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We asked our readers what one thing they wish they packed for their cruise

15 Aug 2023
Calista Kiper

Have you ever realized in the middle of a trip you’d forgotten an essential item?

quantum of the seas balcony side cabin

Packing for a cruise means trying to anticipate all your needs before you leave home, because there isn't an opportunity to just run to the store once you get on the cruise ship.

That realization always leads to a panic of making lists and reminders so you know you won’t forget it the next time. 

While traveling, you may be far from home and unable to find exactly what you need. Remembering to pack all the right items will ensure a relaxing vacation prepared for all your needs.

We asked followers on our Royal Caribbean Blog Facebook what is one thing they wish they’d packed on their last cruise. We received well over 200 responses and sifted through them all to find the top items that would be beneficial to a lot of people. 

Please note that we’ve linked items on Amazon, which contains an affiliate link. This affiliate link costs you absolutely nothing extra, but Royal Caribbean Blog makes a small commission if you purchase it.

1. A fan


“A travel fan,” Deanna Poljanowski said, “I’ve learned and have one this time.” 

Whether you want a portable fan to hold on a hot beach or a bedroom fan for some white noise, a travel fan could always be a helpful addition.

Remember that you may spend time on deck or beaches where you’ll want a little relief from the heat. A handheld portable fan could provide some instant relief and cool air.

A small bedroom fan will provide white noise and stir up any stale air in your cabin. If you have trouble falling asleep onboard, a small fan will be a big help. 

Some readers liked this portable rechargable fan to bring with them.

2. Sneakers


“I forgot to pack my sneakers! Couldn’t play on the sports court without them,” Angeline Deshazo wrote. If you’re looking forward to playing any sports on board, bring proper footwear. 

Royal Caribbean ships boast many sports activities, such as over 30 options on Oasis Class ships, including golf, badminton, ping pong, surfing, basketball, ice hockey, pool, and tennis.  

While people may think of cruises as only involving pool and beach activities where they might need flip-flops or sandals, remember the need for sneakers and sports footwear.

Read more: 15 free things to try on your next cruise

3. Binoculars

Celebrity balcony

Carolyn Groves Pierce said she wished she brought binoculars. 

Your cruise will likely travel through beautiful stretches of sea or even land. Although you can view some sights with the naked eye, being on a cruise in a beautiful location such as Alaska may leave you wishing for a closer view. 

With a quality pair of binoculars, you will be able to view any islands, nature sites, or even wildlife from the comfort of your ship. This binocular model is highly rated for an Alaska cruise.

Read more: When is the best time to see wildlife in Alaska?

4. Wine

Kodi Moskorisin commented she wished she’d remembered her own wine. 

Royal Caribbean does offer an all-inclusive drinks package, but did you know you can bring your own wine onboard?  Having a taste of your favorite wine from home can help you save money and feel comfortable.

If you’re the type that enjoys a glass of wine at night, or you don’t need the abundance of drinks available in the daily package, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity and pack some wine of your own!

5. Entertainment

Woman reading a book by the beach

“More books,” wrote Julie Phelps

Your cruise is meant to be a relaxing vacation, so much sure you have plenty of entertainment available for your downtime or any waiting periods.

For any fast readers, bring extra books and magazines. Or if you want a lot of entertainment options, invest in an onboard WiFi package. In addition, be sure to reserve time to check out the ship’s award-winning live shows

6. Magnetic hooks


The cruise ship walls and ceilings are steel,” Lenee Jorgenson said, “I use magnets with hooks for everything!”

Although your cabin will have storage available, cruisers often need more space than is provided.  

If you think you may need extra cabin storage, you can purchase magnetic hooks to hang on the walls and ceilings. This is a valuable way to hang clothes, accessories, decorations, or curtains in your cabin without compromising your storage space. 

You could bring these magnetic hooks, which worked well as one of our inside cabin hacks.

7. Sunscreen


“Higher SPF sunscreen,” wrote Sarah Keough

You will spend plenty of time in the sun on your cruise—whether on deck, at the beach or pool, or exploring your favorite island excursion. 

This heavy sun exposure can leave you at risk for severe sunburns. A bad sunburn could ruin even the best cruise, forcing you to stay indoors while you heal and miss out on the fun. 

Make sure to do your research and prevent this by protecting yourself with high SPF sunscreen. This also leads to our next submission: 

8. Aloe vera


Nicole Armendariz commented she wished she’d brought “aloe vera gel. My husband was as red as a lobster at one point!”

If you forget a high enough SPF sunscreen and end up with a bad sunburn, aloe vera gel is a natural healing method for soothing the burn, healing skin faster, and getting rid of that redness for any vacation photos. 

Read more22 unpleasant cruise ship problems you aren't prepared for

9. Snacks

“Little things like pretzels, nuts, M&Ms,” wrote Carla Belin. “I don’t always need pizza at midnight.” 

Little snacks can fit just fine in a suitcase and help tide you over between meals. 

While your ship will have snacks on deck, complimentary options can be harder to find between meals, especially later at night. If you are a midnight snacker, having small options on hand can save you money and the stress of finding something available. 

Additionally, for anyone with dietary restrictions such as gluten sensitivity, packing personal snacks ahead of time can also be a relief from searching for something that fits your needs. Your snacks will already be planned out, ready for you to enjoy. 

10. Nausea medicine


Mary Torres commented that she ended up needing nausea patches or medicine. 

