Millions of passengers set sail around the world each year on cruise ships.

Cruises are a convenient way to see destinations and stay comfortable while doing so.

However, you may be intimidated about the packing process.

Having the right packing list with all the essential travel gadgets for cruises will make your experience that much better.

We’ve compiled the ultimate list of cruise essentials and what you need to know.


What to Pack for a Cruise

Packing for a cruise can be a difficult process for those who are used to spreading out in a hotel room or a home rental (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.).

My cruise packing checklist is intended to help you select the must-needed items for your travel adventure.

If you’ve never been on a cruise, you may not realize how the process works.

Here’s the “good” news.

Unlike plane travel, there’s no (reasonable) limit on how much luggage you can bring on a cruise.

Although, most cruise lines will encourage each passenger to limit their luggage to two suitcases that weigh less than 50 pounds.

This is in addition to a carry-on item that you’re able to keep with you.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’re probably thinking, “Wow! That’s a lot of stuff.”

Because it is.

That’s over 120 pounds of luggage that you can take with you on the cruise.

Depending on the length of the cruise, this is likely more than enough.

If you’re worried about running out of essentials, not being able to wear a favorite item, or traveling with young children, most cruise lines will also offer wash and press services onboard their ships for a fee.

Additionally, don’t forget that even if you can bring as much as you want on the cruise, you’ll still need to get it there.

Are you flying to your destination to board the cruise ship?

If so, you may need to pay to check whatever you’re bringing and that can get really expensive really quickly.

Discern what you need from this list and look out for specific recommendations from your cruise.

There may be theme nights, nights you need formal wear or other recommendations on what to bring, because of the time of year or location.

Finally, just remember that while there is no official limit, you’ll still want your luggage to fit nicely in your room.

Cruise cabins are notorious for having limited storage space.

You don’t want your walkways taken up with suitcases!

When in doubt, pack a little less than you think you need and aim to re-wear.


Essential Travel Gadgets for Cruises

Luggage Tag Holder

Since you’ll be dropping off everything but your carry-ons for ship porters to deliver to your cabins, you’ll need luggage tags to identify your bags and where they belong.

I recommend having waterproof tags that have sturdy metal cables or clips.


Lanyards can help hold your cruise ship ID card, which is your personalized ID on board the ship.

It doubles as your room key, casino club card, and wallet (you can buy drinks, photos, and souvenirs with it!).

Purchase a lanyard to keep your card safe.

You don’t want to leave it behind for someone else to find and use.

Travel Mug

What’s better than strolling the ship and sipping coffee in an insulated coffee mug?

The Maars Drinkware tumbler is the perfect travel pick.

While the cruise ship is sure to have regular coffee mugs, you want to be able to caffeinate on the go.

Shop for your travel mug here.

Waterproof Phone Pouch

You’ll constantly be around water on the cruise and that means your smartphone is constantly in danger.

A waterproof phone pouch is one way to keep your phone safe whether you’re on an excursion, on the pool deck, or at the beach.

You don’t have to worry about it falling in or getting wet.

Order the JOTO Universal Waterproof Pouch here.

Of all the travel gadgets for cruises, this is one you can’t do without!

Underwater Camera

What’s better than having underwater pictures to look back on?

You don’t have to invest in a GoPro to capture your family on the cruise, and you don’t have to ruin your smartphone either.

Put this Campark Action Camera on your list of essential travel gadgets for cruises.

A cheap underwater camera can go a long way.

Night Light

Cruise ship cabins tend to get dark at night – particularly interior staterooms without windows or balconies.

Avoid stubbing your toes or stumbling around by bringing your own nightlight.

I recommend this battery-operated light from Cruise On as one of our essential travel gadgets for cruises.


Did you know that cruise ships often operate on “ship’s time”?

While your smartphone may automatically switch time zones according to the GPS coordinates, you can stay synced up with what time you need to be on and off the boat with a simple waterproof wristwatch.

This is an essential travel gadget for cruises you’ll never want to forget.

Amazon has a wide variety, and you can select the one you want based on style.

Shop here.

Portable Battery Charger

The last thing you want to worry about on a cruise is your phone’s battery.

Purchase the Rechargeable Anker Travel Power Pack so you’ll never have to stop and charge your phone when there are so many other things to do and see.


Cruise Packing Checklist

Looking for an all-in-one cruise packing checklist?

Both men and women can use the list below.

Remember, when packing toiletries, the 3 oz rule does not apply to cruise ships.

You are allowed to bring full-size bottles of shampoos and full tubes of toothpaste.

However, you do need to get those items to your destination.

If you’re planning to fly to the port of departure, then make sure you’re prepared to check the bag where those items are packed.

Additionally, this cruise packing checklist includes a carry-on item list.

There’s a good chance you’ll go at least a few hours the first day without your big suitcases while they’re delivered to your room.

Plan to put anything and everything in your carry-on that you absolutely need for that first day.



Miscellaneous Cruise Items

Carry-On for Pre-Cruise Flight


Source TripSavvy

What Else You Should Bring

Alarm Clock

You may have noticed that an alarm clock is in the “miscellaneous items” section above.

Unbeknownst to most people, most cruise ship cabins don’t have any alarm clocks.

