Grab a free printable cruise packing list, complete with tips for packing for a Carnival/Royal Caribbean cruise, things to pack for kids, Dollar Store hacks, and more!
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We are finally back from an amazing family vacation! This year, we took a Caribbean cruise (via Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas) and we had such an amazing time. You can see some of the highlights of our cruise in the Travel stories section of my Instagram.
Cruises get a bad rap sometimes – but friends, let me tell you, especially if you have kids, it’s the way to travel. It’s a convenient way to see the world, have excellent food prepared for you, be completely taken care of for a week, and even have your kids entertained while you get a little bit of relaxing time. I couldn’t recommend cruising enough – it’s by far our favorite way to travel.
But, there’s no doubt that you have to be prepared for a trip like this. You’re not going to be able to run out to grab essentials (and, if you can, they’re probably going to be way more expensive than you would find at a local store). Doing a little bit of prep work and being organized on a cruise is a must! You’re not working with a ton of space in most cruise cabins, so having a few organizational tools goes a long way in making sure you don’t lose your sanity. 😉
We’ve been on quite a few cruises, so I’ve got a consistent list of things I go back to each time. You can grab the printable version of my packing list below. If there is an asterisk by the item, I talk a little bit more about it below the printables!
See notes below…
Important Documents for a Cruise
- Passport/Birth Certificates/Identification – Make triple copies of all of your important documents. Many cruise lines require the original copies to board, so bring those and put the originals in your safe as soon as you get to the room, using the copies when you can.
- Credit Cards – Make sure the card you pick has no foreign transaction fee!
- Cash – Get double what you expect to need. Include lots of small bills for tips.
- Currency for Visited Countries – the conversion rate is usually higher once you get to the country…most ports around America accept US dollars, but if you’re planning on exploring out of the port or are going to a country that’s further away, go on and get some foreign currency before you go.
Toiletries for a Cruise
- Seabands – Some people report that these bands (that use pressure points to ease sea sickness) work as well as Dramamine.
- Hair Dryer – Not every cruise line allows hair dryers; check with your cruise to make sure. On Royal Caribbean, I brought this one along and it was fine (and was an absolute lifesaver!).
- Insect Repellant – We brought along wipes for this – they were so convenient.
Electronics for a Cruise
- Power Strip – VERY IMPORTANT that you do not bring a surge protector – there is a difference! They will confiscate a surge protector. We grabbed this one from Ikea and it was perfect.
- USB Hub – But, want to know a secret? We didn’t even need a power strip because we brought this amazing thing.
It’s simply a one-plug outlet with several USB plugs on the other end. Perfect for charging lots of things at once!
- International Power Adapter – There is an international outlet in most cruise ship rooms, so buying this adapter can give you an extra outlet if needed.
- Portable Power Bank – If you’re not planning on being in your room a lot, this is a must for electronics. It’s great for charging laptops, tablets, and phones on the go.
- Walkie Talkies – You won’t need these on every ship. There are lots of lines (Carnival and Royal Caribbean included) that have the ability to text other guests on the ship via their app. Our particular ship didn’t have this yet, and I missed it so much – we used it a ton on our last cruise!
Kids’ Items for a Cruise
- Floaties – We brought floaties for our kids and never used them – Royal Caribbean had an area to check out life jackets right next to the pool at no charge! So check with your ship before you pack these, since they take up a ton of space.
- Baby Powder – If you’re planning on going to a beach, make sure you bring the baby powder to get sand off! Just sprinkle some on the skin with sand and it will wipe off like magic.
Miscellaneous Items for a Cruise
- Sticky Notes – This is an easy way to leave notes for family members around the room.
- Dry Erase Board – We picked one up at Dollar Tree and had it on our door. It’s nice to leave notes for family members or for your cabin steward.
- Cruise Card Lanyards – You need your cruise card basically everywhere you go on the ship – it’s so much easier to keep it on a lanyard! We made sure to hang ours by the door when we came in the room. Just make sure to punch the hole in your card in a place that isn’t used for scanning.