While most ships are large and relatively stable, some passengers are still prone to motion sickness. You could still suffer from seasickness while on board, so plan ahead and bring what you need for your cruise.  

Read moreDramamine vs Bonine

You can also consult your doctor beforehand for the best options to cure onboard nausea. Get a prescription ahead of time to avoid an uncomfortable trip—and carry extras! You never know who may end up needing some relief. 

11. Glasses

glasses on blue background

“If you wear glasses, bring an extra pair,” said Lynn Creef Snyder. “Or one of those eyeglass repair kits.” 

While this may seem common sense, glasses-wearers should remember to bring an extra pair of glasses or a toolkit to repair any broken parts. For those who wear contacts, extra pairs are also important.

The last thing you want is for something to go missing and take your eyesight with it—and the right prescription could be hard to find! Make sure you can enjoy all the beautiful sights, and protect your eyesight by planning ahead. 

12. Ziplock bags

Ziploc bags

Sandy Yearsley-Swink wished she brought “various sizes of Ziplock bags” for “wet clothes and leftovers.” 

For anything you want to store away separately without using up too much space, consider a Ziplock bag. You can put dirty or wet clothes away in them, keeping them separate from your clean, dry clothes.
You can also keep leftover food in your Ziplock bags, ensuring it is secured for later, without any spilling or smells. 

Ziplock bags are useful for organizing and carrying all your toiletries, too—if any liquids spill, they will still be contained in the bag. 

13. Liquid soap

Liquid soap

Janice Meyer Mori said she “brought liquid hand soup on our last cruise, going forward always on the list!”

Complimentary bar soap will be available in your cabin bathroom, but if you prefer the texture of liquid soap you’ll want to bring your own. For those with sensitive or dry skin, a soap from home is also the safest option. 

14. A small bag

Hyc00 Travel Duffel Bag

Pen Jud Tolman said he wished he’d brought “a lightweight drawstring pack to carry my workout gear to the gym every the morning.”

If you’re planning to use the gym, sports court, or go on any excursions, you’ll want a lightweight bag to carry any essentials with you. This will ensure you can carry all the most important items without losing them or needing to dump out a larger bag. 

For any excursions you make, having a smaller drawstring or sling bag will be most convenient option.

15. Body lotion

Massage at the spa

Kelli Parks wrote: “There was none in the cabin and I had to buy the only one I could find on ship at the spa. Expensive mistake.”

If you’re looking for your own body lotion, bring some from home to avoid spending extra. With all the sun and salt water drying out your skin, you’ll definitely want some lotion on hand. 

Keep your skin smooth and happy with some body lotion from home.

16. Adjustable shoes


“Shoes that were more adjustable,” Alexis Ham wrote. “I suffer with cruise swelling.” 

Cruise swelling is a phenomenon people experience when their feet or ankles swell while on board. This may be due to the increased salt in the air, the changed diet, or dehydration while on board.  

Cruise swelling can often be prevented by watching your diet, exercising, and drinking water. But if you’re still struggling to get that swelling down, plan on bringing loose or adjustable shoes so you still have something to wear.

17. Water bottle


Danielle Zieger commented: “A Yeti to fill up and keep water in my room!”

Water is, of course, complimentary onboard, but what about your cabin room? It is essential that you stay hydrated outside of mealtimes, too: you’ll want water before bed, in the middle of the night, and right when you wake up.

Bringing your own water bottle ensures that you can fill it up anytime and bring it back to your room when you’re ready. 

You can also collect and refill the water bottles given to you at mealtimes, but bringing your own water bottle is an easier, more sustainable option to carry your water. People love Yeti water bottles, in particular, for their large size and ability to keep drinks cold for long periods of time. 

18. Swimsuits

Tara Samm suggested “more than 2 bathing suits.”

On your cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to swim in pools, beaches, and waterparks. Bringing extra bathing suits will help you choose the most suitable one for each occasion. 

Maybe you’ll want a bikini for lounging on the deck and a sleeker suit for diving in the pool. If you’re sensitive to the sun, you also could pack long-sleeved options to protect your skin at the beach. 

Packing extra swimsuits will also save you time, as you can let wet pairs dry while you go swimming in the extras.

Read more: Royal Caribbean Dress Code

19. A carry-on

“A roll on bag or backpack for boarding the ship, carrying a bag was horrible,” said Susan Hayes.

Much like on an airplane, you’ll pack a larger bag and a smaller carry-on bag to hold while you board. Consider packing a carry-on with back straps or wheels so you don’t have to hold it the entire time you’re boarding. 

20. AirPods 

AirPods headphones

Many commenters, including Suzie Olsen Miller, wished they had remembered a pair of AirPods.

Any noise-cancelling headphones will be a big bonus for your trip, allowing you to listen to music or podcasts while blocking out any noise around you. 

AirPods are a great option as they are smaller than typical headphones and connect through BlueTooth, saving plenty of packing space. 

21. Shampoo and conditioner

“My own hair conditioner,” commented Kim Schwartz.

You will be provided with complimentary shampoo and conditioner in your bathroom, but many people find that the provided options don’t always suit their hair needs.

We recommend travel-sized versions of your favorite brands if you want something from home.

Calista Kiper graduated from Wheaton College, IL, with a B.A. in English Writing. 

Growing up traveling around the world, she developed a passion for diversity and cross-cultural communication. From her first cruise on Wonder of the Seas, she has delighted in the intersection between travel, diversity, and writing in the cruising world.

Calista spends her free time reading, cooking, and researching the latest human-interest stories. 

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