Cruise TipsPackingCruise Packing: 15 Things People Always Forget

Cruise Packing: 15 Things People Always Forget

This isn’t your average cruise packing list. These are things cruisers forget the most — things a lot of people don’t even think about until they actually need them on the ship.

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You already know to pack your toothbrush, swimwear, and sunglasses.

There are other places to get a complete, comprehensive packing list. Here, we will focus on the often overlooked items. And even though I’ve been cruising for 14 years these are things I often forget myself.

Side of cruise ship from gangway: Quantum of the Seas

Packing for a cruise can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time. With so many things to remember, it’s easy to forget a few essential items that could make your cruise experience more enjoyable.

In this article, we will discuss some of the most commonly forgotten items that cruise passengers should pack.


1. Cash

I’ve talked about why you should bring cash on a cruise a few times on Cruise Fever. Cash is one of the easiest things to forget when you go on a cruise. After all, everything is either already paid for or can be settled through your on board account.

But bring some small bills for things like tipping the luggage porter at the terminal, buying souvenirs at straw markets in port, using local taxis, and leaving tips for your wait staff or cabin steward.

Personally, I like to have a lot of 1s and 5s on me when I’m exploring a cruise port and its surroundings. And don’t forget to tip local tour guides.


2. Magnets

magnets for walls on cruise cabin

Most cruise cabins are made of metal, which means you can use magnets to hang all kinds of things, like daily schedules, notes, excursion tickets, and even some playful decor. Remember, you’re not supposed to use tape on the walls in your cabin.

Some cruisers like to pack magnetic hooks as well. You can use these to hang a light jacket, an umbrella, your hat, and any kind of article of clothing. Use these on the back of the cabin door or on one of the metallic walls. Once you use magnets like this on a cruise you’ll always want to pack them.

Just be sure to keep the magnets away from any electronics or credit cards.

Related:  35 genius cruise items you can buy on Amazon for less than $15


3. Medications

It’s important to pack all your medications, including any over-the-counter drugs you may need. It’s also a good idea to bring a copy of your prescription, just in case you need a refill while you’re away.

And while many will remember prescription medications to bring they might pack them in the wrong bag. Make sure you pack any medications in the bag you will carry with you on the ship, not the bag you will hand to the porter.

It’s always a good idea to pack some generic medications like Tylenol, Aleve or Ibuprofen as well. Yes, you can buy these on the ship but they are much more expensive.

The same goes for any kind of motion sickness relief you may need.  Some cruise ships will have Dramamine available for free if you just ask at guest services, but I like to have some on hand just in case.


4. Approved sunscreen

sunscreen on beach; spf in sand

Many cruise lines ban the use of certain types of sunscreen, such as those containing oxybenzone or octinoxate, which can harm coral reefs. Before you pack your sunscreen, be sure to check with your cruise line to ensure it is approved for use on board.

You’d be surprised at how many cruisers forget their sunscreen on a cruise to the Bahamas or Caribbean. And again, while the ship will gladly sell you a very expensive bottle of sunscreen you’re better off bringing your own. You may need it more than you think.

The sun in the Caribbean can be quite intense and you don’t want to suffer severe sunburns at the start of your cruise only to be in agony for the next 5 days.


5. ChapStick

The sun and wind on a cruise ship can quickly dry out your lips, so be sure to pack some ChapStick to keep them moisturized. Even if you don’t normally use any kind of lip balm you might wish you had some after a couple sea days on the ship.

Some lip balms also offer sun protection which you will be thankful for by the end of your vacation. I’ve tried to skip this one before and regretted it right away. Pack some Chapstick. It’s easy enough to throw in your toiletry bag.

Related: 12 things you can still get for free on a cruise ship


6. Refillable water bottle

Water bottles perfect for a cruise
You can check out the bottle on the right at the link below.

Staying hydrated is important on a cruise, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time in the sun. Packing a refillable water bottle will help you save money and reduce plastic waste. I like the water bottles that are collapsible so they don’t take up much room in my bag and offer more flexibility.

