[PART 1] What to Take on a Cruise: Carry-On Essential Items – EzPacking, Inc
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[PART 1] What to Take on a Cruise: Carry-On Essential Items

[PART 1] What to Take on a Cruise: 

Carry-On Essential Items

View overlooking cruise ship swimming pool deck

Packing for a cruise is like that one glorious cheat day when you’ve been on a strict diet of baggage fees and luggage space. So go ahead. Unleash your overpacking traveler beast.

Four suitcases for a 3-day cruise? No problem. In fact, don’t hold yourself back now. Take nine. Why? Because you absolutely can.

Most cruises are generous to a fault about their baggage allowance anyway. Just make sure you brought your electromagnetic shrinking machine with you, because you can’t say the same thing when it comes to the size of their standard cabins.

If you're not sure on what to take on a cruise, this ultimate cruise packing list is the best guide on how you can maximize space in your suitcase. It also makes sure that you have everything you need to enjoy your cruise without having to use an electromagnetic shrinking machine for your luggage. 

Download or print the packing list here

Cruise carry-on bag essentials

Important items like passport and wallet for cruise

On average, it takes about six hours before you can have access to your checked-in bags, so make sure that you have these items on your carry-on with you:

Travel Documentation

    • Passport. Make sure that your passport is up-to-date.

    • Visa. If you need a visa for your cruise, make sure that you apply for it 3-6 months before your cruise.

    • Identification Card. Bring at least two official ID card with you at all times.

    • Driver's License. It's recommended that you get an international driver's license if you plan on driving in certain destinations when the ship is docked.

    • Auto insurance card. In case you want to rent a car on days when the ship is docked at the port.

    • Cash. Always bring cash, especially for the little towns who don't exactly take credit card. 

TIP: For safety, always keep a physical (print out) and virtual copy of your travel documents and identification which are considered as cruise essentials. You can download any of these apps to scan your documents. You can either send it to yourself as an email attachment or upload it online.

Important items like passport and wallet for cruise

Important Documents

    • Tickets. The night before your cruise, make sure that you have your tickets secured inside your carry-on bag.

    • Travel Insurance. If you're unsure whether you should get travel insurance, check out our post on why you absolutely should.

    • Medical Insurance. It's important to note that your travel insurance and medical insurance are quite different. Before your cruise, check with your provider what your policy covers.

    • Medical History. If you have any special or chronic conditions, make sure to let the cruise manager / director know about it prior to your trip. Also, prepare a detailed copy of your medical history, including instructions (e.g. where your medication is located, what medication you take, allergies, etc.) should an emergency occur.

    • Emergency Contacts. Include phone numbers, emails, and mobile messenger profiles.

TIP: Document organizers like this one can store all your documents including your cards, itinerary, and pocket money. You can also make individual travel document kits - especially if you're traveling in a big group - using ziplock bags. Label each one before storing it inside your small packing cube.

Cruise essentials organized in grey packing cube

Tech Gadgets

    • Kindle. All those books you promised you would read? You can download them and finally finish them while traveling.

    • Tablet. Fill it with movies and games if you're traveling with kids. You can check out our post on suggestions on which games are best for traveling.

    • Handheld Gaming Console. If you're traveling with kids or a group, handhelds like Nintendo Switch and PS Vita with local multiplayer capability is highly recommended.

    • Chargers. Use Velcro cable ties or twist ties to keep your cables organized. You can also label each for quick access.

    • Universal Adapter. Check this post for your options on travel adapters.

    • Headphones. Bring headphone splitters so people can share one device.

    TIP: Keep all your tech devices in one small packing cube for easy access. To avoid your devices from getting scratched, keep all your tech accessories in a separate extra small packing cube.

    Toiletries organized in pink packing cube for cruise


      • Wallet. Keep some pocket money in your wallet for you to use in case of an emergency - meaning if you get hungry and need some snacks.

      • Prescription Medication. Keep them in their original containers.

      • First-Aid Kit. This is especially helpful when traveling with kids. Check out our post on what to pack.

      • Toiletries. In an extra small packing cube, pack travel sized toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizer, contact lens solution, etc. You'll also need sunblock, aloe gel, lip balm, and hand sanitizer while waiting on deck.

      • Change of Clothes. You don't have to bring an entire outfit. In a small packing cube, pack clothes made from lighter, wrinkle-free fabrics like jersey or linen. Maybe even throw in a bathing suit and flip flops, if you want to hit the pool before your luggage arrives.

      • Outerwear. Depending on the season you're traveling, you might want to bring a light cardigan or jacket with you. You can tie bulkier items like outerwear around your waist, so it doesn't take up space in you carry-on.

      • Kids Entertainment Kit. If you're going to be stuck at the airport for a period of time or have nothing on your schedule yet after boarding, pack a small packing cube with books, art materials, puzzles, and their favorite toys to keep them entertained.

      TIP: If you're kids are big enough, give them each a medium packing cube and let them pack their own traveling kit. It's a win win situation because they can decide what to take on a cruise with your guidance of course!

      Click here for Part 2 of our Packing for a Cruise series for a detailed packing list on how to pack your checked-in bag/s.

      Download the full Family Cruise Packing List here!

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