What Do I Need to Pack for My First Cruise? What to Bring or Not Bring?

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a cruise ship docked at a dock

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a cruise ship on a dock

I’m going on a cruise! All I need is a bathing suit and some summer clothes, right? Well, that all depends on several things including whether you’re going on a Caribbean cruise or an Alaskan cruise, for one! Also some lines have stricter dinner dining requirements, that is, you need to dress up a bit.

a large stone amphitheater with people standing around

The destination of your cruise is the first big determining factor in what you need to bring. If you aren’t sure about the weather conditions for any of your ports of call on your cruise, look up what you can expect for the time of year you will be there before you even go get your suitcase out of the attic or basement! We have found either way it is wise to have a light jacket even for tropical vacations just in case as it can get cold, and windy, at night.

a white bag with black text and a receipt

The length of your cruise can also help you determine how many clothes you need to pack. With certain levels of your cruise line’s loyalty program status, Platinum and above on Latitudes Rewards on NCL for example, you get a free bag of laundry during your qualifying cruise. But even without status you may see an advertisement placed in your room by the room steward with a discount on a bag of laundry (or even ask if this is available). This alone can reduce the amount of clothing needed substantially.

Like a hotel, cruise lines generally all provide the same basics as most hotels: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap, and a hair dryer. You can even ask for things like toothbrush or a razor if you forgot them or buy them in the ship’s gift shop.

Other standard things we always take, because it can be hard or impossible to find, is OTC cold medications just in case we end up needing them. If you are a reader plenty of books or load up your kindle! Some other handy things we have found useful to bring on our cruise vacations include:

a close up of an umbrella

Small compact umbrellas – you never know when your shore excursion you’ve been looking forward to is going to take place in the rain. Failing to bring your own small umbrellas can result in having to purchase “souvenir” umbrellas wherever you are. On NCL you are provided with a large umbrella if you are booked in a suite, but these can be cumbersome when going ashore especially if a tender is required.

a bag with different items on it

A small backpack – When you go on a shore excursion sometimes it’s nice to bring a bottle of water from the ship, or sunscreen, or those umbrellas and who wants to shove all of those things in your pockets?! Whether a drawstring type or a single strap over one shoulder type a small backpack can really help keep all your little items handy and in one place.

a pair of black mesh bags

Pop-Up Hampers – Space is a premium in cruise cabins, so what do you do with your dirty clothes until you can send them to laundry or pack them back into your bag to take home? Rather than having a pile of dirty clothes in the floor of the closet, these hampers provide an easy solution to that sort of mess!

 

a group of blue bags

These awesome 311 TSA bags – Tired of trying to cram all of your 3oz toiletries into a worn out quart sized zip top bag? These zippered bags are really durable and awesome to use. With the fabric sides they don’t tend to crack like the cheap ones made entirely out of plastic do.

Those are some of my packing tips for you to make your cruise vacation stress free and even more enjoyable! – René

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. René, one of my must pack cruise items is a European plug socket USB charger base. Instead of messing around with an adapter, I found it was easier to just buy one of these to charge some of my USB devices making use of the Euro socket found in most cabins. I also have a GB style USB base, though on my preferred line (Oceania) it isn’t useful. It is useful however when flying BA or staying in the UK. Mrs. DLPTATL has taken this one step further an purchased a Euro plug curling iron (see tip below) because she says that the plug socket on the desk by the mirror is usually a Euro one.

    TIP: If you ever find yourself delayed in Europe and your trip delay coverage kicks in on your insurance plan or CC it’s a great “necessity” to purchase. You can usually find in an airport store or even one of the tech vending machines.

    • @DLPTATL – Great point as it seems almost all ships have standard European outlets. Our insider author does say you can go to guest services and ask if they have an adapter if you forgot one – but YMMV.

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