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15 things you don't need to bring on a cruise

03 Mar 2023

Packing for a cruise can be stressful, especially for first-time cruisers, and many passengers are worried they aren’t packing enough for their cruise vacation.

More often than not, however, they’re packing too much for their cruise! From beach towels to hair dryers, there are many items better left at home.

Having an idea of what you should and should not bring on a cruise can help tremendously in the packing process.

Some items, like walkie talkies, are allowed onboard, but we recommend against it. Others, such as power strips, are prohibited by Royal Caribbean and will be confiscated in the cruise terminal.

Gangway entrance

Before packing for your cruise, it’s helpful to have an idea of what you don’t need to bring with you onboard. No one wants to waste precious luggage space on things they don’t end up using during their vacation—or worse, aren’t allowed onboard in the first place!

Here are the top 15 things you don’t need to bring on a cruise.


Packing beach towels is unnecessary on a Royal Caribbean cruise, as the cruise line provides towels at no extra cost to guests. These towels can be used both onboard and in port, but make sure you return your towels by the end of the cruise. If you misplace a towel, you’ll incur a $25 per towel fee!

Towels simply take up way too much space in your luggage, so it’s recommended to use the cruise line’s towels instead.

Currency of every port you visit

Depending on your cruise destination, bringing local currency may be unnecessary. Many popular cruise ports accept US dollars, especially those in the Caribbean. With so many visitors each day, these ports expect cruise ship tourists to use US dollars.

If you’re visiting Nassau, for example, US dollars and Bahamian dollars have a 1:1 ratio. There’s no problem paying with US dollars, although change may be given back in Bahamian currency.

Of course, US dollars are unlikely to be accepted in ports on cruises from Europe, Australia, and Asia, and we recommend taking local currency with you when booking itineraries outside of North America.

Related: How much cash should you bring on a cruise?

American Express gold cards

One of the easiest ways to handle paying in different currencies is by traveling with a debit or credit card without foreign transaction fees. Many establishments in your cruise port will accept credit card payments, especially restaurants and shops.

Using a card avoids the hassle of figuring out which currency to use and can be a safer option compared to carrying around a lot of cash.


In most situations, you don’t need to pack snacks on a Royal Caribbean cruise. It’s no surprise that there is an abundance of food onboard, and you won’t need bags of pretzels, trail mix, and candy from home.

If you’re looking to bring a snack on a shore excursion, consider taking a few extra cookies from the buffet and placing them in a Ziploc bag. Alternatively, you can order snack-sized boxes of cereal from room service at no extra cost, and these make a great snack option while in port.

The one time we do see the value in packing snacks for a Royal Caribbean cruise is if you’re traveling with kids. If cruising with kids, it might be a good idea to pack a few of your child’s favorite snacks to have handy onboard.

Related: 50 best cruising with kids tips & secrets

Whether chips, granola bars, or fruit snacks, it can be handy to have snacks available both on the ship and in port.

Valuable jewelry

As much as you may love wearing sparkly jewelry, we recommend leaving your most expensive items at home or only wearing them while onboard.

While it’s unlikely anything will happen to your jewelry on a Royal Caribbean cruise, wearing valuable jewelry in port can draw unwanted attention to yourself and your travel party.

In addition, we also recommend leaving your Apple Watch in your cabin while in port, or at the very least putting it in your daypack. Wearing expensive items in port is, more often than not, not worth the risk.

Bulky stroller

Cruising with kids? It’s best to leave your big, bulky stroller at home.

Cruise ships are confined spaces, and it can be tough to navigate the ship with a large stroller. Not only that, but taking a bulky stroller into port can be complicated, as many cruise ports may have narrow, uneven sidewalks that make pushing a stroller difficult.

Instead, bring an umbrella stroller onboard. Umbrella strollers pack down easily and are much more lightweight, making travel with these strollers a breeze. Royal Caribbean does not provide these strollers onboard, so be sure to bring one with you from home.


Packing a laptop for your cruise? Unless you’re working remotely on a Royal Caribbean cruise, we advise leaving your computer at home. 

Related: Can you work remotely from a cruise ship? I put it to the test

While some travelers think they may want their computer to check emails and connect with friends and family onboard, bringing a laptop is an unnecessary hassle.

Instead, use your cellphone for any technology needs onboard, from checking in to a flight to researching ports of call. If you really need to use a computer while onboard, you’ll find public computers available around the ship.

Brand new shoes

A pre-cruise shopping trip can be fun, but rethink those brand new shoes you bought for the trip. Although cruising is relaxing, it often involves a lot of walking, and no one wants to deal with painful blisters on vacation!

If you buy new shoes for a cruise, be sure to wear them a few times at home before the cruise begins. This will help ensure you break the shoes in properly before your trip, which can alleviate the risk of blisters and feeling uncomfortable on vacation.

Related: The Ultimate Cruise Packing List

It’s usually a better idea to only pack shoes you’re confident will be comfortable throughout the sailing. After all, no one knows if you’ve worn a pair of shoes 200 times before, so bring your trusty pair of sandals as opposed to a brand new pair.

Walkie talkies

Not only are walkie talkies an unnecessary item to pack for a cruise, but the noise they produce can be annoying to other passengers. Plus, they don’t work very well onboard, as the metal walls on cruise ships produce significant interference.

Related: The worst cruise packing mistakes to avoid

Instead of bringing walkie talkies on your cruise, use the Royal Caribbean app. Royal Caribbean’s app has a complimentary chat feature where you can message others in your travel party.

Communicating via the Royal Caribbean app works much better than walkie talkies. It’s completely free even if you don’t have a wifi package for the sailing.

Over the door shoe organizer

A popular cruise cabin hack is bringing an over the door shoe organizer to provide extra storage space in your stateroom. Many cruisers like to bring these to store not only shoes, but toiletries, snacks, and other accessories.

When we tried an over the door shoe organizer on a recent cruise, though, we deemed it to be more of a hassle than it’s worth. While you can fit many items in the organizer’s spacious pockets, we didn’t feel the extra storage space was necessary.

Related: I tried the best inside cruise ship cabin hacks to see how well they worked

Most Royal Caribbean cabins—especially those on newer ships—have more than enough storage in the room. In fact, there’s often more storage space than you’ll need, so wasting packing space with an over the door shoe organizer isn’t needed.

Hair dryer

All Royal Caribbean cabins are equipped with a hair dryer, so in most cases, there’s no need to pack your own. For most passengers, a hair dryer will take up too much luggage space and isn’t worth the trouble.

However, if your hair requires careful styling, you may want to consider bringing your own hairdryer. You can find several travel-sized hair dryers on Amazon, which may work well for those with limited luggage space.

Flowy dresses

So you’ve found the most chic dress for your cruise and can’t wait to wear it onboard. The only problem? The outdoor decks on cruise ships can be extremely windy, and you definitely don’t want to put your underwear on display for everyone onboard!

Before packing short, flowy dresses, it’s important to understand that there’s a (strong) possibility these dresses will fly up in the wind. While you can certainly still pack flowy dresses, bring a pair of shorts to wear under the dress and/or avoid windy outdoor decks while wearing the item.

Prohibited items

Oasis of the Seas in Cozumel

Now that we’ve discussed the items you don’t need to bring on a cruise, let’s move on to the items you can’t bring on a cruise. Like all cruise lines, Royal Caribbean has a list of prohibited items.

If you bring a prohibited item on a cruise, the item will be confiscated at the cruise terminal and you can pick it up once you pass through the terminal on disembarkation day.

Here are the most common prohibited items cruisers try to bring onboard that you should avoid:

Clothing iron

Clothing irons pose a fire hazard and thus are prohibited on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Unfortunately, this means your clothes may sport more wrinkles than you’d prefer during your sailing.

Luckily, Royal Caribbean offers dry cleaning and pressing services onboard, although it comes with a per item cost. You can expect to pay around $6.99 to have a long sleeved shirt dry cleaned and pressed, and $13.99 for a dress.

Related: Royal Caribbean laundry services on your cruise

Alternatively, you can pack wrinkle release spray for your cruise, which may help to remove any unwanted wrinkles in your outfits.

Pool floaties

While pizza and unicorn-shaped pool floaties are all the rage on Instagram, they’re not permitted on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Inner tubes, pool noodles, floating mats, and other floating devices are not permitted in the pools on Royal Caribbean.

Related: What can you not bring on a cruise

Arm floaties for kids are tolerated, but your best bet if traveling with kids is to take advantage of Royal Caribbean’s complimentary swim vests. These are available on the pool deck and come in four sizes: infant, children, youth, and adult small.

While floating devices (outside of swim vests) are not allowed onboard, you may be able to use them in beaches or pools in your ports of call.

Power strips

Cruise ship cabins, especially on older ships, have limited outlets. This leads many first-time cruisers to pack power strips in their luggage, but this is prohibited on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Power strips with an extension cord are a fire hazard and will be withheld from your luggage on embarkation day.

Instead, consider packing a USB hub or outlet extender. Unlike power strips, these items are permitted onboard and can drastically increase the amount of outlet availability in your cabin.


Bringing alcohol onboard Royal Caribbean cruise ships is strictly prohibited, aside from one 750ml bottle of wine or champagne per adult in your cabin.

Beer and spirits are prohibited, and sneaking liquor on your ship is not recommended.

