As a girl, packing for a cruise is no small feat. With sun wear, casual wear, formalwear, and all the accessories that accompany each, we have a lot to consider when planning our outfits and getting dressed and ready each day.
There are also tech accessories to consider and other practical items we’ll be glad we had during the voyage. Luckily, we’ve compiled the 26 items every girl should pack to help them for their next cruise vacation.
1. Travel-friendly hairdryer
Almost any room on any cruise ship has a hairdryer. But these hairdryers are weak at best, usually restricted to the wall by a cord, which requires pressing the “on” button constantly.
They can be so challenging to use. But fret not, as we have a compact but powerful, travel-friendly hairdryer for your convenience.
2. Mini curling iron/straightener in one
Instead of packing a hair straightener and curling iron, opt for a straightener/curling iron combo. The best part is you can buy a mini version that’s perfectly sized that won’t take up too much space in your suitcase.
3. Jewelry organizer
Don’t just toss your jewelry into a little pouch! Plenty of zip-up jewelry organizers meant for travel will keep your earrings in their rightful pairs and your necklaces from tangling with each other.
4. Conditioner bottles
Though cruise ships generally supply shampoo and body wash in guest bathrooms, you’ll rarely find one that offers free conditioners. You’ll have to pack your own if you need a conditioner, which many women do. Luckily, we have these travel-friendly toiletry bottles for your convenience.
5. Waterproof phone pouch
If you’re like most women, you’ll probably want your phone with you during much of your vacation, especially when you’re enjoying a day in port.
For activities that risk your phone getting wet, please bring a waterproof pouch you can slip it into. This way, you can have peace of mind.
6. High ponytail ball cap
Traditionally, you have to let your hair down or wear a low hairstyle to wear a baseball cap. But that problem can be solved with ball caps like these. They have spaces in the back to allow for high ponytails and buns. Plus, there are many colors to choose from to match your outfits.
Laugh all you want, but we’re all humans with bodily functions. Thankfully, if you catch my drifty, Poo-Pourri toilet spray helps mask that. Any traveler sharing a bathroom should order this. We recommend the “Ship Happens” scent, of course.
8. Steel water bottle
Bringing your reusable water bottle is essential on any trip. Aboard the ships in public areas, there are water bottle filling stations that you can take advantage of.
For health reasons, I wouldn’t suggest plastic bottles. I’d suggest this straw-less, BPA-free steel bottle, an excellent cruise option for easy cleaning. It’s leak-proof, vacuum-insulated to keep your water cold, and comes with three different lids.
9. Extra hangers
It’s true that the cruise ship provides closet hangers, and you can usually request more from your stateroom steward if there aren’t enough in your room.
But these compact, foldable travel hangers make your vacation convenient. These hangers are suitable for your shirts, cover-ups, sundresses, formal dresses, and more.
10. Cruise power strip
Depending on the cruise ship you’re sailing on, you might only have one American outlet in your stateroom. If you have many devices, this small power strip can help you, as it turns one American outlet into three, plus two USB charging outlets.
Many aren’t compliant with cruise line policies and will be confiscated, but this one was made specifically for cruising and is allowed by all major lines.
On a cruise, you want to enjoy some lobster at dinner — not look like one after a bad sunburn. If you’ve ever burned your scalp, you probably know that once the skin begins to peel, it can look like you’ve got dandruff when it starts falling into your hair. It’s not a good look, but it’s got a simple solution: wear a sunhat!
A sunhat folds up neatly in your suitcase without creasing, bending, or sustaining damage, making it a win-win for travel and sun protection.
As a chronic over-packer,
Saving space helps me keep my overall bag size down, allowing me always to debark using the self-assist option, which is quicker and less painful.
13. Inexpensive sunglasses
Our advice about sunglasses is not to bring expensive ones on a cruise. A cruise is probably not the place for your Ray-Bans and Bentleys because they could easily get lost or broken on the ship, during especially active excursions, or transit to and from the cruise port.
If you need to bring them, pack them in a hard-sided glasses case and don’t wear them into port unless your excursion is a laid-back bus or walking tour. For those other activities, pack a second, inexpensive pair that you can use instead.
14. Travel makeup mirror
Cruise ship cabins are not without their mirrors; there’s always the bathroom mirror and usually another at the desk area.
But if you want to get close up easily or are jostling for mirror space with other family members, packing an extra mirror isn’t a bad idea. These days, you can find all shapes and sizes, including ones with their own lighting.
15. Dress weights
We’ve all seen Marilyn Monroe’s iconic white dress faux-pas above a subway vent enough times to know that we don’t want to be the one to have a wardrobe malfunction. You pack a sundress or two, maybe a skirt, but hesitate to wear it once onboard. DressWeights, a windy day fashion fix, will help to avoid unwanted “exposure.”
A small weight attached with an adhesive pad to your outfit’s inside hem or seam will keep your dress down(without damaging the fabric) and your assurance level up, no matter the wind speeds.
16. Flip flops or sandals
The pool deck gets hot, and you want to make sure you don’t burn your feet. This is even more important if you get a pedicure. Walking around barefoot after getting the dead skin on your feet scraped off feels like walking on coals.
In addition to packing sandals, bring a pair of sneakers with good treads. When I’m taking a trip that involves flying, I almost always wear my sneakers on the plane because it’s just lovely to have your feet fully covered during a flight, and it saves space putting shoes that take up less room in my suitcase.
During a cruise, you might want sneakers for the jogging track, the fitness center, certain shore activities, or prolonged walking tours in port. Some cruise ship activities also require closed-toed shoes like sneakers, such as the ropes course or zip line.
