26 Cruise Travel Essentials Checklist For New Cruisers

Cruise Travel Essentials Checklist

Cruise travel essentials checklist - Packing for a cruise can be a total stress-fest. Nothing's worse than boarding your ship and realizing you left something important at home. But lucky for you, I've got a sweet list of essential items that'll save your booty on your next cruise vacay.

When it comes time to pack, I whip out my list and start checkin' things off. I mean, who wants to stress about forgetting something like band-aids, seasickness meds, or a stain remover pen? Not me, babe!

So, if you wanna be a boss at packing for your cruise, check out my list of 40 must-haves. By the way, I have linked to some of our favorite Amazon products to make your life easier.

1. Extra prescription medication

Extra prescription medication

Let's face it, cruise itineraries can be about as predictable as the weather. You know that dotted line we sign every time we book a cruise? Yeah, that means things can change in a hot minute. That's why I never leave home without packing extra doses of my prescription meds when I'm cruising.

I'm not going to risk my health, especially if I end up needing something and the cruise ship or local port can't provide it. therefore I do not want to take that risk while on vacation. So, I always carry and make sure I have enough medicines to last me for the duration of my trip or vacation.

Moral of the story? It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health. So, if you're planning a cruise, make sure to pack enough of your prescription medication to cover any unexpected itinerary changes. Trust me, your body will thank you for it.

2. Passport and Vaccination Card

Passport and Vaccination Card

If you're departing and returning to a US port on a closed-loop cruise, technically you can get away with just bringing your birth certificate instead of your passport. But me? I'm not taking any chances. I always bring my passport with me when I cruise. I mean, who wants to risk getting stranded outside of the country without proper identification? Not this gal.

And with COVID-19 still lingering around like a bad smell, I've added a new must-have to my packing list: my vaccination certification. While it may not be required at the moment, I plan on bringing it with me for the foreseeable future. Better safe than sorry, am I right?

So, whether you're cruising on a closed-loop or open-loop itinerary, make sure to bring your passport and any other important documents with you. It's just good common sense, folks.

3. Tide to Go Stain Remover

Tide to Go Stain Remover

Listen up, cruisers! I've got a hot tip for you: you gotta pack one of these bad boys. Yup, I'm talking about the Tide to Go Stick, aka the ultimate stain-fighting tool.

I don't know about you, but my husband and I are pretty much guaranteed to stain our clothes at some point during a cruise. It's like a law of nature or something. But with the Tide to Go Stick in our arsenal, we can fight those stains like pros.

These little stain-removing pens are seriously a game-changer. They're small enough to throw in your bag, but powerful enough to take on even the most stubborn stains. So, if you wanna keep your cruise clothes looking fresh and clean, don't leave home without a Tide to Go Stick. Trust me, you won't regret it.

4. Onboard Clutch 

Onboard Clutch

Alright ladies, let's talk cruise fashion. If you're anything like me, you know that having a designated evening purse is an absolute must.

I mean, who wants to schlep around their bulky daytime purse or backpack when you're trying to enjoy a fancy dinner or a night out on the town? Not me, that's for sure. That's why I always pack a small clutch to bring with me on my cruises.

Not only is a clutch practical for keeping your essentials organized, but it's also the perfect accessory to complete any outfit. Plus, let's be real - who doesn't love an excuse to buy a cute new purse?

So, if you're planning a cruise anytime soon, make sure to pack a small clutch to bring with you for those evenings on board. Your shoulders will thank you, and you'll look stylish to boot.

5. Rubber Birkenstocks

Rubber Birkenstocks

Living in Florida has taught me a thing or two about beach footwear, let me tell you. I used to swear by my trusty Birkenstocks, but all that sun, sand, and surf can really take a toll on 'em.

That's when I discovered the magic of rubber Birkenstock sandals. Not only are they a major upgrade from my old $1 flip flops, but they're also super versatile for cruising.

These babies dry in a flash, making them perfect for beach and pool days. But the best part? They're just as comfy as my regular Birks, so I can wear 'em all day long without any issues.

If you're planning a cruise and want a reliable, stylish sandal that can handle any adventure, do yourself a favor and snag a pair of rubber Birks. Your feet will thank you.

6. My own shampoo and conditioner

My own shampoo and conditioner

We all know that feeling when we step into the shower on a Royal Caribbean cruise and are faced with that mysterious liquid soap. Yuck! Not only does it leave my hair looking like a hot mess, but it also dries it out like crazy.

That's why I always make sure to pack my own shampoo and conditioner when I set sail. I just can't risk having a bad hair day on vacation, you know?

If I have the space in my bag, I'll even throw in my favorite body wash. Sure, the 3-in-1 stuff is fine in a pinch, but nothing beats using my own tried-and-true products.

