Lucky you! You’re off for some fun in the sun on a Carnival Cruise! My Carnival cruise packing list will help you get organized so you can be fully prepared and totally relaxed once you’re on board. Read through my post on what to pack for a Carnival Cruise which includes clothes, toiletries, footwear and all the other bits and pieces you’ll need on your trip.
I’ll give you lots of examples of what to wear on a Carnival Cruise including some pics of outfits I wore on my recent Western Caribbean cruise on Carnival Breeze. (Our Carnival Breeze review and trip report is here.) I’ll also show you want to wear on Carnival Cruise formal night too so if you want to dress up you can. When you’re headed out on a Carnival Cruise what to pack is a breeze once you have read my post!
At the end of this post you can print out your own Carnival Cruise checklist so you can prepare and pack for your own trip. If you’re new to cruising in general or just new to Carnival what to pack might be a bit overwhelming but if you follow my checklist you’ll soon have it under control.
This Carnival Cruise packing checklist is for a warm-weather cruise. If you’re headed to Alaska, then you need to head over and read my Alaska Cruise Packing List. You can also read my other cruise packing posts on what to pack for a cruise and 12 mix & match cruise outfits you’ll love to wear! If you’re interested in more Carnival Cruise tips you can read my post here.
What You'll Find in This Post
- 1 What to Wear on a Carnival Cruise
- 2 What to Wear on Carnival Cruise Formal Night
- 3 What to Pack for a Carnival Cruise
- 4 Carnival Cruise Luggage and How to Pack for a Carnival Cruise
- 5 Carnival Cruise Checklist (Printable)
- 6 Carnival Cruise Prohibited Items
- 7 Questions or Comments on My Carnival Cruise Packing List?
- 8 Join Our Facebook Group to Chat More About Cruise Packing Tips
What to Wear on a Carnival Cruise
If you’re wondering what to wear on Carnival Cruise Lines, then relax. It’s actually pretty easy going on Carnival. Carnival Cruise attire is fun and casual for the most part.
If you’re headed out soon on a Carnival Cruise what to wear is pretty easily decided once you know what kind of activities you need to dress for. You’ll need the following types of outfits:
- An embarkation outfit or travel outfit if you’re flying into port from out of town (smart casual, still nice for photos!)
- Casual clothes to wear on board the ship and on shore excursions (shorts and t-shirts or sundresses)
- Work out clothes for active excursions or for working out on board
- Cruise casual dinner attire for non-formal nights (jeans and a tee or polo shirt for men, a sundress or flowy top or tunic & jeans for ladies)
- Some smarter outfits for formal night (more on that below!)
- And some swimwear of course!
Above are some examples of Carnival Cruise wear. These Carnival Cruise outfits are pretty casual and fun as you can see. I’ve linked all the specific items in the “what to pack Carnival Cruise” section below. You can click on any of those links and order the specific items in the image above.
What to Wear on Carnival Cruise Formal Night
Formal night on Carnival Cruise Lines is more relaxed than on other cruise lines. You won’t see many people in a sport coat, let alone a tux or evening gown. Think of it as smart but relaxed and fun rather than formal. Men generally wear a collared shirt and maybe a tie with some slacks or chinos. Women tend to wear fun cocktail dresses or sundresses that they dress up with accessories and heels.
Our cruise on the Carnival Breeze went from Galveston and we did notice that some families did get really dressed up. Women were in full evening gowns with perfect hair and make up and men were in dark suits & ties. If you want to go all out and get dressed up that is totally up to you! I would just make sure you liaise with your entire travel group so you’re all at the same level of attire.
I’ll add in some examples of what to wear on Carnival Cruise formal night below. You can click on any of these images for a closer look. There are also some ideas in this cruise outfits post.
What to Pack for a Carnival Cruise
My Carnival packing list will show you exactly what to take on a Carnival Cruise. From clothes to footwear to electronics and all those other useful little things, once you’ve read through this list you’ll know what to bring on a Carnival Cruise.
Clothes for women:
- T-shirts and tank tops x 5 – Pictured above in the image for casual clothes
- Shorts or capri pants x 2 – If you don’t like wearing “short shorts” then Bermuda shorts or capri pants are a good option. These are the capri pants pictures above in the embarkation outfit. And these are the bermuda shorts pictured in the image for casual clothes.
- Sundress x 2
- T-shirt dress x 1
- Maxi dress x 1-2 – This is the one pictured above under cruise casual dinner outfits.
- Cocktail dress, jumpsuit or gown x 1-2 – This is the dress pictured above under formal wear.
- Jeans, palazzo pants or linen pants – One pair of long pants can be really useful. I like a pair of stretchy white jeans personally.
- Tunic top or flowy evening top x 2 or 3 – Think of what you’d wear on a date night to a restaurant or out for a drink with friends and wear that to dinner over capri pants, jeans or linen pants. This is the one pictured above as an embarkation outfit.