If you’re hoping to save money on alcohol on your cruise, you have a few options:

  • Book a drink package early and reprice it if the cost goes down
  • Save money by drinking in port instead of onboard
  • Ask for the drink of the day, which is usually a few dollars cheaper than other cocktails
  • Take advantage of bringing your own wine onboard

Do not, under any circumstances, bring liquor onboard. It's not worth the risk!

Complete list of prohibited items:

  • Firearms and ammunition, including realistic replicas
  • Sharp objects (shaving products and scissors with a blade less than 4 inches are allowed)
  • Illegal drugs and substances
  • CBD oil and products
  • Candles and incense
  • Coffee makers
  • Clothes irons and travel steamers
  • Hot plates
  • Hoverboards
  • Martial arts, self defense, and sports gear
  • Flammable liquids and explosives
  • Hookahs
  • HAM radios
  • Baby monitors
  • Electrical extension cords
  • Dangerous chemicals
  • Perishable food and meat products
  • Alcoholic beverages (except permitted amount of wine)

40 essential things to bring on a cruise

18 Feb 2023

Packing for your cruise might be a little stress-inducing. There’s nothing worse than getting onboard your cruise ship and realizing you forgot something back home. 

As such, I always have my go-to list of essential things that I bring on my cruise vacations. While packing, I go through my list of everything essential that I need to bring. I am always grateful to have everything on this essential list, even if some of these items are just preventative (like band-aids, seasickness medication and stain remover pens). 

Here’s my list of 40 essential things that I always bring on my cruises, along with links to some of our favorite Amazon products.

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. Packing Cubes

I didn’t understand the hype around packing cubes until I tried them for myself last year. Now, I am the biggest fan of these little packing cubes and literally never travel without them.  

Packing cubes help keep your suitcase perfectly organized. I’ve also found that I can simply pack more because they slightly compress everything. Since I often cruise with just a carry-on, optimizing the small space is important. 

The best part of it all? Once you get onboard your cruise ship, packing cubes make it SO much easier to get settled into your stateroom. You can whip out your packed cubes and simply place them in the drawers and shelves of your stateroom. 

Link to Amazon


2. Compression Travel Bags

In addition to packing cubes, I’ve also started to utilize these compression travel bags that are super convenient and easy to use.

Simply pack your clothes inside and roll the bag to release air. These types of compression bags truly save so much space, especially for bulkier items that you need to pack, like your winter coat for an Alaskan cruise! Another reason I love these compression bags is that they will protect your clothes from any water that gets inside your luggage.

Link to Amazon


3. Portable Phone Charger:

If you’re going on a cruise, it’s essential to pack a portable phone charger, especially if you’re sailing on an older ship with limited outlets and plugins. Older ships might only have one or two outlets in each stateroom - and they likely won’t be near your bed.

Portable charger

A portable charger is also great for long days spent in port exploring or on an excursion. You won’t want your phone battery to die, so having a portable charger is a must. 

Link to Amazon


4. Apple AirTags

Easily track your cruise items with Apple AirTags - I never travel or cruise without one these days. 

Apple AirTags are tiny tracking devices that you can use to monitor the location of your belongings; you simply use the Find My app on your iPhone to do this. Utilizing Bluetooth technology, these AirTags are the perfect solution for you to place in your suitcase to bring on your cruise. 

After experiencing airport chaos last year and hearing horror stories of bags getting left behind at the cruise port, having Apple AirTags allows me to track my items accurately and in real-time. 

Link to Amazon (or link to 4-pack)


5. Travel Jewelry Organizer

For ladies, packing jewelry can be unnecessarily difficult for cruising. There’s nothing worse than having tangled or damaged necklaces. 

I absolutely love cruising with my travel-sized jewelry organizer. Having a small case for my jewelry makes it easy to travel with. A hard-sided travel organizer like this also ensures that your jewelry will not get damaged while packed away.

Link to Amazon


6. Electronics Organizer

If you’re like me, you travel with quite a few electronics. I probably cruise with more electronics than the average cruiser if I am doing work for Royal Caribbean Blog or Cruise.Blog because I need to pack multiple cameras. 

As such, I purchased this electronics organizer for traveling and cruising - it’s been a total game changer! This organizer has tons of pouches and mesh pockets to keep everything perfectly organized in my carry-on bag and even in my stateroom.

Link to Amazon


7. Collapsable Duffle for Souvenirs

A new essential thing that I’ve started to bring on a cruise is an empty duffle bag. I’ve learned that I always love to shop on a cruise, especially in more unique destinations where I want a lot of souvenirs. I also don’t want to spend my last cruise night strategically stuffing my belongings back into my suitcase. 

This collapsable duffle is perfect because it takes up very little space but it can come in handy when we’ve really helped support the local economies. 

Link to Amazon


8. Reusable Water Bottle

Staying hydrated on your cruise is very important. It’s super easy to get dehydrated when you’re drinking alcohol and spending a lot of time in the sun. In general, traveling dehydrates our bodies.

It’s essential to pack a reusable water bottle for your cruise. I never cruise without mine and I bring it everywhere from my stateroom to the pool deck and off the ship for excursions. 

Link to Amazon


9. Hanging Toiletry Bag

There are a few different cosmetic bags that I travel with, but I absolutely always cruise with my hanging toiletry bag. The bathrooms are so tiny on a cruise ship and counter space is limited. I prefer to have my toiletries hanging in a cosmetic bag on the door to keep the counter less cluttered. 

I've cruised with these hanging cosmetic bags for decades; it especially saved space when I cruised with my family having four of us share one bathroom!

Link to Amazon


10. USB Outlet Extender

If you’re cruising with multiple people in your stateroom, you will likely want more available plugins in your cabin. While newer ships are starting to incorporate more outlets in each cabin, older ships are still limited to just one or two outlets. 

Consider packing this foldable power strip with multiple outlets and USB plugs. This will allow you to charge many more devices.  

Link to Amazon


11. Pop-Up Hamper

This is another cruise essential that I absolutely love! Packing a pop-up hamper takes up very little space in the bottom of your suitcase and fits perfectly in your cruise ship cabin closet when it pops up.

As you have dirty clothes throughout the week, toss them into the hamper so they don’t overtake your closet and clean clothes. 

Link to Amazon


12. Lanyard with Key Holder

Onboard your Royal Caribbean cruise, you will have a SeaPass card to use, which is how you will purchase items onboard and access your stateroom. As such, you have to carry it everywhere!

(Here's a candid shot of my sister and Royal Caribbean Blog social media manager, Angie, wearing her lanyard with our dad)

I prefer to have a lanyard with a card holder that I can take around the ship. This can easily go over my neck as I wander around the ship without having to bring my purse or wallet.

My favorite brand is the Vera Bradley lanyard with a zip ID case; I've used this same lanyard for probably 10 years and it's the perfect balance between functional and cute. 

Link to Amazon


13. Luggage Tag Holders

Printing off your luggage tags is an essential step for preparing for your cruise, but I always find that I never have a stapler or tape to properly add them to my luggage. 

These plastic tag holders are perfect for cruising and it protects the tag from getting ripped off at the cruise terminal. 

Link to Amazon


14. Magnetic Hooks

Your cruise ship cabin is made of magnetic walls, so you should definitely pack these handy little magnetic hooks for your stateroom!

magnetic hooks

These magnetic hooks are very strong and perfect for a variety of uses, from holding your hats, towels and jackets to decorating your cabin or door. 

Link to Amazon


15. Sea Bands 

As much as we all hope not to get sick onboard our cruise, it can happen to the best of us. I lived on a cruise ship for 100 days and relied on these Sea Bands to keep me healthy and help with potential sea sickness. 

These bands rely on acupuncture practice as a simple and effective way to provide nausea relief. 

Link to Amazon


16. Motion Sickness Medication

In the way of seasickness, it’s essential that you always pack motion sickness medication for your cruise. You never know when nausea will strike when you are sailing at sea. 

I prefer to cruise with these travel-sized containers. Dramamine makes a less drowsy formula, which is perfect for during the day when I don’t want to get too sleepy from the medication. The small container is easy to keep in my purse or bag while ashore too - as bus, boat and taxi rides can all induce motion sickness.

Link to Amazon


17. Travel-Size Hand Sanitizer

Keeping healthy is a top priority when cruising. Illnesses can spread in a variety of ways, especially on a cruise in close quarters. I keep these hand sanitizers attached directly to my lanyard that holds my SeaPass card. 

I find myself sanitizing frequently while I cruise, especially after using the tongs in the Windjammer before indulging in my plate of food. 

Link to Amazon


18. Pack of Laundry Detergent

On a longer cruise, another essential that I always bring is a travel-size packet of laundry detergent. Even though I get a free laundry bag onboard the ship, I am leery of handing off my dirty clothes to be washed onboard because I’ve heard horror stories. 

I lived at sea for 100 days and did my laundry exclusively in the sink and shower with these little Tide laundry detergent packets. It gets the job done!

Link to Amazon


19. Liquid IV Hydration

Staying hydrated is so important when you cruise. In addition to bringing a reusable water bottle, I absolutely always pack these Liquid IV packets - I am obsessed! These are hydration multipliers that you can add to water to boost your electrolytes. 

Personally, I love the strawberry flavor (linked below), but all of the Liquid IV flavors that I’ve tried have been excellent. I can truly tell a difference in my hydration when I use these on a cruise, as I know those mojitos are not doing my hydration any favors!

