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Choose Your Cruise Packing List: Basic or All-Inclusive?

overstuffed suitcase
Allianz - overstuffed suitcase

When you're searching for a complete cruise packing list, you soon find that they're all over the map. Some cruisers pack only the essentials, while others recommend bringing a travel steamer and a luggage scale. What do you really need? Well, that depends on your cruising style. Check out these three cruise checklists for minimalists, comfort-seekers and survivalists.

These cruise packing lists are for both men and women, and are intended for warm-weather cruises. Adapt each list to fit your cruise length, destinations and ship requirements. A few quick cruise packing tips:

  • Remember that you may need specific clothes and gear for cruise excursions, so plan those ahead of time.
  • Cruise Critic has a comprehensive guide to cruise lines' dress codes that will help you understand just how formal your formalwear should be.
  • Check to see what amenities your ship provides in the rooms. Some offer bathrobes and name-brand toiletries; some just give you the basics.

The Basic Cruise Packing List

The whole point of a cruise is that everything's provided for you — so why burden yourself by loading up your luggage? Packing light shouldn't mean suffering, however, or missing out on shipboard activities because you're not dressed properly. Make sure you pack clothing for chilly nights as well as warm days, and try to choose basic pieces that can be dressed up or down. If you're an easygoing cruiser who doesn't mind forgoing a few comforts, here's the cruise checklist for you.

  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Button-down shirts
  • Tie
  • Blazer or sport coat
  • At least one dressy outfit for dining with matching sweater/shawl
  • Nice pants or capris - (leave the jeans at home)
  • Bathing suit and cover-up
  • Pajamas/sleepwear
  • Underwear
  • At least one sweatshirt or light jacket -for chilly nights (or days)
  • Rain jacket
  • One pair flip-flops or sandals
  • One pair walking shoes - (look for a pair nice enough to wear to dinner)
  • A few pieces of inexpensive jewelry
  • Sunglasses
  • Prescription or reading glasses
  • Hat
  • All crucial travel documents - passports, visas, immunization records, cruise documents, cruise travel insurance policy, copies of credit cards
  • Backpack or beach bag - for excursions
  • Carry-on bag - for air travel and the last night aboard
  • Small bills - for tipping cruise staff
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Power outlet adapter, - if you're traveling on a European cruise line
  • E-reader


  • Sunblock and sunburn treatment
  • SPF 15 lip balm
  • Insect repellent
  • Face and body lotion
  • Deodorant
  • Perfume
  • Ear plugs
  • Comb and brush
  • Hair products
  • Shower cap
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Contact lenses and solution
  • Makeup
  • Sanitary pads or tampons
  • Floss
  • Razor
  • Nail file and clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Small first aid kit - with Band-Aids and antibiotic ointment
  • Baby wipes - for quick cleanup
  • Travel packs of tissues
  • Pain reliever
  • Cold medication
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Anti-nausea medication
  • Sleep aid
  • Prescription medication - in original container
  • Hand sanitizer

The Comfort-Seeker's Cruise Packing List

Maybe you can't afford the Grand Duplex suite on board the Queen Mary 2, which includes two marble bathrooms, a private gym and a personal butler1. But you enjoy little luxuries when you're on a cruise, and you always make an entrance when the ship hosts formal dinners. If you like to travel in style, this is the cruise checklist for you.

  • Everything in the basic cruise checklist
  • Tuxedo - with cummerbund, suspenders and cufflinks
  • Evening/cocktail gowns - with matching shoes and jewelry
  • Small evening bag or clutch
  • Workout wear and athletic shoes
  • Snorkel gear - if you prefer to use your own
  • Bathrobe and slippers
  • Extra clothes hangers
  • Hairdryer
  • Curling iron or flat-iron
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap or body wash
  • Nail polish and polish remover
  • Lint roller
  • Wrinkle release spray
  • Camera - if you want photos better than cell phone-quality
  • Highlighter/pen - to note activities you don't want to missli>
  • Post-It notes - to leave messages for crew and travel companions
  • Air freshener - for your cabin. No candles!
  • Nightlight
  • Small speakers - to plug into your phone or MP3 player for in-cabin music
  • Framed photo - of your loved ones
  • Disinfecting wipes - to give your cabin the once-over
  • Hanging shoe organizer - to store your toiletries, accessories and gadgets
  • Travel mug - for coffee, so you don't have to keep getting refills
  • Large insulated water bottle
  • Beer or wine and bottle-opener - (check your cruise ship's policy first)
  • Disposable wine glasses
  • Snacks

The Survivalist's Cruise Packing List

Like a Boy Scout, your motto is, "Be prepared." You're happy dining in shorts on the Lido Deck, but you hate the idea of being helpless if the ship suffers a fire and power outage at sea, like the Carnival Triumph. Here's a cruise packing list that'll help you stay safe and comfortable, no matter what happens.

  • Everything in the basic cruise checklist
  • Non-perishable snacks - such as nuts, trail mix and energy bars
  • Bottled water
  • Hydration powder packs - in case norovirus strikes
  • Solar-powered/hand-crank phone charger
  • Battery-operated fan - in case the A/C fails
  • Power strip - to keep all your devices charged and ready. Check your ship's regulations first.
  • Clothesline and detergent
  • Pocketknife or multi-tool - (remember to stash this in your checked luggage)
  • Duct tape
  • Flashlight
  • Glow sticks
  • Sanitary waste disposal bags
  • Walkie-talkies - to keep in touch with travel companions
  • Emergency whistle
  • Comprehensive first aid kit
  • Non-electronic entertainment - such as cards or travel games

The one item that's crucial for every type of cruiser? Cruise insurance. A comprehensive policy from Allianz Global Assistance provides coverage for common mishaps, including lost or delayed luggage, missed flights, stolen bags, illness at sea and trip cancellation or interruption for a covered reason. Happy cruising!

Print Checklist

Be sure to print our checklist and take it with you. Simply click the “print” link below and make sure to have your browser set to print background images so that you can see the checkboxes.

Print Checklist

Nov 09, 2016