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5 Things To Remember When Packing For A Cruise

Updated: Apr 5, 2021

If you’re anything like me, you’ve created a list for your cruise a week in advance with items that you need to pack and buy. If you’re also anything like me, you’re planning to over pack.

I’ve only been on one other cruise in my life, for my 21st birthday, and back then I didn’t care about anything but getting to drink on the boat for three days. Now that I’m a bit older, and hopefully a little wiser, my plan is to make sure that I’m packing what I need.

Since this is going to be my first time cruising with Royal Caribbean, I wasn’t sure if they had a maximum luggage weight, so I called the customer service line. The guy I talked to stupidly made the mistake of telling me that there wasn’t any limit, I could bring whatever I needed as long as it wasn’t on the prohibited items list. Now I have it in my mind that I can bring everything but the kitchen sink (but even that isn’t on the prohibited items list).

Knowing that wasn’t going to fly with Anthony (or who we were riding down to Miami with), I decided to make some tips so I am packing the essentials and not the kitchen sink. I hope they will come in handy for you as well.

1. DO pack a carry-on bag

It can be something as simple as a backpack. But I did not do this when I went on my first cruise and didn’t have anything but my phone until the late evening when our bags were finally delivered to the room. It is important to pack anything you would need for your first day on the ship… medicines, passport/ID, a bathing suit if you’re planning on checking out the pool right away, a spare change of clothes if you are coming from a different climate, toothbrush, book, etc. And definitely keep all of your valuables in your carry-on (camera, phone, money, tablets, etc.). Better safe than sorry!

2. Three pairs of shoes

I could fill a whole bag with shoes… no joke. I just never know what is really going to match, or actually be comfortable. But I told myself in 2016 that I wasn’t going to waste so much space on shoes (especially when I have to pack for a plane weight limit). So I made a general rule of three: a casual pair of sandals or flip flops for walking around the boat, going to the beach, or even wearing with a sundress to dinner. A pair of sneakers for long walks around the city or hiking. And a nice pair of heels (or flats) for when you go out at night. So far it’s worked pretty well, and I’ll find myself picking out the shoes I’m taking first and then putting outfits around it so I don’t have to worry about whether or not it will match.

3. Appreciate the travel bottles!

I have super sensitive skin (I’m still trying to fall in love with a facial moisturizer after 27 years…), so I simply cannot rely on the toiletries that will be provided (usually in the form of a nameless container attached to the wall of the shower) in the stateroom. However, instead of bringing each item’s full size bottle (which is perfectly okay.. no judgments), I got the little multi colored travel bottles, labelled them with what each one was and put enough that will get me through the week. I then put those all in one of those plastic compartment organizer so they are together and won’t spill all over my clothes.

4. DON’T forget your medicine

Obviously this was covered in tip #1, however, I am not just talking about prescription meds. I mean anything from headaches to stomach aches, even sunscreen and bug spray… bring it yourself! Pack it, don’t even think about it, just pack it! I remember we didn’t have enough sunscreen on our first cruise and we didn’t have any Advil… and we paid way too much on the ship for them. It’s not worth it. Write it on your list, make a note on your phone, whatever, just bring it yourself. Cruises get expensive quickly, so I’m all about saving money where you can. And to save space, I got a small makeup bag, took the items out of their boxes, and put them all in the bag so it would be stored in one place when I needed it.

5. Bring a travel size bottle of laundry detergent

This is probably my favorite tip. I have literally one bathing suit that I can stand to wear (barely), and being on a cruise, it will get a bit smelly wearing almost every day. So, like every self respecting 27 year old woman, I called my mom. She advised you can even pack less socks and underwear by washing them, along with your bathing suit, in your bathroom sink and hanging them up. They are all light enough pieces of clothing that they will be dry by the morning. Seriously… genius!


I’m sure there are plenty of other tips and tricks that veteran cruisers have learned along the way, but these have so far made packing less stressful then what my brain thinks it has to be.

So tell me, are you an over packer? Or are you like my fiance who can throw everything in his suitcase the night before and have what he needs? Do you have any packing tips that you think are too good not to share? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear!

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