Going on a cruise? Here’s what you should pack

Whether you are a first-timer or going on a cruise ship again, there is at least one thing you have in common: you will have to pack your suitcase! If you don’t want to take risks, here is a list – almost exhaustive – of the essentials that you should carry in your luggage. It ensures that your cruise takes place without a hitch in terms of clothing or personal equipment. Of course, this list can be supplemented according to your desires and adapted according to your destination and the season during which you will sail. But if you are going out for a week in the sun, here are some suggestions that may be useful to you, especially if this is your first cruise.


Let us take the example of a passenger who embarks alone on a ship for a week. Before even taking the first step on the cruise, he must think of essential elements, whether for a themed cruise or for a more traditional trip:

Your important papers in your hand luggage

  • Identity card, passport and visa (s) depending on the destination
  • Your driving license if you rent a vehicle during a stopover
  • Photocopy of these identity documents in the case (or digital copies on your smartphone)
  • International credit card if you cross borders
  • Currency (s) of the country or countries visited if you go beyond your currency area
  • Medical certificate if your state of health requires it to embark
  • Tourist guides or maps downloaded on the mobile phone (prefer to download at home with a connection that will not cost you more than your usual internet package, it is quite expensive on the boat)
  • Your travel book delivered by your company a few days before your departure. It is in this document that you will find the labels to affix on your suitcase which will pass to your cabin thanks to the personnel of the ship
  • Your other reservations for your itinerary (if you stop at a hotel on a slightly longer excursion for example)
  • Your train or plane tickets to reach the port of embarkation if necessary
  • A list of contacts to call in case of concern that you will put in your luggage

All these documents and elements being vital for the smooth running of your cruise. Prefer to keep them with you in hand luggage (or backpack) when boarding. And these are not the only objects that you will have to keep in there


Your medications (for headaches, stomach aches or other minor injuries to which you are “subscribed”, to be kept with you in case your suitcase gets lost during transits)

  • Your mobile phone
  • Charging your phone (this can be useful over a week of travel)
  • A headphone
  • Your sunglasses
  • A hat
  • Sunscreen
  • A book (because a culture bath, a historical and relaxing getaway never hurts traveling and does not usually weigh very much in a bag)
  • Your camera (unless your smartphone is enough)
  • Your MP3 player (if your smartphone does not offer this option)

Of course, you do not prepare your luggage, in the same way, depending on whether you go to Alaska or elsewhere.


The first day, don’t forget that you will be deprived of your suitcase for a while on the boat (the time it will be left in front of your cabin door). If you want to enjoy the joys of the pool as soon as possible, do not forget to pack these few items in your hand luggage:

  • A swimsuit: Getting a swimwear in Australia should top your to-do list.
  • A towel
  • Shorts for these gentlemen
  • A bathing sarong for these ladies
  • A plastic bag to store your wet things if the suitcase is slow to arrive in front of your cabin door
  • Some magazines (people or others) to make you feel full on vacation by reading gossip


It’s done – your suitcase has arrived, and you’re ready to put your things in the cupboards of your cabin. Here are the basics for these ladies.

What clothes to bring on a cruise?

A swimsuit (a second one, because you probably prefer to put on a dry one if you indulge in the joys of the pool in the morning and afternoon)

Some shorts (because on some companies, swimsuits are only allowed at the pool and not elsewhere)

  • Tennis shoes (or flip flops)
  • Low socks
  • Dresses
  • Skirts
  • A sports outfit if you want to let off steam (there is often a gym and sports grounds on the boat)
  • Light pants
  • Jeans
  • T-shirts
  • Shirts

And the basics for these gentlemen:

  • Short or long sleeve polo shirts (to wear without moderation during the day)
  • Shirts and t-shirts (for almost all occasions)
  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Sports shorts
  • Sports sneakers
  • Flip flops

Even if some companies are less attentive than others, it is always nice to see people dressed appropriately disembark in a restaurant or shop on the boat. In these cases, avoid the swimsuit with the towel around your neck at the time of your shopping or when eating out.


Because on a cruise, you will not spend the day on the ship, you must also think of an outfit suitable for excursions. Let’s start with the basics:

  • Good and comfortable walking shoes (because you will walk a lot during stopovers!)
  • Nice pants or shorts, always to make the walk as enjoyable as possible
  • Light top if the weather is nice and warm
  • Backpack – secure – for the ride (with interior pockets and difficult to access if possible, to accommodate your sensitive papers and means of payment)
  • A light K-Way or waterproof suit, small and easy to transport (you will never be protected from a downpour, wherever it is)
  • A small light sweater in the bag (to protect yourself from a cold spell)
  • A small first aid kit (anti-venom, to treat scratches).
  • A small umbrella that is easy to carry

Again, remember to dress pretty well, because your welcome will be all the warmer with some traders on land. And don’t forget the headgear and sun protection!


And of course, in the middle of all these clothes, your toiletry bag was able to make a place while waiting to reach the bathroom of your cabin. It may in particular contain:

  • Toothpaste
  • A toothbrush
  • Dental floss
  • Moisturizer to soothe your skin after the day (exposure in the marine environment can be quite high)
  • Soap
  • Shampoo (even if some companies offer, as in some hotels, a shower and shampoo dispenser in the cabin bathroom)
  • Deodorant
  • A hairbrush / comb
  • An anti-mosquito spray
  • Make-up (essential ladies for the evenings)
  • Make-up remover
  • A shaving kit
  • A bathrobe (not available on all companies, and indeed, less and less present). Here’s more on what to pack for a cruise


This is everything that can meet your hygiene expectations. Forget the hairdryer, and there is one usually waiting for you in your cabin. Forget the iron too – it is one of the prohibited items on a cruise ship. Your common sense should help you.

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