- Cardigan – A light cardigan is useful for the dining room in the evenings as the aircon can be quite cool
- Kimono top – Works great over tank top and shorts in the day, to glam up a sundress for evening or as a pool cover up!
- Work out clothes / active wear – If you plan on using the gym or doing any active excursions like zip lining you’ll need a tank top like this and workout shorts like this.
- 10 pair of underwear
- 3-4 bras – 1 white/ nude, one sports and one black evening works best for me.
Clothes for men:
- Polo shirts
- Short sleeved shirts
- Dress shirts
- Chinos or khakis
- Sport coat or suit (optional) – I would only suggest you do this if your partner is getting dressed up for formal night, otherwise you’re fine without it on Carnival.
- Light sweater
- Work out clothes
- 1o pair of underwear
- Swim suits x 2 – Miraclesuit have shaping swimsuit which I love for tummy control. This is the one in the image above.
- Swim cover up x 2 – Here are a couple of great swim suit cover ups or this one that is from the image pictured above.
- UV rash vest
- Flip flops
- Wedges or heels – I prefer wedges for cruises because they’re more stable!
- Boat shoes or loafer or dress shoes (men)
- Aqua or water shoes – These are really useful for excursions where you’re active in the water or for beach days.
- Sunglasses x 2 – One good pair and one cheap pair for wearing in the pool or ocean
- Statement jewelry
- Pashmina scarf
- Light scarf
- Belt (men)
- Tie (men)
- Waterproof phone case – This is the one I use and it’s very inexpensive. Works at the pool and beach and you can put your phone, cash and sail & sign card in it too.
- GoPro or camera – A GoPro is a great camera for cruising. If you’re looking for a more traditional point and shoot camera that is also pool and beach-proof then this one by Panasonic is a good buy.
- Laptop or iPad
- Kindle – This one is waterproof so ideal for cruising!
- Headphones – Folding ones like this are good for travel
- All your chargers
- Power strip – Your power strip must NOT have a surge protector on it. Here is a useful power strip for cruise travel that has no surge protection and also has USB charging ports so it’s easy to charge your devices.
- Travel clock– Some people like to bring this as staterooms don’t have a clock, I just use my phone but if you’re having a phone-free vacation it is useful to have one of these in your stateroom.
What to pack for Carnival cruise: Toiletries you’ll need.
Carnival cruise toiletries provided are shampoo, conditioner and body wash supplied in shower dispensers as well as a bar of hand soap. If you’re picky about the products you use it does plan to pack your own brands. Travel sized bottles will do for your 7 day Carnival cruise packing list, either buy mini versions of your favorites or decant them into GoToobs like these.
This post has a guide on what to pack on a Carnival cruise in your toiletries bag – Toiletries List for Travel. I’ll leave it as a separate list to the main packing list because it’s quite lengthy but just make sure you bring at least a full sized bottle of sunscreen and after sun lotion like aloe vera gel. These are essential toiletries for cruising!
Sea Sickness Prevention:
Sea sickness prevention is essential when packing for a Carnival cruise. I bring the following on every cruise we take:
- Essential oil blend to calm motion sickness
- Ginger candy
- Lysol disinfecting wipes – Give your cabin surfaces a good wipe down when you first arrive. Although they are cleaned thoroughly it always pays to disinfect your room to prevent against cruise bugs like norovirus.
A little seasickness prevention pack makes a nice gift for someone you’re cruising with also! You can also read this post with more tips on how to avoid getting sea sick on a cruise.
- Wine – You can bring one bottle of wine per adult (750mL) which must be packed in your carry on luggage. You need to drink this in your room or at least pour it into a glass if you want to carry it to dinner. If you bring your own wine bottle to dinner, open or not, you’ll be charged a $15 corkage fee to consume it at your table. You cabin attendant can provide wine glasses for your room. If you are bringing a bottle of wine with you, it’s a good idea to pack it in a wine bottle protector sleeve.
- Soda or water – Each person can bring 12 cans or cartons (12 oz or less) of soda, milk, juice or sparkling water on board in your carry on luggage when you embark.
- Refillable water bottle – Collapsible ones like this are great for travel!
- Travel coffee cup (like this fun cruise-themed one!!)
Travel Documents & Money:
- Cruise documents and luggage tags – You need to print these out yourself!
- Cruise luggage tag holders
- Cash – Bring some US dollars for using in the port and some smaller bills for tipping for cabin attendant or dining room server on the last day of your cruise
- Credit card
- Wallet or purse
- Driver’s License / ID
- Travel wallet for organiser your travel documents
Other Things to Bring on a Carnival Cruise:
- Lanyard for your Sail & Sign card
- Post-it notes & pens – For leaving messages on your stateroom door for family in other cabins or writing a note to your cabin attendant. These Post-it Pop-up Notes are handy.
