Cruise Packing Guide – 9 Easy Steps!

cruise packing checking packing list

How to pack for a cruise in 9 EASY steps: A cruise packing guide.

We’ve been helping new and seasoned cruisers up their packing game for 10 years, and well…we’re PASSIONATE about this topic! That’s why we’re super thrilled to introduce our cruise packing guide. In 9 easy steps, we’ll give you a framework for packing for a cruise, STRESS-free. Cuz, HEY, you’re going on a CRUISE! It’s time to focus on the fun stuff!

Step 1: Make a Packing List

cruise packing

The first step in our cruise packing guide is to create your OWN packing list. You can start with inspiration from lists like ours, but ultimately, you’ll fine-tune it and make it your own!

Here are a few of our packing lists and packing tips you can reference:

Easy Carnival Cruise Packing List (this can be used for ALL mass market cruise lines!)

The Ultimate Embarkation Day Bag Checklist

Caribbean Cruise Packing Do’s and Don’ts

Alaska Cruise Packing Do’s and Don’ts

5 Cruise packing tips for kids – written by our son!

Why we love packing cubes!

Step 2: Decide HOW you want to pack

cruise packing packing travel bag at home

Are you going Light/Carry on only? Are you buying the BIGGEST suitcase you can find for an anything-goes packing list? It’s YOUR choice, and the cruise lines don’t mind if you pack one or five suitcases, so have fun with it!

Time to check to make sure you have the luggage you need to support that packing style. Borrow or buy what you need. 

Step 3: Shop your List

cruise packing shop your list

Okay, I admit it. This is the fun part for me! To help you shop for your cruise, we’ve created an Amazon store dedicated to cruise travel. Hot tip – you can also check dollar stores for inexpensive toiletry and accessory items. We also love discount stores like TJ Maxx, Ross & Marshalls for buying luggage and places like Target & Walmart for travel-size toiletries. 

Step 4: Lay it all OUT!

cruise packing

Now, we suggest you lay out your clothes and make sure items match & coordinate. Try on anything you haven’t worn in the last few months to make sure it still fits comfortably. This step in the cruise packing guide is REALLY critical- because removing clothes you won’t wear on the ship saves space, and you’ll only pack the clothing you’ll reach for!

Step 5: Set it all Aside

cruise packing set things aside in closet

Put foldable items into packing cubes and set hanging items aside in a corner of your closet.

Step 6: Re-Assess

After you’ve chosen your items to pack, it’s time to step away from it. If possible, wait a few days or even a week and review everything you’ve packed.

Look at your choices again & ask yourself the following questions:

*Have you overpacked?

*Do you love the items you packed?

*Will you reach for them? 

Step 7: Get Packin’!

cruise packing get it in suitcase

Pack your suitcase & pack your embarkation day bag. Place heavier items at the bottom of your suitcase to create better balance. Heavier items like shoes should go on the bottom.

Step 8: Weigh it Out

cruise packing weighing suitcase to make sure it meets airline

Check the weight of your bag if flying to your cruise port. As we mentioned in our cruise packing guide video, there’s no need to weigh your luggage for the cruise line. They don’t have baggage weight limits! But, the airlines do.

Step 9: Print your Luggage Tags

Lastly, affix your cruise line luggage tags to your suitcase just before you head to the port

A Final Word…BREATHE!

Remember friends, you need your passport and boarding documents & medications. Everything else, in an emergency, could be purchased at the embarkation port, on the ship, or in a port of call. It’s okay to relax, and surrender now! You’ve done it! We hope you’ve enjoyed this cruise packing guide. Here is our most recent “Pack with Me” video to show you what goes into our suitcases.

Watch the video

Listen to this Topic on our Podcast!

Read more CruiseTipsTV articles here.

Cruise like a PRO!

Download our shore day bag checklist and more cruise packing and planning checklists & videos by joining the CruiseTipsTV Academy. We have a special discount code for our readers on this Intro to Cruising Master Class.

To redeem the $5.00 discount on our master class, enter code ALLABOARD here, and welcome to the Academy!

Need a Travel Advisor?

Contact our travel agency partner, Montebello Dream Vacations: Let Wendy know you were referred by CruiseTipsTV when you call. Wendy will match you with the best agent for your needs, and an agent will give you a call back! Phone number is on the website.

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Sheri and her family are cruise content creators focused on providing practical tips and advice to new and seasoned cruisers. CruiseTipsTV’s audience enjoys following Sheri and her family as they travel the world by ship creating travel films. Sheri has visited destinations like Japan, Mexico, Alaska, Europe and the Caribbean, and has experienced 33 cruises on 6 cruise lines. She was named one of Porthole Cruise Magazine’s 10 Travel Influencers Changing How We Vacation in 2018 and 2019. Sheri has been quoted in the New York Times, CNBC, Forbes, Prevention, and Business Innovator Radio. Her YouTube Channel, CruiseTipsTV has over 87,000 subscribers and 17 million views.