on NCL), so it's worth putting on a jacket to freshen up yourappearance.packing movies onlinewhich saves space and minimizes wrinkles when packing your sports jacket.

Related: What to bring on a cruise in Alaska?

Clothes and accessories that everyone should take on a cruise

What to pack for a cruise: a beginner's guide (6)

Jessie Stoelwinder and Em Williams run on water with their young daughter (Photo: Jarrad Seng/AIPP Library)

Sandals, boots and sneakers:If you're looking to save space, a pair of sneakers, a pair of shoes, and a pair of sandals will suffice. Closed-toe shoes are a must for men on a night out, but women can go for smart open-toe shoes (and no, that doesn't apply to pool slides).Opt for darker, neutral shades like black and brown shoes to maximize the fit. If you're going to areas with wet weather like Alaska, it's wise to opt for waterproof sneakers.

Sweaters and Jackets:Go for a layered look. You'll need a waterproof jacket and sweatshirt on almost every cruise (rain is always a possibility, and indoor air conditioning can work great). For cooler weather, consider packing a little less T-shirts and opt for long-sleeved options insteadYou can usually wear neutral hoodies and sweaters more than once if you're concerned about looking the same every day.

Had:Take a baseball cap, bucket or wide-brimmed hat with you on a cruise. They will protect your head and face from the sun, which is a problem no matter where in the world you sail. If you are going to places like Alaska, the Arctic or Antarctica, an essentialthere is also a good hat or winter cap.

Sunglasses:It may seem obvious, but polarized sunglasses will work wonders when you're exploring or reading by the pool. You'll probably want to use them in colder places too, as Norway, Iceland, Antarctica, and Alaska have a lot of summer days.

Related: Why should you pack these 6 things in your hand luggage?

Accessories without clothes to pack for a cruise

What to pack for a cruise: a beginner's guide (7)

Artist John Forte spends time with his family at the Celebrity Apex. (Photo: Annie Leibovitz/AIPP)

Backpack, cloth bag or other small bag:Small to medium-sized backpacks or bags can come in handy for carrying cameras, books, sunscreen, water bottles, and other items on a cruise ship or port. If you want to save space, you can use a backpack or travel bag as hand luggage whenyou will reach the port of departure of the plane. For those who prefer to carry something smaller on dry land, the easiest way will be a kidney to go (and it is no longer worth it).

Phone i laptop or tablet:Resisting the urge to take every piece of tech you have with you on your trip is a challenge. However, since cruise days will usually be filled with activities, you should stick to the basics of travel tech - all you need is a smartphone and a laptop or larger tablet. This is especially true if you have a newer model of smartphonewith an excellent built-in camera (making DSLRs obsolete for all but the most experienced photographer). However, if your cruise destination is full of wildlife, the options, a zoom lens and a good camera may be better. Also, be sure to bring alongall chargers and headphones.

Related: 6 things you need to know about Wi-Fi at sea

Beach equipment (but not towels):When visiting a private island or cruise ship pools, you don't need to bring your own towels. If you're traveling with children, consider inflatable beach toys that can be easily deflated and packed away (as opposed to lugging buckets, shovels, and other large plastic items).

Toiletries:The cruise ship supplies soap and shampoo (and often also body lotion, conditioner, and body wash), but if you're picky, pack your own.

Drugs and sunscreens:Take any prescriptions with you, and take more than you actually need in case of travel delays. If you are using prescriptions that contain controlled substances, take them with you in the original bottle with the information on it. Also, consider over-the-counter medications ason cruise ships these can be prohibitively expensive. Sunscreen is obviously a must (it's best to choose reef-safe varieties if you want those reefs to exist in the future).

Reusable water bottle:Water on cruise ships is purified and safe to drink. Bring a reusable water bottle to avoid the cost of bottled water and save the planet from excessive plastic waste.

Related: What to expect: Drinking water from cruise ships

waterproof bags:Some destinations are prone to rainfall, or you may be sailing during the rainy season. For overland trips, it's a good idea to have at least one waterproof bag to store your electronics and important items like your wallet. Most backpacks and bags are waterproof, but not waterproof, meaningthat the items inside can still get wet. A large Ziploc bag will suffice, although you can find more expensive waterproof bags on a roll at outdoor stores.

Identification:Before you leave home, check and double check that you have your passport or ID card and birth certificate with you.

Extra Storage Space:Many seasoned sailors use over-the-door shoe bags to store toiletries or to keep small items from getting lost in cramped cabins.then fill up with souvenirs (or dirty laundry) and check on the way home.

Children's toys:There are children's clubs on all regular ships, and most also have swimming pools suitable for small cruisers. With this in mind, it's best not to bring bulky toys, but rather smaller or flat ones that can be packed in a minimum of space.

Related: What to take children on a cruise?

Books and magazines:For those who like to feel words on paper in their hands, a book or two (or several magazines) will suffice. Some ships have libraries, but don't expect to find a title you like. If you really want to save space and travel easily, downloadbooks to an e-reader or tablet before leaving home (Wi-Fi on board is not always the best solution for large downloads and can be incredibly expensive).

Headphones:If you are a light sleeper or have a room in a noisy cruise ship environment (low deck near the anchor, engine or jet engines; directly below the pool deck or buffet), consider bringing a pair of earplugs.

towel clip:There is almost always a breeze at sea (and most beaches), so throwing towel clips in your luggage may help. When splashing in the pool or sea, they prevent the towel (and the things you put on it) from being lifted from the sun lounger by the strong wind.