- Highlighters – For marking the activities your want to take part in on your Fun Times each day
- Walkie talkie set – Great if you’re cruising with older kids who don’t want to be stuck with mom and dad all day
- Tide to Go stain remover pen
- Tide pods in a Ziploc bag – Just a couple in case you want to do laundry on board (Carnival has several laundry rooms on board their ships with washers, dryers and irons.)
- Travel laundry sheets – For handwashing any delicates that you might want to re-wear on the cruise (there is a clothes line in your bathroom onboard!)
Carnival Cruise Luggage and How to Pack for a Carnival Cruise
Carnival Packing Rules
Carnival cruise packing rules for the amount of luggage you can bring are as follows:
- One suitcase for cruises of 3-5 days
- Two suitcases for cruises of 6+ days
- Carnival cruise suitcase size limits are 16 inches high by 24 inches wide (the length of the bag is not a factor) and weight limits are 50lbs per bag
- All suitcases must be unlocked
- If you have checked baggage, you must be checked in at least two hours before the ship’s departure time
- Carnival cruise carry on size luggage is the same dimensions as for checked luggage but you must be able to manoeuvre through the queues with your carry on baggage and look after your carry on bag yourself until your stateroom is available which can take several hours. It is therefore better to just bring a tote bag, backpack or small wheeled suitcase as your carry on (as you would for airline travel).
- Your checked luggage must be placed outside your stateroom door the evening before disembarkation if you want it taken off the ship by porters. You can opt to self carry your luggage off on the morning of disembarkation but you have to be able to fully manage your luggage yourself. It is a great idea to do this however as it means you can depart a lot earlier and not have to wait on board until your boarding group is called.
Carry On Bag on Embarkation Day
In your carry on bag for embarkation you will need to pack:
- All your travel documents, wallet and phone
- Valuables like your camera or iPad that you don’t want to leave in your checked luggage
- Your swimsuit, pool cover up, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen so you can hit the pool on day one when you embark
- A change of clothes with underwear (just in case your luggage goes missing!)
- Any important medication
- Book or Kindle
- A water bottle and a snack for kids (sometimes checking in and boarding can take a loooong time!)
All this should fit easily into a backpack, tote bag or carry on suitcase. If you’re flying in to the port you’ll probably a suitcase for the things you need on the flight or the night before the cruise if you’re arriving early.
If you’re bringing trays of soda cans on board these must go in your carry on bag so I would suggest using a small wheeled suitcase for this so you’re not carrying them through the embarkation queue. It usually takes a minimum of one hour of queuing for security, document checks and boarding so make sure you can comfortably manage your Carnival cruise carry on.
Shore Excursion Bag
For shore excursions, assuming you’re off to the beach or doing something active, you should bring the following:
- Swimsuit, pool cover up, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
- Watershoes or sneakers depending on your excursion
- Carnival beach towel – These are provided in your stateroom and can be taken off the ship (but be sure to return them or you will be charged for replacing them!)
- Water bottle
- Wallet with cash in USD and Sail & Sign card
- Waterproof phone pouch – These are the BEST thing for cruising! You can use your phone while it’s in the waterproof pouch so you can take photos at the beach or in the ocean without worrying about damaging your phone. We actually just tuck cash and our Sail & Sign cards into one of these waterproof case along with our phones if we are headed to the beach so we can avoid learning or valuables on the beach while we are in the ocean.
- Camera – If you want to leave your phone at home or onboard and take a camera out and about the Olympus TG-4 is a great camera for cruising because it’s full waterproof and shockproof. GoPro cameras are also great for active cruise vacations.
Use the same backpack or tote bag you used for embarkation as your shore excursion bag or bring a foldable beach tote like thisalong in your cruise luggage.
We recommend a suitcase of around 24″ to 25″ for a single person or a couple traveling together and a suitcase of around 28″ to 30″ for a family sharing a suitcase. This is ample luggage capacity for a 7 night cruise. We have done cruises with only two carry on bags for our family of four in the past. If you pack strategically and follow my cruise packing checklist for Carnival that you can print below you will have no problems with a bag of this size.
As I mentioned above, there is a maximum weight limit of 50 lbs which should be ample allowance for your suitcase. Your suitcase needs to be no more than 16 inches deep by 24 inches wide across the base. It’s also a good idea to have a suitcase with four spinner wheels as they’re easier to manage, especially if you want to take your bags off the ship yourself on disembarkation day to save time.