- Wine/Soft Drinks – Not every cruise allows you to bring wine and/or soft drinks on board…the rules are generally different for every line. Royal Caribbean allowed no soft drinks and up to 2 750ml bottles of wine per stateroom (regardless of number of adults), whereas Carnival (as of our last sailing) allowed a 12 pack of soft drinks and one 750ml bottle of wine per adult. It varies and is changed regularly, so check the rules before you go!
- Highlighter – These are great for highlighting important events and info in your cruise newsletter each night.
- Ziplock Bags – I am the HUGEST fan of using zip-top bags to pack!
I organized all of our kids’ clothes for each day in a bag, including underwear and accessories. It was so easy to get them to pick an outfit each day.
I also use zip-top bags to pack things that might leak. I put a little bit of packing tape around the top of the bottle and put it in a bag to prevent the rest of your clothing from getting dirty.
You can reuse these bags once on board too! I saved some to pack wet clothes.
- Disinfecting Wipes – These are available at Dollar Tree and are so easy for cleaning hands quickly!
- Suction Hooks – Also available at Dollar Tree – this is a great way to store hats, sunglasses, lanyards, etc. on the wall.
- Magnet Clips – Yet another Dollar Tree find that we used so much!
The walls in your room are magnetic; use these on the wall to hang your cruise newsletters, Wifi passwords, and even art from the kids’ club.
- Vacuum-Sealed Cup/Water Bottle – If you’re not getting any kind of drink package, I’d definitely bring these for the whole family. You’ll want a larger one (like this) so you’re not constantly refilling.
- Towel Clips – This is one of those things I had no idea we would use so much!
It was pretty windy on the deck of the pool most days, so we used these to clip towels to our chairs.
They’re also good for hanging wet clothes on the line in your shower. They sell them in ports for much, much more, but we got ours 6 to a pack at Dollar Tree.
- Magnets for Your Door – Lots of people use magnets to decorate their stateroom doors. Kind of a fun thing to do (and it helps you find your room in that long hall).
- Hanging Shoe Organizer – Let me sing the praises of this thing from the rooftops! This was the best organizational tool we brought.
We used most of the spaces for shoes, but the bottom extra pockets held our medicine, laundry items, sunscreen, bug wipes, etc. It was such a big help in organizing the room.
- Collapsible Laundry Hamper – this fit perfectly in our closet to let us put dirty clothes all in one place. It’s kind of small, so once it filled up I emptied it into a larger laundry bag that I stored in the window, out of sight. (These hampers are kind of hard to find at dollar stores, but I have seen them there before!)
- Vacuum Laundry Bag – This is such a space saver for getting your dirty laundry home.
Even if you don’t have a vacuum cleaner to use, you can typically get most of the air out of these by just pressing down on them. This saves a ton of room in your suitcase.
- Stain Remover Wipes – You’ll definitely need these once or twice! Much easier than carrying along a bottle of stain remover.
- Wrinkle Release Spray – Not only can you not bring an iron with you on board, but there are usually not irons available to use. Clothes are so wrinkled when they come out of a suitcase, so this is a must!
- Dryer Sheets – These are great for putting in drawers to freshen your clothing. You can also put a few in a bathroom to reduce odor.
And a few random cruise packing tips…
- Packing cubes, packing cubes, packing cubes! These are normally amazing for packing a suitcase, but using them on a cruise is extra convenient. I just left them packed throughout the trip and pulled out the cube I needed from the closet. It’s a super easy way to organize those big, awkward closet shelves. (Mine can be found here.)
- An easy way to find your luggage in a big sea of suitcases is to put something distinctive (like our oh-so-fancy keychain 😉) somewhere on it. I’ve also seen people put a large piece of duct tape with their name on luggage too.
- We don’t so much pack an overnight bag; instead, we pack a 24 hour bag. Pack everything you need for 24 hours before your trip and 24 hours after your trip in one suitcase and keep that one with you. Often, you won’t get your luggage until hours after you board the ship. I pack all of our toiletries, a couple of changes of clothes and swimsuits, and chargers in this bag.
Alright friends, I’d love to hear your best packing tips! Leave them in the comments.
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