Every time we go on a cruise, I think of different things that would should have brought. Or I’m surprised by how much we used something we didn’t think we’d need.
There are all kinds of lists for what to bring on a cruise vacation that make total sense, so for the basics check them out.
But there are definitely some unusual or simply forgettable items that should get a spot in your suitcase, no matter how light of a traveler you are. Here are my top 10:
1. Liquid Hand Soap
Much like hotels, every cruise I’ve been on has provided bar soap in the room. There is liquid soap in the public restroom dispensers, but you’ll want to bring your own for the cabin. I don’t really like using bar soap, I don’t feel like it gets all over my hands and it doesn’t rinse well out of my rings. Make sure it’s well sealed when you pack it or put it in a zip-top bag to prevent soap leaking onto your clothes.
2. Shirts from home
We love wearing our Cleveland gear around and it’s a lot of fun to see people’s reactions to it. If you wear a shirt with your favorite team, hometown or state on it, you’re almost guaranteed to meet someone who is from there or knows people there. On our last cruise, we met people who live less than a mile away from us just because Brad was wearing a Cavs championship shirt.
3. Safety pins
These are the most versatile of all the sewing items. I actually don’t bother packing a mini sewing kit so long as I have safety pins. I’ve used them to fix fallen hems before or secure a beach wrap in place. They’re also handy for clipping small items into a beach bag that would otherwise slip to the bottom (like hair ties or even your sea pass card).
4. Water proof bag Water proof bags protect your electronics from getting wet, but they also keep sand away from them and minimize the sunscreen smudges that tend to happen on tropical trips. We use the YOSH Universal Dry Bag Pouch, which fits most phones, including Brad’s iPhone 7 plus, and more importantly my OmniPod PDM.
You might scratch your head at this one. Sure you can find pens on board – but they aren’t abundant. There’s not a pen in your room like at a hotel because you’re on vacation and won’t be working and probably won’t be writing letters. We’ve needed a pen before to leave notes for our room attendant, fill out the customs form and mark the things in the cruise itinerary that we want to do. Some people recommend bringing a highlighter for marking the cruise itinerary (Cruise Compass for Royal Caribbean cruisers), but a pen will do the trick.
6. A scarf
I mean one of the massive, light weight scarves – not something like a knitted winter neck warmer. I brought a fun, blue and white polka dot scarf for the last cruise. I first wore it as a scarf around my neck when we left for the airport on a cold February morning. Once on board, it transformed into a makeshift top on beach day and a full bathing suit cover up later on. These things are versatile, don’t take up much space and are fun to learn how to wrap in 50 different ways. There are ladies who will bring a black or neutral pashmina for these purposes, but also to wear as a formal night wrap or use as an airplane blanket.
7. Alcohol swabs
I always have alcohol wipes on me to deal with diabetes things, but those little things can do wonders in other ways. To start with they can get ink off of just about anything, which is good if you have any mishaps with that pen you packed. We also use them to wipe down our phones, room remote, etc. Some people bring Lysol or Clorox wipes, but those take up more space, are more expensive and aren’t as versatile.
8. Selfie stick
I kind of hate that I just wrote that. Brad and I bit the bullet and bought a selfie stick for our last cruise. It’s annoying to have to ask people to take pictures for you, especially when there’s a lot you don’t want to miss. So pack a selfie stick. You likely won’t see any of those people again anyway so don’t be embarrassed to use it. Just practice good selfie stick etiquette which includes collapsing it when you’re walking around, being careful not to hit others with it, not holding it over another person’s head when you’re taking a picture, not using it with an iPad and so on. If you use one that plugs in, don’t forget the aux/lightning adapter if you have an iPhone 7, they also make Bluetooth selfie sticks.
9. Nail file
We try to pack light so I don’t bring a whole nail care kit. However, it never fails when I travel that I snag a finger nail and it proceeds to get caught on everything the whole trip. The last thing you want to do is snag your formal dress or bathing suit with your own nail. It’s also no fun to be distracted by a snagged nail when on vacation.
10. Coconut oil
I love coconut oil, there’s a ton of uses for it (seriously, Google it). On a cruise, it’s a nice all-in-one balm that works as a light-weight moisturizer, sunburn soother, lip balm, eye make up remover, cuticle cream, shaving lotion, frizz tamer, etc.
You may have noticed a theme. Nothing I listed will take up so much room that you risk an overweight bag fee from the airline and most of these items serve multiple purposes.
What are your vacation must-pack items that people might not think of?
This post contains some affiliate links.