20 Things You Should Always Pack in Your Cruise Carry-on Bag - Cruise with Leo

20 Things You Should Always Pack in Your Cruise Carry-on Bag

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Sometimes packing for a cruise can be complicated.

On this kind of trip, you visit several different places and you never know what the weather will be like on the next stop.

However, there are some things to put in your carry-on luggage that can never be missed.

I thought of creating a list with 20 essential items to always have handy in your bag. I always pack them, and I’m sure they will be useful to you as well!

1. Travel documents

organizer for important documents
Organizer for important documents

The first thing you need to include in your carry-on bag is definitely your documents.
Remember to include your passport, your national ID, boarding documents, and any visa (if it is required in the countries you will be visiting).

Put your documents in a secure part of your luggage, preferably one that can be zipped up.
They are essential for your trip and you absolutely cannot lose them.

I also separate my passport and ID card for additional security. If I lose one document, I still have the other one with me.

2. Medications

The most important medications and those you need to take every day should always be put in your carry-on luggage.

Remember that the suitcase you leave at boarding can always get lost, and you may then lose your medicines as well.

Keep your medicines with you at all times to make sure you can immediately use them in case you need them.

3. Change of clothes

Cruise clothes

Unexpected things can happen, so I also recommend putting a change of clothes in your carry-on bag.

You probably won’t need them, but it is best to avoid the risk.
You might get wet or dirty, and in those cases, clean clothes might save the day.

4. Smartphone and chargers

One thing you cannot leave without is definitely your smartphone and its charger.

You are probably thinking: it’s obvious, there was no need to include it in this list.

Well…you will probably laugh at me, but I once forgot my smartphone at home when I went on a cruise.

It was early in the morning, I was running late, and I still had the last few things to take care of. In the rush, I left home, leaving my cell phone on the desk.

It was a real nightmare! I had to buy another extra cell phone at the port just to have internet.

5. Cash and credit cards

cash on a cruise

If you are packing your bags, you have probably already paid for the cruise.

However, there are still some extras to consider, so remember to bring your payment cards and some cash with you.

You should prefer using cards for security reasons, but cash can still be useful in some cases, such as for tipping. However, don’t carry too much cash, and estimate exactly how much you’ll need for your cruise without overdoing it.

6. Toiletries

Essential toiletries should stay in your carry-on bag because you can always need them.

These include a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, a small brush, and moisturizer.

To avoid making your bag too heavy, opt for travel-size items, you should easily find them in almost all stores.

7. Sunscreen and lip balm

Especially if you travel in the warmer months, remember to always keep sunscreen on hand.

It’s easy to get sunburned on a cruise, and you could ruin your vacation if you don’t protect yourself properly.

If your skin is very sensitive, you might also include an after-sun cream and sunscreen for your lips.

8. Sunglasses

Likewise, remember to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes on very sunny days.

This is especially important for some cruises, such as those to the Caribbean, where the sun can be particularly strong.

9. Electronics

cabin telephone
Tablet on

If you are traveling with other electronic devices, such as cameras, tablets, or e-readers consider putting them in your carry-on luggage.

This is usually preferable to prevent them from breaking and to have them with you, since they can be quite expensive.

If you charged them before you left home, you could pack the chargers in your suitcase instead.

10. Jewelry and valuables

Safe in the closet of a cruise ship
Safe in the closet of a cruise ship

I never recommend bringing overly precious jewelry or items of great value on a cruise.

Consider that you will be visiting many different places, many of them abroad, and if you lose or have something stolen it will be difficult, if not impossible, to recover it.

If you really want to bring some jewelry keep it with you at all times and put it in the safe as soon as you enter the cabin.

11. Swimwear and pool essentials

p&o australia pool
Cruise pool

When you board the ship, your bags will not arrive quickly; sometimes it may take several hours.

For this reason, you might put your swimsuit in your carry-on bag if you want to go to the pool right away.

Another method I use is to put the swimsuit under the clothes before leaving. That way, as soon as we board, we leave the backpack in the cabin and are ready to enjoy the pool.

12. Portable power strip

cruise approved power strip
Cruise-approved power strip

Cruise ship cabins often have limited electrical outlets, and a power strip can be very handy. For example, if you look at the electrical plug sockets on Royal Caribbean, most of the ships only have two US sockets.

Just remember to bring a cruise-approved one that should be non-surge-protected. I don’t recommend it to everyone, it’s useful only if you have a lot of electronic devices or if you are 4 people in a cabin.

13. Reusable water bottle

refillable thermal bottle
Refillable thermal bottle

Staying hydrated is crucial since you will be walking a lot and frequently under the sun.

Just bring a reusable water bottle, preferably thermal, so that water is always at hand.

Many cruise ships have water stations where you can refill your bottle, so it will also be an eco-friendly and cost-effective option.

14. Snacks

If you are like me and are always hungry, remember to pack some snacks in your carry-on bag.

Just a reminder that, in order to get on board, snacks must be dry and packaged.

Home-prepared food is not allowed, to avoid contamination issues.

15. Pen and notepad

A pen and a notepad are essentials that should never be missing from a traveler’s backpack.

You never know when you will need them, but at some point during your vacation, you will definitely need them.

I’ve also included them in the list of the 20 cruise essentials that I always bring on a cruise.

16. Reading glasses

If you have trouble seeing up close, remember to bring your reading glasses. They will be essential to enjoying books, filling cruise documents, or using your electronic devices.

Again, as we said about sunglasses, be careful where you put them and preferably use a case to prevent them from breaking.

17. Kids’ essentials

If you are traveling with kids, remember to pack the things they need.

In fact, some people prefer to have a separate backpack specifically for their essentials. For example, you can include diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, small toys, and some snacks.

18. Contact information and emergency numbers​

For safety reasons, always keep a sheet with some emergency numbers in your backpack.

It can happen, during a trip, that you lose your cellphone or it gets stolen, and in this case, you would lose all the numbers in your contact list.

I usually include a couple of family members, a couple of friends, and the number of the cruise line customer service.

19. Umbrella or raincoat

Umbrella flask
Umbrella flask

This does not apply to all cruises, but if your itinerary includes places where the likelihood of rain is high, remember to pack an umbrella or a raincoat.

To avoid taking up too much space, look for compact options. There are folding umbrellas that are very convenient in this case.

The one that you see in the picture above is actually a flask and is used by passengers to sneak alcohol on cruise ships.

20. Hand sanitizer

The last thing that cannot be missing from your carry-on luggage is hand sanitizer.

It is really helpful when you can’t wash your hands but have to eat something. I always take it on a cruise and use it often.

Of course, whenever possible, remember to wash your hands with water and soap. If you don’t do it, you have just discovered one of the 10 things you must never do at a cruise buffet.


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