September 27, 2022

What was this article like?


What to pack for a cruise: a beginner's guide? ›

Pack one outfit for every day, or plan to do laundry on your cruise ship. I like to look for ways to reuse pieces to save space.

How do I start packing for a cruise? ›

What to Pack for a Cruise
  1. Bring activity-appropriate clothing and shoes. ...
  2. Bring a Back Pack or Beach Tote. ...
  3. Bring Sunscreen and After-Sun Lotion. ...
  4. Bring Your Own Toiletries. ...
  5. Bring Medications for Upset Stomach and Motion Sickness. ...
  6. Bring an Underwater Camera. ...
  7. Bring Cash for Tipping. ...
  8. Bring a Portable Back Up Battery Charger.

How many outfits should I bring on a cruise? ›

Pack one outfit for every day, or plan to do laundry on your cruise ship. I like to look for ways to reuse pieces to save space.

What do I not need to bring on a cruise? ›

Here are some of the major things you don't need to pack for a cruise.
  1. Soap and Other Toiletries. Most ships are equipped with soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion and shower caps. ...
  2. Dirty Laundry Bag. You'll find a laundry bag in your closet. ...
  3. Snacks. If there's one thing ships are loaded with, it's food! ...
  4. Computer. ...
  5. A Pillow.
Feb 20, 2020

What is a good amount of money to take on a cruise? ›

So how much money do you need? The answer to this question varies a lot by person, their travel habits, spending preferences, length of the cruise and destination. Many people suggest $100 per day, and this has generally worked well for me in my cruising experiences, but there are a lot of variables to consider.

Do you take your luggage to your room on a cruise? ›

Usually, you can check your large luggage during boarding, and it will be delivered to your stateroom. However, that can take a few hours, so you'll want to keep carry-on luggage that includes items such as a swimsuit and sunscreen with you.

How do you pack for a cruise without overpacking? ›

The rule of "twos" can help you plan the perfect wardrobe. Pick two outfits -- one for day, one for night -- for each day you travel, as well as workout clothes, bathing suits, and PJs for every two days. Then cut the total amount in half -- remember, no one is going to notice when you wear the same shirt twice.

How many suitcases can I take on my cruise? ›

How much luggage can I bring on a cruise? The best news about packing is that there is no (reasonable) limit on how much you can bring on a cruise. Most cruise lines “encourage” or “suggest” each passenger to limit luggage to two suitcases, each one less than 50 pounds.

Should I take jeans on a cruise? ›

In the dining rooms, items such as shorts, pool wear and baseball caps are not permitted; shoes must be worn at all times. Jeans are permitted as long as they aren't fraying and don't have holes.

What day do you dress up on a cruise? ›

There can be 1-3 formal nights during a sailing and is at the ship's discretion. Our Chef's Table dining experience also enforces a formal dress code policy. Formal nights: 3/4/5 Night Cruises - Usually on Day 2.

What can't you wear on a cruise ship? ›

T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps, and pool wear are not allowed in the main restaurant or specialty restaurants at any time. In addition, shorts and flip-flops are not permitted during the evening hours.

What's typically not included on a cruise? ›

Alcoholic beverages are not included in your cruise price, and since soft drinks come over the bar there is charge for them as well. Specialty coffees are also almost always additional. All beverage purchases are signed to your shipboard account and the service charge, a.k.a. the gratuity, is automatically added.

Do you need to bring toilet paper on cruise? ›

DO NOT BRING YOUR OWN toilet paper, or flush so-called "flushable" wipes. The plumbing system is not like what you have at home. If you clog your toilet, you affect others on you hallway. The TP provided is specific for the system on the ships.

Is it better to take cash or card on a cruise? ›

In addition to security, it's also helpful to have cash as some places — such as smaller souvenir shops or taxi cabs — don't accept credit cards. Credit card usage simply isn't as widespread as it is in the United States.

Is it better to tip cash on a cruise? ›

A nice cash tip at the end of your stay is appropriate. We recommend tipping your cruise butler $10-$20 per person daily.

What is the average tip on a cruise? ›

The amount you pay will vary by cruise line, but they are all in the same ballpark. You can expect to pay about $15-$20 per person, per day. So a couple traveling together will see about $30-$40 per day in gratuities, or about $200+ over the course of a week-long cruise.

How many bags should you take on a cruise? ›

To help you plan, we suggest you limit your luggage to a maximum of one bag per person if you're travelling on a cruise of 3-5 nights, and to no more than two bags per person, for cruises of 6 days or longer.

Do you dress up for first day of cruise? ›

Dress casually, and don't be surprised to see tropical wear on Caribbean cruises or even groups in matching T-shirts. Also make sure you check the weather beforehand.

Can you bring full size toiletries on a cruise? ›

While airlines have restrictions on what size of toiletries you can bring on a flight, at least in your carry on or personal bag, cruise lines do not. If you're not concerned about packing space, you can bring full size toiletry items including shampoo and conditioner bottles, shaving cream and other hygiene products.

Do they pat you down before a cruise? ›

Cruise ship passengers aren't routinely patted down when boarding a cruise ship, although you will be asked to walk through a metal detector.


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