Check out the collapsible water bottle on Amazon here.  Nope, it’s not an affiliate link.


7. Extra bag for port days

I’ve seen too many cruisers trying to use a plastic grocery bag to carry all their stuff onto a private island because they forgot to bring an extra bag for port days. I like to bring a small backpack or tote to carry things like towels, sunscreen, water shoes, snorkel gear, etc.

You’re also likely to accumulate some souvenirs or beach gear during your port days. Packing an extra bag will make it easier to carry everything back to the ship.

Read: Cruise ship room service and everything you need to know


8. The right kind of shoes

An assortment of shoes from water shoes to dress shoes to flip flops: Shoes to bring on a cruise

Most cruise ships won’t allow you to work out in the gym or participate in activities on the basketball court if you’re wearing open-toed shoes. This has happened to me several times when I had to head back to my cabin to change out of my flip-flops.

You also might want to bring some water shoes if you’re going to do some snorkeling or enjoy certain water sport activities.

Depending on the type of cruise you’re taking, you may need to pack different types of shoes. If you plan to go hiking, you’ll need comfortable hiking boots, while sandals are perfect for beach days.

Related: What kind of shoes you should pack for a cruise


9. Towel clips

Pack towel clips for your cruise
Here are some of the kinds of towel clips you can find on Amazon here.

Cruise ship decks can be windy, very windy. This means your towel may blow away from the lounger you worked so hard to secure. Towel clips will help keep your towel in place and prevent it from flying off.

The first time I saw people using this I laughed and said it was unnecessary. But having chased “many a towel” on the lido deck I get it now. Don’t forget to pack a few towel clips so you don’t have to figure out creative ways to keep your towel in place.

Related:  See our 9 handy Amazon items you should bring on your cruise.


10. Power strip and adapter

Cruise ship cabins often have limited outlets, so packing a power strip and adapter will make it easier to charge all your devices. Just make sure you bring a non-surge protector power strip as surge protectors are not allowed on most cruise ships.

Having an international power adapter can come in handy as well. I’ve sailed on some European cruise lines that had both European outlets and 3-prong American outlets, and by having an adapter I could use both for more charging options.

Related: 10 things you should never do in you cruise cabin


11. Bug spray

Forgetting to pack some bug spray could be a huge mistake if your excursions take you to certain regions of the world. I’ve seen some nasty bites from jungle excursions that make it seem like some of these bugs are bred for battle.

Even a small can of bug spray can make a big difference if your off-road adventures take you to remote areas where these little biters seem to thrive. You’ll thank me later on this one.

If you’re planning to go on shore excursions or spend time outside, be sure to pack some bug spray. It’s also a good idea to pack some anti-itch cream, just in case you get bitten.


12. Wrinkle release spray

Pack wrinkle release spray on your cruise when you can't iron
I love the travel size wrinkle release sprays that are perfect for a cruise.

Cruise ships don’t have irons in the cabins and many don’t even have irons in the launderettes, so packing some wrinkle release spray can help you keep your clothes looking their best. A few sprays of wrinkle release might be all you need and could save you $5 – $10 in having to pay for the cruise line for your clothing to be pressed.

Another trick I like to try is spraying my wrinkled shirt with a little water, giving the shirt a sharp snap of my wrist as I hold it up and pull it downward, and then letting it hang for a few minutes to dry. Sometimes it’s just enough to get most of the wrinkles out.

Check out some travel size wrinkle release sprays on Amazon here.


13. Laundry bag

Packing a laundry bag will make it easier to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes. People forget this one all the time, myself included. Some cruise lines will have a dirty clothes bag you can use, but I like to bring a little mesh laundry bag that can breathe and is easy to throw into my suitcase.

A laundry bag makes it easier to carry everything if I do my own laundry at one of the self-service launderettes as well.


14. Travel umbrella

Why would you even think of bringing an umbrella if you’re cruising to an area known for it’s sunny days and tropical breezes? Well besides the regular afternoon showers that often wash through, it can be nice to have an umbrella to beat the heat as well.

