Cruise TipsPackingCruise Luggage Rules: How Much Can I Bring?

Cruise Luggage Rules: How Much Can I Bring?

Luggage in a cruise ships hallway before debarkation day.
What are the luggage rules on a cruise ship?

Packing for your first cruise or your 10th cruise can be exciting AND stressful. There are a million things to consider and many of us tend to overpack, unless we make a list or research a bit beforehand.

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You may be asking yourself, “How much can I pack?” or “What should I bring?”

These are perfectly normal questions to ask yourself, especially since travel rules and regulations change all the time.

Let’s take a closer look at cruise luggage suggestions, so that you can maximize your time before your vacation.


How much should I pack?

Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer here. Cruise lines are pretty flexible in the amount of luggage that they allow. As with anything, there are a few exceptions and some lines do have specific rules.

Most lines understand that people want to bring their normal clothing and accessories that they are accustomed to having at home. Sometimes, this means more luggage and that is usually welcomed on a cruise vacation.

Royal Caribbean ship on embarkation say from gangway
Boarding Harmony of the Seas. Photo credit: Cruise Fever

Luckily, cruise lines do not charge extra for checked baggage like airlines tend to do. Save that extra cash to enjoy at one of your chosen ports or in the casino!

You will want to pack casual, comfortable clothing to wear during the day. Don’t forget to pack your bathing suit for those lazy days by the pool. Be sure to pack clothing suitable for the dining room.

Many cruise lines have an elegant evening and some passengers choose to wear more formal attire. Each cruise line is different, so be sure to check before packing your bags.

A good rule of thumb is always, “Less is More”. Many people overpack and never even touch a portion of the clothing that they pack.

It’s also a good idea to slightly underfill your luggage. You may need the extra space for bringing back souvenirs and gifts for your family.

Pro Tip: Take a travel size fabric refresher spray and spritz your clothing before hanging up,  if you plan to rewear them. If you are a frequent cruiser, some loyalty perks include free laundry service. Check with your chosen cruise line before your trip. You may be able to pack even less! 


Do particular cruise lines have their own luggage rules?

Luggage in cruise terminal going through security: how many bags can you bring?

Yes! Even though there is usually no hard limit on the amount you bring, each cruise line does have their own policy regarding luggage.

Carnival Cruise Lines

This highly popular cruise line does not have a luggage limit. They do suggest that everyone sailing for 3-5 nights should bring one piece of luggage. Two bags per person is adequate for longer trips. In order to maximize space in your cabin, Carnival recommends that each piece be no larger than 140cm x 60cm x 40cm.

Royal Caribbean Cruises

Another very popular cruise line, Royal Caribbean, suggests that “Each guest is permitted to carry a reasonable amount of personal property (including luggage) aboard the vessel; however, for your comfort and convenience, it is recommended that you limit the number of pieces you take”.

Norwegian Cruise Line

This cruise line does ask its passengers to limit their luggage to two pieces per guest. Each piece should weigh no more than 22 kg each.


What specific suggestions should a first-time cruiser know?

There are several things that a new cruiser should keep in mind before they set sail for the first time. The following tips are suggested ideas from veteran cruisers and are meant to assist in making your first cruise a memorable, stress-free one.


Carry-on Luggage is a MUST

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket by packing everything in your checked luggage. It’s critical that you put your boarding documentation, passports, identification, and any other crucial paperwork in your carry-on luggage.

You will need easy access to your boarding pass in order to gain entry to the ship. It will be a huge headache if you pack these things in your checked luggage that is already on its way to the ship.

It’s always a good idea to put a set of clothing in your carry-on. It hardly ever happens, but luggage does get lost from time to time. Having a spare set of clothing is essential in this unlikely event.

Also, be sure to pack any medication you may need in your carry-on. Your luggage may not get to your cabin right away. Be sure to plan ahead for any essential medications that may be necessary on your first day.

Related: 19 things you should do on cruise embarkation day


Plastic luggage tag sleeves are best

When you print off your boarding documentation and complete your on-line check-in, each cruise line usually provides you with printable luggage tags. These tags help the cruise staff find your cabin and ensure quicker delivery.

Since the tags are just printed pieces of paper that are meant to be stapled to your luggage handles, they can easily be ripped off during the loading process. Luckily, several companies now make a plastic sleeve that the luggage tag can be slipped into. Each tag can be easily attached to your luggage. One less thing to worry about!

Related:  15 things people always forget to pack on a cruise


Know the beverage rules ahead of time

Many cruise lines allow you to bring alcohol on the ship with you. This can be a wonderful money-saver.

Some cruise lines allow each adult to bring a bottle or two of wine or champagne with them. Just be sure this is in your carry-on. A 12-pack of canned sodas are also allowed by many cruise lines.


What things should I leave at home?

It’s probably good to review the things that should never make their way into your suitcase. Please don’t even consider bringing the following items:

  • Firearms or ammunition
  • Explosives and flammable items such as candles
  • Heaters
  • Drugs
  • Hoverboards
  • Beer/Liquor

Related:  18 worst things to pack on a cruise: Banned items you should leave at home


When packing for your cruise, keep the above suggestions in mind. It will help you have a seamless boarding experience and a great start to a memorable vacation.

Try not to pack too much but be sure to bring everything that you need. If you forget something, the shops onboard just may have what you are looking for.

Related:  Cabin Rules: 10 things you’re not supposed to do in your cabin


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Kristi Sellers
Kristi Sellers
Kristi took her first cruise when she was 12 years old and is currently planning her 20th. When she isn’t cruising, she loves to visit the Smoky Mountains. Kristi lives in Alabama with her husband and fur baby, Chico.
Cruise TipsPackingCruise Luggage Rules: How Much Can I Bring?

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