What to Pack for a Family Cruise Vacation

The Ultimate Cruise Packing Checklist

The Ultimate Cruise Packing Checklist

Over 24 million people are expected to enjoy a cruise in 2018. Will you and your family be among them?

If so, you’re likely wondering what to pack for your upcoming journey. Even seasoned cruisers struggle to find the balance between bringing too much–or not enough.

But don’t worry. Whether you’re off to the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or Alaska, our comprehensive cruise packing checklist will ensure you have everything you need.

Read on!

The Ultimate Cruise Packing Checklist for Families

Woman with child on cruise ship deck

Essential Documents

Before we talk clothes and gadgets, let’s make sure you have all the paperwork and documents you need.

  • Flight tickets or confirmation (printed or electronic)
  • Documents for the cruise
  • Passports and visas (if required)
  • Certificate of vaccinations (if needed)
  • Driver’s license or other government-issued ID
  • Medical insurance card
  • All prescriptions/medications you need
  • Credit/ATM cards (call your bank to let them know you’ll be overseas)
  • Cash (including small bills for tips and inexpensive souvenirs)
  • Emergency contact numbers at home

Once you’ve got these essentials ready to go, it’s time to head to the closet.

Mom’s Cruise Packing Checklist

Since Mom’s probably the one doing most of the packing, let’s start with her needs first.

  • Underwear
  • Bras (including strapless for formalwear)
  • Pajamas/lingerie
  • Socks/pantyhose
  • Purses for daytime and evening
  • Belts
  • Scarves
  • Hat(s)
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves (if traveling somewhere cold)
  • Sneakers/walking shoes
  • Comfortable sandals
  • Flip-flops
  • Dress shoes for dinner/formal night
  • Bathing suits
  • Sarong/swimwear cover-up
  • Gym clothes/sports bra
  • Dresses for a formal night
  • Dresses for casual nights
  • Shorts
  • Short and long-sleeved tops
  • Capris
  • Comfortable slacks
  • Windbreaker
  • Raincoat or heavier (if traveling somewhere cold)
  • Make-up and make-up bag
  • Toiletries
  • Hairspray/styling aids

Once Mom has everything she needs, it’s time to move to Dad’s side of the closet.

Dad’s Cruise Packing Checklist

Men have a slightly easier time packing for a cruise, but it’s still easy to forget essential items. Here’s a list of everything Dad might need onboard.

  • Underwear
  • Undershirts
  • Pajamas/robe
  • Dress socks
  • Regular socks
  • Belts
  • Hat(s)
  • Sunglasses
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Dress shoes for formal nights
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Suits and tux for formal night
  • Blazer
  • Ties/bowties
  • Dress shirts
  • Gym clothes
  • Swimwear
  • T-shirts/casual shirts
  • Shorts
  • Comfortable slacks
  • Windbreaker
  • Sweatshirt or coat (if traveling somewhere cold)
  • Toiletries
  • Comb/brush
  • Razors

Now that Mom and Dad are ready to sail, it’s time to pack for the kids.

Kids’ Cruise Packing Checklist

Keep in mind this cruise packing checklist may vary depending on your kids’ ages. Here’s a general list of everything they might need on and off the ship.

  • T-shirts/casual shirts (cotton is best)
  • Shorts
  • Swimsuits
  • Cover-ups
  • Casual outfits for dinner
  • Outfits for formal night(s)
  • Long pants or leggings (if traveling somewhere cold)
  • Long-sleeved tops
  • Underwear (pack a few extra pairs, just in case)
  • Socks
  • Pajamas
  • Flip-flops/sandals
  • Sneakers/walking shoes
  • Sweatshirt(s) (if traveling somewhere cold)
  • Water shoes for beaches/reefs
  • Dress shoes
  • Light sweater/jacket
  • Rain jacket/poncho
  • Belt
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat/baseball cap

If you’re traveling with an infant or toddler, you’ll want to bring these additional items too.

  • Diapers
  • Swim diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Pacifiers (bring extra, in case you lose some)
  • Ziplock bags (for diapers and other cleanups)
  • Sippy cups and plastic bottles
  • Trial-size dishwashing detergent (for cleaning sippy cups)
  • Baby food/formula
  • Portable crib (if necessary)
  • Booster chair
  • Umbrella stroller or baby backpack (check if cruise line rents strollers)
  • Bibs
  • Diaper bag
  • Sun hat
  • Blanket and stuffed animals
  • Inflatable swimming aids
  • Extra changes of clothes (just in case)

Now that you’ve got your clothes and documents in order, it’s time to pack the final items.

Electronics (and Other Essential Items)

Where would we be without our electronic gadgets?

Since most ships are WiFi enabled and you can quickly pop local SIM cards into your phone at each destination, you’ll want to bring along your usual gadgets. Plus, it’ll help keep the kids entertained on the flight–or when Mom and Dad need a little downtime.

Here’s a list of electronics and related items you’ll want to bring.

  • Reading glasses/contacts
  • Cell phone/charger
  • Camera/charger
  • E-book reader or tablet/charger
  • Laptop/power cord
  • Plug adapter and converter (for foreign hotels)
  • Underwater camera
  • Binoculars
  • Memory cards
  • Battery charger
  • Power strip(s) to charge everything in your room
  • MP3 player or iPod
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Nightlight
  • Small flashlight
  • Maps
  • Reading material
  • Guidebooks
  • Foreign language phrasebooks/translator
  • Journal

We’ve almost finished with our cruise packing checklist, but here are a few more miscellaneous items you’ll want to bring.

  • Sunscreen
  • Earplugs
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Band-Aids
  • Small first aid kit
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Travel pillow
  • Playing cards
  • Handi-wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Portable fan
  • Plastic baggies
  • Duct tape
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Aloe vera gel (for sunburns)
  • Lanyards to hold passports/documents
  • Clothespins (to hang wet bathing suits)

Hopefully, your suitcases aren’t bursting at the seams with all these items! And speaking of which, we have a few more helpful tips for you.

More Cruise Packing Tips

Our final tips aren’t about what to pack, but how to pack.

For starters, pack all essential items (medications, underwear, swimwear, electronics) in your carry-on luggage. This way, in the unfortunate event your luggage gets sidetracked for a few days, you have at least the essentials.

Along that same line of thought, it’s also a good idea to divide everyone’s clothes and personal items into separate suitcases. Wouldn’t it be awful if Dad and the kids got all their clothes, but Mom’s got delayed somewhere en route?

Pack a few everyone’s clothes into each checked bag. That way you’re not in the lurch if one of your suitcases goes missing!

Final Thoughts

With over 2,000 ports of call around the world, there’s no shortage of incredible places to explore on your next cruise.

Wherever you’re sailing off to, we’re here to help. Please contact us with any questions or concerns you have about your upcoming cruise.

Bon voyage!

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