We may be experienced cruisers now but there was a time where we had no idea of the essentials needed to make a cruise easier. We spent 4 weeks in the same cabin aboard Independence of the seas 2 years ago and we could not have coped without most of the things I will be recommending to you below.
It seems so simple but without one you are lost. Pens are usually quite expensive in the on board gift shop so try to bring a few with you. They are handy for leaving notes for cabin attendants, filling out crosswords and any forms the cruise line may send your way.
These are a fabulous way of leaving notes for your cabin attendant. Until you are on board or an experienced cruiser you won’t realise how many little things you may need to ask for.
A lot of people don’t realise this but the walls your cabin is magnetic.. small magnets are a fabulous way of sticking important documents or notes to the wall saving room and stopping things from ending up in the trash!
SUN LOUNGER CLIPS
Until you have these little gadgets in your life you don’t realise how you could get by in life without them. Pool decks of cruise ships can be very windy.. meaning towels can fly away. These babies will keep everything pegged down. They are also great for those beach ports too. I got mine on Amazon here.
A PLASTIC CARD
For example an unused store card or business card… If your cabin happens to have the slot to activate your lights and power when you leave the room and take your sea pass cards with you the power will go off. This is really aggravating when you are trying to charge electronics.. so bring a card with you and slot it in.. the power will never go off.. (your cabin attendant might remove it though)
TRAVEL LAUNDRY BAG
Finding somewhere to store your dirty laundry in a small cabin can be a bit of a nightmare. Grab a travel laundry bag to keep everything neat and tidy. Then just throw it in your suitcase to go home. It folds completely flat and takes up very little space. I got my cute travel laundry bag on Amazon here.
LIQUID HAND SOAP
If you are like me and prefer to have an antibacterial liquid soap to use daily you will need to bring your own. Most cruise lines will provide a small soap bar but these end up very messy and unhygenic.
Buying basic medicine such as paracetamol can be very expensive onboard or complicated to purchase in ports. Most countries do not stock medicine in supermarkets the same as the UK. So a stressful visit to a pharmacy may be needed. We always put together a basic bag of essentials.
If you don’t have enough space to bring all of the clothes you need and do not want to spend on expensive laundry costs on board try bringing your own hand travel wash. There are some ships with laundry rooms (P&O provide a laundry room on every deck which has access to washers, dryers and iron boards).
Cruise lines state that you may not bring scissors with a blade over the measurement of 7cm long. So a small pair of travel scissors is fine. Trust me they are a necessity! I have been lost without them a few times.. especially for cutting tags off of new clothes etc. If you don’t have travel scissors, nail clippers are also excellent for removing labels from clothing.
YES booze! On board prices are expensive unless you manage to get yourself a free drinks package thrown in or you are buying one as you are a big drinker. Every cruise line has a different policy for bringing alcohol on board, varying from one bottle of wine to a few bottles of spirits. Check with your cruise line before travelling. Most cruise lines do state this must be consumed in your state room but when you are watching the sun set from your balcony.. a cheeky glass of red will make it the perfect end to a long day of fun (and save you some cash). When we board we ask our state room attendant for some wine glasses and they will usually continue to replace them.
Related Article: Can I take alcohol on my cruise?
Most cruise ships offer American and European plug sockets, I have only come across one cruise line with UK sockets and that was P&O. So remember to bring plenty of travel adapters. Most newer ships now have USB sockets but you will find the older ships do not have these installed.
If you are good at losing things this is perfect for you! I never carry a bag or purse around the ship as you just don’t really need it! Everything is done and paid for with your onboard sea card. We always bring a lanyard with a plastic pouch to ensure we do not lose our cards.
BACOFOIL OR SANDWICH BAGS
Okay, okay generally you are not supposed to take food off of the ship.. but everyone does! Some cruise ships offer bags of crisps/chips which are great for carrying off. But things like wraps, sandwiches, cake etc can be wrapped up and taken off too! Why pay for food when you get it for “free” onboard? It’s especially good for the kids who might be fussy about trying local cuisine….
THINGS YOU DO NOT NEED TO PACK
- Hangers – Ask your room attendant he will have loads of spare plastic or metal hangers..
- Towels – All towels including pool towels will be provided on the ship for free.
- Irons and Steamers – These will be 100% confiscated if you try to bring these on board. Everyone else has creased clothes so simply don’t worry about it. (Update to this point.. we recently sailed with Marella and they do allow Travel irons but we have not found any other cruise lines who do allow them)
- Food – Unless you need something specifically for medical reasons there really is absolutely no need to pack any food!
I really hope this list has helped you to prepare and pack for your cruise.. we would love to hear any other packing comments..