Easy Packing for a Caribbean Cruise – Hits and Misses


What to consider when packing for a Caribbean Cruise

Caribbean Cruise Packing - oh-the-shoes

Packing for a Caribbean cruise can be tricky. The weather tends to be warm and humid, and if you’re anything like me (I sunburn to a crisp in 20 minutes) you need extra space in that suitcase for sun protection items like hats, rash guards & sunscreen. Not to mention, you gotta pack the formal night wear and SHOES! Oh, the shoes!

We’re just back from our Royal Caribbean Cruise on Adventure of the Seas, and we’ve broken down our packing hits and misses. We packed carry-on only for this cruise, but if you’re checking your bags (most people do), this information will still be helpful. While this article was written following a cruise, the tips apply to packing for any Caribbean Cruise!

This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See disclaimer for more information.

First things first!

Before we get into the nitty gritty packing wins and fails, be sure to watch our original packing video. Starting there will make what you’re about to read a little bit more clear because you’ll have a general idea for what we packed for this Caribbean Cruise with Royal Caribbean. AND, to see some of the items we packed “in action”, check out our Day 1 Vlog! We even created a shopping list for you, based on the aforementioned video.

Let’s break this down into a few categories: Toiletries, Accessories, Carry-on, Shoes/Clothes, & Random Thoughts:

Toiletries & Sundries

Packing the right toiletries on a Caribbean cruise is important, because buying what you FORGOT can be expensive on the ship. We suggest referring to our Caribbean Cruise packing list to get started on what toiletries to pack. But essentially, you’ll want small quantities of the items you use at home most frequently. Most people start with toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, skincare, and makeup and build from there.

We didn’t do anything dramatically different in the toiletry department on our Caribbean cruise. Our E-Bags Pack it flat toiletry bag & TSA approved toiletry bags were the PERFECT choice for this cruise, and we easily packed for the three of us using these two items.

The MAJOR (and only) toiletry fail on this cruise was sunscreen! I had packed a few TSA approved tiny bottles, because we were going carry on only, but we all know that isn’t enough for a family of three. The issue was that FINDING sunscreen on the ship and at the resort proved to be an issue. There were no spray bottles of sunscreen available, and the brand I bought at the resort was effective but stained my clothing (with an orange tint). On the ship- same issue. NO spray sunscreen and limited brands available. Again, this was totally on me!

Lesson: If you pack carry on only, GO to a drug store as soon as you arrive at your port of embarkation or first cruise port, and get ample sunscreen. You’ll have better selection than on your ship/resort property. This rookie mistake haunted us throughout the cruise and could have easily been avoided. We know better.

HITS – A few things I reached for often in the toiletry bag:

  • Bandaids
  • This magic sunscreen. After a run in with a WHITE-residue-sunscreen nightmare, we were so happy to find this glorious (albeit expensive) miracle for our faces. Wow, it glides on and leaves NO residue. HOOKED…but because of price, we only used on our faces!
  • Body lotion/oil (thankfully, the hotels had more, I ran out!)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Qtips (for makeup blunders)
  • Baby powder (for removing sand from feet, and…chafing).
  • Glimmery body oil. Because you’re on a cruise- get that glow girl!


Broken record alert…we used packing cubes to organize our suitcases, and nothing has changed with our methodology or the sets we use. We each choose a color to keep our clothes separate, and as soon as we got on the cruise, we slide the cubes onto the closet shelves. Bam, unpacking is DONE! If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here’s the scoop on packing cubes.

In my effort to pack UBER light this trip, I invested in a travel wallet. It was a bit stiff at first, but ultimately, I loved it! It was SO lightweight, and didn’t weigh be down in port. I just packed a few credit cards & cash, and left all the unnecessary wallet flotsam and jetsam at HOME!

You may recall that in our packing video, I shared that I wanted to buy a hat in port. Specifically a baseball type cap. This “new tradition” of mine means I get a little lightweight souvenir to take home with me from each destination.

Caribbean Cruise Packing - buy-the-hat

THE HAT STORY: I found an adorable hat on day 1 of the cruise at Perfect Day, but I didn’t buy it, thinking I didn’t want a hat that was SO specific to Perfect Day At CocoCay. And…well, you know what comes next. That hat haunted me for the next 4 days as I searched from port to port, and in the shipboard gift shops and NOTHING was as cute. So, on our last day of the cruise, I bought the hat on our second stop at Perfect Day, as well as a bonus hat that I found fun because 1973 was the day I was born.

Lesson: if you want it, buy it, especially if it’s going to prevent sunburn! LOL!

HITS – Accessories that saved me!