So take it from me: if you're heading out on a cruise, don't leave your hair in the hands of some sketchy shower soap. Bring your own shampoo and conditioner, and enjoy luscious locks all vacation long.

7.  Liquid Hand Soap

Liquid Hand Soap

Now, some might think it's a bit extra, but I always make sure to bring a little bottle of hand soap with me when I cruise. There's just something about using that little bar of soap in the bathroom that gives me the creeps.

Plus, let's be real: when you're on a longer cruise and spending more time in your stateroom, it's nice to have a little luxury to make you feel at home. And for me, that luxury comes in the form of my favorite hand soap.

It may seem like a small thing, but trust me - having that little bottle of hand soap can make a big difference in how comfortable and at-home you feel on your cruise. So go ahead and pack that soap, and enjoy a little extra touch of luxury on your next adventure at sea.

8. Chapstick (with SPF)

Chapstick (with SPF)

I never leave for a cruise without my trusty chapstick - I mean, who wants dry, chapped lips when you're trying to enjoy your vacation, right? I make sure to keep it on me at all times and apply it multiple times a day, especially since cruise ships can be super dry. To keep my lips moisturized and protected from the sun, I always go for a chapstick with SPF.

9. Ziplock baggies

Ziplock baggies

I always make sure to pack a few empty Ziplock baggies for a cruise. They may seem small, but they are incredibly versatile. I use them to keep my cash and other valuables dry at the beach or pool, and they're also great for packing snacks for excursions. I usually bring a few different sizes, but the sandwich bags are my go-to choice. They hardly take up any space in my luggage, but always come in handy during the trip.

10. Sunglasses


No matter where my cruise destination is, I always make sure to pack a pair of sunglasses. The Alaskan snow may be unexpected, but it can still be bright enough to require eye protection.

As a budget-conscious traveler, I opt for a cheaper pair of sunglasses so I won't be too disappointed if I end up losing or breaking them during the trip.

11. Kindle

No longer do I carry bulky books with me on cruises. It's the only time I get around to reading the books I've been meaning to read. Nowadays, I opt for my Kindle as it saves me a lot of space in my suitcase compared to hefty books.

12. Beach Bag

When packing for a cruise, don't forget to include a beach bag or small backpack. Even if you plan on staying onboard for most of the trip, you'll still need to carry things like flip flops, books, sunglasses, cover ups, towels, sunscreen, and more from your cabin to the pool deck.

Personally, I prefer to use a beach bag or a canvas tote bag while on the ship. If you're planning to go ashore, a small backpack is also a great option. Either way, having a dedicated bag to keep all of your essentials together and easily accessible will make your cruise experience much more enjoyable.

13. Travel-Size Sunscreen

To ensure protection against the sun's harmful rays during a Royal Caribbean cruise, it's important to pack sunscreen. I always make sure to have it on hand whenever I plan to spend time outdoors.

If my husband and I are driving to the port, we bring a larger bottle of sunscreen. However, if we're flying, I prefer to pack travel-sized sunscreen lotion, especially since I may not be able to check a bag. In my experience, lotion tends to be more effective than spray, and it lasts longer too.

14. Swimsuit Cover-Up

When packing for a Royal Caribbean cruise, don't forget to bring a swimsuit cover-up. It's a must-have item to wear between the pool deck, deck and around the ship. Plus, if you're planning on grabbing a bite to eat at the Windjammer, you'll need to cover up beforehand. So make sure to have a cover-up or something similar with you at all times.

15. Swimsuit

Don't be fooled by the misconception that you don't need to pack a swimsuit when cruising to cooler destinations like Norway, Iceland, or Alaska. As someone who has been on many Royal Caribbean cruises, I know that it's always essential to bring a swimsuit. 

Even if the weather is cooler, Royal Caribbean's ships have a covered Solarium with a heated pool, and who wouldn't want to soak in a hot tub while taking in breathtaking views? If you're concerned about staying warm, consider packing a long sleeve swimsuit. Trust me, you won't regret packing a swimsuit on your cruise, no matter the destination.

16. Wrinkle Release Spray

I've lost count of how many times I've had to wear wrinkled clothes on a cruise ship! Unfortunately, irons are not allowed onboard due to fire safety regulations, so it's not uncommon to have clothes that are incredibly wrinkled.

That's why I always make sure to pack wrinkle release spray. It's an essential item for me when I'm cruising, and the travel-sized bottle is perfect for fitting into my suitcase. The spray is a real lifesaver when it comes to getting out those stubborn wrinkles, leaving my clothes looking crisp and neat.

17. Mini First Aid and Emergency Kit

Unexpected things can happen during a cruise, so I always make sure to have a mini first aid and emergency kit with me. This kit is handy in case of unexpected injuries or accidents that may happen while on vacation.

