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  • Writer's pictureTrey Tracy

15 Things NOT to Forget to Pack for a Cruise

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

In the haste of packing for a trip, one can usually forget to pack something. We have all been there. When traveling to another American city, often it is not that big of a deal because you can just stop by the store and purchase what you left behind. However, cruises are a bit different. Onboard stores are limited and a bit pricier, and you don’t know what you may or may not find in port.

So, when you are working on your packing list for your upcoming cruise vacation, don’t forget to pack these essential items.

15 Things NOT to Forget to Pack for a Cruise

1. Sweater or Light Jacket. This one is most important for the ladies. Even if you are traveling on a tropical cruise, the restaurants and theatre can often be a bit chilly. So, pack a light item that pairs well with all of your outfits that will be useful in keeping you warm in these venues.

2. Emergency Contact List. When an emergency strikes, we may not have quick access to our cell phones, or someone may need to call on our behalf. So, keep a list of emergency contacts on you in case something happens, and you need to reach help (or someone needs to call on your behalf) while you are on your vacation.

🛳Cruise Tip: It is a good idea to list the contact entry of your spouse or a close family member with “ICE” next to their name. This stands for IN CASE OF EMERGENCY. This is a quick way someone can identify you emergency contact if the need should arise.

3. Identification. Nothing would be more upsetting than to arrive for your cruise departure only to be denied boarding because you forgot your identification. Depending on your cruise, you may either need a valid passport or your driver’s license and official copy (with a raised seal) of your birth certificate. For cruises departing and returning to the United States, a passport is still recommended in the event you have to be offloaded in a foreign port due to an emergency of some kind.

4. Medication. Next to being denied boarding for failing to bring proper identification, forgetting your medications would be just as bad. While a limited selection of over-the-counter medications is available for sale, at a hefty price, in the onboard stores, your prescription medication won’t be.

🛳Cruise Tip: If you are checking your luggage with the porter at the cruise terminal, then be sure to pack your medication in your carry-on if you’ll need it before your luggage arrives at your stateroom later in the day. 📌Recommended: Cruise Luggage Tags

5. Prepackaged Snacks. When you are busy having fun with your shore excursions, you may not want to take time to look for a place to eat. Therefore, it is handy to take your own snacks with you when in port. However, keep in mind that you cannot take food off of a cruise ship unless it is prepackaged and sealed.

6. Power Strip. If you are bringing a lot of items that need recharging or to be plugged in, consider packing a power strip. Outlets in a cruise stateroom are very limited, and frequently not in the most ideal location.

📌Recommended: Travel Power Strip

7. Reusable Water Bottle. Cruise ships are moving away from one-use plastic bottles in an effort to help the environment. There are plenty of places where you can get free ice and water on board the ship. So do your part and help save the environment by taking your own reusable bottle.

8. Comfortable Walking Shoes. Be prepared for a lot of walking around the cruise ship and down the piers in port by wearing comfortable walking shoes.

9. Lanyard. Most cruise ships provide you with a plastic keycard that is used as your room key, for onboard purchases, and identification on/off the ship. They typically have a pre-punched hole for you to use with a lanyard or it can be slid into a plastic sleeve that attaches to a lanyard. This makes it easy to keep track of while not having to worry about toting your wallet or purse around all the time.

📌Recommended: Cruise Lanyard

10. Fan. Rooms on a cruise ship can get a bit warm and stuffy, especially in the tropical zones. Pack a small fan to use by your bedside or in the seating area of your stateroom.

📌Recommended: Travel Fan

11. Over the Door Storage Hanger. Storage in your stateroom and countertop space in the bathroom is very limited. Using one of these storage hangers, it will give you the extra storage that will not be in the way for smaller items.

12. Small First Aid Kit. While there is a medical suite on your cruise ship, you don’t want to have to worry about being inconvenienced to go there for minor cuts and scrapes. Carry a small first aid kit with the essentials just in case.

📌Recommended: Travel First Aid Kit

13. Seasickness Prevention. If you are subject to seasickness, don’t forget to pack something to help with this. There are sea bands, ginger tablets, and over the counter medications to help. If you forget these or they don’t help, then stop by the ship’s medical suite to get a shot for a nominal fee.

14. Sun Protection. Most cruisers will enjoy time around the pool at some point during their cruise, especially if it is a warm-weather cruise. Therefore, don’t forget sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat.

15. Small Bills. When traveling in foreign ports, carry some $1, $5, and $10 bills to use for paying for small items or gratuities. Many foreign ports will accept the US dollar.

While there are many things that certainly can be added to this list, these are the things that I either often forget about, or my clients tend to forget about. The key to packing for a cruise, and should be for most trips, is to pack only what is necessary, and don’t overpack. Start by making a list and making necessary adjustments as you see what will and won’t fit into your suitcase.

Do you have an essential item you must always have with you on your cruise? If so, please post in the comments below to share with my subscribers.

Looking to take your first cruise but confused by all the options? Contact me and let me help you find the right cruise for you.

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