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52 Things People Forget to Pack for a Cruise (And Regret)

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52 Things People Forget to Pack for a Cruise (And Regret)

Embarking on a cruise is an exciting adventure filled with the promise of breathtaking views, exotic destinations, and unforgettable experiences. However, the thrill of setting sail can sometimes overshadow the meticulous planning required to ensure a smooth voyage. In the midst of packing excitement, it’s not uncommon to overlook essential items that can make or break your cruise experience. In my own maritime escapades, sometime these essentials often slip our minds. As someone who has learned the hard way, I’ve faced the regret of forgetting crucial items on my own journeys at sea.

Join me on a journey through the often-overlooked items that can make or break your cruise experience. As someone who has faced the consequences of forgetfulness firsthand, I’m here to share not just a list, but my personal anecdotes of cruising faux pas. So, fasten your seatbelts – or should I say, secure your life jackets – as we explore the 52 things people forget to pack for a cruise and the regrettable tales that accompany them.

Before we dive into the treasure trove of cruise-packing wisdom, I want to be transparent about something important. This blog post contains affiliate links, carefully curated to enhance your cruise experience. When you click on these links and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Let me assure you, the inclusion of these affiliate links is not just about the commission – it’s about sustaining the very deck we stand on, metaphorically speaking. Your support through these links goes a long way in maintaining this website, fueling its growth, and motivating me to continue crafting insightful articles for your reading pleasure.

Rest assured, the recommendations provided are based on genuine experiences and thorough research. Your trust is invaluable, and I appreciate each click that helps keep the sails billowing and the content flowing.

Journey on a cruise is like entering a floating paradise, but the euphoria can quickly turn to frustration when crucial items are left behind. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unravel the often-overlooked essentials that can make or break your cruise experience. Let’s navigate through the importance of each item, coupled with real-life examples that illuminate their significance.

Passports or Government ID:

Ensure you have the required identification for international travel and port visits.
A cruiser excitedly prepared for a shore excursion in a foreign country but realized at the port that they had left their passport onboard. Having this crucial document on hand is vital for a seamless exploration of international destinations.

Cruise Documents:

Carry all necessary cruise-related paperwork for smooth embarkation and disembarkation.
A cruiser, caught up in the excitement of departure day, forgot to bring their printed cruise documents. This led to delays and added stress during the check-in process. Having all necessary paperwork ensures a hassle-free start to your cruise.

Copy of Important Documents:

Have backups for passports, IDs, and other crucial papers.
A cruiser misplaced their passport temporarily, realizing the peace of mind that comes with having copies of essential documents on hand.

Travel Insurance Information:

Ensure coverage for unforeseen circumstances or emergencies.
A cruiser faced a medical emergency but struggled without immediate access to their travel insurance information. Having it readily available would have expedited the assistance process.

International travel adapter or converter :

An international travel adapter or converter is an indispensable item for your cruise ship vacation. It ensures that you can easily charge your electronic devices, such as phones, cameras, or laptops, regardless of the power outlet type in your cabin or at various ports of call. This adapter provides the necessary versatility and convenience, allowing you to stay connected and powered up throughout your cruise journey, making it an essential tool for any international traveler.

Portable Phone Charger:

Keep your devices powered during excursions or long days ashore.
A cruiser exploring a new port regretted not having a portable charger when their phone battery died, missing out on capturing memorable moments.

Cruise-Approved Power Strip:

Adhere to cruise ship regulations for electrical items.
A cruiser found their non-compliant power strip confiscated by ship staff, highlighting the importance of checking and adhering to cruise policies.

Portable Fan:

Cruise cabins can sometimes be stuffy.
A cruiser endured a warm and uncomfortable night, realizing the value of a portable fan for a cooler and more restful sleep.


Enhance your view of coastal landscapes and wildlife.
A missed opportunity to spot dolphins or scenic details from the ship became a regret for a cruiser without binoculars.

Small Flashlight or Headlamp:

Navigate dimly lit areas on the ship or during excursions.
A cruiser fumbling in the dark during a power outage wished they had a small flashlight or headlamp for added visibility.

Travel-Sized Sewing Kit:

A quick fix for wardrobe malfunctions.
A popped button on formal night led a cruiser to wish they had packed a compact sewing kit for an on-the-spot repair.

Portable humidifier :

A portable humidifier is a valuable companion for your cruise ship vacation, as it helps maintain comfortable humidity levels in your cabin. It typically includes a water reservoir and a misting mechanism. The importance of a portable humidifier lies in its ability to alleviate dryness in the air, which can be especially helpful in air-conditioned cabins, promoting better sleep and overall well-being during your cruise.