Link to Amazon


20. Variety of OTC Medication

One essential that I never cruise without is my tiny ‘pharmacy’. In a small pouch, I bring a variety of over-the-counter medication just to have on hand. Because medicine is so expensive onboard and I do not want to buy medication in port, I cruise with a small amount of medication.

It’s essential for me to bring a multi-symptom combo pack of daytime/nighttime cold and flu because it covers a variety of symptoms. Other essential OTC medication that I always cruise with in my tiny pharmacy includes laxatives, Imodium, sleep aid, nasal congestion spray, antihistamine, and cough drops. 

Link to Amazon


21. Mini First Aid and Emergency Kit

You never know when an emergency will strike, even on your cruise vacation! For this reason, I always travel with a mini first aid and emergency kit.

This mini emergency kit includes bandaids, gauze, alcohol wipes, a mini tweezers and so much more. I have peace of mind cruising with this little kit - and it’s the perfect size to fit in a backpack. 

Link to Amazon


22. Wrinkle Release Spray

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to wear a wrinkly dress on a cruise ship! Without an iron onboard due to fire hazard, it’s not uncommon to have very wrinkly clothes.

For this reason, it’s essential for me to pack wrinkle release spray. This travel-sized bottle is perfect for cruising and really helps get out those big wrinkles after I stuff my suitcase full of cruise clothes.

Link to Amazon


23. Swimsuit

This might seem like a no brainer when it comes to essential things to bring on a cruise, but some might not think if they are cruising to cooler destinations, like Norway, Iceland and Alaska, that they do not need a swimsuit.

However, it’s essential for me to pack a swimsuit - even to cooler destinations! Most of Royal Caribbean’s ships sailing to these cooler destinations have a covered Solarium with a heated pool. Additionally, there’s never a bad time for a hot tub. If you’re cruising somewhere cool, consider packing a long sleeve swimsuit to keep warm. 

Link to Amazon


24. Swimsuit Cover-Up

Along with a swimsuit, it’s essential to pack a swimsuit cover-up, or at least something that you can wear between the pool deck, deck and around the ship.

You’ll also need to cover up before you can grab food in the Windjammer on Royal Caribbean ships, so it’s best to always have one on hand. 

Link to Amazon


25. Travel-Size Sunscreen

If you’re planning to spend any amount of time in the sun on your Royal Caribbean cruise, it’s essential to pack sunscreen to protect your skin. 

If I am driving to the cruise port, I pack a bigger bottle of sunscreen for my husband and I; but if we are flying to a cruise, I don’t always check a bag so I love to pack travel-sized sunscreen lotion. In my experience, lotion goes further than spray.

Link to Amazon


26. Moisturizer with SPF

Similar to my travel-sized sunscreen, I always travel with an SPF moisturizer. Even if I am not basking in the sun or actively on the beach, I prefer to wear an SPF moisturizer to keep my skin protected.

Personally, I prefer this tinted moisturizer, as it’s perfect for cruising because it’s protective, easy to travel with and adds a little color to my skin. 

Link to Amazon


27. Beach Bag

It’s essential to pack a beach bag or small backpack on a cruise. Even if you plan to spend most of your time onboard, you will still be hauling things from your cabin to the pool deck, like flip flops, books, sunglasses, cover ups, towels, sunscreen, etc. 

I prefer to use a beach bag or some sort of canvas tote around the ship. A small backpack also works great if you are going ashore as well.

Link to Amazon


28. Kindle

Gone are the days of lugging around old fashioned books on your cruises. Cruising is about the only time I catch up on books that I’ve been wanting to read.

I prefer to travel with my Kindle these days because it takes up way less space in my suitcase than hauling around big books.

Link to Amazon


29. Sunglasses

Regardless of where I am cruising, it’s essential that I pack sunglasses. Even the Alaskan snow can be bright enough to require sunglasses.

I’m a budget traveler, so I prefer to cruise with a cheap pair of sunglasses so I won’t be heartbroken when I, inevitably, lose or break them. 

Link to Amazon


30. Ziplock baggies

It’s essential for me to pack a few empty ziplock baggies for a cruise. These are so versatile, from keeping cash dry at the beach to packing a snack for excursions. You can bring a variety of bag sizes, but sandwich is my preferred. 

Link to Amazon


31. Converter with USB Plugs

Most cruise ships have limited outlets in each stateroom, but it’s common to find European outlets in your cabin. I hated seeing these go unused, so I started to bring a European adapter with USB ports.

These work great for cruises and it's an essential thing for me to bring now. 

Link to Amazon


32. Chapstick (with SPF)

Cruise ships are always very dry, so I’d rather be buried alive than be stuck on a cruise ship without chapstick. I lather my lips multiple times a day, especially when I am cruising. I prefer to bring chapstick with SPF so my lips stay moisturized and protected from the sun. 

Link to Amazon


33. Poo-pourri

This one goes without much explanation, but you know all of that food you eat on a cruise has to go somewhere. That tiny bathroom can really hold a stench for longer than you'd imagine.

It’s essential for me to travel with a travel-sized air freshener to keep in the cabin. 

Link to Amazon


34. Liquid Hand Soap

This one might seem unnecessary, but it’s essential for me to bring a small bottle of hand soap to keep in my stateroom bathroom.

I hate using that little bar of soap and I feel like it’s just a small luxury that’s worthwhile; this is especially true if it’s a longer cruise where I will be planning to spend more time in my cabin. 

Link to Amazon


35. My own shampoo and conditioner

That mystery liquid in the shower onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise? Definitely not my favorite. It leaves my hair stringy and dry. It’s absolutely essential for me to pack my own shampoo and conditioner. 

In addition, if I have enough space, I like to pack my own body wash. If it’s a last resort, I will use the 3-in-1 product for body wash, but I will always have my own shampoo and conditioner packed for a cruise. 

Link to Amazon


36. Rubber Birkenstocks

Since moving to Florida, I purchased a pair of rubber Birkenstock sandals for the beach because my regular Birkenstocks weren't loving all the sun, sand and water. This was a nice upgrade from my $1 Old Navy flip flops.

Now, I never cruise without them! These rubber sandals are perfect for the beach or pool because they dry quickly, but they’re also very comfortable for walking in port too. 

Link to Amazon


37. Onboard Clutch

Ladies will know that it’s essential to have a purse that’s dedicated for evenings onboard a cruise ship.

I don’t want to lug around my daytime purse or backpack when I’m out and about on the cruise ship, so having a small clutch is the perfect solution.

Link to Amazon


38. Tide to Go Stain Remover

These handy little stain removing pens are perfect for cruising. It comes in clutch to have a Tide to Go Stick when my husband or I inevitably stain our cruise clothes. 

Link to Amazon


39. Passport and Vaccination Card

Closed-loop cruises departing and returning to the same US port allow cruisers to sail with just a birth certificate in leu of a passport. It is essential for me to always bring my passport when I cruise, as I never want to be stuck outside of the country without my passport. 

Likewise, I always bring my COVID-10 vaccination certification when I cruise. It might not be required anymore, but I plan to bring it for the foreseeable future. 

40. Extra prescription medication

Itineraries can change at anytime; it’s on the dotted line we all sign every time we book a cruise. Because you never know what could happen, I always cruise with extra doses of my prescription medication. I don’t want to ever rely on the cruise ship or a local port to accommodate my health needs.

What to wear on a cruise that works for all dress codes

16 Feb 2023

Knowing what to pack for your upcoming cruise can be stressful, especially if you’re a first-time cruiser with Royal Caribbean. From beach days to formal night, there’s a lot to consider when you're packing for your cruise vacation. 

Pool deck on Oasis of the Seas

For example, you’ll need to consider where your cruise is sailing to, as certain destinations will have different weather and climates. Also, you’ll want to consider how long your cruise is to pack appropriately for your sailing’s dress codes. The number of sea days can impact what you plan to pack, as you’ll either be spending more time onboard the ship or exploring ports of call. 

In addition, the amount you plan to pack can be impacted by whether you plan to fly or drive to your cruise departure port. If you are flying to your cruise departure port, you will need to consider airline restrictions on luggage. Also, you will need to decide if you plan to check your luggage or travel solely with a carry-on. 

At the end of the day, what you pack for a fun 3-night sailing to the Bahamas will be totally different than what you’d plan to wear on a 12-night cruise to Norway or 7-night cruise to Alaska. 

Woman wearing jacket in Alaska

Here’s what to wear on a cruise that works for all of Royal Caribbean’s dress codes, including destination-specific ideas. We've also included outfit ideas from Amazon with links to every item within each section.

Please note, these are affiliate links, meaning Royal Caribbean Blog receives a small commission if you purchase any items through the links below, which does not cost you anything additional. 

Overview of Dress Codes

Overall, Royal Caribbean’s dress code is fairly laid back with just a few general rules to keep in mind. It’s important to remember that these dress codes apply only to the main dining room. If you plan to eat in the Windjammer buffet for most of your meals, you don’t need to follow these guidelines.

Royal Caribbean outlines their dress code requirements online. You can expect to find three different dress codes on your Royal Caribbean cruise: Casual, Smart Casual and Formal (or Dress Your Best). 

Shorts are not permitted in the main dining room for dinner for any of the dress codes on Royal Caribbean cruises, other than breakfast or lunch meals. 

