Cruise Packing

At sea


Cruise expert: 10 Things I always pack for a family cruise

Now that I have completed several cruises with my family, I have discovered some items which I find so useful that I now cannot cruise without them.  Most are small and easy to pack and make our vacations that much easier and more enjoyable.

1/Air freshener

Cruise staterooms are not large spaces; many don’t have access to fresh air, and they all have a bathroom attached.  Enough said.  I'll never ever go on a cruise without bringing along an air freshener.  I usually pack a small can of spray freshener, and it works great.  If you are flying, remember that aerosols will need to go into checked luggage.  If you’re not checking luggage, use travel-sized, non-aerosol versions packed with your liquids.


I always throw a small travel flashlight into my suitcase.  I use it at night when others are asleep, and I need to rummage around for something in a drawer or suitcase.  It also can be used as a reading light after the kids are asleep.

3/Water Bottle

I always bring my own water bottle when I cruise.  The cups at the drink stations are typically small, so bringing my own saves time on repeated walks to the stations for refills.  I also fill it up before leaving the ship for an excursion.  

4/Waterproof watch

When I leave the ship for an excursion, I always wear a waterproof watch.  Carrying my phone around is not always practical, especially on water-based excursions.  This way, I always know what time it is and can easily keep track of getting back to the ship on time.  

KidTripster Tip: Always double check the ship’s time before you leave for an excursion.  Some ships will change to local times zones when visiting ports.  You don’t want to be late returning to the ship, because your watch was incorrect.

5/Inflatable booster seats

Even though car booster seats aren’t required in most foreign countries, I am not comfortable letting my smaller kids ride in cars without them.  Before our first cruise, I bought BubbleBum inflatable booster seats, and we have taken them on every cruise since.  They are lightweight, easy to pack, and easy to carry.  See KidTripster's review of BubbleBum here.

6/Medicated first aid gel

I always pack Wipe Away Pain medicated gel.  Ever since my daughter was badly stung by a jellyfish on a beach in Grand Cayman, I make sure that I always have gel with me.  She was in serious pain, and while vinegar didn’t help, this stuff did. 

7/Resealable plastic bags

I always stash several resealable plastic bags (both large and small) into the zipper pouch of my suitcase.  They don’t take up any extra space and can be used for all sorts of things.  I have used them for leftover snacks, broken jewelry, medicine, waterproof bag for cash, wet clothes, and so on.  I replenish the supply before every vacation.

8/Trash bags

Just like the resealable bags, I pack several large trash bags in the zipper pouch of my suitcase.  I use one for storing dirty clothes throughout the cruise.  I use the others in case of rain.   If it's raining, your luggage will almost certainly get wet as it’s loaded on or off the ship.  I take the two trash bags and lay them on the bottom and top of all of the stuff and tuck them down the sides, essentially lining the suitcases so that the contents stay dry.  Of course, you won’t need to do this, if you have hard-sided luggage.

9/Hanging organizer

Over-the-door shoe organizers are now prohibited by some cruise lines like Disney, but there are other types of hanging organizers that can be hung on a shower curtain rod, closet rod or wall hook.  These hangers make it easy to keep all sorts of things organized from toiletries to room keys to snacks.

10/Suction cup hooks

Suction cup hooks have multiple uses in a cruise ship stateroom.  What I find them most useful for is hanging up wet bathing suits to dry, especially if you have several suits to hang up in one bathroom.  I also stick some on the bathroom mirror to hang my necklaces and lanyards with room keys.  It helps keep things more organized in a crowded space. 

Diana Smith is an expert cruiser.  She and her family, including her three Disney princesses, have set sail on six Disney cruises.  For more, check out Disney Cruise Mom Blog

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