459 days ago . by Krystian Szastok

What To Pack On a Cruise Holiday: Essentials & More

459 days ago . by Krystian Szastok
What To Pack On a Cruise Holiday: Essentials & More

From sailing between Caribbean islands, to forging your way through the Norwegian fjords, getting on board with a cruise holiday is a fabulous way to explore the world.

Cruise holidays are a clever way of ticking off lots of destinations in a short time (without having to pack and unpack every night), they’re a great way to meet other, like-minded people, and with your itinerary planned out for you, all the stress of holiday planning is a thing of the past. 

That said whether you’re a total first timer, or a cruising pro, packing for a cruise can be a challenge. There are evening dress codes to consider, a range of activities and onshore excursions to prepare for, and different destinations that may have varying weather conditions.

This handy cruise holiday packing guide makes preparing for your trip plain sailing, so you can cruise off into the sunset safe in the knowledge that you’ve got everything covered. 

Cruise Essentials

Of course, there’s no point in nailing your cruise wardrobe if you’ve forgotten your passport. Your first port of call when packing for a cruise should be your paperwork essentials. These include:

  • Your passport/ID
  • Cruise tickets
  • Boarding passes for any connecting flights
  • Luggage tags
  • Travel insurance
  • Medications
  • Vaccination and COVID-19 documents (if applicable)

Carry-On Essentials

If there’s one ‘must-do’ when figuring out how to pack for a cruise holiday, it’s a carry-on bag. It may take a few hours for your bags to be delivered to your cabin after boarding, and popping some cruise essentials into a handy little carry on means you don’t have to wait before you can start enjoying your trip:

  • Valuables: First rule of cruise club – keep your valuables in your carry on. From passport to money, you’ll want to keep them close in case of the unlikely event of your main bags going walkabout.
  • Change of clothes and swimwear: Who wants to wait to get into that onboard pool? Pack your swimwear in your carry-on and you’ll be ready to roll as soon as that anchor’s up. 
  • Essential medications: While most vessels have a supply of basic medicine, cruise ships don’t usually have a full pharmacy and getting hold of prescription medication may present a challenge if you and your main bag are separated. 
  • Snacks and water: You don’t want to see us when we get hangry, so just pack the snacks ok?
  • Items for freshening up: With connecting flights, and transfers, it’s a good idea to pack some wipes, a toothbrush, and maybe a light fragrance, so you can make sure you’re cruise-ready once you’re on board. 

What To Pack On a Cruise Holiday

Clothing and Accessories

Working out what clothes to pack for a cruise holiday can feel a little overwhelming. You’ll usually cover a lot of ground, which can mean varying climates, and with everything from formal dinners to laid-back sunshine excursions, you’ll need to take different occasions into consideration too. No need to panic pack though.

Just follow our handy guide to what to wear on a cruise holiday, and your capsule wardrobe will be ship shape in no time. 

Casual daytime wear

Day wear on cruise liners is usual ‘resort casual’. It’s more elevated than jeans and a tee, but not formal. Plan for swimsuit coverups, cutesy playsuits, lightweight cotton dresses and maxis with heeled sandals. Think relaxed with an underlying air of sophistication. 

Swimwear and Cover-ups

Unless you’re taking a cruise through the Arctic Circle, you’ll probably be spending a good amount of time bronzing your bod by the pool. You’ll want a selection of swimwear to see you through your trip (at least two sets so you’ve always got one dry to put on), a hat that won’t blow off in the sea breeze, and some kind of cover-up or kaftan for those times you need to head back to the cabin or for lunch. IOHO a light, oversized shirt is just the ticket. 

Evening Attire

Cruise dinner dress codes are generally less rigid than they used to be. Check the rules for your cruise line before you travel but it’s likely the brief will be somewhere between ‘evening casual’ and ‘dress to impress’.

Dress to impress might mean an LBDmidi cocktail dress or a full length number. Evening casual is more open to interpretation, but we’d say a silky wrap dress would be spot on. 


Of course, no outfit is complete without the perfect pair of shoes. You’ll want something that’ll work round the pool, like a metallic wedge, or a multi-strap sandal, some practical footwear like sneakers for excursions that involve walking, and at least one dressier pair for the evening.

A colour pop platform will take that evening wear to the next level, or if you’re more of a flats girl, a leopard-print loafer will give your outfit the edge.  

Weather-appropriate Outerwear

Packing a cover up is always a good idea. Check the forecast before you go, but it goes without saying that your outerwear for a Caribbean cruise won’t be the same as it would for a trip to Iceland!

A light cardigan is perfect for evenings in warmer climes, whereas you’ll want a coordinating coat or jacket to layer over evening dress on more northerly cruises, as well as outerwear for cold or wet weather excursions.  

what to take on a cruise


Push the boat out when it comes to accessories to make your wardrobe work that bit harder. The right pair of shoes can take your outfit from day to night, some delicate gold jewellery will really give that pool wear an uplift, and no cruise holiday is complete without that perfect sun hat. 

Toiletries and Personal Care

Shampoo and soap are always provided on cruises, and all but the most basic cruise lines have body lotion in the bathroom, but you’ll want to bring any other toiletries and personal care items you might need.

  • A small first aid kit – most ships sell basics like plasters and painkillers in their onboard shops, but you might want to bring your tried-and-tested brands, including seasickness medication. While many cruises give out their own, you wouldn’t want to be caught short. 
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent – with the light bouncing off the ocean, that sun can be fierce so pack plenty of SPF, after sun and insect repellent for those pesky mozzies.
  • Dental care essentials – Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss – there’s no reason for your dental care regime to slip just because you’re on holiday. 
  • Moisturiser – Those ocean breezes can be drying so make sure you pack a nourishing cream for face and body.
  • Make up and grooming items – You may find you wear less makeup in the day, but with many cruises going full razzle dazzle in the evening, packing your favourite make up products is a must. 

Electronics and Entertainment

While your cruise liner will most likely lay on some incredible entertainment, it’s always a good idea to pack personal electronics and entertainment for those lazy days on board. 

  • Electronics and chargers - Your mobile phone and laptop or tablet should be high on your packing list to ensure you’ve got all the entertainment you need at your fingertips. Cabins often have limited charging points so invest in a lightweight multi-USB charger for your trip.
  • Travel adaptor – You can usually check what kind of plug sockets your cruise liner will have, but chances are you’ll need an international adaptor to keep all your favourite electronics juiced up.
  • Headphones – Even the most sociable cruise passengers need some downtime, and plugging in and tuning out is the perfect way to do it.
  • Books, magazines & travel games – Sometimes we like to keep it old school, and turn to some offline entertainment for our kicks. Besides, you can’t beat reading a good book on a sun lounger. 

Bon Voyage

So, there you have it. Our comprehensive guide on how to pack for a cruise. Follow our handy tips and lists on what to take on a cruise and you’ll be packing like a pro. Happy sailing!