Packing for a cruise can be a daunting task, and once you’ve crammed your holiday clothes into a suitcase you could be left thinking: what else do I need? To help you pack for your next cruise, we’ve compiled a list of helpful packing hacks, many of which will hopefully help make your cruise getaway an altogether smoother and more hassle-free experience.

A carry-on bag filled with first day essentials

After checking in your bags, you will probably not have access to them for most of your first day on-board, so make sure to bring a carry-on bag filled with essentials. This could include documents, cash, medication or even swimwear if you plan on diving straight into the pool once on-board.

Extra hangers

While cruise lines will provide a limited number of hangers (and possibly a few more on request), if you are a devoted fashionista with an outfit for every occasion, it may be worth bringing a few extra coat hangers on-board to make sure all your clothes can be hung up neatly to keep out the creases.

Plug socket extension lead

In these fast-paced modern times, technology is becoming ever more intertwined with everyday life. Cruise ship staterooms often only come equipped with one or two plug sockets, so if you plan on keeping your mobile phone, mp3 player and hair straighteners charged throughout your voyage, a plug socket extension lead may be required. Be aware however, that some cruise lines do not allow the use of extension leads, so check beforehand.

Anti-sickness medication

Sea sickness can be a real discomfort for some people, so there’s no harm in preparing for it even if you think you have a stomach of steel. Always pack a few anti-sickness tablets just in case.

Your favourite tipple

Although some cruise lines may put a restriction on the amount of alcohol you can bring on-board, an extra bottle of wine in the suitcase is perfect if you plan on spending a relaxing night in your suite or stateroom with a loved one.

Ear plugs

If you’re not picky about your accommodation on-board, there is always a chance that you will end up placed next to the laundry room, below the nightclub dance floor or close to some of your ship’s noisy machinery. Even if you secure a suite or stateroom far from these loud areas of the ship, the possibility a screaming child next door shouldn’t be ruled out – so bring ear plugs!

Plastic bags for toiletries

An essential packing tip for all holidays – not just cruises – is to always put your toiletries in a leak-proof plastic bag. Whether you use cling film or a number of small food bags is up to you, as long as you avoid covering your favourite jacket in shampoo before you’ve even unpacked.


You’ll inevitably have forms to fill out on embarkation and disembarkation, so make sure to bring a spare pen with you to save yourself having to ask fellow guests to borrow theirs. What’s more, a spare pen in your handbag is sure to come in handy on multiple occasions throughout your voyage – that’s a promise!

Extra layers

This may seem like an obvious tip, but be sure to pack appropriate clothes for the destinations on your itinerary. Don’t pack an extra thick jumper if you’re embarking on an on-season Caribbean cruise, but if you’re heading to Alaska or Northern Europe, always bring plenty of extra layers with you.

Fragile labels

If you’re worried about your bag being treated to heavy-handedly after you’ve checked them in – or you have packed any delicate or breakable items (eg. bottles of wine), marking them with a fragile label is the best way to encourage baggage handlers to treat them with more care.

Drier sheets and air fresheners

Packing a couple of scented drier sheets in your suitcase is a great way to make sure your clothes smell as fresh as possible once you come to unpack. Also, a small canister of air freshener is perfect for freshening up your cabin once you arrive on-board.

Copies of all important documents

If like me you are constantly paranoid about losing your important documents at some point during you holiday, making plenty of copies is a great way to put your mind at ease. The way I see it, you can never have too many copies of your boarding pass, just don’t store them all in exactly the same place.

Clothes pegs

Drying wet swimwear and towels on your private balcony is always a great idea, but don’t forget to bring some clothes pegs to keep them secure, or a badly timed gust of wind could just blow them straight into the ocean – and there’s no getting them back! Pegs also come in handy for securing your towel to your sunlounger on a windy sun deck.


The walls of most cruise ship cabins are made from metal and are therefore magnetic, so why not bring some magnets on-board and organise all of your paper schedules, plans and invitations by pinning them to the wall to create a helpful display?


Walkie-talkies are a novel way to keep in contact with your entire party whilst on-board without racking up expensive charges on your mobile phone. However, they are banned by some cruise lines and some countries so check before you pack them. Also, as ships are made of metal, this tends to interfere with the signal so walkie-talkies don’t usually work across several decks. You’ll also need to make sure you find a unique frequency – unless you want other people to hear about your exciting plans to meet up on the Lido Deck for a cocktail!

Night light

A night light is a useful addition to your suitcase, especially if you are in an Inside Cabin and are the type of person likely to wake up in the middle of the night. With a small night-light, you will be able to easily navigate your cabin at night, without turning on your room’s bright main light and searing your retinas.

Wet wipes

Wet wipes are a cruise essential, particularly if you are travelling with young children. Even if you’re travelling exclusively with adult companions, a handy wet wipe is perfect for quickly cleaning your hands or wiping down dirty surfaces when eating on-board or in port, so make sure to keep a pack close by on your travels.

Pack of cards

A classic holiday essential, a simple pack of cards offers hours of entertainment with minimal effort. Need I say more?

Want more packing tips? See this cruise essentials checklist.

Tip: Speak to an expert before you book

Speaking to someone with years of experience in cruising is the best way to make sure that you avoid any pitfalls and have the best cruise holiday possible. Our expert cruise concierge team are on hand to answer any questions you may have prior to booking. Just give us a call on 0207 980 2847 if you’d like a chat.

Emma Smith
Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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