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21 Cruise Cabin Essentials Everyone Should Pack

12 Mar 2024
Allie Hubers

Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned traveler, having the right items in your luggage can make or break your cruising experience. If this is your first time cruising, you might also be wondering what exactly you should pack to use in your cruise cabin.

Woman packing for her cruise

With limited luggage space, you want to ensure you’ve only packed the essentials that you need for a great cruise. This is especially true for guests that need to fly to the cruise port with checked luggage. In fact, most of the major airlines in the U.S have just recently increased baggage fees for checked luggage.

With this in mind, it’s crucial to be strategic with packing for your cruise. You’ll want to be prepared for all of the cruise adventures - or unexpected challenges - that come your way. With the right items, you’ll be well-equipped for an incredible vacation at sea.

Regardless of your particular sailing, you’ll be staying in a cabin onboard your cruise ship. From a windowless interior cabin to spacious suites, there are some quirky aspects of cruising that differentiate this vacation from staying in a standard hotel room or all-inclusive resort.

Packing list

Most cabins on a cruise ship are smaller and more compact than most hotel rooms. While you will be provided with the basics in your cabin, packing some of these essential items on our list will elevate your cruising experience.

Here is our list of 21 cruise cabin essentials that everyone should pack for their vacation. Some of these items are my personal favorites while others come highly recommending by other cruisers as cabin essentials.

Please note, the affiliate links to the products below provide a commission to our blog, which helps support our site. Purchasing from these links below will cost you nothing extra. You can also visit our Amazon storefront to see the cruising products and cabin essentials we recommend.

1. USB Outlet Extender


If you’ve never sailed in a cruise cabin before, you might be surprised to find that staterooms are often limited when it comes to power outlets. Older cruise ships in particular have very limited outlets for charging devices. Some cruise ships will only have one or two outlets available for the entire cabin to share.

Because of this, packing some sort of power extender is crucial. This will allow you and your travel party to charge or power all of your devices. Packing one of these USB outlet extenders with multiple outlets and charging ports will save you a massive headache in your cabin. I also pack a European travel plug adapter since most cabins will have a European outlet in the stateroom.

Cruise Power Strip No Surge Protector with USB Outlets - Ship Approved (Non Surge Protection) Cruise Essentials in 2024 & 2025 (White): Price: $16.99. 

[2-Pack] European Travel Plug Adapter, VINTAR International Power Plug Adapter with 1 USB C, 2 American Outlets and 3 USB Ports, 6 in 1 Travel Essentials to Most of Europe Greece, Italy(Type C). Price: $20.99

2. Magnetic Hooks

Magnetic Hooks

One of the most popular essential items to pack for your cruise cabin is a set of magnetic hooks. The walls of your cruise cabin are metal, which allows you to use anything magnetized on the walls.

With cruise cabins also being compact, it’s important to utilize your storage space. Those traveling with multiple people in a stateroom - or on a longer itinerary that requires more luggage - will need to optimize the closets, drawers and shelving for storage.

Cruisers go crazy for magnetic hooks as an essential packing item. While you will have plenty of storage for your belongings, these magnetic hooks allow you to hang your items from the wall.

Neosmuk Magnetic Hooks, 27lb+ Heavy Duty Earth Magnets with Hook for Refrigerator, Extra Strong Cruise Hook for Hanging, Magnetic Hanger for Curtain, Grill(Silver, Pack of 6). Price: $5.99. 

3. Medication

No one wants to think about the possibility of getting sick during your hard-earned and highly-anticipated vacation. Unfortunately, illness can strike anywhere. If you’re on a cruise, you’ll need to rely on the ship’s onboard shops for any over-the-counter medication needs. As you can imagine, these are astronomically priced and limited in selection.

One essential cabin item is a small supply of over-the-counter medication. I call this my mini pharmacy! Inside, I have medication for multi-symptom day and night cold, anti-nausea medication, pain relief, allergies, laxatives, anti-diarrhea and more.

Additionally, if you have prescription medication, you should always cruise with extra in your cabin. If your cruise is delayed for some reason, such as unexpected weather or medical emergencies, you won’t want to be without your prescription medication. The onboard medical center might be able to help in these instances, but it’s best to be prepared for the worst.

