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What to pack for a cruise

Ultimate Cruise Packing Guide

First time cruisers always ask us “what should I pack on a cruise?”. Well, we have asked all our veteran cruisers what are the must-have items and tricks that they have picked up along the way. Our cruise packing list has all the insights for a first time cruiser and even a few tricks an experienced cruiser could use!

What to pack for a cruise (or land vacation) varies depending on how many days you will be traveling for! If you are going away for 3 days you obviously won’t need as many clothes as you would if you are traveling for two weeks! Let’s assume we are traveling for 7 days to a warm climate destination:

Casual sneakers for cruise

Casual attire

  • 3-5 bathing suits
  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes to explore your destination
  • 1 pair of flip flops for the pool or beach
  • 1 pair of sneakers –if you plan to go on an excursion that requires them or you’ll be hitting up the gym.
  • 4 shorts
  • 7 casual shirts
  • 3 beach cover-ups
  • 3-7 pairs of socks (depending on how often you plan on wearing your sneakers)
  • 7-10 pairs of underwear
  • 3 bras
  • 3-7 sports Bras
  • 1 sweatshirt/sweater – nights can be chilly on deck
  • 1 hat or visor
  • 1 disposable rain poncho – so you are prepared in the unfortunate case of a quick rain shower at port!

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Formal suit for cruise

Formal attire

Most people don’t bother to bring formal attire anymore, but if you enjoy dressing up by all means go for it, they’ll be at least to evenings to wear the formal with if you would like.

Don’t go overboard! This isn’t meant to be a fashion show, just a fun reason to get dressed up.

  • For the ladies: Dress or dress slacks, skirts, a few nice tops, dress shoes, and a sweater for the dining room.
  • For the gentlemen: Suit (preferably one where you can wear the slacks on an informal night), dress shirts, a couple ties, and dress shoes.

For the Stateroom

Staying organized in your stateroom is the key to not feeling cramped. Remember to pack these items for the best use of space

Nesting luggage – If you’re in the market for new luggage, buy a set that nests inside one another, then shove it under your bed!
Laundry bag – Packing an extra bag for dirty clothes is a great idea that makes repacking (and laundry) at the end of your trip easier. You can hang the bag on the door and throw it in your suitcase at the end of the trip, voila packing done!



A bunch of odds and ends that will have you cruising like a pro.


Items to pack on cruise


  • Wine – Most cruise lines will allow 1 to 2 bottles of wine per stateroom, although most charge a corking fee. This varies from cruise line to cruise line ask you travel consultant for details.
  • Highlighter – When doesn’t a highlighter come in handy? This will be helpful to organize your daily plan so you don’t miss out on any cruise fun! Highlight key items on the daily itinerary so you never miss out on something
  • Sunscreen – A vacation is always less fun when you are fried! Protect your skin and your vacation. Pack extra sunscreen!
  • Passport (if necessary) – You do not need a passport if you are going on a closed loop cruise departing from the United States. However, we do recommend that you make a copy of your passport and carry it in a separate bag.
  • Beach bag – Something that folds flat in your suitcase for trips in port and for extra goodies to 
take home at the end of the cruise
  • Camera & camera charger– To capture the great memories!
  • Water bottle – Not just good for water, bring your juice/coffee, etc. out to the pool or in port with 
  • Pen – Keep a pen handy in your purse or carry on to complete customs paperwork.


What Not to Pack!

Save space in your luggage; don’t pack any of the following items!


  • Hair dryer – All staterooms have them and your hair is likely going to be blowing in the wind anyway.
  • Beach towels – You can use the beach towels provided on the ship!
  • Drinks/snacks – There are plenty on board! Unless you have a specific snack you can’t live without, leave it at home and explore the new tastes of your cruise ship!
  • Shampoo/conditioner– This will also be supplied by the cruise line or hotel resort. If you like a particular kind, pack your own, but if you have no preference, save the space in your luggage!
  • Never pack medication in checked bags!
  • Never pack your passport.

Cruise Packing Tip

Suitcases very rarely get lost, but the last thing you want is to be on the cruise without your suitcase. We suggest you consider packing half of your clothes in your companion suitcase and vice versa(if he or she refuses, explain to them how miserable both of you will be on vacation if you don’t have your clothes). Your bags do not always arrive in your room before you do, so we recommend packing a change of clothes in your carry-on bag.

More Frequently Asked Questions

Online Check In

Due to new U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations for cruises departing from U.S. ports, all cruise lines are now required to submit a final departure manifest prior to departure. As a result of this new regulation, guests departing on cruises from the U.S. are required to provide registration information prior to embarkation. Learn more...

Do you need a passport for a cruise?

In short – Not if you’re traveling round-trip to the same US port. Cruises that are leaving from and returning to the same US port (closed loop cruises) do NOT require passengers to have a passport. If your cruise departs from a different country or returns in a different port you do need a passport for passengers over the age of 16. Learn more...

Paying for your cruise

Paying for your cruise with Cruise Travel Outlet is easy. If you would like to make a payment using the credit card on file, please complete our online payment form. Otherwise, please give us a call at 1-800-498-7245.

What to pack for a cruise

First time cruisers always ask us “what should I take on a cruise?” Well, we’ve asked all our veteran cruisers what are the must-haves and tricks they’ve picked up along the way. Our cruise packing list has all the insights for a first time cruiser and even a few tricks an experienced cruiser could use! Learn more...

Trip insurance

In most cases there are multiple options when it comes to protecting yourself and your investment. Your vacation consultant will be happy to go over the available options. Learn more...

Shore excursions

To enhance each port visit, cruise lines offer organized shore excursions on all ships. These land-based trips run the gamut from sightseeing city tours to cultural events and active pursuits. Get the most out of your cruise vacation by lining up your shore excursion early. Learn more...

Referral Program

Cruise Travel Outlet is seeking individuals who love to book vacations for family and friends. Now you can earn vacation credits when you refer your friends to us. We Guarantee the best rates on any cruise or land vacation! Learn more...

It's Not Too Late To Save!

If you’ve already booked your cruise, we can still save you money!

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