Here are a few basic definitions of each dress code according to Royal Caribbean standards. 

  • Casual: Exactly as it implies - you are on vacation, after all! Casual dress code implies jeans, sundresses, blouses and polos are all aligned with being laid back on vacation. Swimwear needs to be kept to the pool deck. Shorts are acceptable for breakfast and lunch in the main dining room.
  • Smart Casual: Consider this a step-up from typical dinner wear. Outfits for this evening could include collar shirts, dresses, skirts and blouses or pantsuits. For men, snazzy jackets, sports coats and blazers are welcomed. 
  • Formal or Dress Your Best: This is the night you’ll want to dress your fanciest. Consider packing cocktail dresses, evening gowns, ties, tuxedos or suits for your best black-tie look. 

Packing for your sailing’s more formal evening depends on how long your sailing is. Shorter sailings (3- to 5-night cruises) will have a "Dress Your Best" evening dress code while longer sailings (6+ nights) will have Formal Night onboard. If your cruise is even longer (11+ nights), you could have up to 3 Formal Nights.

Formal Night and Dress Your Best are essentially synonymous. Since shorter sailings are typically the most casual, Royal Caribbean tries to use more laid-back nomenclature. It’s up each ship’s discretion to determine how many Formal Nights will take place onboard.  

In all honesty, the formal evenings onboard have become more and more casual over the years. 

Family in dining room

While I used to go all-out and pack ballgowns and high-heels, I’ve gravitated more towards versatile dresses that can easily be dressed up or down. Perhaps I will curl my hair and wear a little extra makeup on formal night these days. For my husband, he prefers to wear his sports coat or casual blazer rather than a tuxedo or suit. 

This isn’t to say that you can’t dress to the nines in black-tie or evening gowns; rather, it’s truthfully no longer the standard. This is especially true if you’re sailing on a shorter cruise to the Caribbean or Bahamas. 

Now that you have a basic idea of how Royal Caribbean defines its dress codes, let’s take a look at what you can wear for each. We’ve broken these down by destination, along with including outfit ideas for sea days. 

What to wear on your European cruise

If you’re cruising to ports of call around Europe with Royal Caribbean, you’re most likely sailing during late spring, summer or early fall. The vast majority of Royal Caribbean’s European sailings start in April or May and end in September or October. 

Odyssey of the Seas in Port

European style features more neutral colors with muted patterns and bright colors. 

Therefore, you can plan to pack casual wear for warmer weather. In my experience, generally Europeans dress a bit nicer and follow the dress codes more strictly. Even on casual evenings, most guests look very polished and fashionable.

Crete Greece

Depending on where you are cruising in Europe can also impact what you pack. Itineraries to the Mediterranean will have warmer weather with higher temperatures, especially in places like Italy, Greece, Spain and France. 

Northern Europe, including the Baltics, Norway, Iceland, and United Kingdom, will have cooler weather with more chances of rain. Cooler climates can add layers, such as a jean jacket or light sweater.

Casual Wear

Women can look to wear casual dresses, light-wash jeans, and rompers with blue hues to add a pop of color, this is especially perfect for the Greek Islands! These are great outfits that can also be worn during the day while you explore incredible ports like Rome, Paris and Athens. 

Men should pack a variety of polos and t-shirts for casual nights on a European cruise, along with either dark or light jeans. Similar to women, we've picked hues of blue and white to perfectly align with your Mediterranean cruise.

Women’s Links to Casual Outfits:

Casual Summer Short Sleeve, Black Dress

Tie Back, Ruffle Strap A-Line Flow, White & Blue Striped Dress

White Blouse with Sweetheart Neckline and Puff-Sleeves, Smocked

Summer Short Sleeve Romper, White Stripes

Short Sleeve, V-Neck Casual Midi Dress, Light Blue Tie-Wrap Dress

Levi’s Women’s Premium 501 Skinny Jeans, Light Wash

Men’s Links to Casual Outfits:

Men’s Casual Front Placket Basic Short Sleeve Henley T-Shirts

Men’s Classic Nautica Short Sleeve Performance Polo Shirt: Light Blue

Men’s Dark Wash Levis, Straight Fit

Men’s Light Wash Levis, Slim Fit

White Striped Golf Polo, Quick Dry Casual

Smart Casual

If you are packing for a European cruise with Royal Caribbean, you’ll want to ensure you’ve packed outfits for evenings onboard the ship. Picture sailing away into the sunset from Italy, Spain or Greece after you’ve had an incredible day exploring in the sun. 

Again, in my experience, Europeans dress more polished and on-trend than anywhere else I’ve cruised. It’s best to pack appropriately with dresses for women and a few button-down shirts for men. 


For women, mid-length dresses are perfect for Smart Casual evenings onboard, along with summery skirts or capris. The whites and blues are perfect for Mediterranean cruises while cooler climates can consider adding a blazer or stylish jacket for Northern Europe. 

Most of the time, men can wear a variety of button-down shirts for Smart Casual nights on European cruises with Royal Caribbean, especially breezy shirts made of linen for warmer sailings. Linen pants are great to pack for warmer months because it's very breathable. 

Women’s Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Casual Summer Flutter Sleeve Navy Dress, Smocked Waist

Off Shoulder, Casual Midi Dress with High Waist, Light Blue

Bohemian Floral Printed Blue Maxi Skirt with Pockets

Women’s Casual V-Neck Blouse, Bell Sleeve, Royal Blue

Women’s Ease Into Comfort Capri with buttons, White Capris

Men's Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Black button down smart casual shirt

Khaki Dockers, Classic Fit 360 FlexPants

White and Blue Stripped Button Down

White Linen Matching Set for Men

Formal Night

Of all the destinations you can cruise with Royal Caribbean, you can expect the most participation on Formal Night if you’re sailing on a European itinerary. This has been consistent across all of my European cruises and continues to be the trend. 

Similar to other European outfit ideas, I would encourage you to stick to more neutral colors and save the bright colors and bold patterns for your Caribbean sailing. Of course, these are just ideas for what you could consider wearing on formal night.

Formal night

Women can wear full-length evening gowns or maxi dresses. I’ve chosen a variety of dresses in the image below with differing necklines, material, sleeve length and style. Keep in mind, a more casual dress can be dressed-up with heels, accessories and some bolder makeup. 

Men should consider wearing a suit and tie on Formal Night, according to Royal Caribbean’s guide. A long-sleeve collared shirt with a tie, paired with nice dress pants, can also work well on Formal Night. 

Women’s Links to Formal Outfits:

Navy Women’s Evening Formal, Long Dress

Black Women’s Elegant Dress, Off Shoulder, Fitted

Velvet, Dark Green Dress for Women, Bell Sleeve

Royal Blue, Elegant Loose Chiffon Dress for Women 

Alex Evening Women’s Mesh Sleeve Dress, Embellished

Men's Links to Formal Outfits:

Docker’s Men’s Classic Fit, Long Sleeve Signature Comfort Flex Button Down Shirt

Men’s Casual Sport Coat, Suit Blazer

Men's 3-piece, Slim Fit Suit Set, including Blazer, Suit Vest and Dress Pants

What to wear on your Caribbean cruise

Packing for your Caribbean cruise will include bright colors, tropical patterns and plenty of swimsuits. You’ll be sailing in warm climates and spending your day in the sun or at the beach, so you can plan to wear most of your summer and spring clothes. 

Also, shorter Caribbean sailings, or those with less than 5 nights, will have the most casual atmosphere on a Royal Caribbean cruise - so keep this in mind while packing. Generally speaking, Caribbean cruises are all about relaxing, letting loose, and having fun. 

Here’s a breakdown of what to wear on your Caribbean cruise that works well for each of Royal Caribbean’s dress codes. 


To pack for casual nights onboard your Caribbean cruise, women can look to bring bright sundresses, tropical patterns and colorful outfits. I love to pack my dresses that are bright colors, like pink and yellow - these are just quintessential Caribbean cruise outfits for me. 

For men, this is your time to pack those Hawaiian shirts or fun patterns! Although shorts aren’t permitted in the dining room, pairing these fun patterned shirts with jeans is perfect for casual night on a Caribbean cruise for men. 

Women’s Links to Casual Outfits:

Women’s Ditsy Floral Plunge Deck, Tie Back

Strapless Casual Summer Dress, Tropical Pink

Women’s Wrap V-Neck Sleeveless Sundress, Red Floral

Women’s Smocked Romper, Tie Sleeve, Smocked Bodice

High Waist, Pattern Beach Linen Pants for Women

Men's Links to Casual Outfits:

Nautica Men’s Coral Polo, Cotton Stretch

Men’s Casual Hawaiian Shirt, Palm Trees

Amazon Basic, Men’s Athletic Stretch Jeans in Black

Men’s Duo-Pattern, Flamingo Button Down Shirt for Summer

Amazon Basic, Men’s Athletic Stretch Jeans

Smart Casual

In all honesty, most Caribbean cruises are very casual for the entirety of the sailing. It’s a fine line between Smart Casual compared to just Casual night, especially on a sun-filled Caribbean cruise. 

For Smart Casual evenings on a Caribbean cruise, consider packing outfits that are just a bit more dressy than what you’d wear for casual night. I've selected a jumpsuit, versatile blouse, floral skirt and two dresses that would work well with Royal Caribbean's dress code. 

