The Really Useful Guide to Packing for a Cruise Holiday


For a lot of people, packing for a holiday can be quite stressful at the best of times. Remembering what to bring and what you can’t possibly do without is really important.

This is especially true for a cruise holiday as it may be difficult for you to replace anything you haven’t remembered to pack.

Here are some of our top tips to help you to pack wisely on your next cruise holiday.

  • Don’t buy a heavy suitcase – although hard suitcases are good quality and protect your things, they are very heavy. Rest assured that cruise staff will handle your items with care so you can pack a normal, soft-sided suitcase that will also slide easily under your bed in your cabin and remain out of the way for your trip. Generally, cruise passengers are limited to 2 suitcases per person with a maximum weight of no more than 20kg, but a lot of cruise lines are not strict about this so you may want to check before you travel. Always leave a bit of room in your suitcase for souvenirs.
  • Don’t forget your travel documents – these are essential and include your passport, ID, travel insurance, money, any potential visas that may be necessary and boarding tickets. Keep these in your carry-on luggage on the day of embarkation and don’t put it in with your checked luggage. During your cruise you will find a safe in your cabin where you can store valuables.
  • Pack a change of clothes for your carry-on bag – should your luggage get lost on the way to your cruise or if your case gets delayed in being delivered to your cabin, you have extra clothes etc to hand. This means there will be no delay in you being able to enjoy any of the onboard activities.
  • Be aware of the dress codes – whilst a lot of cruise ships don’t have very formal dress codes any more, some still have certain forma nights where anything from business attire upwards is expected. Always check with your cruise line before you travel if you are unsure about what to pack for these nights.
  • Pack light and use onboard laundry facilities – one way of saving space on packing is to bring a few sets of clothes and wash them whilst onboard. Not all ships offer free laundry services so be aware that this could end up being quite a costly route to go down. Save money by packing your own detergent.
  • Pack your own toiletries and hairdryer – these are not things that should be expected in your cabin. Most cruises will offer limited toiletries so if you have favourites then bring them with you. Also note that a lot of hairdryers onboard are quite weak so you may be best bringing your own travel dryer.
  • Dress for your destination – some destinations are more formal than others. Most European and Caribbean destinations will be fairly casual, but bear in mind the types of activities you may be doing. Flip-flops are idea for the beach, but not practical for hiking or other sightseeing excursions.
  • Mix and match – this is a great way to create several outfits out of only a few items of clothing. Stick to a colour theme so that you can re-wear tops with different bottoms or dress up certain pieces with accessories. You are unlikely to see the same people over and over so don’t worry about wearing the same outfit twice!
  • Pack the basics – these include an alarm clock, medications, suncream, batteries, plastic bags for transporting wet swimwear etc. and chargers for camera, phone etc. These are all expensive to buy when you are onboard and some may not even be available so be prepared.
  • Be prepared – if you plan to do any shore excursions then pack guide books and maps so that you are well-read before you arrive and know exactly where you are going. It might also be useful to pack a small rucksack or tote for these excursions so you can carry everything you need easily.


If you enjoyed this post, then take a look at our guide to making the most of your first cruise holiday – or check out our deals page by clicking the button below. Alternatively, you can give our friendly sales team a call on 0808 2746 777.

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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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