The Ultimate Packing List for the First-time Cruiser

My first cruise!  For years, I thought that I would never be able to go, but when my son’s school needed chaperones to accompany students on their Senior Trip, I gladly volunteered!  Little did I know though, that there are some definite must-haves and must-dos in order to make your cruising experience enjoyable and hassle-free.  Here is what I learned:

Before Your Trip:

1. Make sure that you do your research on the various cruise lines, ships, activities, and offshore excursions. We wanted to be in a more family-friendly atmosphere, so our school selected Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas.

  1. The last thing you want is a huge unplanned expense, so carefully read the fine print and understand how gratuities work, etc.
  2. Do your research on the different offshore excursions that the cruise ship is offering. While it’s possible to book activities while on board the ship, keep in mind that the more popular outings will fill up quickly. Also, it is highly recommended that you book your excursion through the cruise line, rather than going through other companies that you can find while at the port.  Cruises run on time, so if you book your day trip with someone that the boat does not normally do business with, they will not wait for you if you are running late.
  3. Make sure that you fill out and print all the cruise documents ahead of time. This makes for stress and hassle-free experience when you check in.
  4. Make sure that you understand what forms of identification you need to bring. If you need to bring a passport, then make copies of the passport in case something happens to the original.
  5. Purchase the drink package ahead of time. You’ll be glad you did.
  6. Remember to turn your phone on airplane mode before you leave the US Port or you’ll be slapped with huge roaming fees from your cell phone company. If you need to stay in touch with family and friends, you can check with your provider to see what plans they offer while on the cruise or purchase the internet packages that are available on board.
  7. Check the ten-day weather forecast before you leave and pack accordingly.

Packing Lists:


  1. Make sure to bring your prescription meds with you and keep them in their original bottles.
  2. Bring the basics: Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Pepto, Gas-X, Imodium, Cortisone, Allergy Meds, Benadryl, Aquaphor, and a small first aid kit.  You can always buy this stuff on the ship, but it’s super pricey.
  3. Motion sickness medication – I packed the non-drowsy Dramamine and only had to use it when we went snorkeling for the day. I also bought ginger candy which helped with the queasiness I initially felt when we first left port.  You can also try the sea bands that are worn on your wrists or ask your doctor to give you a prescription for the Transderm Scop patch that you can wear behind your ear.


  1. Toothpaste, toothbrush, and floss
  2. Deodorant
  3. Body Lotion
  4. Body wash/soap
  5. Shampoo/Conditioner
  6. Hand sanitizer
  7. Hand Soap for the bathroom
  8. Cosmetics
  9. Hair care products and styling tools – I wouldn’t get too worked up over the state of your hair for this trip. Most things are casual, but there are some evenings where other guests dress-up more formally and take the messy buns and ponytails down.
  10. Sunscreen – I can’t say enough about the importance of this. I got burned (and I never burn) the first day I was there…fell asleep by the pool and didn’t re-apply – ouch!!!
  11. Q-tips
  12. Nail Clippers
  13. Razor and shaving cream


  1. Light sweater – I threw this in my bag at the last minute and I am so glad I did. Even though we in the Caribbean, I found the evenings on deck to be a little chilly and needed a sweater in the theaters and dining room.
  2. Dressy clothes – Find out how many formal nights your cruise has. Although it’s not mandatory, it’s fun to dress up on these evenings.
  3. Workout clothes – If you like to workout, most cruise ships have fully equipped fitness centers with group classes such as yoga and spin. My friend and I signed up for three spin classes and had a wonderful time!
  4. Bathing suits and cover up – You want to bring at least two bathing suits.
  5. Clothes appropriate for the seasons and activities – Don’t overpack…just be comfortable. Depending on the length of your cruise, you might want to include a couple of nice casual clothes for the evening and a dressy outfit or two for the formal nights.


  1. Lanyards – Great way to keep up with your cruise key.
  2. Luggage Tags – Prior to your trip, you’re emailed a link to print out your luggage tags. Save yourself the hassle of losing your suitcase because your tags were accidentally ripped off and purchase these special cruise luggage tags. Remember that the crew has thousands of pieces of luggage to load and deliver in a very short period of time – making sure that your luggage tag doesn’t fall off, is probably not their top priority.  Also take a picture of your suitcase, so that if it does get lost, you have “visual aids” to help the crew locate your stuff.
  3. Carry On – Because you may not get your luggage delivered to your room until late afternoon or early evening, you definitely want to pack a carry on where you include your toiletries, medication, bathing suit, an extra set of clothes, and all your travel documents. Having all this with you means you can spend your first day enjoying the pool and other activities instead of waiting for your stuff to arrive.  This bag can also double as your bag for the pool OR your day trips.
  4. Towel clips – Great for keeping your towel anchored to your lounge chair and for marking your territory by the pool.
  5. Magnetic hooks – Staterooms are very small and have very little storage. So, these hooks come in handy to hang up a wet suit, jackets, hats, etc.
  6. Nightlight – Nightlights are very helpful, especially if you have an interior room.
  7. Poopouri – It’s just common courtesy.
  8. Over the Door shoe bags – This is a great way to organize the small stuff since you have barely-there counter space.
  9. Hanging toiletry bag – Did I mention there is NO counter space!!!!
  10. Water bottle – Bottled water is super expensive on board, so refilling water bottles throughout the day is a much better way to stay hydrated.
  11. Insulated Coffee Mug – For those of us who cannot function without giant cups of Joe.
  12. Hangers – You don’t get many of these in your room, so pack a few extra, especially if you’re on a longer cruise.
  13. Small bills – You will find that the staff on your ship are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Please tip them and treat them well!
  14. Power strip – Non-surge protection – Cruise ships do not allow surge protectors or regular power strips on board.  For more information on that, please read up on what the rules are for your particular cruise line.  However, if you need additional outlets, there are devices available that are non-surge protection power trips.

I hope you found this list helpful!  Happy Cruising!!!


Where to Buy
Luggage tags for Cruises
Towel Clips
Magnetic Hooks
Wall outlet and nightlight
Insulated Water bottle and Coffee Mug
Lightweight Day Backpack

Luggage tags for Cruises

These clear luggage tags are designed to hold your cruise luggage tags securely in place.  They are also great to keep on your luggage as general ID tags when you aren’t traveling on a ship.


These lanyards are a great way to carry your cruise key card around.  The water-resistant resealable plastic pouch keeps moisture out and is attached to a detachable lanyard.  In this five pack, you get the colors black, red, royal blue, green, and white to help you keep everyone organized.

Towel Clips

These giant size clips will accommodate almost any lounge chair and keep your towel from blowing overboard!  The different colors make it easy to share and organize among family and friends.

Magnetic Hooks

With these hooks, we were able to hang up wet bathing suits, towels, lanyards, and sweaters!

Wall outlet and nightlight

This cruise ship approved wall outlet and nightlight provides additional USB ports, outlets and a nightlight all in one.  You can even turn off the nightlight if you’d like.

Insulated Water bottle and Coffee Mug

I was so thankful that I packed this in my suitcase!  This water bottle kept my cold drinks cold the entire day!  It can also keep your coffee and tea warm for several hours!

Lightweight Day Backpack

This water-resistant backpack served multiple purposes while on the cruise.  I used this as my carry on where I was able to fit basic toiletries, travel documents, bathing suit, extra set of clothes, PJs, and flip flops.  I also brought it with me going to the pool and when we went on our day trips.  This backpack also had several compartments to help keep me organized and another pocket that allowed you to fold the pack away when you no longer needed it.