What are Essentials for a Cruise: Don’t forget these items!

what are essentials for a cruise

A cruise is unlike any other vacation. You can explore multiple destinations while enjoying the comfort and luxury of a floating hotel with pools, bars, entertainment, everything!

However, while the store on the ship may have overpriced toothpaste, you can’t just go to the store to get whatever you need. In this guide, let’s look at the essentials you need to bring along so you can enjoy the cruise and not worry about what you forgot at home: These are the Essentials for a Cruise.

What’s Your Cruise Itinerary

Route and Destinations

Before you even start packing, understand your cruise itinerary.

What are the destinations, how’s the weather, and the what activities do you have planned on board and at each location. A Caribbean cruise will require different attire and accessories compared to a journey through the chilly fjords of Norway.

Onboard Activities and Dress Codes

Cruise ships often have a variety of activities, from formal dining evenings to casual poolside lounging. Knowing the onboard dress codes and available amenities will help you pack appropriately.

Bring some formal wear if required, possibly a sports jacket, nice shoes, but don’t forget your bathing suit and flip-flops.

Clothing and Footwear Essentials

Daytime Attire

For daytime exploration, both on the ship and on land at each destination, comfort is key. Lightweight, breathable fabrics work best, especially in warmer climates. Include:

  • T-shirts and tank tops
  • Shorts and comfortable trousers
  • Dresses and skirts
  • Swimwear and coverups
  • A light jacket or sweater for cooler days or air-conditioned environments

Evening and Formal Wear

Most cruises have at least one formal night. Pack accordingly with:

  • A formal dress or gown for women
  • A suit or tuxedo for men
  • Smart casual outfits for less formal evenings


Bring shoes for every occasion, keeping in mind comfort and functionality:

  • Comfortable walking shoes for excursions
  • Sandals or flip-flops for the pool and beach
  • Formal shoes to match your evening wear (I always forget this one)
  • Water shoes for beach activities or water sports

Tech and Entertainment

While cruises offer plenty of entertainment, you still need to charge your phone, or may want to read or watch something on your tablet.


  • Smartphone and charger
  • A watch (set to ship time)
  • Headphones
  • Camera or action cam, plus accessories
  • Portable battery pack
  • Travel adapter for international cruises

Books and Games

Pack a few books, an e-reader, or small travel games to enjoy while relaxing on deck or in your cabin.

Health and Safety Items

Medications and First Aid

  • Prescription medications in their original bottles
  • Over-the-counter remedies for seasickness, allergies, and common ailments
  • A basic first aid kit with band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers

Sun Protection

  • High SPF sunscreen
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses

Miscellaneous Must-Haves

Travel Documents

Make sure you have all necessary travel documents, including passports, visas, and cruise documents, in a safe and accessible place.

Reusable Water Bottles – these are nice to have plenty of water on hand, but most cruises will have water readily available

Sunglasses. Do not forget your sunglasses! Even bring a spare pair. You’ll be kickin yourself if you forget this. (or buy one at the store)

Extra room in your suitcase for souvenirs. If you like shopping – leave yourself some room to pack everything up.


Packing for a cruise doesn’t have to be overwhelming and stressful. Focus on the essentials outlined in this guide, you’ll be well-prepared for a wide range of activities, climates, and occasions.

Remember, the key is to balance practicality with pleasure—bringing along items that will enhance your comfort and enjoyment without overpacking. With careful planning and a comprehensive packing list, you’re set for an unforgettable cruise adventure.

Here’s some do’s and don’ts for a cruise, from the fine folks of reddit.

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