Noise-canceling headphones :

Noise-canceling headphones are an indispensable addition to your cruise ship vacation, particularly for creating a serene and enjoyable environment. They typically include padded ear cushions, an adjustable headband, and advanced noise-canceling technology. These headphones offer a peaceful escape from the potential noise of a bustling ship, allowing you to relax, unwind, or enjoy your favorite music or entertainment without disruption, enhancing your overall cruise experience.

Travel-Sized Febreze or Air Freshener:

Keep your cabin smelling fresh during the cruise.
A cruiser, stuck with lingering odors in their cabin, regretted not having a travel-sized air freshener to create a more pleasant atmosphere.

Poo-Pourri :

Poo-Pourri is a discreet yet essential item for your cruise ship vacation. It typically consists of essential oils and natural compounds. This product, when sprayed into the toilet bowl before use, creates a barrier that traps odors beneath the water’s surface, ensuring a pleasant and private bathroom experience while on the ship. Poo-Pourri is your secret weapon for keeping the cabin bathroom fresh and maintaining a considerate and comfortable environment for yourself and fellow travelers.

Cruise Card Holder or Lanyard:

Keep your cruise card easily accessible for smooth transactions and entry.
A cruiser constantly fumbling through their bag for the cruise card wished they had a convenient holder or lanyard.

Electronics organizer :

An electronics organizer is an indispensable tool for your cruise ship vacation. This compact bag ensures that all your electronic devices, charging cables, and accessories remain neatly organized and easily accessible. It not only helps you avoid the frustration of tangled cords but also ensures that you have everything you need to capture memories, stay connected, and entertain yourself during your cruise. By keeping your gadgets and chargers in one place, this organizer simplifies your travel experience, making sure you’re always prepared to capture the beauty of your destination, stay connected with loved ones, and unwind with your favorite entertainment.

Over-the-door organizers :

An over-the-door organizer is a valuable addition to your cruise ship vacation. With limited cabin space, these organizers maximize your storage options, keeping your essentials easily accessible and neatly stowed away. Whether it’s shoes, toiletries, or smaller items, these organizers create order and ensure you don’t waste time searching for things. They make your cabin more efficient and help keep your living space tidy. By utilizing the often underutilized door space, these organizers contribute to a more organized and enjoyable cruise experience, ensuring that you can easily access everything you need without cluttering your room.

Magnetic hooks :

Magnetic hooks are a must-have for your cruise ship vacation. With limited cabin space, they provide a simple yet effective solution for hanging lightweight items like hats, lanyards, or bags, helping you keep your cabin tidy and well-organized. These hooks easily adhere to metal surfaces, such as the cabin walls or doors, creating extra hanging space and ensuring that your essentials are within reach, adding convenience to your cruise experience.

Inflatable Travel Pillow:

Enhance comfort during long flights or bus transfers.
A cruiser endured a discomforting journey to the embarkation port, realizing the value of an inflatable travel pillow for added support.

Collapsible Travel Cup:

Versatile for on-the-go drinks and reducing single-use plastic.
A cruiser, faced with limited drinkware options during excursions, wished they had a collapsible travel cup for convenience.

Motion Sickness Wristbands or Sea-Bands:

Provide relief for those prone to seasickness.
A cruiser spent a day feeling queasy at sea, wishing they had packed motion sickness wristbands for a more comfortable experience.
Sea-Bands are a vital addition to your cruise ship vacation, especially if you’re prone to motion sickness. These bands typically contain a plastic stud that applies acupressure to a specific wrist point. They can effectively alleviate nausea and seasickness, allowing you to enjoy your cruise comfortably. Sea-Bands provide a non-invasive and drug-free solution to motion-related discomfort, making your voyage more enjoyable.

Wet Wipes or Hand Sanitizer:

Maintain cleanliness, especially during onshore activities.
A cruiser navigating public spaces in port regretted not having wet wipes or hand sanitizer for a quick and convenient cleanup.
Hand sanitizer is an essential hygiene item for your cruise ship vacation, providing crucial protection against germs in shared spaces on the ship and during onshore excursions. It typically contains alcohol, moisturizing agents, and sometimes added fragrance. Regular use of hand sanitizer ensures that you maintain good hand hygiene, reducing the risk of illness and allowing you to enjoy your cruise with peace of mind.