4. Small Fan

Amazon Fan

Another wildly popular cruise cabin essential is a small fan to use in your stateroom. Although your cabin will have air conditioning, guests rave about bringing a portable fan to use in the evenings. Keeping the fan running in the night allows the cabin’s air to flow better - and also provides a soothing sound for those that sleep with a fan at home.

It’s best to bring a fan that is battery operated if you’re worried about the number of outlets available in the cabin. Otherwise, a plug-in fan will work as well. Some cruisers prefer to have a fan with adjustable legs that can be placed throughout the cabin.

Snawowo Mini Handheld Personal Portable Fan, Baby Stroller Fan, Car Seat Fan, USB or Battery Powered, with Flexible Tripod Clip on Student Bed Desk Bike Crib Treadmill Camping Traveling(Dark Blue). Price: $16.99 

Gaiatop USB Desk Fan, 3 Speeds with Strong Airflow, 5.5 Inch Quiet Small Portable Table Fan, 90° Rotate Personal Cooling Fan For Bedroom Home Office Desktop Travel (Black). Price: $8.99. 

5. Packing Cubes

Packing Cubes

Along with most cruisers, I am a huge fan of packing cubes. Packing cubes allow you to neatly organize your clothes while also compressing items when zipped. Not only do these simplify the packing experience itself, but packing cubes are also a huge help when organizing your cabin.

Once onboard your cruise, you will receive your luggage delivered directly to your stateroom. I prefer to unpack my suitcase right away in my cruise cabin to feel settled and organized. Packing cubes make this a seamless experience. I simply remove the packing cubes from my suitcase and place the cube directly in a drawer or shelf in my stateroom.

Veken 8 Set Packing Cubes for Suitcases, Travel Essentials for Carry on, Black Luggage Organizer Bags Set for Travel Accessories in 4 Sizes (Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small). Price: $16.98 

6. Insulated Coffee Mug

While it’s common knowledge to travel with a reusable water bottle, some cruisers swear by bringing their own insulted coffee mug or thermos aboard. This allows you to bring back hot coffee from the buffet, coffee shop or restaurants down to your cruise cabin.

Coffee cups are available on cruise ships for guests to use. But, it can be hard to walk around the ship with a cup of hot coffee. Cruisers sailing on itineraries to cooler environments might be especially interested in purchasing a travel coffee mug for keeping coffee, tea or hot chocolate warm.

SUNWILL 14 oz Coffee Mug, Vacuum Insulated Camping Mug with Lid, Double Wall Stainless Steel Travel Tumbler Cup, Coffee Thermos Outdoor, Powder Coated Navy Blue. Price: $11.69 

7. Wrinkle release spray

Cruise ships do not allow guests to bring any steamers or irons in their cabins for fire safety purposes. Instead, you’ll have to get a little creative treating those wrinkly clothes. Many cruise guests bring a small bottle of wrinkle release spray to keep in their cruise cabin to combat wrinkly clothes.

With just a few sprays, wrinkles can be quickly and conveniently removed from your clothes. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s easy and cheap enough. Regardless, you won’t be the only one onboard with wrinkly clothes!

Downy Wrinkle Releaser, Odor Eliminator and Fabric Refresher, Crisp Linen Scent, Travel Essential, 3 Fl OZ (Pack of 2). Price: $7.99 

8. Liquid hand soap


Keeping yourself healthy on a cruise should be a top priority. It’s important to wash your hands frequently throughout your cruise. Most cruise ships only provide a bar of soap in your cruise cabin for hand washing.

This bar of soap is totally useable, but I prefer to pack a small bottle of liquid hand soap to use in my cabin. I find that my hands feel cleaner when I use liquid hand soap in the cabin bathroom. It’s also just easier, in my opinion.

Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap, Fresh Breeze - 7.5 Fl Oz (Pack of 6). Price: $7.35. 

9. Electronics organizer

Organization is key for keeping your sanity in a cruise cabin. It’s easy for the cabin to feel cluttered given how small the space is. Because of this, I bring an electronics organizer for not only traveling, but to use within my cruise cabin.

