Cruise packing list

Cruise Packing List

Are you wondering what to pack for your next cruise? No matter where you’re heading, traveling is a thrilling experience, from the moment you book your journey to the fulfillment you feel as you sail home. Part of the excitement is packing for your voyage. What will you wear as you explore the Dalmatian Coast, for example, or as you go whale watching in Alaska?

Whether you’re about to cruise the pristine waters of Alaska or the balmy harbors of the Mediterranean, you want to pack the most important items for comfort and relaxation. After all, you probably won’t feel like running to the store for sunscreen when you’re lounging on a beach in Tahiti.

In this post, we’ll help turn packing into a stress-free experience, so that you can look forward to your cruise with peace of mind.

Table of Contents

What Can Affect Your Packing List

A cruise offers a variety of experiences, and you’ll need to pack accordingly. This means you’ll want to pack items for your time on the cruise ship as well as for exploring the different ports. You’ll also want to consider what you need to bring for a comfortable flight to and from the departure port. Keeping all of your destinations in mind, here are aspects of your journey that impact your ideal packing list:

  • Weather: To make sure you’re comfortable during your voyage, it’s a good idea to pack weather-appropriate clothing. You’ll need to consider the climate of where you’re going, as well as the season. Check the weather forecast before you leave, and be prepared for rain no matter where you’re heading.
  • Ports and excursions: Where will you be stopping during your cruise, and do you have any excursions planned? For example, if you plan to spend a lot of time on the beach in the Caribbean, remember to pack beach essentials like sunscreen and sunglasses. If you plan to explore temples in Indonesia, make sure to bring comfortable shoes.
  • Cruise activities: Consider the activities you can enjoy while you’re on board, and how you can pack accordingly. For example, if you’re sailing with Windstar Cruises, you might pack your favorite dancing shoes to wear to a live music performance, or your swimsuit so you can enjoy the Watersports Platform. Many cruise ships offer enjoyable activities and entertainment for guests, so keep this in mind while you pack.
  • Length of the cruise: Consider how long you’ll be cruising, as this will help you decide how much you need to bring. While many cruises last for one to two weeks, some cruises sail for a month or more. If you plan to take a longer cruise, you can still pack light and add laundry service to your package instead of bringing a month’s supply of clothes.

What to Pack for Your Cruise

Proper packing helps you save money, so you don’t have to buy the items you forgot while you’re traveling. It also helps ensure you have a safe and relaxing journey. Before you start packing, make a list of everything you plan to do and experience. Then write down the top items you should bring to help you make the most of each experience. The goal is to pack as light as possible without forgetting the most important items. You’ll likely want to leave yourself plenty of time to pack, so you don’t have to rush around and risk forgetting something.

Although your packing list will vary depending on personal needs and where you’re going, here are some general items you won’t want to leave at home.

1. Travel Documents and Paperwork

Travel documents, such as passports and visas, should be at the top of your packing checklist. While replacing a forgotten pair of sunglasses may be easy, leaving your passport behind can prevent your departure.

Make a list of all the documents you need for your cruise and excursions, and contact your cruise line if you have any questions. Here are some items you may need to include:

  • Airline tickets
  • Passport
  • Visas
  • Vaccination certificate
  • Copies of your airline tickets and cruise tickets
  • Copies of your passport and visas
  • Copies of your itinerary
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Copies of medication prescriptions and medical history
  • Email and home addresses of friends and family

2. Wallet Necessities

You’ll probably want to have your wallet when you enter the Grand Casino in Monte Carlo and not discover you left it at home. Part of your journey is having the freedom to enjoy the different ports, excursions and activities. You’ll want to be able to taste new flavors when a delectable pastry catches your eye, or purchase a handmade souvenir you know you’ll regret not buying. For these reasons and more, you certainly don’t want to leave your wallet behind. Keep your wallet in your carry-on along with your travel documents so that they’re with you at all times until you reach your ship. Make sure your wallet contains the following:

  • Driver’s license or another government-issued identification card
  • Auto insurance card
  • Medical insurance cards
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Small amount of cash for tipping and buying snacks and inexpensive souvenirs

3. Electronics and Chargers

It’s up to you whether you wish to bring certain electronics or not, but some items, like your mobile phone, are must-haves. You might appreciate other items, like your MP3 player and headphones, when you want to hit the Fitness Center.

