Cruise Essentials

Cruise Essentials

I recently booked my second cruise. My first cruise was eye-opening. It truly was an amazing experience. There were things that I wish I had brought with me, and things I didn’t need. My next cruise will be more organized and better prepared. It isn’t until February, so I have plenty of time to reflect on my last cruise, recall the things that I liked and didn’t like, and make my lists for the next vacation on the big boat.

I was scrolling through Pinterest when I came across this image:

The Essential Cruise Packing Checklist #infographic

It’s pretty spot on, but I want to go through these “20 Essential Items” and talk about each of them and tell you why I think they are truly essential or not.

1. Travel Documents

These are must haves. Of course you have to pack up your tickets, your passport, your ID, and any confirmation paperwork that you have. It’s even a good idea to pack copies of them in your suitcase as well. I’ve even read about some people packing triplicates in their carry-on as well. You can never be too prepared with this section of item. Be prepared for anything when it comes to this class of essential items. Better safe, than sorry.

2. Credit Cards

Not only do I think that it’s wise to travel with credit cards, but I think you can get more bang for your buck with them. If you have cards that have rewards built into them, you could even come out with a nice gift for going on vacation and spending. Now the warnings. Notify your card companies that you are traveling. This way they will know where to expect charges. It will mean less headaches. They won’t think it’s fraud, and if something goes on outside of your travel area they can flag those transactions as fraud. Something new we have to be aware of is those chips in the cards. Those new chips send out a small signal that can be picked up which has your personal data on it. The wonderful thing is that wallets and even tiny little sleeves that you can pick up from your banks can block those signals and help protect you. I’ve seen a lot of stylish wallets for women out there. Just look for RFID blocking wallets. Since I’m a guy, you’re in luck, men. Here’s one that I have been thinking about buying from Amazon.

3. Windproof Jacket

More important than windproof, make sure that it’s a lightweight/compact/rainproof jacket. This way it takes up less space in your luggage and your day bag while on excursions, but you will have it with you while out and about in the tropics. You never know when those rains might come in. This is something I didn’t bring with me on my first cruise and definitely wish I had with me for one of my excursion days and also for the evenings on the deck of the boat. It’s nice to be out on the deck of the boat and see the stars, but those winds can get cold. Here’s the jacket that I’m looking at getting.

4. Comfortable Shoes

Not only do the women need multiple pairs of comfortable shoes, but so do the men. You need at least a pair of casual shoes, a pair of dressier shoes for formal dining if you’re going to the dining hall for dinner that night, and I might suggest some water shoes for the rocky beaches if you plan on doing any excursions to the shores. My feet would have liked that on the last cruise. The sand was nice, but the water line was rocky and would have been more enjoyable with some shoes. I know they take up room in the luggage, but remember that you wear a pair on your travel day, so wear your bulkiest pair that day. I’m looking at these water shoes.

5. Lightweight Backpack

The reason you would need one is to carry your items around on the ship, or on your excursions. I have my amazing carry-on bag that I use for everything. It’s a Timbuk2 bag. I have a special additional insert for my dSLR, and it’s still big enough to carry everything else that I need. It’s truly amazing. Now, if you want something more compact, I’ve also looked at this bag as well. It says it’s women’s, but if you get past the name, it truly looks unisex. It’s very rugged and looks large enough to hold many of our manly needs. Really, you just need to throw a towel or whatever you want to lug around all day in there.

6. Smart Evening Wear

Some cruise ships have very strict clothing policies for dinner. Please check with your cruise line on what’s acceptable for dinner. From what I’ve read, most will accept nice slacks, a button down shirt, and a jacket. If I’m going that far, I’m throwing on a tie, but that’s me. I even brought my tux with me for formal night, but I like fancy dinners. If you keep your choices simple, you can get away with one suit, an additional jacket, a few tie choices, and one pair of dress shoes for the week. If you like more fancy clothing, pack a few more choices.

7. Swimsuits

Yes, that’s plural. It’ll be hard to get one suit dry from day to day, so unless you don’t mind a damp suit, pack a second one. You might be walking around the deck looking for a chair, or walking around town, or taking a cab to the beach of your choice. It’s nice to have a dry suit. Pro tip: pack some gallon zip baggies to throw your wet suit into for your ride back from the beach if you want to be dry for that ride back and keep everything else in your bag dry as well.

8. Broad Rim Hat or Baseball Cap

Besides tons of sunscreen for your delicate skin, you’ll want to block some rays out of your face and eyes with a hat of some sort. I didn’t pack a hat with me on the last cruise, but luckily an excursion we took gave away caps as a gift on their snorkeling adventure to remember their company. I was thankful for that cap for the rest of the trip. I wore it every day. I’m sure they add it into the cost of their excursions, but it’s free advertising for them as well by those of us who wear the caps for the rest of the day(s) we are on vacation.