Similarly, men can look to pack some khakis or grey slacks with a button-down shirt. The pink linen shirt is the perfect option for a Caribbean cruise!

Women’s Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Yellow Puff-Sleeve, Smocked Dress 

Women’s Puff Sleeve, Off Shoulder Pink Dress

Women’s Teal Floral Wrap Midi Skirt

Women’s Ruffle Chiffon Sleeveless White Tank

Women’s One Strap Jumpsuit with Wide Leg

Men's Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Amazon Basic, Men 5-Pocket Khaki Stretch Twill Pants

Men’s Grey Slim Fit Casual Stretch Khaki Pants

Long Sleeve Men’s Linen Blend Shirt, Button Down

Men’s Navy Button Down, Short Sleeve Shirt

Formal Night / Dress Your Best

During your Caribbean cruise, you can count on having at least one Formal Night or Dress Your Best. Shorter cruises will call this evening Dress Your Best while longer sailings will call it Formal Night. 

Either way, it’s essentially the exact same dress code and implies you should wear your fanciest outfit packed. Caribbean cruises are very casual, so you can probably leave the tuxedo and ballgown at home, if you prefer! 

It’s likely going to be warm; this might be perfect for tanning on the beach or the pool deck, but not great for heavy, satin ballgowns. A shorter, more elegant dress is perfect for a Caribbean cruise on Formal Night

For men sailing on a Caribbean cruise, opt for a collared shirt and dress pants for men. You could also include a tie to dress up the look. 

Women’s Links to Formal Night Outfits:

Women’s Tie Back, Black Summer Formal Dress, Long Sleeve, Elastic Waist

Women’s Long Sleeve V Neck Cocktail Dress, Elegant

Women’s Pink Off Shoulder Pleated Midi Dress

Sleeveless Lace Dress for Women, Blue, Knee Length for Party

Jumpsuit Romper for Women, Tie Front and Ruffle Sleeve, green

Male's Links to Formal Night Outfits:

Casual Men’s Blazer, Sport Coat: 

Men’s 3-Piece Suit Set with Pants, Jacket and Vest, Slim Fit

Men’s Long Sleeve, Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt

Black Dress Pants for Men, Amazon Essentials, Slim Fit

What to wear on your Alaska cruise

Alaska is known for its stunning scenery - and it’s one of our favorite places to cruise! However, you can almost guarantee that you will run into cooler weather during your cruise. Even in the heat of summer, you can be hit with cold and rainy weather in Alaska. 

Plan to pack layers for your Alaska cruise so your wardrobe is versatile for whatever weather you encounter. It’s going to be colder than any Caribbean cruise you’ve done, so packing requires a bit more planning.


For Alaska cruises, women should plan to pack casual outfits that can be versatile for daytime outfits or evening attire. You'll be packing bulky clothes and most of what you wear during the day would pass for evening casual wear. 

Women should look to wear sweaters or turtlenecks with jeans or leggings. A long sleeve dress in the evenings is also acceptable for casual night.

Men should also plan to pack versatile outfits that can work well as evening outfits for Casual Night. Consider packing half-zips, long sleeve shirts and crewnecks paired with jeans. 

Women’s Links to Casual Night Outfits:

Grey Long Sleeve Dress for Women with High Waist

Women’s Casual Turtleneck Sweater Tunic Pullover

Long Sleeve Green Dress for Women, Empire Waist, Loose Fit

Amazon Essentials, Women’s Light Wash Jeans, High Rise

Women’s Striped Turtleneck Dress with Button Detail

Men's Links to Casual Night Outfits:

Black Long Sleeve T-Shirt for Men

Men’s Wrangler Jeans, Regular Fit, Comfort Flex, Dark Wash

Men’s Half-Zip, Long Sleeve Athletic Pullover, Lightweight

Long Sleeve Henley Shirt with Buttons for Men, Cotton Shirt

Smart Casual

When it comes to Smart Casual during your Alaska cruise, you’ll also want to consider the weather for your sailing. Again, it’s more than likely going to be pretty cool so you’ll want to pack more of your winter and fall clothes. 

For women, you can look at wearing long sleeve dresses; even a sweater dress would be perfect for Alaska. You can pair this with leggings if it’s especially chilly. Women can also pack dress pants with a long-sleeve blouse for dinner.

Men should also pack for cooler weather when thinking about Smart Casual Night, such as plaid button-down flannels and crewneck sweaters. Jackets can be layered at dinner or outside during port exploration in the cool Alaska weather. 

Women’s Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Long Sleeve, Sweater Ribbed Dress with Turtleneck, Green

Long Sleeve, Midi Women’s Dress with Black Top and Pattern Bottom

Green Cocktail Dress with Long Bell Sleeve and Tie Front, Green

Black Jeans by Levi’s for Women, Traditional Jeans

Long Sleeve Blouse for Women, Pleated Sleeves, Sage Green

Men's Links to Smart Casual Outfits:

Men’s Crewneck Sweater, Soft Casual, Long Sleeve

Casual Jacket for Men, Sportswear Bomber Jacket

Amazon Essentials Men’s Athletic, Casual Fit Chino Pants in Navy

Snap Button, Flannel Shirt for Men, Regular Fit, Green Plaid

Formal Night / Dress Your Best

Most Alaska sailings will be 7-nights long, so you can expect to have two Formal Nights during your Royal Caribbean cruise. Keeping with our theme of packing for cool weather, we’ve selected a few outfits that would be perfect for Formal Night on your cruise. 

Women can look at packing floor-length dresses with long sleeves. Alaska is also the perfect destination for a jumpsuit with pants or pantsuit to keep warm.

Similarly for men, consider packing dress pants with a long sleeve collared shirt for the Formal Nights on your Alaska cruise. Suits and tuxedos are also welcomed during these nights onboard.

Women’s Links to Formal Night Outfits:

Women’s Jumpsuit, Wide Leg, Tie Waist

Women’s Winter Dress with Puff Sleeve, Ruffle A-line dress

Dark Green, Women’s Plus Size Dress, Floor Length High Slit

Women’s Wide Leg Dress Pants, Black Chiffon Flow Pants

Women’s Long Sleeve Jumpsuit, Loose Fit in Sand Color

Men's Links to Formal Night Outfits:

Black Dress Pants for Men by Calvin Klein, Slim Fit

Van Hausen Men’s Dress Shirt, Regular Fit, Oxford Fit

Men’s Ski Fit, 3-Piece Suit with Vest, Jacket and Pants. Tie Included

Best things to bring on a cruise under $10 I always regret forgetting to bring

03 Feb 2023

There's all sorts of extras you can bring on a cruise, but it seems I forget one or three of them when I actually go on a cruise.

Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas in Labadee

Last week I sailed on Liberty of the Seas for a short 3-night cruise, and the first time I went to wash my hands in my stateroom bathroom I realized I forgot to pack liquid hand soap. While there's nothing wrong with the bar soap that Royal Caribbean provides, I prefer bringing my own for ease of use.

That got me thinking about other really cheap extras someone can bring on a cruise that enhance the experience.

While we have a great cruise ship packing list you can refer to, it's easy to overlook these extras because they aren't things that one might naturally consider in the course of preparing for a cruise.  Underwear, toothbrush, sunscreen, are all examples of things you probably bring with you on any trip, but certain "good to have" extras for a cruise vacation aren't as obvious.

Before you hit the road to get on a cruise, double check you packed these under $10 things that will make your cruise better.

Please note that I linked to each item on Amazon which contains an affiliate link. This affiliate link costs you absolutely nothing extra, but I make a small commission if you purchase it.

Liquid soap

Liquid soap

$9.39 at Amazon

As previously mentioned, liquid soap is so nice to have in your cabin.

Washing your hands on a cruise ship is super important, but the bar soap the cruise line provides requires more work to work up a lather compared to liquid soap, and I never like the "dry" feeling it leaves me with after.

Instead we like to pack liquid soap to have in the bathroom.

Not only does it feel better on my hands, but it's faster and smells better too!

Laundry hamper

$6.99 at Amazon

Ever since I tried bringing a laundry hamper with me as part of my inside cabin hacks testing, it's become a staple of my cruise packing procedure.

On my last cruise, I forgot it at home (it was in a different piece of luggage than I ended up bringing) and it was then I realized how nice it was to have.

Without a hamper, I just designate a corner of my cabin closet as the laundry pile and it grows and grows until the end of the cruise. When it's time to pack up, I have to gather everything up.

With a pop up laundry hamper, it's so much easier to keep things organized and grab it when the cruise is over.

Luggage tag holders

$6.99 at Amazon

While remembering to print out luggage tags is a challenge in and of itself, having luggage tag holders gives me much more confidence they wont get ripped off accidently.

I've been using luggage tag holders for years as an easy way to display luggage tags without fear the paper tags would break off in the process.

Not only are they cheap, but they last a really long time.

My own shampoo & body wash

$7.99 at Amazon

I remember when Jenna took her very first Royal Caribbean cruise and I neglected to mention she should pack shampoo and body wash because the mystery liquid in the cabin showers is less than ideal.

After a couple days, she mentioned how bad it was and I was flabbergasted she was using it because I usually bring my own.

Along the same lines, I sometimes overlook packing my own and the stuff in the cabin never works as well.