Think about how your electronics can enhance your journey, and leave anything you “might use” behind. If you happen to leave some DVDs behind, for example, don’t fret. Our Wind Star ship has a library where guests can borrow DVDs or books and relax between destinations. Here are some electronics you may want to bring along, however:

  • Electronic book and charger
  • Plug adapter and converter
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Waterproof phone case
  • Underwater camera
  • Digital camera, extra memory cards and batteries
  • MP3 player
  • Headphones
  • Nightlight
  • Small flashlight

4. Reading Materials

You may want to pack a few of your favorite reading materials to help you through a long flight, or to add to the relaxation of cruising deep blue seas. If you’ll be visiting a foreign country, consider bringing a language dictionary or phrasebook so you can chat with locals. You’re bound to love saying, “Grazie,” for your limoncello while you’re in Italy rather than, “Thank you.”

You may also want to bring along writing materials like a travel journal or notebook so you can jot down moments you never want to forget. Include these items in your carry-on bag or checked luggage:

  • Reading glasses
  • Guidebook
  • Foreign language dictionary
  • Maps
  • Novels
  • Journal

5. Medical Necessities

To keep minor ailments or seasickness from impacting your cruise, you can prepare for the unexpected and pack the right supplies. Consider your itinerary and what you may need to bring. For example, if you plan to explore the jungle in Costa Rica, you’ll likely want to pack insect repellent.

It’s also important to bring your prescription medications and a copy of your prescriptions from your doctor. Although a doctor will be onboard when you sail with Windstar Cruises, special medications may not be available if you run out. The ship doctor has common medications like aspirin or seasickness medication on hand. Pack the following items to stay healthy and comfortable while you enjoy your cruise:

  • Prescription medications and other necessary medicines
  • Earplugs
  • Compact first aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent

6. A Variety of Clothing

Choosing the right clothing for a cruise depends on several factors. First, check your cruise ship’s dress code. Some ships may not have any dress code, while others ask guests to wear more formal attire for certain evenings.

For example, there are no formal nights on a Windstar Cruise, but we ask guests to wear casually elegant attire for evening dinners.

Other than considering the cruise ship’s style, think about where you’re heading and the type of clothing you’ll need. For example, if you’re traveling to Monte Carlo, make sure to pack a formal dress or a jacket and tie. If you’re going to hike in Alaska, you can leave behind the evening gown, but make sure to pack the right gear like wool socks and waterproof pants.

Also, try to pack clothes that are easy to mix and match so you can pack lighter, and aim to bring layers so you can adjust to temperature changes. Overall, bring what makes you feel stylish and comfortable. Here are some clothing essentials:

  • Underwear
  • Pajamas
  • Socks
  • Belts
  • Ties
  • Swimsuit
  • Swimsuit cover-up
  • Workout clothes
  • Formal outfit
  • Shorts
  • Capri pants
  • Slacks
  • Sundress
  • Cocktail dress
  • Collared shirts
  • Various tops including sleeveless and long-sleeved
  • Sweatshirt
  • Sweater

7. Shoes

Once you reach each port, you’ll want to be able to explore. You’ll need to bring your most comfortable shoes so you can enjoy walking around, shopping, museum-hopping or whatever it is you plan to do. Aim to bring shoes you already know fit well, and you’ll reduce the chance of getting sore feet. Consider bringing the following types of shoes:

  • Rubber sandals
  • Flip-flops
  • Walking shoes
  • Hiking shoes
  • Evening shoes

8. Weather Protection

Although you’ll want to bring gloves to keep your hands warm during an autumnal cruise to northern Europe, you may not need to pack gloves if you’re sailing to the Caribbean. You should always prepare for rain no matter where your ship takes you, though. You’ll also want to consider bringing a wide-brimmed hat to protect you from the sun. Here are some other suggestions:

  • Small umbrella or poncho
  • Gloves
  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Raincoat with hood
  • Windbreaker
  • Sunglasses

9. Toiletries

It can be tempting to bring a ton of toiletries, but there’s no need to go overboard. You can easily get many toiletries throughout your voyage, and your cruise ship may provide certain toiletries for you. For example, at Windstar Cruises, we supply guests with elegant bath products, so you can leave the soap and shampoo behind. Likewise, we equip our staterooms and suites with hairdryers, so there’s no need to haul a hairdryer with you.