Although the ship does do wake-up calls, it’s a better idea to have your own alarm clock.

You can then set your phone alarm as well as a backup alarm.

This way you won’t risk missing your early departure time for your shore excursion or your scheduled debarkation time.

This alarm clock doesn’t need to be anything fancy.

Although, because of the lack of outlet space, I suggest purchasing one that is battery-powered instead of one that uses an outlet.

Ship Shoes

Make sure you pack a comfortable pair of slip-on shoes that you can wear while on the ship.

While sneakers may be better for your excursion days, you probably won’t want to be lacing those up every time you want to go to the pool or walk around the deck.

Casual footwear is an essential cruise item. 


When you’re handed a cruise itinerary, you’ll want to highlight the events and activities you want to attend.

From dance lessons and trivia contests to cooking demonstrations and pool games, you’ll miss whatever doesn’t physically stand out to you.

Guarantee you make it to everything by packing a highlighter to use.

Credit Cards

These days, cruises are almost entirely cashless, which means you’ll want to bring a credit card to cover your onboard expenses.

These expenses may be restaurant meals, excursions, or drinks at the bar.

Do yourself a favor and pre-authorize your card so you pay a single sum at the end of the voyage instead of charging your card every single time.

Not only is this more convenient, but it also prevents your credit issuer from freezing your credit card for any reason.

TIP: We’d recommend against using your debit card onboard. If there’s a delay in the withdrawal of funds, it can cause a massive backlog in how your card is charged. If this happens, you won’t know how much is truly supposed to be in your account, which can cause bookkeeping issues.

Additionally, if your bank doesn’t realize that you’re on a cruise, they could flag it for suspicious activity and freeze your account, then you could be blocked from making purchases or taking out cash altogether.

Avoid this by using the recommended payment system for your cruise line.

Water Bottle

It’s easy to get dehydrated on a cruise, especially if you’re in warm climates or engaging in numerous activities.

And, if you’re impacted by seasickness, being dehydrated certainly won’t help.

Instead of paying high prices for bottled water and wasting plastic, bring your own reusable water bottle that you can refill.

Look for a sturdy bottle that includes a handle, clip, or holder.


Towel Clips

Purchasing towel clips are truly thinking ahead.

Most people who go on a cruise intend to spend at least a day or two at the beach or lounging by the pool.

Add a breeze into the mix, however, and you can have a frustrating situation on your hands.

These towel clips can prevent your towel from blowing off of your chair in the wind.

As far as travel gadgets for cruises go, totally worth it!

Tote Bag

Don’t leave for your cruise without a collapsible tote bag.

You’ll want something lightweight and foldable that you can easily pack when you’re heading to the pool or spending time off the ship.

Bonus if it’s waterproof and has pockets.

You never know what you’ll want to store inside.

If you’re looking for one to purchase, this Collapsible Travel Tote Bag for Cruise Beach, Shopping & Travel is a great place to start.

It’s an inexpensive investment for a large bag you’ll use countless times on your vacation.


A pair of binoculars is an essential cruise item.

Whether you’re whale watching from the ship or taking an excursion off of it, you’ll want to bring them everywhere you go to improve your eyesight.


You don’t need cash for purchases on the cruise ship.

As mentioned above, these are primarily card transactions.

However, small bills can be helpful for leaving tips and for off-ship excursions.

Think ahead to the type of currency you may need and be sure to have a little bit on hand.

Not having to search for an ATM during your limited excursion time will save you time and eliminate frustrations.

You’ll never know when you’ll need to rent a locker, tip a friendly guide or driver, or purchase the perfect souvenir!

Power Strip

Depending on how many people you’re cramming into a single cabin, there’s no doubt you’ll be fighting over the coveted cruise ship outlets.

If you want to make it easy, pack a cruise-approved power strip.

You’ll be able to recharge all of your devices while plugging in any other must-have gadgets (hair styling tools, CPAP machine, etc.).

What do we mean by “cruise-approved”?

Well, standard power strips and extension cords aren’t ship-friendly.

However, you can bring power cubes or outlet extenders that add outlet space in your cabin.

Here’s one example of a Cruise Power Strip with USB Outlets.

You’ll want those USB outlets because they’ll save space for any items (like phones or tablets) that can be plugged in with just a USB.


Source Outdooren

Summing Up My Cruise Essentials List

What essential cruise items and travel gadgets are you bringing for your cruise?

Don’t let packing overwhelm you.

While there are few “extras” you’ll need for this adventure, it’s largely like packing for any other trip.

Start with what you think you need to bring and then refer to my tips above.

One thing is for sure.

You’ll be happy to have all of the essential travel gadgets for cruises on this list.

From extra outlets and lanyards to power banks and credit cards, it’s the little details that make a vacation great.

And if an item doesn’t make it on this trip, you can be sure to bring it on your next cruise.

What are your favorite travel gadgets for cruises? If you have any, comment below!

Are you taking a long flight to the port? Read up on our Travel Tips for Long Flights: How to Survive.

If you are looking for a step-by-step guide to help you plan your next trip, check out The Ultimate Guide to Trip Planning.

If you simply do not have the time to plan your next trip or you just don’t want to do it, why not let us help you? We will create the perfect bespoke itinerary just for you!


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