Suites have upgraded toiletries that are much better, but it's still not as good as what you probably use at home.  This is especially true for women who have specific needs for their hair.

Depending on your brand, this one may come in above the $10 threshold, but even a cheaper one you bring will likely be better than what is waiting for you in the shower.



$4.59 at Amazon

If you have a Royal Caribbean drink package, there's a good chance a bottle of aspirin is a solid investment for the next day.

Between hangovers and drinking enough water every day, it's easy to run into a headache while on a cruise. 

Just like travel insurance, having a bottle of aspirin is so helpful when you really need it.



$1.49 at Amazon

Every time I take an Alaska cruise, after a day or two I suddenly remember I forgot to pack chapstick because it becomes apparent we need it.

Just like sunscreen, chapped lips can hurt quickly.

Other must-have cruise items worth bringing

In addition to the list of sub-$10 things I love to bring on a cruise, I thought it would be helpful to also include other items I would be disappointed if I forgot at home.

We all (should) know to pack the basics, such as underwear, socks, pants, and shorts. But there's a host of other things I strongly recommend you pack on your cruise too.


Close up of AirTag

Not only are AirTags helpful if you're flying, but they can be really useful if you're going on a cruise.

Include an AirTag in your luggage and you can easily track where your bags are using your iPhone.

Read moreI tried AirTags to track my luggage on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Reusable water bottle

Reusable water bottle

You can get water around the ship, but it's much more convenient to have a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.

Not only does it hold more water than any cup of water you'll find on the ship, they can be brought off the ship for shore excursions.

Noise cancelling headphones

Noise cancelling headphones

Not only are noise-cancelling headphones useful outside of an airplane, they make a tremendous difference in being able to enjoy "me time" onboard a ship.

I really love putting them on when I'm on the pool deck so I can enjoy the breeze and sun while laying out in a lounger, without all the conversations, music, and noise you'd have to put up with around you.

For years, I've used and recommended the Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless noise-cancelling headphones for over-the-ear comfort and unbeatable noise cancellation.

I know a lot of other people that prefer the Apple AirPods Pro because they offer noise cancelling without the heft and size.

Read moreThe best travel tech gadgets for a cruise ship vacation

Air freshener

Bathroom door on Wonder of the Seas

Whether you're sharing a cabin with a friend or family member, what happens in the bathroom shouldn't be well-known to everyone else.

Poo pourri and other air fresheners are a must-pack item to keep your cabin bathroom from being a point of contention (or embarrassment) 

Magnetic hooks

Your cabin walls are metallic, which means you place magnetic hooks just about anywhere.

Storage space on Royal Caribbean ships is notoriously low, and magnetic hooks provide convenient ways to hang clothes and accessories.

I recommend these magnetic hooks if you have not purchased one yet.


Woman reading her kindle

If you're a reader, bringing a Kindle or other e-reader is a must-have on a cruise.

You'll find lots of opportunity to read while on a cruise, especially on a sea day. The Kindle Paperwhite is perfect for the pool deck as well as in your cabin.

Night light

It shouldn't come as a shock that inside cabins are really dark at night because they have no natural light source.

This night light not only offers lighting, but it will only come on when someone moves around.

I packed for a 7-night cruise with just a carry-on and personal item

27 Jan 2023

Is it possible to take a 7-night cruise with only a carry-on and backpack? 


I recently sailed on a 7-night Eastern Caribbean cruise and wanted to avoid paying for checked baggage, so I challenged myself to pack as light as possible!

I knew this wasn't impossible, as I had a friend once pack for an 8-night cruise in just a Spirit Airlines approved personal item, not even a true carry-on sized bag. 

For me, though, this was not going to be an easy task; I’m known for chronically overpacking and having to pay overweight fees. 

What can I say? A girl loves her shoes! When I came back from Europe in December, I had to tie a pair of shoes to my backpack that was already nearly busting at the seams. My suitcase was only .50 ounces underweight after that. 

I figured since it was a Caribbean cruise, it would be easier than packing for one that required bulkier clothing, like an Alaskan sailing. 

In actuality, it was much more difficult than I thought. I tried to pack strategically thinking about the plans I had for the cruise when I left; however, they ended up changing once I got onboard. 

Here's how I packed for my 7-night Caribbean cruise with only a carry-on suitcase and a backpack and what I would do differently if I plan on packing that light again. 


Stock photo of TSA approved 3.4oz liquid bottles

Since I usually only check my luggage, I didn't have any TSA-approved travel-sized bottles for my liquids. Thankfully, a Target opened up within walking distance of my apartment in August, so it was easy for me to acquire everything that I needed in one trip. 

I ended up purchasing three empty bottles for my shampoo, conditioner, and hair smoothie, as well as a travel-sized face wash, contact solution, toothpaste, makeup removing wipes, and mouthwash. I know that Royal Caribbean provides body wash in the shower, so I wasn't worried about packing that. 

My plan for sunscreen was to wait until I landed in Florida and swing by Publix. I thought there would be more of a price difference, but I found out it was only a few dollars, if even that much. However, stopping still allowed me to carry on my luggage for free. 

When it came to packing my clothes, I had planned on making myself comfortable in the Solarium most days, especially since this was a work trip, so I wanted to keep it simple with a few swimsuits, a cover up, t-shirts, and athletic shorts.

I also planned on rotating between a few dresses for dinner each nice. This was difficult for me, as I'm used to packing a different outfit for each night and only rotating between shoes. I knew that this was key, though. Seven dresses, even when rolled tightly, can take up a lot of room. 

Even when I do pack different outfits for every night, I often end up repeating at least one. I think I just like having options like I do at home. At the end of the day, I had to accept that I wouldn't be able to have that luxury on this trip, or so I thought. 

What I packed


I definitely was able to fit a lot more into my suitcase than I expected, but I do have an expandable carry-on. Without that, this challenge would've been much harder than it already was. 

I was able to fit three t-shirts, two pairs of athletic shorts, two pairs of jeans, four different evening shirts, four dresses, one pair of pajamas, six pairs of shoes, a small purse, hair straightener, hair towel, and three swimsuits, along with my other undergarments.

A few of those items had to be crammed into my backpack, which was also carrying my laptop, electronic chargers, video camera, and medications. 

How I packed


Before I even began placing all my items in my suitcase, I knew that I was going to have to roll everything pretty tightly. I placed my bulkiest pieces, like my jeans and maxi dress, in the corners of the bag. My smaller items easily filled in the gaps and could be layered on top. 

I realized that my clothes were never really the issue; had more trouble packing my cosmetics and shoes, but I was adamant that I was going to fit everything. 

I had to play a little Tetris in order to fully maximize my available space. Even though I could have fit more clothing on one side, the side that contained my shoes and cosmetics bag protruded when zipped. 

To the airport, I wore another (third) pair of jeans, a sweatshirt, and the sixth pair of shoes, which were athletic sneakers. I'm so glad that I ended up throwing this sweatshirt on instead of another t-shirt, as it was so cold the morning of disembarkation. Plus, I was stuck in the airport for about five hours waiting on my flight home. I appreciated that I was able get situated and comfortable!  

Items I regretted having


Even though I set out with the intention to pack fewer evening outfits, I was able to pack a different one for each night, even if it meant wearing the same pair of jeans more than once. 

I ended up repeating outfits a lot, though. I, for instance, wore the same dress for both formal night and dress your best night, even though I intended to wear different outfits for each. 

I could have gotten away with two dresses and two evening shirts instead of four each. Plus, there was one pair of sandals that I only wore once. While I appreciate having the option to choose between pairs of shoes, I really only needed one nicer pair of sandals for the week. 

I also did not need to pack the second pair of sneakers. One athletic pair would've been sufficient, as I only wore my Golden Goose once. I'm so used to only wearing sneakers at home, so I found that when given the opportunity to wear sandals, I gravitated towards them, even if it was just one specific pair. 

Items I wish I had packed

There were quite a few items I found myself wishing that I brought. 

Even though I had every intention to sunbathe while getting my work done, I found that sitting in the Solarium was actually too distracting for me. I'm the kind of person who needs to grind out their assignments in peace and quiet. 

I've always been this way, so I don't know why I assumed it would be different on a cruise ship surrounded by tempting activities. 

I ended up working a lot inside of my cabin in my pajamas or loungewear. It would've been nice to have two more t-shirts and and pairs of athletic shorts, as I only wore my cover up twice. It wasn't the everyday staple I thought it would be.

Portable charger

Another item I wish I brought (and still need to purchase) is a portable charger. This was my first solo cruise, and I didn't realize how much time I would been spending off the ship by myself. 

When I decided to explore Water Island near St. Thomas, my phone barely survived the six hours I was off of the ship. I was constantly using it for photos and taking notes. I never want to be that close to having my phone die while off by myself again!

Even when on the ship, I returned to my cabin each night with less than 10% of battery remaining. I know this is something I definitely need to purchase before my next weeklong cruise in February. 

Cash on cruise ship

Finally, I made a rookie cruise mistake and did not bring any small bills.

My ATM fee ended up being over $16, including both Royal Caribbean's fee and my bank's fee. While not necessarily relevant to packing in a carry-on sized bag, this is just something I wish I had done in route to the airport. 

Why I'm glad I didn't have a larger checked bag


It's not a surprise that Ubers to any New York City airport cost an arm and a leg (I've seen rates over $70 before tip for a one-way ride), so I try to take public transportation for only $2.75 as much as I can. 