If you’re flying to the departure port, you won’t be allowed to take too many toiletries in your carry-on anyway, and toiletries kept in checked baggage could explode and damage your clothes. According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), you’re only allowed to bring small 3.4-ounce containers that can fit into a quart-sized bag in your carry-on, and larger containers must go in your checked luggage. You can save yourself the hassle, and pack as few toiletries as possible. Items may include:

  • Soap
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Styling products
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Tweezers
  • Make-up mirror
  • Facial cleanser
  • Moisturizer
  • Razor
  • Shaving cream
  • Contact lenses and solution
  • Nail clippers
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Aloe gel

10. Miscellaneous

The following items aren’t necessarily must-haves, but they can add convenience, comfort and pleasure to your voyage. For instance, while you don’t need to bring costume jewelry on your cruise, and you should certainly leave valuable jewelry at home, wearing jewelry can enhance your experience when you’re dining at an elegant restaurant or touring a world-renowned museum. It’s all about the experience and enjoying yourself. Here are some items you may wish to bring:

  • Ziploc bags
  • Garbage or laundry bags
  • Corkscrew
  • Playing cards
  • Travel size detergent
  • Clothespins
  • Tote bag or lightweight backpack
  • Portable cabin fan
  • Wristwatch
  • Waterproof dry bag
  • Money belt
  • Refillable bottle
  • Toiletry bag
  • Costume jewelry
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Binoculars

11. Flight Must-Haves

You can increase the comfort of your flight to and from the departure port by thoughtfully packing your carry-on bag. Items like an eye mask and earplugs may help you reach your destination feeling more rested than if you struggled to nap on the plane. If your flight is only a few hours long, you may not need to bring some of the items on this list. Maybe just bring a good book so you can watch the time zip by with the clouds.

Along with your wallet and travel documents, which you must carry with you, consider packing the following items for the flight:

  • Travel pillow
  • Travel blanket
  • Eye mask
  • Earplugs
  • Books
  • Electronic chargers
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Tissues
  • Snacks and gum
  • Change of clothes
  • Empty water bottle
  • Medications for the flight
  • Essential toiletries
  • Passports and paperwork
  • Wallet with cash and credit cards
  • House and car keys

What to Pack in Your Carry-On Luggage

After you arrive at the cruise ship port terminal, you’ll hand off your luggage to porters as the ship prepares to embark on your exciting journey. Even though the crew will take the utmost care of your precious valuables, you may not see your luggage again for several hours — maybe even after dinner. Think about what items you can’t live without until at least a day after you board the ship so that you know what to pack in your cruise carry-on bag.

Besides the items going inside your bag, it also helps to consider what type of luggage you’ll take on the cruise. The bag or case you choose depends on your personal preference, what activities you have planned and whether you’re using it while flying. Consider the following types of luggage bags you can bring with you as your cruise carry-on:

  • Suitcase: A suitcase with wheels is probably the best type of carry-on luggage bag for you if you plan on bringing a lot of items with you. Since it has wheels, you can roll it with you wherever you go and put less pressure on your back.
  • Backpack: If you’re engaging in outdoor activities and need something light to carry with you on your journey, consider using a backpack as your carry-on luggage. It may not have as much space as a suitcase or duffel bag, but it’s large enough to bring your essentials with you as you wait for your luggage to arrive.
  • Tote bag: A tote bag is convenient to bring on your day on the beach or when walking through a historic town. Blend in with the locals and bring a colorful tote instead of lugging a backpack or wheeling a suitcase. A tote bag is easy to carry around, but it only has enough space for your essentials.
  • Duffel bag: A duffel bag is a versatile option available with or without wheels. Like a suitcase, it has plenty of room and is easy to carry. If you get one without wheels, it will be flexible enough to fit in a confined location. Find one with a bold color to find it easily in baggage claim at the airport.