An umbrella can give you little extra shade for your time at the beach if you don’t want to pony up a few extra dollars to rent one. The only problem then is the wind and your umbrella taking off. So whether it’s to get out of the rain or out of the sun, a travel umbrella can be a nice thing to put in your port bag.


15. Light jacket

Even if you’re cruising to a warm destination, it’s always a good idea to pack a light jacket or sweater. Nights can get chilly with that ocean breeze, and some indoor areas of the ship are kept on the cold side. I always like to bring a hoodie or light jacket that I can throw into my bag without taking up much room.

Read: 10 biggest cruise tipping mistakes cruisers make


A few extras you can bring along that you might not have thought about

  • Nail clippers: Don’t let that hangnail trip up your cruise vacation.
  • Lint roller: Not a must-have, but comes in handy for those formal nights when you’re wearing all black.
  • Passport copy – You know to bring your passport, but having a copy of it to keep in your safe or in your bag can come in handy in certain situations.
  • AirTags or SmartTags to track your luggage at the airport and cruise terminal.
  • Clear plastic locking bags: They come in handy to keep your phone, jewelry, cash, or other items dry and out of the sand on the beach.
  • Travel insurance: Sure, it’s not a physical thing you can pack, but having some travel insurance on your cruise can save you from a nightmare situation.


What do you like to pack on your cruise that most people don’t?  Let us know in the comments below!

Read:  8 things that always surprise 1st-time cruisers

Learn the cruise secrets most people don't know and cruise like a boss. Check out Intelligent Cruiser here for a better cruise vacation. (Sponsored)

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J. Souza
J. Souza
Jon is the co-founder of Cruise Fever and has been on 50+ cruises since his first in 2009. As an editor, 15-year writer on the cruise industry, and avid cruise enthusiast he has sailed with at least 10 cruise lines and is always looking for a great cruise deal. Jon lives in North Carolina and can be reached at [email protected].
Cruise TipsPackingCruise Packing: 15 Things People Always Forget


  1. I always pack a hanging shoe organizer we put it on the outside of the bathroom door for storing toiletries and such. I also pack clothes pins to hang swim suits in shower for drying and a small fan the room never gets cool enough for my family.

  2. Clips for pulling curtains fully closed to prevent light leaking, quart size zip storage bags, printed itinerary for noting things by day and mag clips to hold it on wall so everyone can check, multi USB port plug-in and cable for each slot easier these than extension cord, one each extra android and apple charging cords in case someone forgets or a cord goes bad, Imodium, waterproof bandages, motion detection nightlight, pen, water shoes depending on excursions, check expiration date on credit cards and advise of travel plans if required, take photos of front and back of credit cards, passports, drivers license and store in secure folder on multiple devices, download PDF of reservation and cruise contact, check with cell provider about charges for international use if any, PDF of cruiseport instructions of making own travel, forward any emails regarding travel plans like car rental, hotel and parking reservations to at least one travel companion as backup, download video content from providers like Prime and Netflix onto tablet or iPad if interested for viewing especially at sea and be certain content does not need internet connection to be viewed, learn how to Hotspot from cell device if free or low cost cell data available in foreign ports, review for any itinerary port calls where cell provider has no restrictions such as T-Mobile in Mexico, take photos of luggage exteriors and tags as if packed (we use exterior straps to secure), download books if you read while on vacation and again confirm no internet connection required to view, seasickness pills or other remedy you prefer and take first pill before sailaway if uncertain, very small sewing kit, and most importantly check with others for what they are bringing on board other than their clothes, pills and hygiene items so you don’t end up with duplicates or more of same item.

  3. Motion night light. It gets dark in cabin when sleeping. When getting up at night to go to the bathroom it makes it easier to see your way to the bathroom.

  4. Collapsing fabric shelving. Works great if drawer and shelf space is limited as it is on some ships. Celebrity solstice class ships are very stingy in these areas.

    • Waterproof phone case! It saved me in Belize when we were cave tubing. I stood up from my tube, forgot my phone was on my lap and ploop…right into the river.

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