Lucky you! You’re off on a cruise. You’ve got your trip booked and now you need to put together the ultimate cruise packing list before you set sail. If you’re wondering what to pack for a cruise, look no further. Our cruise checklist with help you decide what to wear on a cruise as well as other cruise essentials you’ll need to bring onboard. In addition to knowing what to take on a cruise, you’ll also need to know how to dress, how to pack and what little extras are important to bring.
Making a list of what to bring on a cruise is essential. Download my printable cruise packing list! You’ll find it further down in the post. This post focuses primarily on what to pack for a Caribbean cruise but the cruise check list is customisable for any type of cruise you’re headed on. For other location-specific cruise ship packing lists see these posts:
- If you’re looking for advice on what to pack for an Alaskan cruise, read my Alaska cruise packing list post.
- If you’re looking for advice on what to pack for a Mediterranean cruise, read my European cruise packing list post.
What to Wear on Cruise Vacations
Wondering how to dress on a cruise? Knowing what to wear on a cruise ship isn’t easy if you haven’t been. When I think about Caribbean cruise clothes, I think of bright, light and airy resort wear. Picking your clothes for a cruise is actually pretty easy. Break it down and think about the tips of activities you’ll be doing on board though and it’s actually pretty easy to work out how to dress for a cruise.
This can be anything from workout gear for active excursions, resort wear for city excursions & shopping or beachwear. It depends on what you plan to do when you’re in port.
Around the ship
Think of your cruise wear clothing as resort wear. Around the pool desk is pretty casual. Dining in the buffet for breakfast, lunch or dinner is also casual. Shorts are acceptable but not swimwear.
Non-formal dining nights
In the dining room on regular nights, dress as you would going out to dinner or drinks with friends. I’ve heard it referred to as “country club casual” . People tend to dress nicely. Men wear collared shirts and sometimes a sports coat. Women wear sundresses or pants and a nice shirt or tunic. Jeans are acceptable in the dining room so long as they are nice jeans with no tears.Children can wear shorts & t-shirts in the dining room.
Formal night on cruise
On a 7 day cruise there are usually two formal dining nights. Cruise formal wear isn’t as strict as it used to be. You will see a few tables dressed to the nines in evening gowns and a tux but most passengers will go for nice evening wear. Cocktail dresses or a jumpsuit is perfect formal cruise wear for ladies. Men usually wear a dark suit & tie but if you don’t have it then a dark shirt is fine. Boys should wear pants & a shirt. Girls should wear a party dress. If you don’t want to bring fancy clothing, you really don’t have to as there is also buffet dining, speciality restaurants and room service.
Need more inspiration on what clothes to wear on a cruise?
- For some specific ideas on cruise attire, read my post on 12 cruise outfits you’ll love to wear where I show how to turn seven key items of clothing into 12 outfits for a cruise.
- For some specific ideas on styles of dresses that work for a cruise, read my post on cruise dresses.
- For some specific ideas on cruise formal wear, read my post on what to wear on cruise formal night
Packing List for Cruise
Planning what to pack for cruise needs quite a bit of thought. I would encourage you to get organised now and print out my checklist for cruise packing below. Go through your own wardrobe and look at the clothing you already have and decide what would make good cruise apparel. Then fill in the gaps by buying a few extra items. It’s always nice to have something new to wear for a vacation!
My biggest tip for deciding what to pack for a 7 day cruise is to think of outfits you can create and selecting pieces of clothing that work with one another. My Caribbean cruise packing list consists of a mixture of excursion outfits, clothes for cruise ship wear, resort casual pieces for non-formal evenings and cocktail dresses for formal wear for cruise dinners.
This is a 7 day cruise packing list. For longer cruises, you will be able to do laundry on board. For shorter cruises, just omit a few outfits to suit the length of your trip.
Clothes for Cruise Travel
- 3 Vest tops – For wearing under tunics and kimonos
- 3 T-Shirts – Striped t-shirts make great cruise wear!
- 2-3 Tops – Something like this red chiffon vest top is ideal.
- Tunic top
- Kimono top
- White or black Bermuda shorts (or capri pants if you don’t feel comfortable in shorts)
- Denim shorts
- Short romper (or extra pair of shorts or capris if you don’t feel comfortable in a romper)
- White jeans – Stretchy pull on ones like this are ideal! You could also go for light linen pants or palazzo pants. I have a full list of the different types of pants for travel in this post.
- 2 Sundresses – One black and one coloured or print
- Colourful maxi dress
- Black jumpsuit – This one is very affordable and comes in a tonne of colours if black isn’t your thing. If you don’t want to do a jumpsuit, add in a second maxi dress/
- 1-2 Cocktail dresses – This one is absolutely gorgeous for plus size women!. A nice black or navy dress is also a good option.