Caribbean Cruise Packing - America-and-beyond-bag
  • We packed a few accessories from Cruise On (a store fun by a friend of ours on Amazon). This towel strap got used on two windy days on the ship, and kept our towel in check. It was a last minute add to my suitcase, and I’m so glad I packed it!
  • With all the water activity we had planned, this waterproof phone case was used repeatedly! From the waterslides at Perfect Day to the Beach in Freeport, I won’t be traveling to the Caribbean without one of these!
  • I simply LOVED my tote from America and Beyond. Is it practical? Not really. It doesn’t zip closed, has very few pockets inside, and well, it’s huge. But, I loved the colorful, sequined design, and I’m so glad I went for it! It’s called the Daphne Embellished tote, and I bought a small, over the shoulder version of this same bag too. This is not an affiliate link. Just something I am happy to share.
  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much we LOVED these vaccine card holders. They give you the peace of mind of knowing your vaccine card won’t get bent, damaged or wet. All without laminating, which is not recommended.

Carry-On & Flight Readiness

We tend to use two different types of carry on bags when we cruise. If we’re flying, I love the Mia Tui Jennie or Mini Jen. On this trip, I went with the larger bag, the Jennie. What’s GREAT about these bags is they slide over the handle of my rolling suitcase. This relieves all of the pressure off by back (oh, my aching back!). You can shlp for the Jennie or Mini Jen using our discount code CTTV at MiaTui.com, and we highly recommend you check out their bundles, which allow you to add FREE travel accessories to your bag purchase. They explain this in depth on the website.  

HITSHere are the top 5 things I reached for in my flight bag:

See our Caribbean cruise day 1 video

Clothes & Shoes

There’s always room for improvement, but we really nailed the clothing on this cruise. I LIVED in swimwear and cover-ups most days, and have very few regrets.

Caribbean Cruise Packing - white-shorts

MISSES – Here are some things I’d change if I had a do-over:

  • Buy the hat on day 1. Hee hee.
  • ONE more pair of shorts (preferably not white) would have been helpful. My white shorts were super cute, but they are…white. And, mixed with sun & sand, they quickly became a bit “less than white”.
  • Sadly, my flip flops bit the dust on this cruise, and I wish I’d bought a new pair before I left. Oops!
  • In hindsight, I wish I’d left the athletic shoes at home. Didn’t wear them once!
  • Okay, remember the water socks we so proudly packed? Didn’t need them! We had planned on burning hot pavement, and it just didn’t happen, so we could have left these at home.

HITS – Here’s what went well:

  • I had some good luck with bargain buys on amazon this trip, like this floral off shoulder jumpsuit, and this fun embroidered mini-dress. They fit like a dream (rare for me as I’m vertically challenged), and I was SO happy with the prices.
  • I wore wedges to dinner every night, and they were SO comfortable. I bought a few pair of Clark’s at Macy’s & Amazon, and found them to be surprisingly on trend and incredibly cozy!
  • For the most part, I packed cool, comfortable cotton clothing. I steered away from my synthetic dresses because they don’t breathe well. Cotton feels so much nicer in that Caribbean humidity!
  • Formal night was simple and easy on this cruise. I packed a dress I’ve worn on several cruises for formal night, as well as a jumpsuit from Target that’s sold out. Sadly, I don’t have links for either, but I chose them because they were comfortable and wouldn’t wrinkle in my bag.
  • Bonus tip from hubby: “try on your formal night pants if you haven’t worn them in a while”. His didn’t fit, and he ended up wearing more casual pants on forma nights to be comfortable.
  • We packed EXTRA light and that allowed me a little space in my bag for purchases, like this adorable coverup I purchased at Perfect Day.
Caribbean Cruise Packing - Coco-Cay-Cover-UP

Final Thoughts

Overall, this cruise reflected a lot of planning and preparation, and very little sacrifice. Despite a few snafu’s, we felt we had ample clothing, and we didn’t miss much! Here are just a few final thoughts on our packing game:

Caribbean Cruise Packing - mr-cttv-hat
  • Disposable face masks are wonderful while traveling, because let’s be honest, it’s nice to toss them in the trash after a long flight.
  • My cruise binder on this trip was THICK, and I have zero regrets about printing off everything for this cruise. From our COVID tests, health visas and shore ex proof, it was all worth the extra space this time! To learn how we make our binder, check out this little video.
  • We drank Liquid IV EVERY day on this cruise, to stay hydrate and keep our immunity strong. I prefer the tangerine immunity blend, and hubby likes the energy formula. It’s great stuff! Get 25% off using our Discount Code: CRUISETIPSTV – it will automatically apply at check out when you use our link.
  • Don’t overlook the onboard gift shops. Hubby found this awesome Royal Caribbean logo hat, which both of us can wear. And, I think he looks pretty darned handsome in it!
  • Lastly, don’t forget to shop our cruise store! We have recently updated it with safe travel in mind, and we think you’ll love some of the new additions!

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.