9. First-Aid Kit and Medication

Obviously bring any prescription medication you may need, but it’s a good idea to just pack a little kit with a few band-aids, some bug spray, sunscreen, aloe, anti-septic ointment, indigestion tablets, motion sickness tablets, and pain reliever. It won’t take up much room, but I hear the trip to the medics station on the ship is a mighty expensive one. I know these essential items in the gift shops on the boat were expensive, so I can only imagine they’re just as expensive from the medic.

10. Sunglasses

This really seems like a no-brainer, but I almost forgot mine in the car at the airport. You’re going to be in a sunny destination and on the water. Make sure you have some good UV protection for your eyes. It’s a must.

11. Toiletries and Sunscreen311_web-icon_20070718

I know I’ve mentioned sunscreen a few times now. It’s worth mentioning again. Wear it. Apply it before you leave your cabin in the morning and re-apply it throughout the day. Your skin will appreciate it. I’ll leave the rest up to you on what you think you need. I can get away with just my toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant. The cabin has shampoo and soap. It’s not the best, but they have it. If you want your own specifics, bring them.  If you need a razor and gel, you’ll just have to check them with a bag if you’re flying in. Remember the 3-1-1 rule. No more than 3.4 oz containers of liquids, go into a 1 quart bag, and only 1 bag per person.

12. UV Lip Balm

I think this may be a bit much. If you can get some, great. I’d probably get some and forget to use it, but I know I’m a big user of sunscreen, so I should probably think of this as my sunscreen as well. I have used this product before and really liked it.

13. Refillable Water Bottle

I didn’t have one on my last cruise, but I did drink a lot of water. Luckily for me, I bought a drink package which included bottled water, and I took advantage of that as much as possible. Check with your cruise as soon as you can about drink packages. My drink package included everything possible and was well worth the cost. I drank a ton on that cruise. The mixed drinks, coffees, teas, water, juice, everything was included in my package. Now, if you don’t want to go that route, the water is all purified on the ship, so you can drink any of it, and refill your bottles from any fountain or tap and it’s all the same. I’m going to bring this bottle with me for excursions.

14. Fruit Concentrate

I think this is a great idea if you have the room for some more fluids to pack. Those little flavor squeezes for water, or even the dry packs would be a great addition to freshen up some drab water if you decide not to take a drink package and want to just have some flavor. Bring some variety for the week.

15. Portable Speakers

I personally think this is a bad idea. I think it’s a bit inconsiderate and rude to play your music for others to listen to. That’s just my opinion. I don’t see any place or time for this item to be used. It’s tight quarters on the ship, so the only time I could see using them would be at the beach, and even then, I’m not one to play my music in public spaces. I’d rather just use my headphones.

16. Plug Adapters

As the picture suggests, check with the cruise first to see if you need them. I know the cruise I went on had standard plugs for here in the US, and so does the next cruise ship. It even has USB outlets built in.

17. Device Chargers

Not only do you want to pack your standard charges for the room, but you want to consider portable chargers as well. I have several portable chargers that I always travel with and will bring with me on this cruise. It’s always good to have that back-up charge when away from outlets.

18. Binoculars

I didn’t pack any on the last cruise, nor do I plan on packing any on this cruise. I’m not going on a cruise where I plan on looking for whales, or any far off sights that I can’t go up to. For that reason, I don’t plan on taking binoculars. The zoom on my cameras is plenty enough for me, and I take an excursion each day possible to get off the boat and see the sights and experience the culture. This would just be a waste of space for me. I can use this space for some gifts on the way back.

19. Camera

Since I love taking pictures, I have to bring several cameras with me. I have the camera built into my phone, the dSLR, and a waterproof camera that I will bring with me on this cruise. I’m big into photography. You may not be. If you don’t want to bring all that equipment, use your space on other things. Let me tell you that someone else brought the waterproof camera on the last cruise, and I vowed that I’d bring my own on the next vacation I went on where I could use one. The snorkeling pictures were amazing. I must get some great pictures this time.

20. Surge Protector

I always travel with this surge protector. It was the best little thing that I bought a while back, and I will buy again if I ever need to replace this one. Outlets are limited in your cabin. I highly suggest that you bring a surge protector to give you a few more outlets that are going to protect your valuable electronics. I know I travel with my phone, cameras, ipad, kindle, computer, and extra batteries, so I want that surge protection. It’s just a wise thing to have.


By no means is this an exhaustive list, or even the best list. This is just a list that I saw and wanted to write about.


All the best.

Cruise on,

Jason Geldmacher


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