My emergency kit includes various items like bandaids, gauze, alcohol wipes, and mini tweezers, to name a few. It provides me with peace of mind knowing that I have everything I need in case of an emergency. Also, the compact size of the kit allows me to carry it in my backpack with ease.

18. Variety of OTC Medication

One crucial item that I always make sure to bring on my cruises is a small pouch containing my personal "pharmacy." It includes a variety of over-the-counter medications that I like to have on hand just in case. Onboard medicine can be quite pricey, and I prefer not to buy medication while in port, so bringing a small supply is a must.

For me, it's essential to pack a multi-symptom combo pack of daytime and nighttime cold and flu medication because it covers a range of symptoms. Additionally, I always make sure to bring other crucial OTC medication such as laxatives, Imodium, sleep aids, nasal congestion spray, antihistamines, and cough drops.

19. Travel-Size Hand Sanitizer

Staying healthy is crucial when you're cruising, especially when you're in close quarters with other passengers. To prevent illnesses from spreading, I always carry hand sanitizers with me. I attach them to my lanyard, which holds my SeaPass card, for easy access.

During my cruise, I find myself using hand sanitizer frequently, especially after using the tongs in the Windjammer buffet. It gives me peace of mind knowing that I'm taking precautions to stay healthy while still enjoying all the delicious food on the ship.

20. Motion Sickness Medication

Ensuring that you pack motion sickness medication for your cruise is crucial in preventing seasickness. You can never tell when nausea will strike, especially when sailing at sea. To avoid the discomfort, it's best to come prepared with medication.

For my travels, I prefer to bring along travel-sized containers. Dramamine is a great option, and they make a less drowsy formula that's perfect for use during the day when I don't want to feel too sleepy from the medication. The small container fits easily in my purse or bag, making it easy to carry around while ashore, especially during bus, boat, and taxi rides that may induce motion sickness.

21. Lanyard with Key Holder

When cruising with Royal Caribbean, your SeaPass card is your key to your stateroom and your means of purchasing items onboard. You will need to carry it with you everywhere, which is why I prefer to use a lanyard with a card holder. It's a convenient way to keep my card handy while exploring the ship without having to carry a purse or wallet.

My go-to lanyard is the Vera Bradley one, which comes with a zip ID case. I have been using this same lanyard for a decade now because it strikes the perfect balance between practicality and style.

22.  Pop-Up Hamper

Having a pop-up hamper is one of my favorite cruise essentials! It's amazing how little space it takes up in my suitcase, and it fits perfectly in the closet of my cruise ship cabin when it pops up.

Throughout the week, as dirty clothes accumulate, I toss them into the hamper. This way, they don't take over the closet or mix with my clean clothes. It's an easy and convenient way to keep everything organized and tidy during my cruise.

23. Reusable Water Bottle

Maintaining proper hydration is crucial during your cruise. When consuming alcohol and spending ample time in the sun, it's effortless to become dehydrated. Additionally, traveling depletes our body's hydration levels.

To address this concern, bringing a refillable water bottle is a must-have. Personally, I never set sail without mine, and I bring it with me wherever I go, from my cabin to the pool deck and even off the ship for my excursions. It's a small but significant step to ensure that I stay hydrated throughout my journey.

24. Electronics Organizer

If you’re like me, you travel with quite a few electronics. I probably cruise with more electronics than the average cruiser if I am doing work for Royal Caribbean Blog or Cruise.Blog because I need to pack multiple cameras. 

As such, I purchased this electronics organizer for traveling and cruising - it’s been a total game changer! This organizer has tons of pouches and mesh pockets to keep everything perfectly organized in my carry-on bag and even in my stateroom.

25. Portable Phone Charger

When you're embarking on a cruise, it's important to make sure you have a portable phone charger packed and ready to go. This is especially true if you're cruising on an older ship with limited outlets and plugins, as you might find that there's only one or two outlets in each stateroom, and they may not be conveniently located near your bed.

In addition to keeping your phone charged while onboard, a portable charger can also be a lifesaver when you're out exploring the ports of call on long excursions. You don't want to risk running out of battery while you're out and about, so a portable charger is a must-have item for any cruise traveler.

26. Packing Cubes

I was initially skeptical about the usefulness of packing cubes, but after trying them out last year, I can confidently say that they are a game-changer. These small cubes make a big difference when it comes to keeping your suitcase organized and maximizing the space available.

Not only do packing cubes help you to pack more efficiently, but they also slightly compress everything, which means you can fit more into your suitcase. This is especially helpful if you're traveling with just a carry-on.

Once you're onboard your cruise ship, packing cubes make settling into your stateroom a breeze. You can easily place your packed cubes in the drawers and shelves, making it quick and easy to get organized and start enjoying your vacation.

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