For my last cruise in May, I had to lug a 48lb bag from my apartment to my local station and through a connecting one to catch the bus to LaGuardia. There were elevators available, but I opted to carry the bag up and down multiple sets of stairs, as it was quicker than waiting on the slow, old elevator. 

This time, it was much easier to navigate transferring between different trains and buses with a smaller suitcase and single backpack. 


Additionally, when I got to the airport, I found out that my flight was indefinitely delayed due to a maintenance issue. I was supposed to board the plane around 5:40pm, but the departure time kept getting pushed back. First to 6:40pm, then 7:10, 7:50pm, and finally 8:24pm.

The only reason we left when we did is because we were able to use another aircraft. There's not telling how long we would've been delayed if we waited on the maintenance issue to be resolved. At one point, an agent even suggested that I go on standby for another flight in case the flight was cancelled. 

Hence I was glad that I had a carry-on bag. It allowed me to be flexible with flight options! 

Final thoughts


Packing for a weeklong trip with only a single carry-on and personal item wasn't as tough as I made it out to be; however, knowing what I know now, there are some ways that I'd change how I pack with limited space in the future, such as focusing more on comfortable clothing rather than evening wear.

I'm surprised that I packed stuff that I ended up not wearing, so I learned that I can get away with less clothing than I initially thought.  

Allure of the Seas at the gangway

Plus, I was able to easily wheel my luggage off during self-assist disembarkation and keep my belongings with me all the time, rather than placing them in the hallway the night before departure.

Even when I do travel with a checked bag, I can apply some lessons that I learned from this experience to become a more efficient packer!

Traveling with a finite amount of space isn't an easy task, especially if you're used to overpacking. In a way, though, it does simplify your trip and make you focus on what's most important: making memories with friends, both new and old, and family. 

The 10 best-selling cruise ship products our readers couldn’t stop buying in 2022

31 Dec 2022

There's so many great travel products out there, so how do you know which ones are truly the best? 

Woman with carry-on suitcase

It seems like every year there's more gadgets, devices, and useful tools you can bring on a cruise, from carry-on bags, to chargers, to appliances. Suffice to say, there's a lot to choose from.

I polled the Royal Caribbean Blog readers in our wonderful message board community to get a sense of which of these products they cannot go on a cruise without.

Please note that I linked to each item on Amazon which contains an affiliate link. This affiliate link costs you absolutely nothing extra, but I make a small commission if you purchase it.

If you’re looking to boost your travel arsenal before heading off on your first cruise of 2023, consider one of these reader favorites.

Anker 6 Port USB Charging Station

$24.99 at Amazon

Anker 6 Port USB Charging Station

Did you know that Royal Caribbean will confiscate surge protectors or power strips?

If your family is anything like mine, you'll have plenty of electronics that need to be charged during your cruise and a USB hub is critical.

A USB hub will take up one electrical outlet in your cabin, while providing six new USB outlets you can use to keep everything charging at once.

Royal Caribbean Luggage Tag Holders

$11.99 at Amazon

Luggage tag holders

When you print your Royal Caribbean luggage tags, you'll need to attach them to your luggage.  Since they are made out of paper, it's easy for them to rip or get accidently torn off.

Plastic sleeves will ensure it is far less likely for your luggage tags to get ripped off, and they're re-useable for many cruises to come.

Wyze Luxury Night Lights

$22 at Amazon

Wyze Luxury Night Lights

If you've ever tried to get out of bed at night in your Royal Caribbean cruise cabin once all the lights are out, you know how dark the room can get (especially if you're an inside cabin).

Battery operated night nights mean you can easily get around the room without keeping a light on that makes it more difficult to fall asleep (or have to turn one on that blinds you).

Plus, these are motion-activated. So the light is off unless you need it.

GREATMAG Magnetic Hooks

$11.99 at Amazon

One of the best tips for your cabin is to buy magnetic hooks to use for adding additional storage in your room.

Your cabin walls are metallic, which means you place magnetic hooks just about anywhere.

Storage space on Royal Caribbean ships is notoriously low, and magnetic hooks provide convenient ways to hang clothes and accessories.

Poo-Pouri Spray

$12.53 at Amazon

Poo-Pouri Spray

We're keeping it real: everyone goes to the bathroom eventually and if you're sharing a cabin with just about anyone, you'll want to cover up the evidence.

Whether family or friends they are cruising with, our readers pack a bottle of Poo-Pouri to ensure their cabin bathroom is inviting for all.

Liquid IV

$24.99 at Amazon

Liquid IV

I had never even heard of this item, but a few readers really recommend packing something like Liquid IV to stay hydrated onboard.

The product is a daily electrolyte drink mix that promises to keep you hydrated faster than water alone, and has a better taste than plain water.  

Hyc00 Travel Duffel Bag

$22.99 at Amazon

Hyc00 Travel Duffel Bag

Our readers really like taking a carry-on bag with them that they can re-use at any point during the cruise.

A "catch all" or "carry on" bag allows them to keep travel documents and essentials with them on embarkation day, and it can double as a carry-on bag for their flight to the cruise.

Ziploc bags

$10.84 at Amazon

Ziploc bags

Between the magnetic hooks and ziploc bags, these two items would win the most popular travel product our readers loved.

Ziploc bags have so many uses on a cruise. It can keep clothes dry, protect your phone, serve as a travel mechanism for snacks, store wet clothes, and so much more.

Pinzon Premium Packing Cubes

$26.99 at Amazon

Packing cubes

I had to include packing cubes on this list, even if I don't personally use them.

Our readers love the idea of packing cubes because it helps make the packing, unpacking, and re-packing during a cruise simpler.

Apple AirTag 4-Pack

$99 at Amazon

Close up of AirTag

Ever since I tried AirTags out on a cruise, I can see why our readers love these things.

Our readers loved adding these small devices to their checked baggage to keep track of where their belongings were during the boarding process. It was even more helpful when flying to their cruise.

More information

What to pack for a Bahamas cruise

25 May 2022

A cruise to the Bahamas offers a classic Caribbean cruise experience. From snorkeling in crystal clear waters to spending the day at Perfect Day at CocoCay, there’s always something to enjoy in the Bahamas.

Packing for a cruise efficiently means you can enjoy your vacation as much as possible without having to worry about forgetting essential items or lugging around extra weight.

From packing lightweight clothing to remembering sunscreen and comfortable shoes, here is our list of the top items to pack on a cruise to the Bahamas.

Breathable, casual clothing

Lightweight fabrics are key on a Bahamas cruise, where you’ll encounter warm temperatures nearly all year round. Heavy fabrics and non-breathable clothing are not recommended unless you plan on overheating!

Lightweight shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, sundresses, and rompers are all acceptable clothing options in the Bahamas. Packing loose-fitting clothing is recommended over tight, restrictive outfits to ensure you remain comfortable.

It can also be fun to pack colorful, tropical patterned clothing to fully immerse yourself in vacation-mode. Leave the boring, black clothes at home and opt for a floral sundress or Hawaiian-print shirt instead.

If you opt to wear only a swimsuit and coverup, be sure to pack a change of clothes or a lightweight dress to throw over your swimsuit. It’s common courtesy to wear real clothing if you spend time walking around port and entering local businesses after the beach. 


Packing footwear for a Bahamas cruise can be a bit challenging, as you want to ensure your shoes are comfortable for walking through town and also for the beach.

Flip flops are acceptable to wear both on the beach and in Bahamian ports, but reconsider wearing flip flops if you plan to do a lot of walking. Sturdier sandals with an ankle strap, such as Chacos, will fare more comfortably during a port day with various activities.

If your only goal is to go from cruise ship to beach with little walking in between, flip flops will be totally fine.

Sneakers can be a solid footwear option for comfortability, but they aren’t the best choice for a beach day. If you want to wear sneakers, consider packing sandals in your daypack so you can change shoes once at the beach.

Evening and formal wear

In between colorful shirts, shorts, and a swimsuit, don’t forget to pack for evening wear you’ll need once you get back onboard the ship.

While you can choose to eat at casual restaurants like the buffet every night of the cruise, if you want to eat in the Main Dining Room or specialty restaurants you should dress in clothing a bit nicer than what you wore to the beach.

Slacks, collared shirts, polos, jumpsuits, dresses, skirts, and blouses are all acceptable outfits for the dining room and restaurants onboard. Additionally, your cruise may have at least one formal night, so packing your best formal wear can be a good idea.

While dress codes are not strictly enforced, it’s common practice to pack a few nice outfits for evenings onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Read more: What to wear on a cruise ship formal night

Water-resistant daypack


Our top recommended accessory for a Bahamas cruise is a water-resistant daypack. A good daypack is extremely valuable to have, as it offers a safe place to store your phone, camera, wallet, ID, and SeaPass card while on shore.

As it is common to encounter rain in the Bahamas, even if only for a few minutes at a time, having a water-resistant daypack will cause less concern over your electronics and valuables being damaged.

Some daypacks even have “hidden” pockets that rest against your back, which can offer extra security when walking through busy port areas.

Miscellaneous accessories

Once you have your water-resistant daypack, be sure to pack it full of accessories that will come in handy on your cruise, whether onboard or on shore.

Sunscreen is of utmost importance on a Bahamas cruise, so remember to apply it regularly throughout the day. If you run out of sunscreen or forget it altogether, you can purchase extra onboard, but it will come at a higher price than at home.