If you’re someone with multiple devices that need to be charged, you are no stranger to the overwhelming ball of intertwined charging cords. I finally was fed up with having cords all over the cabin vanity, so I invested in an electronics organizer. This has been a game changer for me!

Electronic Organizer Travel USB Cable Accessories Bag/Case,Waterproof for Power Bank,Charging Cords,Chargers,Mouse ,Earphones Flash Drive. Price: $6.14. 

10. Hanging cosmetics bag

In the spirit of organization, another cabin essential is a hanging cosmetics bag. I’ve been cruising and traveling with a hanging cosmetic bags for more than a decade. These hang perfectly on the back of your cabin bathroom door so it’s not in the way for anyone.

Similar to the rest of your cabin, your stateroom’s bathroom will be compact. While there will be shelving and storage, this area can also get cluttered quickly. It’s so easy to travel and cruise with a hanging cosmetics bag. Highly recommend!

BAGSMART Toiletry Bag Travel Bag with Hanging Hook, Water-resistant Makeup Cosmetic Bag Travel Organizer for Accessories, Shampoo, Full-size Container, Toiletries. Price: $18.39 

11. Air Freshener

One of the best parts of a cruise is all of the delicious food you’ll be enjoying. But, all of that food has to go somewhere. If you’re worried about having a stinky space, many cruisers recommend bringing a cheap air freshener to keep in your bathroom.

While you have many options for something like this, an old-fashioned car freshener can work best - like the ones that hang from your rearview mirror. Many cruisers swear by an air freshener in their cabin bathroom to facilitate a fresh smelling stateroom. At the end of the cruise, just toss it in the trash.

LITTLE TREES Car Air Freshener | Hanging Paper Tree for Home or Car | Vanillaroma Scent | Pack of 12. Price: $11.50 

12. Lanyard with key holder

When cruising with Royal Caribbean, you’ll need to keep close tabs on your SeaPass card. This is your onboard key that will allow you to enter your cabin and charge your onboard account, along with embarking and disembarking the ship at port stops. Without your SeaPass, you won’t be able to get very far.

One of the most popular cursing essential is a lanyard with a key holder. Keeping your SeaPass on a lanyard helps you to easily and quickly locate your card. I prefer to use a magnetic hook and hang my lanyard on this hook while I am in my cabin.

Cruise Lanyard Must Have Accessories for Ship Cards [2-Pack] in 2024 & 2025 Cruise Lanyards with ID Holder, Key Card Detachable Badge & Waterproof Ship Card Holders (Navy Blue & White). Price: $8.97 

13. Shampoo and Conditioner

Royal Caribbean only provides guests with a 3-in-1 showering product. This is advertised as a shampoo and body wash hybrid. Because of this, packing your own shampoo and conditioner is essential. This is especially important for the ladies out there!

I prefer to purchase travel sized shampoo and conditioner, but you can also fill up reusable bottles with products from home. This makes the cabin experience much better - or else you can expect to have pretty dry hair throughout your cruise.

TRESemmé Shampoo & Conditioner, Sulfate-Free, Travel Size - Moisture Rich Hair Treatment for Dry, Damaged Hair, Mini Shampoo & Conditioner for Hair Repair, Scented, 3 Oz Ea (2 Piece Set). Price: $7.99. 

14. Hydration packets

Liquid IV

Between all of the eating and drinking onboard your cruise, you might start to feel dehydrated. This is especially true if you are spending extra time in the sun, whether this is on the pool deck or ashore on the beach.

At the end of the day, staying hydrated is very important while cruising. Another popular essential for your cruise cabin is packing some liquid hydration packets that you can add to your water. I prefer LiquidIV or Propel packets because they are small and travel well. I also find that it replenishes my electrolytes quickly so I can get back to the pool deck!

Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier - Passion Fruit - Hydration Powder Packets | Electrolyte Drink Mix | Easy Open Single-Serving Sticks | Non-GMO | 1 Pack (16 Servings). Price: $23.74 

15. Portable white noise machine

One of the newest essential items that I bring on my cruises is a portable white noise machine. This allows me to sleep soundly without hearing all the ruckus of the cruise ship in the evening.

Whether this is the anchor early in the morning or rowdy passengers stumbling down the hallway, the sound machine helps to drown out the noise. This portable sound machine is powerful and the perfect size for travel. Now, I won’t cruise without it!

