• Meghan Bartok

What NOT to pack for a cruise (and other tips)

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

Before we left for our first cruise, I spent hours scouring the Internet for tips and tricks for cruising. I’m a very type-A person, and the thought of not being prepared terrifies me. While I did find some good hints online, I figured I would take the time to compile my own list of helpful tips here.


What not to pack

While cruises have a more generous baggage allowance than flying places, most people do have to fly to get to their cruise port. Even if you’re lucky enough to live close enough to drive, no one wants to end up packing their whole house into two suitcases, to only find out that they didn’t use half of it. These are some things I feel you definitely don’t need to bring!

  1. A beach towel – you can rent these from the ship, so no need for them to take up precious room in your suitcase! Just remember to return them when you’re done, otherwise, your room will be charged.

  2. Your whole wardrobe – trust me, there are enough people on the ship that no one is going to accuse you of being an outfit repeater! I spent so much time on the deck in a bathing suit that I didn’t touch a quarter of the clothes I brought. Be prepared, but don’t feel like you need to bring a bunch of choices – half the time I just grabbed what was the easiest bathing suit cover-up!

  3. Alcohol from home – you might think you can save some money by doing this, but all cruise lines either have a set limit to what you can bring (usually one 750ml bottle of wine per person 21+) or don’t allow outside alcohol on board, so don’t try to sneak it on. Anything you buy in port will be confiscated and given back to you when you dock back in the US.


Don’t forget!

These are just a couple of things I wished I had brought, or did bring, and am SO glad I did.

  1. A light jacket or sweater – trust me, you will want this for all the air-conditioned rooms onboard the ship or if you get sunburned (like I did!). Trust me, the dining room definitely got chilly when I forgot mine in the cabin.

  2. Dressy shoes for dinner – if you’re planning on going to the fancy dining room, or participating in the formal night, nicer shoes or sandals are nice to have! While no one cared that I wore my Birkenstock’s every night, there were a couple of times I would have liked fancier shoes.

  3. Something to hold your cabin card in – everyone gets a ‘seapass’ when they check-in for their cruise. It’s how you get into your room, and what they scan if you make any onboard purchases, eliminating your need to carry around a credit card! If you get a drinks package, it will also be attached to this card. That being said, make sure you bring something to carry this around, whether that is a lanyard, a little wristlet, or one of those stick-on cardholders for a phone case. (Side note – I would love to see some cruises do what Disney World does and have your card linked to a waterproof bracelet – much easier to carry around!)

  4. Sunscreen and aloe – both are good to have on a cruise in a warmer climate! You don’t want to have to go to the onboard shop to get it where it’s bound to be MUCH more expensive. And don’t forget to put the sunscreen on!

  5. Something to do on sea days – even if your ship has really good activities, you’re still going to want something to do in your downtime. Some good things to bring are a book/kindle, a journal, a deck of cards, a tablet with downloaded movies, or headphones for listening to music.

  6. An insulated water bottle/travel mug – you’re going to enjoy that beer/water/coffee much more when it’s not room temperature, plus one of these will be much easier to carry around and will help save the planet too!

  7. Bag for excursions – make sure to pack something to carry around whatever you’re going to need on port days (swimsuits, towels, wallet, water bottle, etc)


I could go on and on about this forever, but I’ll wrap it up here before it gets too long and rambly!