11 Things I Never Regret Taking on a Cruise

AI generated image of a cruise ship with items you might pack

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AI generated image of a cruise ship with items you might pack
Cheapism / Microsoft Copilot

Packing List

Seasoned cruisers know all the tips and tricks for having an amazing vacation — not to mention what not to do on the ship. But cruise newbies usually need to get a couple sailings under their belt before they know the real insider stuff. I've been on plenty of cruises all over the world, so let me help you out: Here are some not-so-obvious things I never regret packing, even if they seem like overkill. 

Glass bottle with water on wet sand near sea
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

1. Refillable Water Bottle

Those pitiful little cups at the water, tea, and juice dispensers just won't cut it, especially if you want to stay hydrated in the sun or have kids that are likely to knock them over and spill. Filling up your own bottle means you'll always have a supply on hand, and you'll save on plastic if you normally buy bottled water on board, too. Plus, they even make collapsible water bottles if you don't want to take up space in your luggage. 

I'll take care of your skin.
Aja Koska/istockphoto

2. Tons of Sunscreen

You can never have too much sunscreen, especially if you're from the great white north like me. Dealing with sunburn on a vacation is a real bummer, but it's even worse if you have to buy horrifically overpriced sunscreen from the cruise shop in order to avoid getting scorched. Just pack that extra tube, and maybe even stash a couple travel packs of it in your bag.

Related: Supergoop vs. Trader Joe's Sunscreen: Which One Is Better?

Young Man on Cruise Ship Looks Through Binoculars in Alaska

3. Small Binoculars

A pair of travel binoculars will fit easily in your luggage, and will give you a close-up view of your port and any landscapes that you're passing. They're especially great on Alaskan cruises, where you can spot wildlife like bears and whales better.

Woman suffering from sea sickness and feeling headache while on boat
Piyapong Thongcharoen/istockphoto

4. Motion Sickness Medicine

Even if you've been on cruises already and don't normally get seasick, it's still a good idea to pack some just in case. Like sunscreen, it can be really overpriced to purchase on the ship. It doesn't take up much room in your bags, so bring some because you never know what the weather will be like or how your body will react.

Related: Cruise Employees Share What It's ACTUALLY Like To Work on a Cruise Ship

Metal Hook
Michael Burrell/istockphoto

5. Magnetic Hooks

Fun fact: Most cruise cabin walls are magnetic. Grab a few cheap magnetic hooks and throw them in your suitcase. You'll be happy that you can organize your tiny cabin a little better with extra places to hang wet swimsuits, robes, towels, and lanyards. And if you add a magnetic clip, you can hang up your daily schedule.

Straw bag on wooden sunbed near sea. Beach accessory
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

6. Beach Bag

This one may seem obvious to some, but it's easy to overlook. If you plan on lying around at the beach while in port, you're going to want to bring towels, sunscreen, maybe some sand toys, water shoes, and all kinds of stuff. Without a beach bag or backpack, that'll be really difficult. Get one that folds or collapses so you can pack it, or use it as your carry-on luggage.

Using Bug Spray

7. Insect Repellent

Not only is extra sunscreen important, but insect repellent is too. There can be lots of biting flies and other things on the beach or in port, especially if you're going to be on shore during the evening. Legs full of mosquito bites are not fun on vacation. 

Young african american girl using sunscreen lotion at the beach.

8. Body Lotion

As someone with dry skin, body or hand lotion is always a must when I'm traveling. But it's extra important on a cruise, where things like saltwater, sand, and sun suck moisture out of your skin. Plus, if you do get sunburned, it'll help soothe it.

Laundry Stuffed In Laundry Bag

9. Laundry Bag

On short cruises, you probably won't be paying to have your clothes laundered. But you'll still want a place to pile all your dirty clothes away from your clean ones, and that's where a small laundry bag comes in handy. If you forget one, a plastic shopping bag can do in a pinch — plus it's great for wet clothes.

Close up Business man counting the money spread of cash in wallet.
Nopphon Pattanasri/istockphoto

10. Cash

Though cruise ships are mostly cash-free now, you will probably find it very handy in port, depending on the destination. Cash is still king in a lot of places, and tipping tour guides or buying from local vendors will often need to be done in cash. Even if you don't carry cash on you anymore, make sure there's some in your wallet, including small bills.

Seascape under blue sky
Ronnakorn Triraganon/istockphoto

11. Chair Clips

It can get really windy on deck and on your cabin balcony. If you plan to dry your clothes or towels on your balcony, you'll need to secure them with chair clips or clothespins so they don't blow into the water. They're also great for keeping your towel from blowing off deck chairs around the pool, too.