White Noise Machine Babelio Mini Sound Machine for Adults Kids Baby | 15 Non-looping Sounds | Timer | Easy to Pocket and Travel - White. Price: $19.99. 

16. Pop-up hamper


During your cruise, you might be surprised how quickly the dirty laundry piles up - with nowhere to go! To help with organization, many cruisers bring a small pop-up hamper to keep in their cruise cabins for dirty clothes.

I’ve tried this a few times while cruising, particularly on longer sailings where I know I will have a big pile of dirty laundry, and I loved it! This pop-up hamper is so small and conveniently fits on the bottom of your suitcase for ease of travel. Some might say this is a nice-to-have, but many say a pop-up hamper is an essential!

Mesh Pop Up Laundry Hamper with Durable Handles - Portable Collapsible Clothes Baskets for Dorm, Bathroom & Travel (Blue). Price: $6.99. 

17. Ziplock Baggies

Ziploc bags

Another essential item for your cruise cabin is a small pack of ziplock baggies! These are so versatile to use throughout your cruise. Anything from keeping your belongings safe during an excursion or packing away some snacks for your big adventure - baggies are great to have.

Having baggies on hand can be very handy in your cabin for a variety of reasons. I would suggest bringing different baggie sizes from sandwich to quart and gallon bags. You can also place your liquids inside a ziplock bag for use in your cabin or when traveling home.

Ziploc Food Storage and Sandwich Bags Variety Pack, New Stay Open Design with Stand-Up Bottom, Easy to Fill, 166 Bags Total. Price: $25.23 

18. Portable charger

Portable charger

With cabins having limited outlets for charging, it’s essential for someone in the cabin to bring a portable charger. This allows you to not only charge additional devices in your cabin, but you can also take this ashore during your excursions.

Having a small portable charger can help keep your phone fully charged to have throughout your day. In addition, I’ve even used these in my cruise stateroom so I do not need to be physically by the vanity for charging.

Anker Portable Charger, Power Bank, 10,000 mAh Battery Pack with PowerIQ Charging Technology and USB-C (Input Only) for iPhone 15/15 Plus/15 Pro/15 Pro Max, iPhone 14/13 Series, Samsung Galaxy. Price: $16.19 

19. Over-the-door shoe organizer

Shoe Organizer

While I haven’t purchased this essential cabin item myself, tons of cruisers are obsessed with packing an over-the-door-shoe organizer for their cabins. While you can certainly use this for storing your shoes, people use this for anything or everything!

With so many cubbies and compartments for storage, you can neatly store many of your cruising essentials without leaving them all over the cabin.

Amazon Basics Over the Door Organizer with 24 Pockets - Black. Price: $12.82. 

20. Motion-censored night light


If you’re someone who has a night light at home to navigate in the night, one essential item to pack is a portable, motion-censored night light for your cruise cabin. This night light will softly illuminate your cabin in the night when it senses motion.

Those booked in an interior cabin should especially consider packing this essential item. Interior staterooms have no windows, so these cabins are pitch black at all hours of the day! Having this kind of night light can ensure you navigate your cabin safely.

Night Light Motion Sensor [Battery Powered] with Rotating Base for Indoor Use in Bathroom, Hallway, Cruise Cabin & More. Price: $18.99. 

21. Laundry packets

On Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships, you won’t have access to any laundry facilities onboard. Your only option for laundry is paying for laundry service through the cruise ship where crew members will wash your dirty clothes.

If you don’t feel like shelling out the money for laundry, you should consider packing travel-sized laundry packets for your cruise cabin. I’ve done more laundry in a cruise cabin sink than I’d like to admit. In fact, I did all my laundry for 100 days in a cruise cabin sink while I lived on a ship for my study abroad program in college.

Tide Sink Packs Laundry Detergent Does 3 Loads (3 packs of 3). Price: $6.95. 

Allie Hubers has been cruising since she was a tiny toddler. What started as a yearly vacation with family quickly turned into a passion for travel, cruising and adventure. Allie's been on nearly 30 cruises all over the world. She even studied abroad on Semester at Sea, sailing the world on a ship while taking courses for college and visiting 4 continents.

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