Packing for a cruise for the first time might be a stressful undertaking. However, with little planning and preparation, you can ensure you have everything you need to enjoy your holiday.

Remember the activities you’ll perform on board and at ports of call when choosing attire. Pack comfortable clothing for the day, such as shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses. Dress standards for evening clothes vary by the cruise line and restaurant, but you should carry some formal and semi-formal clothing alternatives. Bring swimwear and beachwear for pool and beach days and suitable walking shoes and sandals for touring.

Aside from attire, you should bring a few essentials to ensure a comfortable and stress-free journey. Bring any necessary prescriptions and a basic first aid kit, including painkillers, motion sickness medication, and band-aids. You should also bring sunscreen and insect repellent to protect yourself from the sun and insects.

Remember to bring your travel documents and identification, such as your passport or driver’s license, as well as any applicable visas or vaccination records. Bring gadgets, chargers, and your phone, camera, and laptop if wanted. Finally, pack cash and credit cards for onboard expenses and port visits.

Packing for a first-time cruise traveler can be daunting. You want to make sure you have everything you need without overpacking. Here are some packing suggestions for your future cruise:

Apparel and accessories

  • Daytime attire: Wear comfortable clothing appropriate for the weather and activities you intend to participate in. Shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses are ideal for warm-season vacations, while long pants and light coats are ideal for chilly weather. Remember to bring a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Evening attire: Typically, cruise ships have dress codes for dining and entertainment areas. Pack formal attire for exquisite nights and smart-casual attire for other nights. Specific dress codes should be confirmed with your cruise line.
  • Swimwear and beachwear: Pack your swimwear and cover-ups if you’re going to a warm region. Bring more than one swimsuit in case one does not dry in time.
  • Comfortable walking shoes for shore trips and casual shoes for onboard activities are recommended. Remember to bring sandals or flip-flops for the pool and beach.
  • Pack a compact pocketbook or backpack to carry essentials for port excursions. Sunglasses, caps, and waterproof phone cases are also useful items to keep on hand.
A woman preparing her luggage for a trip
A woman preparing her luggage for a trip


  • Drugs and first aid kit: Bring all required prescription and over-the-counter drugs and a basic first aid kit. If prone to motion sickness, seasickness medication can also be beneficial.
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent: Use broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun, and reapply it throughout the day. Insect repellant is especially useful during port excursions.
  • Bring a passport or other relevant travel documents, and make copies to preserve in a separate location. Carry a valid photo ID, such as a driver’s license.
  • Devices and chargers: For international travel, bring your phone, camera, and any other necessary appliances, as well as chargers and adapters. Because many cruise cabins have a restricted number of outlets, bring a power strip if you have many gadgets.
  • Bring a mix of cash and credit cards with you for onboard spending and shopping during port excursions. Remember to advise your bank of your vacation plans to avoid any problems with your credit cards.

Factors influencing packing decisions

  • Climate, culture, activities at your destination and ports of call can all impact what you bring. For example, if you’re going on a tropical vacation, pack lightweight and breathable clothing, whereas a cold-weather cruise would demand warm and waterproof apparel.
  • The length of your cruise will decide how many garments and toiletries you will need to carry. If you’re traveling on a longer cruise, you should bring clothing that can be mixed and matched to create numerous looks.
  • The sort of cruise you’re on, such as a formal or casual cruise, can impact your outfit choices. A formal cruise will need formal clothes, whilst a casual cruise will allow for more relaxed attire.
  • Onboard amenities and activities: The amenities and planned activities on your cruise ship can influence what you pack. For example, if you intend to work out in a gym, you need bring proper fitness attire and sneakers.
  • Personal preferences and habits: What you carry might be influenced by your tastes and habits. If you prefer to bring your own toiletries or snacks, you may choose to bring those items with you to make your cruise more pleasant.

What if you miss an item in your packing list

Don’t worry if you forget something on your cruise packing list!

  • Check to see if you may purchase the item on board: Many cruise ships offer shops to buy toiletries, apparel, and accessories. Check with the ship’s employees or the ship’s website to learn what things are for sale on board.
  • Check with the cruise line or your travel agent: If you realize you overlooked something vital before leaving for your vacation, contact the cruise line or your travel agent to see if they can assist you. They might be able to arrange for the item to be transported to your first port of call, or they could have other ideas for receiving the item you require.
  • Borrow from your fellow passengers: If you lack a non-essential item, such as a beach towel or a book to read, ask your fellow passengers if you may borrow one. Many cruisers are pleasant and eager to assist a fellow traveler in need.
  • Make do without the item: If all else fails, attempt to live without it. For example, if you forget your shampoo, use the ship’s supply or purchase a little bottle in port. Remember that the most critical items to bring on a cruise are your travel documents, prescriptions, and other necessary supplies for your health and safety.

You can still enjoy your vacation even if you forget a few items on your packing list provided you keep a cool head and examine your options.