Dramamine :

Dramamine is a crucial item for your cruise ship vacation, particularly if you’re susceptible to motion sickness. Its active ingredient, dimenhydrinate, helps alleviate nausea, dizziness, and seasickness. By offering relief from these symptoms, Dramamine ensures that you can fully enjoy your cruise experience without the discomfort of motion-related issues.

Skin Moisturiser

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater

Mario Badescu Facial Spray is a must-have for your cruise ship vacation. The spray instantly revitalizes your skin, providing a burst of refreshing hydration, which is essential in sunny and often dehydrating cruise environments. It offers a soothing and cooling sensation, perfect for those warm days on the ship’s deck or during onshore activities. Its compact bottle is travel-friendly, fitting easily in your purse or beach bag. With this facial spray, you can stay cool, refreshed, and comfortable during your cruise, enhancing your vacation experience.

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream is a vacation essential. Its skin-nourishing properties keep you hydrated in the sun and saltwater, while its tropical scent transports you to paradise. The subtle shimmer adds radiance for a poolside glow, and it’s a luxurious self-care treat. Plus, its versatile use saves luggage space. So, indulge in this product to feel confident and elegant on your cruise, all in one convenient package.

Tatcha The Water Cream

Tatcha’s The Water Cream is a valuable addition to your cruise vacation skincare routine. It provides the perfect lightweight, hydrating solution for your skin in warm and humid cruise environments. Its fast-absorbing formula ensures that you won’t feel greasy or heavy, ideal for day-to-day activities on the ship or excursions. The Water Cream maintains your skin’s moisture balance, preventing dryness caused by air conditioning or sea breeze. Its compact packaging is ideal for travel, taking up minimal space in your luggage. With The Water Cream, your skin will feel refreshed and confident, allowing you to fully enjoy your cruise vacation without any skincare worries.

Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Sunscreen SPF 30

Drunk Elephant’s Umbra Sheer Sunscreen provides vital protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays, crucial for extended outdoor activities on the ship and during excursions. This sunscreen is lightweight and easily absorbed, making it ideal for daily use, whether you’re lounging by the pool or exploring onshore. With Umbra Sheer Sunscreen, you can enjoy your cruise with peace of mind, knowing your skin is shielded from the sun’s harsh effects.

First-aid kit :

A first-aid kit is a crucial companion for your cruise ship vacation, ensuring you’re prepared for unexpected health situations. It typically includes adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, motion sickness medication, tweezers, scissors, and more. Having these supplies readily available helps you address minor injuries and discomfort, so you can enjoy your cruise worry-free and stay well-prepared for any unforeseen health issues.


Medications are a critical consideration for your cruise ship vacation. Typically, they include essential prescriptions, over-the-counter remedies, and any specific medications you may need for seasickness or other health concerns. These medications ensure that you’re well-prepared for unexpected health issues or minor ailments that can arise during your voyage. It’s vital to have your doctor’s prescriptions, dosage instructions, and a clear list of your medications’ generic and brand names. The importance of medications is evident in maintaining your health and well-being, allowing you to fully enjoy your cruise without being concerned about potential health challenges.

Mix-and-match clothing

When preparing your cruise wardrobe for both shipboard relaxation and onshore excursions, the key is mix-and-match clothing that offers versatility and style. Start with a neutral color palette as your base, which includes whites, navy, and soft grays. These hues not only convey a timeless, nautical feel but also enable easy pairing with other items in your suitcase. Consider packing versatile bottoms like khaki or beige shorts and capris that can be paired with different tops, allowing you to create multiple outfits with fewer pieces. For a pop of vibrancy, introduce a few statement pieces in bright and bold colors like coral, turquoise, or floral patterns. These can add excitement to your cruise attire, especially during onshore adventures. Don’t forget to pack comfortable and closed-toe walking shoes or sandals in neutral shades for exploration. With a well-chosen mix of colors and versatile pieces, your cruise wardrobe can cater to both shipboard relaxation and the excitement of onshore excursions, ensuring you’re stylish and comfortable throughout your journey.

Formal attire

Planning formal attire for both shipboard events and onshore excursions requires a balance between elegance and practicality. For formal evenings on the ship, opt for classic, timeless colors like black, navy, or deep burgundy. A well-fitted, versatile black suit or a chic navy cocktail dress can serve as a stylish go-to choice. Pair these with elegant accessories, such as statement jewelry or a tasteful tie, to complete the formal look. On the other hand, for onshore excursions, consider comfortable yet presentable attire. Khaki pants or a flowy maxi dress in earthy tones can work well, blending in with a variety of destinations. Ultimately, packing a mix of formal and casual options in neutral or classic colors ensures you’re ready for any shipboard event or exploration while maintaining a sophisticated and adaptable cruise wardrobe.