Whether you anticipate needing them or not, it’s always good to bring a pair of sneakers on a cruise in case anything comes up.
18. Extra-strong magnet hooks
This is another one for the over-packers like me or anyone who likes to utilize the space of their stateroom. Sometimes, you get on a ship, and your stateroom has fewer drawers and less closet space than anticipated. Or maybe you have a few hats you don’t want to take up space on the vanity.
The walls and doors of cruise ships are mostly made of steel, meaning they’re magnetic, and extra-strong magnetic hooks easily connect to the wall. That makes them perfect for hanging things up, whether that be hats, jewelry, or clothes – you can hang almost anything with extra-strength hooks.
They’re a great way to make the best of your smaller space, especially with multiple people sharing a room.
19. Towel bands
The struggle to keep a towel from sagging down on a chair is constant and never-ending… unless you have towel clips or bands. We believe towel bands are better than clips because they’re much smaller, therefore taking up less valuable luggage space.
Put the band over the back of your deck lounger and over your towel, and it will keep the towel from slipping down behind your back, flapping into your face, or scooching off the chair altogether, which is incredibly annoying when you’re working on your tan.
But with great power comes great responsibility; don’t abuse the towel bands by using them to claim a lounge chair and then disappear. That is to say, don’t be a chair hog. No one likes chair hogs.
20. Travel-size perfumes/perfume atomizer
No one wants to haul full bottles of perfume around in their luggage if they’ve got other options, and we do! We suggest buying a mini travel spray version of your favorite perfume for a cruise to save space and not worry about your full bottle leaking or breaking in transit.
If you want to decant a fragrance from a bottle you already have, try an atomizer like this— it’s easy to do, and you won’t have to purchase another (mini) bottle to take with you. Plus, aluminum is more durable than glass and is always good when traveling.
21. Portable charger
If you’ll be out and about on a long port day that will include lots of phone usage (taking photos and videos, using the GPS, etc.), we highly recommend that you pack a portable charger to ensure you never run out of battery.
Here at Cruise Radio, our go-to portable charger is this Anker PowerCore one. It weighs less than a pound, is highly durable, and can charge multiple phones 100% on one charge.
22. Travel first-aid kit
First things first, you should never travel without trip insurance. Trips to the medical center on a cruise ship, even for the simplest of concerns, can cost you a lot of money out of pocket. It’s a good idea to pack a small first aid kit, especially if you’re cruising with kids or family.
Even with trip insurance, it’s easier to avoid the hassle of visiting the medical center and then filing an insurance claim if it’s something minor that such a compact and affordable kit could treat.
23. Light sweater
It’s easy to overlook packing warm clothes when all you’re thinking about is spending time under the sun. Swimsuits, cover-ups, and comfy footwear are usually the first to get thrown in the suitcase.
But cruise ships tend to keep public spaces like dining rooms, lounges, and show theaters colder when you want to escape the heat. Don’t forget a light sweater or jacket unless you don’t mind shivering over your dinner plate in a tank top.
24. Hair ties
Obviously, all of us with longer hair will be bringing hair ties on a cruise. What not everyone may think of, however, is to always have extras with you when you get off the ship in port. On my last cruise, we had a day at Great Stirrup Cay, which is Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island. There, ships have to anchor offshore, and passengers are tendered to the island. Soon after arriving, my hair tie broke, and I thought, “This isn’t good; I have a jet skiing excursion shortly and don’t know if I have an extra!” Since getting back on the ship would take another boat ride, I didn’t have the time nor desire to go back to the ship for that.
Luckily, I found an extra in my beach bag, but lesson learned. From now on, I will double-check and make SURE I have a spare or two.
A year or two ago, I discovered these GIMME hair ties with no seams: no metal crimp piece, no industrial-strength glue. I’ve used them continuously since then and haven’t had any breaks. I highly recommend them for any hair type and will bring them on all my trips from here on out.
25. Sticky or strapless bra
A sticky bra isn’t necessary, depending on the clothes you bring, but if you need it, you need it. Anything backless will probably warrant a sticky bra and other types of tops or dresses with straps placed in unusual spots.
If you don’t need a sticky bra, you’ll likely be packing a strapless one, which I will bring on every trip. The less you can show bra straps (unless they’re the kind that is meant to be shown!), the better, and it’ll make you look more put together as a whole.
26. Silicone wedding band
If you’re married or engaged, you may want to consider leaving your real engagement ring and/or wedding band at home and wearing a silicone one instead. There are two main reasons many people opt for a silicone band instead of their real rings from time to time: safety and safekeeping.
Safety comes into play because you could snag your ring on something and damage the ring or — more importantly — your finger. This is something to consider if you plan to do many hands-on activities and active shore excursions during your cruise.
The other reason is to prevent your expensive ring from being lost. Instead of worrying about when to put it in your safe or lose it in the ocean, leave your ring at home.
Plus, pickpocketers that are terrifyingly skilled at getting jewelry off fingers and wrists without the owner ever realizing it can be around in some port cities. Most places aren’t like this, but if you’re taking a cruise (especially in the Mediterranean), it’s another factor to take into consideration.
Silicone rings come in many shapes, sizes, and designs, so finding one you love is easy. This point also applies to men — you could get a pair of matching his and hers silicone rings for your travels! As a starting point, check out this one.
READ MORE: 11 Items to Pack for Your Next Cruise
This article was written by Heather Baxter and Sarah Bretz. It was initially published in July 2019 and was expanded and republished in August 2022.
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