- 2 Set of workout clothes – Either for the gym or active excursions if planned
- Cardigan – For cool evenings or to wear on the plane
- 8 Pair of underwear – Enough for a 7 day cruise
- 3 bras – One nude everyday bra, one black evening bra and one white sports bra
Your swimwear is one of the most important things to take on a cruise! After all, you will be spending a lot of time in the pool or at the beach. You don’t need to bring a beach towel as they are provided onboard on the pool deck or when you’re leaving for excursions in port.
- 2 Bathing suits – I love the Miraclesuit which is an amazing slimming bathing suit!
- 2 Beach cover ups– You can use the tunic and kimono as part of the clothing listed above or have dedicated beach/pool coverups
- Aqua booties (if you’re planning any water sport excursions that require them)
- Sun hat
- 2 Pairs of sunglasses – 1 nice pair and 1 cheap pair for wearing in the pool & sea
- Colorful print scarf
- Pashmina scarffor cooler evenings and wearing on the plane
- 2 statement necklaces
- Tote for every day use
- 2 Clutch pursesfor evening use
- Sneakers – Sketchers Go Walk sneakers are fantastic for travel!
- Flip flops
- Sandals – Aerosoles are my preferred style of sandals for travel. Check out these ones or these ones.
- Wedge sandals – Aerosoles also make incredibly comfortable wedge sandals that look fantastic. Check out these ones.
- Heels – Pick one pair of black or nude strappy heels that work for cocktail dresses or jumpsuits.
Other Things to Bring on a Cruise
Of course clothes are not the only things you need for a cruise! What to bring on cruise depends a little on personal preference, especially in terms of electronics.
Electronics may come under the list of things to pack on a cruise vacation…. or they may not! A cruise is an excellent “digital detox” vacation as internet is very slow and expensive on board. You’ll pay about $200 for a week long cruise if you want internet in your cabin. You won’t need a travel hair dryer as they are a provided on board.
- JOTO waterproof iPhone case – I love mine so much! For using my phone at the beach or pool and keeping it safe from sand & water and for taking pictures and videos in the water.
- Hair straightener or curling tongs – You can get travel-sized ones like this and this. I have a whole post dedicated to finding the best flat iron for travel if you’re interested!
- Smartphone (just be wary of additional roaming charges when you are abroad)
- All chargers for your devices
- Portable battery pack for charging your items on excursions
- Walkie talkies – A read just suggested these to me as a great tool when traveling with older kids so you can keep in touch without them needing to make expensive cellphone calls. Great idea!
While you will get some basic toiletries provided in your cabin, it’s often not adequate quality or quantity for me personally so I like to bring my own. I recommend decanting your own shampoo and conditioner into travel bottles. These squeezey silicone ones are the best. Use a hanging toiletries bag for your bathroom essentials. You can organise your toiletries further by using small Ziploc bags for things like makeup, hair accessories and first aid items. Put your sunscreen and bug spray in a large Ziploc bag so you can pop it into your tote when you head off on excursions.
- Toothpaste (travel size)
- Toothbrush (travel size)
- Shower cap
- Hairbrush (travel size)
- Hair ties and bobby pins
- Make up
- Make up remover – Make up remover wipes are great for travel.
- Razor and shaving foam (travel size)
- Sunscreen – This is my absolute favorite sunscreen. It smells amazing!
- Aftersun lotion in case of sunburn
- Bug spray (travel size)
- Antacids – In case you overindulge at the buffet!
- Any medication you require
- Hand sanitizer (travel size)
A couple of things to pack for a cruise that I would definitely recommend for everyone is seasickness prevention supplies. You never know how your body is going to react to the motion of the ship so it pays to prepare in advance. Throw all these little items into a Ziploc bag together so you can put your hands on them if you need them. Once you return home, keep them bagged up for your next cruise!
A little seasickness prevention pack makes a nice gift for someone you’re cruising with also!
- 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.
- Driver’s licence
- Wallet – Bring some cash in US dollars as this can be used at most cruise ports
- Credit card & debit card – Only take one out at any time so that if you lose your wallet you still have access to funds
- Cruise booking print outs
- Excursion booking print outs
- Highlighter pen– For highlighting activities you want to do on your daily schedule
Cruise Packing List for Men
My cruise packing list for men is fairly similar to the women’s list above. All the extras can be shared between travel partners so I’ll just cover the list of what to wear on a cruise for men. Men’s cruise wear is relatively straight forward. Cruise attire for men means short sleeved shirts or t-shirts with shorts during the day. Evening cruise clothes for men on non-formal nights is slacks, long sleeved shirts and maybe a sports coat. Formal cruise attire men is a dark suit, shirt and tie with dress shoes or a tux if you’re going full formal. Tuxes can be rented on board.
What to Wear on a Cruise Men
- 2 Pair of shorts
- 3 Short-sleeved shirts – Something like this shirt is fun for cruising!