Sunglasses and a sun hat are also important to ensure you remain covered, cool, and comfortable. If you plan on reading while at the beach, don’t forget to put your e-reader or book in your daypack as well.

If you booked an excursion in the Bahamas that requires traveling on a small boat (i.e. a catamaran tour), be sure to pack medication like Dramamine if you are prone to motion sickness. While your cruise ship will have stabilizers to reduce motion, it’s common to feel the seas much more on a smaller boat.

Bahamas cruise in winter

If you’re traveling to the Bahamas in the winter months, we recommend packing a few outfits to keep you warm in case of chilly weather. While you’ll likely encounter sunny skies and comfortable temperatures, short “cold” stretches can appear in the winter months.

Having a lightweight cardigan or pair of jeans on hand will be helpful in case of unexpectedly cold weather.

Packing list for a Bahamas cruise

Now that you know the basics of what to pack for a Bahamas cruise, use this list as a reference point when it comes time to pack:

  • 1-2 swimsuits
  • 2-3 pairs of lightweight shorts, preferably one pair of “nicer” shorts like jean shorts and one casual, lightweight pair
  • Casual, lightweight t-shirts or tank tops (1-2 shirts per day of your cruise)
  • 1-2 sundresses or rompers (for ladies)
  • Evening wear (slacks, blouses, etc.)
  • Lightweight cardigan or jacket for winter months
  • Water-resistant daypack
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hat (straw hat, baseball cap, etc.)
  • Beach toys if traveling with kids
  • 1 pair of flip flops
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of sandals with an ankle strap (Chacos or similar)
  • 1 pair of formal shoes for dinner
  • Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash)
  • Hairbrush, razors, and other personal hygiene products
  • Book or ereader
  • Underwear and pajamas
  • Lightweight socks

More packing tips:

What can you not bring on a cruise

01 Jun 2020

When you pack for a Royal Caribbean cruise, you may want to bring all the comforts of home so that your stay at sea is just like being on land, but you should be aware there are some important rules about what you cannot bring on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

For the safety and well-being of all guests, certain items are prohibited from being brought on a cruise, and it will save you time (and embarrassment) by being aware of what you can and cannot bring on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

During the check-in process, security will scan all luggage (both checked and carry-on), and if they spot an item that meets the criteria, they can confiscate it and return it to you after the cruise concludes.


If there is one item that I see confiscated the most on Royal Caribbean's prohibited items list, it is household appliances.

Coffee makers, clothing irons, travel steamers, electric kettles and hot plates are not allowed to be brought onboard. These items pose a fire hazard, so you will have to send out for laundry via dry cleaning and rely on Royal Caribbean for your morning cup of coffee.

Candles and anything you can light on fire

Fire is the number one danger onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise, so anything that can generate a flame is prohibited.

This includes, candles, incense, flammable liquids and explosives (including lighter fluid and fireworks), hookahs and water hookah pipes.


Firearms & Ammunition (including realistic replicas), knives, scissors, martial arts, self defense equipment, sports gear (including handcuffs, pepper spray, night sticks) are all prohibited from being brought on Royal Caribbean.

Personal grooming items such as safety razors are allowed. Scissors with blade length less than 4 inches are allowed.

Sporting goods

Royal Caribbean does allow the following items to be brought onboard, but they must be stored in your stateroom and not used onboard the ship:

  • Baseball Bats
  • Hockey Sticks
  • Cricket Bats
  • Golf clubs
  • Skateboards
  • Surfboards
  • Bicycles


While it may not surprise you that illegal drugs and substances are banned from Royal Caribbean CBD oil and CBD products are also prohibited. 

Even if you have a legally prescribed dose of marijuana, you cannot bring or smoke pot, edibles, cartridges onboard. Medicinal use is not permitted, and can result in serious legal troubles since Federal drug laws apply.


While Royal Caribbean does allow you to bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom, any other alcohol is strictly forbidden.

Any alcohol you purchase onboard the ship or in a port will be stored by Royal Caribbean, and then returned to you on the last day onboard to be brought home.

Alcoholic beverages seized on embarkation day will not be returned.

You are also allowed to bring small quantities of non-alcoholic beverages in a carry-on or hand luggage onboard only on boarding day. Specifically, non-alcoholic beverages brought onboard may not exceed 12 standard (17 oz) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom. Distilled water or specialized beverages such as, milk for medical purposes, dietary or infant use, are permitted.

Gadgets & toys

It may seem like a great idea to bring your favorite electronics with you, but certain ones are prohibited because they are a fire hazard or may annoy other guests.

You may not bring hoverboards, HAM radios or baby monitors onboard.

You should also be aware that electrical extension cords are also prohibited.  Instead, consider bringing a USB hub device to keep your devices charged up. Be aware that surge protectors, especially, are prohibited.

Guests may bring drones on their cruise to be used on land only, and outside the port area.  Drones may not be operated onboard the ship at any time, nor on Royal Caribbean’s private destinations: CocoCay, Bahamas or Labadee, Haiti.

Everything else

There are a few other items that Royal Caribbean does not allow you to bring onboard that do not fit under any other category, so here they are:

  • Perishable Food & Meat Products
    • The only food that can be brought on board must be sealed and prepackaged.
  • Dangerous Chemicals, including bleach and paint

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - What to pack for a Royal Caribbean cruise

19 Feb 2020

Listen to the Show

Packing for a cruise is a great source of anxiety for some. To help simplify the packing process, this week's episode is dedicated to helping spell out exactly what you need to pack for your cruise.

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:

The worst cruise packing mistakes to avoid

16 Jan 2020

You will start packing for your cruise in the days leading up to the ship's departure, and whether it is your first cruise or twentieth, packing is never a simple task.

Mistakes happen, and I have the top ten cruise packing mistakes not to make!

Bringing a prohibited item

Probably the most common packing mistake is packing something that Royal Caribbean prohibits you from taking onboard. Alcohol, drugs, weapons and more are not allowed.  

Be sure to check the list of what is and what is not allowed to be brought onboard on Royal Caribbean’s website.

Putting important documents in checked luggage

You may know to bring the proper documentation with you on a cruise, like a passport or birth certificate, but be sure not to put it in your checked luggage.

The luggage you give the porters at the cruise terminal to be delivered to your room will take hours to get to your room. 

If your passport is in your checked luggage, it means a big problem with checking into your cruise. Be sure to always carry your important documents with you, or put it in a carry-on bag.

Not protecting against leaks

If you are particular about the brand of shampoo, soap or other important liquids or gels you need, be sure to guard against leaks that can ruin clothes and other things in your luggage.

Luggage gets tossed around easily, and if something explodes, it can really mess things up. Consider getting TSA approved and leak proof containers, or simply put these items in a zip lock bag.

Bringing medicine

If you have medicine you need to take regularly, be sure to first and foremost bring enough not just for the duration of the cruise, but for a few days thereafter. You never know if you will encounter a travel delay.

In addition, be sure to keep your medicine in a carry-on bag.  This guards against a lost bag creating a health issue with not having enough medicine.

Forgetting formal wear

In the grand scheme of forgetting important pieces of clothing, I think forgetting formal wear, as well as clothing to wear out at night, is an easy one to overlook.

Despite the name, formal night isn’t that formal, but you do need clothing to wear that looks nice and is appropriate for the themed evenings of your cruise.

Consult a past Cruise Compass for your ship and sailing to get an idea of what themed evenings will be offered, and pack accordingly. 

Not unpacking soon enough

Once you get in your cabin and your luggage is delivered, be sure to unpack to prevent clothes from getting wrinkled.

It is easy to leave your bags packed for a while as you explore the ship, but neglecting clothes that can wrinkle easily (especially on the first night of your cruise) can lead to some embarrassing moments.

Remember, there is no self-service laundry or irons on Royal Caribbean, so unpack sooner than later.


I admit, I’m an overpacker and do it often.  

While overpacking is not the end of the world, you do want to avoid going overboard with packing.  

To avoid overpacking, download a packing list, use packing cubes for better organization and think through exactly what you really will (and will not) need for your cruise.

Forgetting a jacket

I am guilty of this one all the time, because I live in Florida where it’s generally warm year-round. But if you are taking a cruise in the winter months, or perhaps a cruise up north, it is easy to overlook bringing a jacket.

Cold fronts do occur in the tropics, and of course cruises to Canada and New England, even in the fall months, can still get some chilly temperatures.

Consider bringing A lightweight, easy-to-roll jacket that's still warm.


This is totally one I have failed at time and time again. Bring enough socks of various varieties.

Dress socks, athletic socks, low cut, whatever. Bring the kind of socks for formal night, as well as activities onboard and onshore. 

Keep in mind activities like ice skating or rock climbing require you bring your own socks, and athletic socks are easily overlooked when planning a warm Caribbean cruise.

Forgetting to leave out something to wear on the last day

There’s always someone who misses this last tip, and that is to make sure you do not pack all your clothes on the last day of the cruise.

On the last night of the cruise, guests pack their bags and leave the bags out to be delivered in the cruise terminal.  This makes disembarkation easier.

The issue is, some people pack everything, and that means they do not leave themselves a spare set of clothes to wear off the ship.   It seems there is always one family who wear their pajamas off the ship because they forgot.

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