Themed party attire

Themed party attire can add an extra layer of fun to your cruise ship vacation. When selecting colors for these themed outfits, consider the cruise’s destination and the theme of the party. For a tropical luau, vibrant and tropical colors like turquoise, coral, and green can be perfect. For a nautical-themed party, stick to classic navy and white. The choice of colors should reflect the theme, setting the stage for memorable cruise ship and onshore excursion celebrations.

Travel wrap

A travel wrap is an indispensable item for your cruise ship vacation. Typically made of lightweight and soft materials like cashmere or merino wool, it provides warmth and comfort in varying temperatures on the ship and during onshore excursions. Its content ensures cozy protection from the elements, whether you’re enjoying a breezy evening on deck or exploring a cooler destination, making it an essential addition to your cruise wardrobe.

Packable jacket

A packable jacket is a crucial asset for your cruise ship vacation. Typically constructed from lightweight materials and often designed to fold into a compact size, it’s easy to carry and ensures you’re prepared for unexpected weather changes during your journey. Its content provides insulation and protection against wind or light rain, offering peace of mind and versatile comfort for various onshore excursions and shipboard activities.

Packable hats

Packable hats are essential for your cruise ship vacation. Typically crafted from flexible materials like straw or fabric, they are designed to be easily folded or rolled for compact storage in your luggage. These hats serve as stylish sun protection, shielding you from the sun’s rays while exploring onshore or lounging by the pool on the ship. Their content ensures a comfortable and protective barrier against the elements, preventing sunburn and providing a chic accessory that complements your cruise attire. The convenience of packable hats adds both fashion and function to your vacation, making them an indispensable item for sun safety and style.

Comfortable walking shoes

Comfortable walking shoes are a non-negotiable necessity for your cruise ship vacation. Typically designed with cushioned insoles and supportive arches, these shoes ensure your feet remain comfortable during extended periods of walking and exploration onshore. The content often includes breathable materials, allowing your feet to stay cool and dry in warm, tropical climates. These shoes are a vital component of your cruise attire, providing the versatility and comfort needed for both onshore excursions and casual shipboard strolls. The importance of comfortable walking shoes cannot be overstated; they are your key to enjoyable and pain-free adventures on your cruise vacation.

Scarf or Shawl:

Multi-purpose accessory for chilly evenings or covering up in conservative destinations.
A cruiser found themselves shivering during an outdoor event, realizing the versatility and warmth a scarf or shawl could provide.

Swim cover-up

A swim cover-up is a vital piece of your cruise ship vacation wardrobe. Typically made from lightweight, breathable fabrics like chiffon, cotton, or terry cloth, it serves multiple purposes. It offers a stylish and modest layer to wear over your swimwear while transitioning between your cabin and the pool deck. Its content ensures comfort and quick drying, making it ideal for both relaxing on the ship and onshore beach excursions. Additionally, a swim cover-up provides sun protection and helps prevent sunburn, keeping you comfortable and stylish during your entire cruise vacation. Its importance lies in its versatility, practicality, and contribution to your overall comfort and sun safety.

Compact Rain Jacket:

Be prepared for unexpected rain during port visits.
A cruiser caught in a sudden downpour regretted not having a compact rain jacket for a dry and comfortable experience.

Small Folding Umbrella:

Be prepared for unexpected rain or intense sun.
A cruiser exploring a port town regretted not having a small folding umbrella, enduring discomfort during a sudden rain shower.

Downy Wrinkle Release:

Keep your clothes looking fresh and wrinkle-free, even when luggage space is limited.
A cruiser unpacked their formal attire for an elegant evening only to find it crumpled and creased. Downy Wrinkle Release could have been the magic touch to present a polished appearance without the need for an iron.

Laundry Stain Stick:

Address stains promptly to maintain the integrity of your clothing during the cruise.
A spilled drink at a lively onboard event left a cruiser with a stained shirt. A laundry stain stick would have been a quick and effective solution to prevent the stain from setting and ruining the garment.

Reusable Shopping Bag:

Ideal for carrying souvenirs and essentials during port visits.
A cruiser accumulating souvenirs regretted not having a reusable bag, resulting in a juggling act while exploring the ports.