- 5 T-shirts or polo shirts
- 2 Set of workout wear
- 3 Long-sleeved shirts
- 2 Pair of chinos or khakis
- Sport coat or blazer
- Dark suit (if you are dressing up for formal night)
- Sweater – For cool evenings or to wear on the plane
- 8 Pairs of underwear
Shoes & Accessories
- Flip flops
- Leather sandals or Boat shoes
- Sport sandals
- Dress shoes
- 5-7 pairs of socks – A mix of dress or sport depending on your outfits
- Belt (1-2 to match your outfits or a reversible one)
- 2 Ties
- Baseball cap
- Sun hat
- 2 Pair of sunglasses – One nice pair and one cheap pair for swimming
- 2 Sets of swimming trunks
- UV rash vest
- Aqua booties (if you’re planning excursions that require them)
Cruise Packing List for Kids
As a mom it’s up to me to decide what to pack for kids on a cruise. Thankfully the rules for dress codes and cruise wear for kids is a little more relaxed. You know your kids best so feel free to adjust my family cruise packing list.
What to Pack for a Cruise for Kids
- 5-7 T-shirts
- 3-5 Shorts
- 1-2 Pants
- 3 Sundresses for girls
- Party dress for formal nights
- Shirt for boys on formal nights
- Sweatshirt or caridgan – For cool evenings or to wear on the plane
- 10 Underwear
- Diapers & wipes (if necessary)
- 4-5 Pairs of socks
- 2 Sets of sleepwear
- 2 Swimsuits – UV swimwear is best for kids as it means less area to apply sunscreen
- Swim diapers (if necessary) – Children must be potty-trained to swim in pools onboard the ship but you may need a few swim diapers for excursions.
Shoes & Accessories
- Dress shoes– Only if you’re getting really dressed up for formal dining as a family or having family portraits taken
- Sun hat
What to Bring on a Cruise with Kids
You won’t need to bring your own portacrib for babies & toddlers. They are provided by the ship.
- Coloring book & crayons
- Small selection of toys – Cars, dolls etc for playing in cabin
- iPad with games
- Kids’d headphones
- Uno cards
- Any special comfort items they need like blankets or lovies
- Lightweight stroller (if necessary)
How to Pack for a Cruise
Here’s what luggage I recommend for a cruise:
Suitcase – Don’t bring a huge suitcase. When you’re packing for cruise trips, remember that your stateroom will be quite small. If you follow my packing list for a cruise below you won’t overpack. A 25″ suitcase should be adequate. This one from Delsey is great!. If you’re sharing a suitcase with your travel partner, then a 29″ suitcase like this will also work. There is limited storage in stateroom closets for multiple large suitcases so it’s a good idea to share one per family.Tote bag – A tote bag can be used as carry on when you’re travelling to your cruise port and for your items for the first afternoon on board. Sometimes there is quite a wait to get your checked luggage so you need to pack you bathing suit, a pool coverup, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen and any essential items like medication, reading glasses, passport and wallet. You can also use your tote bag on day excursions. Packing cubes – Packing cubes are a lifesaver when it comes to organising what to pack on a cruise. I never travel without them! Organise your clothing for day and evening, your underwear and your swimwear into seperate packing cubes so you can easily find what you need. You can lift packing cubes straight out of your suitcase and pop them into the drawers in your room. Makes for easy packing and unpacking! If you’re sharing a suitcase with a partner or children, use a different color for each family member. Read my complete guide to packing cubes here including a video on how to use them! Folding beach bag – If you’re planning a lot of beach excursions, definitely bring a folding beach bag. You’ll get pool towels when you exit the ship for the day so you need something to carry them in, along with your waterbottle, sunscreen etc. This folding mesh beach tote is perfect! Laundry bag – A mesh laundry bag is a very useful item for travel and makes unpacking when you get home a lot easier. Wet bag – A wet bag to protect your belongs from a wet swimsuit in your day bag after a beach excursion or when you’re packing up to go home on the last day. Hanging toiletries bag – Put your toiletries in a hanging bag as there is not a lot of counter space in your bathroom. This one by eBags is perfect and you can read my review of it here. Luggage tags – It’s important to tag your bags well so they don’t go missing between the cruise port and your stateroom. It’s also a good idea to take a photo of your luggage so you can easily describe it in the event it does disappear. Kids’ Backpack – If you’re cruising with kids, then bring along a small backpack to keep all their bits & pieces together.
For further tips on packing for a cruise, check out my post 10 Cruise Packing Tips.
All of the items from my cruise list above have been collated into an easy cruise packing list pdf that you can download and print. As you lay out items for your vacation, check them off the cruise packing checklist pdf so you can organise yourself ahead of time.
>>> Download here: What to Pack for a Cruise Checklist PDF
Questions & Comments on What to Pack on Cruise Ships
I hope you’ve found my cruise checklist, packing advice and ideas of things to wear on a cruise helpful. Good luck with your packing for a Caribbean cruise!
What do you wear on a cruise? I’ve love to know. I’d love to know what you think are the must-have items to take on a cruise.
Join Our Facebook Group to Chat More About Cruise Packing Tips
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.
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