A Cruise Packing List to Ensure You Have the Essentials Before Boarding

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Credit: Flickr, Emily Burnett

Sticking to a cruise packing list can really save you a lot of hassle. 

After all, once you board the ship you will be seriously limited in your options. Sure, you can get the essentials at one of the shops. But they will cost you a premium and you probably won't get your favorite brands. So it is best to avoid all of that ahead of time and anticipate your needs. If you have taken several cruises in the past, you likely know what those staples are. But it is good to check and double check your cruise packing list just in case. We've taken a comprehensive look at the popular type of seafaring vacation. And in the list below, we'll tell you what you need to remember before yelling "Bon voyage!"

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Must Have Items On Your Cruise Packing List

You probably already know how stressful packing for a trip can be. Not only do you have to make sure you get the essentials. There are also the things you need to take care of at home.

We'll be talking mainly about what you should make sure is included in your luggage. But make sure you also take care of loose ends back home before you leave. This could include halting your mail, asking someone to water your plants or almost anything.

Without spending a lot of time on things like underwear and toothpaste, let's dig in. There are a few things that make a cruise trip different. So don't forget the obvious things you'll need on any trip. But here are some specifics we think belong on any traveler's cruise packing list.

1. Plan to See the Sights

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In years past, this tip might just be to invest in a nice pair of binoculars. But technology has given cruise passengers a few more options. No matter what you choose, you want to make sure you have a good vantage point. Most of the items on our cruise packing list are essentials. And if you're serious about seeing sights you might think this one belongs in that category, too.

Much of the sight seeing you'll do will be from aboard the ship. Sure, you'll want to have a camera for the destination excursions. But while you're on the ship a way to make the distances seem shorter will come in handy.

We're still partial to good old binoculars. Getting yourself a reliable pair will mean clear views of all that the cruise route has to offer. And you can get great versions that also capture the scenery to view later. But whether you like the classics or new technology, make sure you come prepared.

2. Get Ready to Create a Diversion

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Let's be honest, there is plenty to do on a cruise ship. But there are certainly down times. Even if you could find something on the schedule, you probably just want to relax. But you'll often find television and internet either unavailable or very expensive.

Plus, we think part of the fun of setting off on a seafaring trip is unplugging from the mainland. We like to take some old fashioned diversions like magazines and books.

Of course, there are also plenty of technological gadgets that you can use on a cruise ship. One of the most obvious is an e reader or some type of tablet. This way you can take a wide variety of reading material. If you go this route, though, make sure you also have a reliable charger. 

3. Prepare for a Fall

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We all hope our getaway will go off without a hitch. But if you've been on a few trips, you have probably stumbled or cut yourself somehow. You'll be in new places, getting active and maybe even drinking a bit more than usual.

If you think that could add up to some minor injuries, we agree. That's why we recommend taking along a small first aid kit. You don't want to take up precious luggage space, but the basics could come in handy.

Of course, there are medical professionals on board if anything major goes wrong. But even if it's just a blister from all the walking, a first aid kit could be a small blessing.

4. Choose your Clothing Strategically

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You know you've got to wear something on your cruise. And you might even have a pretty good idea of what you'll bring. But we encourage you to think of all possibilities. Since cruises will take you different climates, it is important to look into weather forecasts.

The best advice we've got is to embrace layers. We like to take lighter coats or sweaters we can toss on if the temperature takes a dip.

In addition to staying comfortable, it is important to pack an appropriate wardrobe. To make sure you'll be in style, you might want to check with your cruise line. Its website will probably have some important details. While cruises used to be packed with fancy dresses and suits, that has changed some. You'll probably want to pack some nice clothing, but it is probably safe to leave the tux at home.

5. Prioritize Luggage Space

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Even if you only have a short drive to the ship, space will still be limited on board. So it is best to check with your cruise line to make sure you're not taking too much.

Many ships will limit each passenger to two small suitcases. The company might try to encourage you to bring just one. Of course, the reason is that space is at a premium on the ship. So you'll want to make sure you have all the essentials before adding on unneeded accessories. 

This is even more important for those who have to fly their departure point. You probably already know the limitations and added fees associated with air travel. So we recommend making a first cruise packing list, then double checking it. If there's anything you don't think you will miss while enjoying your cruise, consider leaving it behind.

6. Pack Shoes That Are Up to the Task

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With space at a premium, shoes just take up too much room. While it would be great to have a pair for every occasion, you need to find versatile footwear.

For men or women, we recommend taking only two pairs if possible. Comfortable sneakers, sandals or other footwear will go a long way on excursions. And let's face it, there will be a lot of walking on board the ship, too. Wear this pair on the trip to board the ship since you'll be on your feet a lot that day.

The other pair should be a sensible pair of dressy shoes. Don't go too formal, since you'll probably still be doing a lot of walking. But we recommend going for something black and comfortable that will accentuate any dinner wear.

7. Protect Your Eyes and Skin

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Credit: Amazon

Much like a trip to the beach, you'll want to make sure the sun is your friend and not your enemy. You'll probably be spending a lot of time sunbathing. So your cruise packing list should include all the proper safeguards.

Primarily, we think you should pack the type of sunscreen you like most. There are a lot of types and grades, so choose something that matches your exposure and skin type. Of course, you'll probably find alternatives on board if you forget. But again, those will probably be more expensive and you'll have limited selection.

Also, don't forget great sunglasses. You don't have to spend a fortune to get reliable eye protection. After all, there's a good chance they will get scratched, broken or lost on the trip. For that reason, we suggest carrying a pair you like and potentially a second pair as well. They won't take up much room. But if you end up needing them and don't have them, you'll likely regret it.

8. Be Sure to Leave Some Empty Space

cruise packing list

Credit: Amazon

It might seem strange to leave space in your suitcase when you're already limiting what you take. But trust us, if you're like most passengers, you'll be relieved.

No matter your intentions, chances are you'll find more than a few trinkets you'd like to take back. Whether they are souvenirs for friends and family or just some goodies for you, you'll want to spend. And if you don't get it while you're there, you might not get the chance again.

So, of course we recommend keeping the size and quantity of these keepsakes to a minimum. But we don't want you to feel that you missed out because you didn't have any space. We recommend including a remedy in any cruise packing list. A small pouch or other container will give you dedicated space to bring back memories.


Now You're Ready to Head Out On a Seafaring Adventure....

With the proper game plan, you don't have to worry about leaving anything behind. And if you know you've got everything you need, you can just focus on the important things. On a cruise, that probably means a lot of fun and relaxation.

We hope our guide has helped relieve some stress related to creating a cruise packing list. If so, consider sharing it with the cruise lovers in your life. And leave us a comment below if you have any final thoughts or questions. 

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