Garment bag :

A garment bag is an indispensable item for your cruise ship vacation. It plays a crucial role in keeping your clothing in top condition by preventing wrinkles during your journey. Additionally, it provides protection from dust. Its compact design aids in efficient packing, making the most of your luggage space. Ultimately, the garment bag adds convenience to your cruise experience, ensuring that your formal attire and clothing remain in impeccable condition and ready to wear at any moment.

Beach bag or Daypack:

Ideal for carrying essentials during shore excursions.
A cruiser exploring a port town found themselves juggling items in their hands, realizing the convenience of a small backpack for storage.
A beach bag or backpack is an indispensable item for your cruise ship vacation. Typically made of durable and water-resistant materials, it’s designed to carry all your essentials, from sunscreen to towels and snacks. Its content includes multiple compartments, ensuring organization and easy access to your belongings during onshore excursions or poolside relaxation on the ship. A beach bag or backpack also contributes to eco-friendliness, as it reduces the need for disposable plastic bags while shopping or exploring various ports of call. Its importance lies in its practicality, keeping your items organized, protected, and easily transportable, making it a must-have accessory for your cruise adventure.

Carry-on bag

A carry-on bag is an essential part of your cruise ship vacation planning. Typically constructed with sturdy and lightweight materials, it’s designed for convenient and organized storage of items you want to keep close at hand. Its content includes travel documents, medication, a change of clothes, and valuable items, ensuring you’re well-prepared for embarkation day or unexpected delays. A well-packed carry-on bag can make your cruise experience smoother and more enjoyable, allowing you to access important essentials quickly. Its importance cannot be overstated, as it keeps your vital items secure and easily accessible while you navigate the various aspects of your cruise journey.

Passport wallet

A passport wallet is a crucial accessory for your cruise ship vacation. Typically crafted from durable and protective materials like leather or RFID-blocking fabric, it provides a secure and organized way to carry your essential travel documents. Its content includes your passport, boarding passes, credit cards, and currency, offering a one-stop solution for keeping your valuable items safe. This wallet ensures that you can swiftly navigate through embarkation, port visits, and disembarkation with ease and security. Its importance lies in safeguarding your critical travel documents and financial essentials, providing peace of mind and convenience throughout your cruise adventure.

Packing cubes

Packing cubes are an indispensable tool for your cruise ship vacation. Typically constructed from lightweight and durable materials, they assist in organizing your luggage efficiently. Their content includes clothing items, accessories, and even toiletries, creating separate compartments within your suitcase and allowing you to easily find what you need without unpacking everything. These cubes not only save space but also keep your cabin tidy, making it easier to move around and locate your belongings. The importance of packing cubes lies in their ability to streamline your packing process and enhance your overall travel experience by maintaining order and convenience.

Luggage tracker

A luggage tracker is a valuable asset for your cruise ship vacation. Typically a small device with GPS capabilities, it ensures you can keep tabs on your luggage in real-time. Its content includes tracking technology that syncs with your smartphone, allowing you to monitor the location of your bags, whether they’re in your cabin, on the ship, or at the port. The importance of a luggage tracker is evident in its ability to provide peace of mind, ensuring that your belongings are safe and secure during your journey. This ensures a worry-free experience, allowing you to fully enjoy your cruise without concerns about your luggage’s whereabouts.

TSA-Approved Luggage Locks:

Secure your belongings during travel and in your cabin.
A cruiser, concerned about the security of their valuables, wished they had TSA-approved locks for peace of mind.

Snorkel Gear:

Enhance your underwater exploration during island stops.
A cruiser watched enviously as others enjoyed vibrant coral reefs, wishing they had brought their own snorkel gear for a more immersive experience.

Sunglasses Strap:

Prevent loss of sunglasses during windy conditions or water activities.
A cruiser who accidentally dropped their sunglasses overboard regretted not having a strap to secure them.

Travel Journal or Notebook or Diary:

Capture and reminisce about your cruise experiences.
A cruiser regretted not documenting the breathtaking sunsets and memorable encounters during their journey. A travel journal would have preserved those moments for a lifetime.
A notebook or diary is an essential companion for your cruise ship vacation. It serves as a versatile tool to capture your thoughts, jot down memorable moments, and keep track of travel details. Whether you’re recording your adventures, making to-do lists, or simply reflecting on your journey, a notebook ensures that you preserve the precious memories and stay organized, making it an invaluable part of your cruise experience.

E-reader or Book:

Entertainment for leisurely moments on the ship or during transit.
A cruiser, bored during long stretches at sea, wished they had brought an e-reader or book to pass the time.

Bon voyage!

Happy cruising and thank you for being an essential part of our journey!