Here are some suggested suitcases that meet these requirements:
Delsey Luggage Helium Aero 25″ Expandable Spinner
25″ high x 17.5″ wide x 11.5″ deep
Delsey Luggage Helium Aero 29″ Expandable Spinner Trolley
29″ high x 19.5″ wide x 12.5″ deep
Samsonite Omni PC Hardside Spinner 24″
24″ high x 17.5″ wide x 11.5″ deep
Samsonite Luggage Winfield 2 Spinner 28″
28″ high x 19.75″ wide x 12.5″ deep
Rockland 2 Piece Expandable Spinner Set
Carry on: 20″ high x 13″ wide x 9″ deep / Checked suitcase: 28″ high x 17″ wide x 12″ deep
American Tourister 3 Piece Set
Shoulder bag: 15″ long x 10″ high x 8″ deep / Carry on: – 21″ high x 14″ wide x 7″ deep / Checked suitcase: 24.5″ high x 16″ wide x 8″ deep
Packing CubesUsing packing cubes will make your Carnival cruise packing a lot easier! Packing cubes allow you to organize your luggage and pack a lot more in your suitcase. It also makes it really easy to share a suitcase with your travel partner or family – everyone just gets their own colored cube. If you’re traveling alone you can separate your day and evening wear easily with different packing cubes or your tops and bottoms. Use one for your swimwear so you can grab it all in one go. They really do help you pack smarter!
Using packing cubes also make it easy to unpack when you arrive in your stateroom and organise your belongs. Just pop the cubes out of your suitcase and straight into a drawer or cupboard. Easy! You can read my complete guide on how to pack with packing cubes and which ones to buy for more information. I even have an instructional video on how to use them.
Hanging Toiletry Bag
A hanging toiletry bagis one of the ideals things to pack for a cruise, Carnival has hooks on the back of all the bathroom doors so you can just hang your bag and see your stuff without unpacking too much. You can read my review of the eBags flat toiletry bag here. It’s flat and packs super easily into your suitcase!
Laundry BagA laundry bag like this is very useful for all your dirty clothes. You can also bring a small pop up hamper for laundry and put it in one of the cupboards in your stateroom.
Wet-Dry BagA wet-dry bag is super useful for cruising because you can put your wet bathing suits into it and avoid soggy luggage on your return journey home.
Carnival Cruise Checklist (Printable)
Download your own copy of my Carnival Cruise packing list PDF here.
You can also download my what to pack for a Carnival cruise checklist here as a spreadsheet if you prefer so you can plan and customize it on your computer. You just need to save a copy to your Google Drive or simply download it as an Excel spreadsheet.
You can also get my separate toiletries packing checklist here.
Carnival Cruise Prohibited Items
So what can you not bring on a Carnival Cruise? You would be surprised about what some people try and bring on board!
On a Carnival Cruise items not allowed include:
- Irons, coffee pots, tea kettles or any other personal appliances – You can’t bring an iron on Carnival Cruise but you can use them in the guest laundry.
- Power strips with surge protectors – Powerstrips like this without a surge protector are fine though.
- Water or soda in bottles (cans or boxes are ok)
- Alcohol (other than one 750ml bottle of wine per adult)
- Candles – If you’re celebrating a birthday on board bring your own decorations but leave the candle at home! Waitstaff will do a cake and birthday candle in the main dining room for you though.
- Shoes with wheels, hoverboards or rollerskates
- Coolers larger than 12″ x 12″ x 12″
Questions or Comments on My Carnival Cruise Packing List?
Got any questions on packing for Carnival Cruise Lines? Need some help with your Carnival pre cruise checklist? If you have a comment or question on what to bring on Carnival cruise ships then just let me know in the comment section below. I’m happy to answer your specific questions on what can you take on a Carnival cruise,
Join Our Facebook Group to Chat More About Cruise Packing Tips
I hope you’ve found my Carnival cruise packing tips useful and you now know what to pack on Carnival cruise ships.
If you want to ask a specific question, chat to other cruisers about what to pack for your cruise or share your own cruise packing advice then join our Facebook group on Cruise Packing Tips! We would love to help you work out exactly what to pack or hear your own ideas about what gear you use on your cruise. Join us for some fun and friendly discussions.
Thanks so much for this comprehensive article on cruise essentials. As a first time cruiser, I’m a little intimidated on what to bring. This will be my go-to list when the time comes to start packing. Great tips. Thanks again. I will be sharing this with my travel mates.
You’re a life saver. Thank you so much!
I was told that I can only bring 4oz bottles of shampoo or body wash on ship not any full size bottles
No, you can bring full size bottles. 🙂
your not allowed to bring on a airplane anything over 3 oz . even if you have say 3oz in a bottle that says 6oz your not allowed to bring that bottle that states 6 oz. The ship is different you can bring large bottles oh shampoo and such!
the lanyard for sail card. – do the cards have a place to clip on to them or do we need to have a plastic holder to slide card into thanks 🙂
I will absolutely be using this guide to help me pack up! Thank you so much!