After figuring out what type of bag you want to bring with you, you may want to pack the following items in your carry-on so you can have fun and not miss a single minute of your cruise experience. Use this cruise carry-on packing list as a guide for what you might want to bring instead of all the items in your carry-on luggage.

1. Important Documents and Valuables

When you board the cruise, you’ll need to show your passport for international travel or a government-issued ID. It helps to have these documents on hand so that you have peace of mind throughout your stay. It’s also best to keep them near you at all times so you can return home safely and efficiently. You may also want to have a printed copy of your excursion’s confirmation information. Think about the documents and essentials you can’t live without while the crew is processing your checked luggage.

Consider packing some of the following items in your cruise carry-on luggage:

  • Passport
  • Travel visa
  • Travel insurance
  • Auto insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Information about your medical history
  • List of emergency contacts
  • Cash or credit card
  • Government-issued photo ID
  • Cruise lanyard
  • The plane boarding pass

2. Medication and Vitamins

Whether you take prescription medication or want to have some over-the-counter pills for any unexpected sickness on the cruise, consider keeping some remedies in your cruise carry-on luggage. Having the proper medication with you can save you the trouble of waiting hours to relieve pain or nausea. Think worst-case scenario about which pills you’d want to have on you if your luggage is delayed or lost.

Here are some ideas for medication to get you thinking about which ones would help you enjoy your cruise to the fullest:

  • Prescription medications
  • Motion sickness patches
  • Sea bands
  • Non-drowsy Dramamine
  • Bonine
  • Ginger candies
  • First-aid kit
  • Allergy medication or epi-pen
  • Over-the-counter pain medication
  • Vitamins
  • Probiotics

3. Toiletries and Cleaning Supplies

As you plan to stay clean, safe and healthy during your vacation, you may want to pack a set of travel-sized toiletries and cleaning supplies in your carry-on. You may have to wait several hours before the crew reunites you with your checked luggage. After traveling across state lines, going through immigration or transitioning from a cold to warm environment, it’s helpful to freshen up a bit before you head over to your first activity on your cruise.

Bring the following cleaning supplies and toiletries so you can keep up with your itinerary:

  • Travel-sized hand sanitizer
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Hairbrush
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Special hair treatment
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen

4. Change of Clothes

Since you may not have access to your checked luggage for a while after getting off the ship, think about what excursions and activities you have planned. Whether you want to go for a walk on the beach or dress up for an elegant dinner, make sure you have the proper attire for the occasion. You may want to wear your sneakers or comfortable shoes while traveling because they can take up a lot of space. Think about packing your carry-on luggage with the following items:

  • Jewelry
  • Bathing suit
  • Cover up
  • Flip-flops
  • Sandals
  • Sunglasses
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Activity-appropriate attire
  • Windbreaker
  • Workout gear

5. Electronics and Tech

Even though these items may take up a lot of room in your carry-on, having them on you will give you peace of mind if your luggage is lost or delayed. If you’d worry about having your valuables stolen while in transit to your ship, especially at the airport, you’ll want to keep them close to you. Think about what electronics you plan on using the most during your cruise.

You might not need all these items with you while you wait, but with unlimited Wi-Fi as part of our all-inclusive cruise package, you might want to consider having them on hand:

  • Camera
  • Smartphone
  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • Kindle
  • Cruise-approved travel power strip
  • Portable charger
  • Headphones
  • Universal adapter
  • Waterproof phone case

6. Miscellaneous Essentials

You don’t have to pack everything in your carry-on luggage bag, but there may be some items you want to have with you while you wait for your checked luggage to arrive. As you consider which activities are next on your itinerary, consider having the following items handy instead of waiting until after dinner to get them:

  • Towel clips
  • Book
  • Reading glasses
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Wine or champagne
  • Pen
  • Sweets or snacks
  • Packing cubes

Contact a Windstar Vacation Planner

Are you still wondering what to pack for a cruise to Asia or another exotic destination? We understand that packing is an important part of planning your cruise, and that’s why we’re here to help.

A Windstar Vacation Planner is only a phone call away, waiting to take the stress out of every aspect of your cruise, from planning shore excursions to helping you create the best cruise packing list for your unique journey. Allow Windstar to plan your voyage for you, every step of the way. Contact us today!

Contact a Windstar Vacation Planner

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