25 Things You Never Knew To Pack For A Cruise

25 things you never knew to pack for a cruise2

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Everybody is a first time cruiser at one point, with no idea about what you should really pack for a cruise. I remember searching the web for packing lists and ideas and the basic ones were easy to find. But once I got on ship, I’d need something that wasn’t obvious to me at home and so obvious once in my stateroom.

Here’s  the Ultimate Packing List to get you started (printable) coming soon!.

25 things you never knew to pack for your next cruise, from an experienced cruiser. dishanddelish.com

On my Carnival Sunshine cruise this fall I started making a list of things I absolutely, positively wanted to remember for the next cruise that wouldn’t necessarily be on a packing list. Just remember, all ships are different, even ones by the same cruise line, but here’s a good list to get you thinking and more importantly, better packed and planned.

At the bottom of the list I have my five favorite insider bonus tips, check them out!

 20 Things You Never Knew To Pack For A Cruise (+ 5 Bonus Insider Ideas!)

There's a hidden outlet in your Carnival cruise bathroom after all! dishanddelish.com1. Power strip without surge protector – There is an outlet at the desk and another in the bathroom for electric razors (bet you didn’t know that, the bathroom one is often “hidden” as it was on the 5th floor Sunshine). At a minimum we want to plug in two iPhones, hairdryer, hair straightener and two Kindles. A power strip without surge protector plugged in at the desk maximizes that one outlet.  Instead of having a surge protector, which can cause fires, this power strip has overload protection which means it will turn off if overloaded.  Carnival restricts the use of surge protectors and may confiscate until the end of the trip, if found.  An added bonus are the 3 USB ports for your phones.


2. Clip-on light for make-up – I have yet to be on a ship that offers good lighting to put on eye-makeup. A small clip-on light can be clipped to the desk area to help illuminate your face.


3. Portable light-up magnifying mirror – Not all cruise ships provide magnifying mirrors (and I can’t put on make-up without one!)  One with it’s own light source is a double bonus.  You’ll be taking pictures everywhere you go, you need to make sure mascara looks great before you leave!


4. Air freshener for the bathroom – just trust me.


5.  Travel Coffee Mug – I got this one from Yeti because the color made me happy but a travel coffee mug is a must for us.  Coffee is available all day long in thick white mugs.  However, the coffee cools down quickly in the mugs and you might splash if the ship moves while you’re walking.  A travel mug keeps your coffee hot and where it belongs, in your cup.


6. Travel water bottle – Bottled water is an additional fee on ships (returning cruisers should get a large bottle in their stateroom per guest, but it’s unwieldy to carry around). Water is available in the dining area 24/7, so a travel water bottle allows you to get fresh water to carry with you whenever you’d like.  I loved the looks of this shiny vacuum-insulated water bottle.


7. Black trash bag for dirty clothes – I just put one bag in the bottom of a closet and we put all the dirty clothes in there as we go. Makes for easier packing the last night and easier to know what needs to get washed once home.  Because let’s all just admit it… we bring 4 outfits for every day and only wear 1 or 2 of them each day.


8. Portable small fan – I usually find the air conditioning in staterooms quite satisfactory, but if you’re a light sleeper, a small fan provides some helpful white noise.


9. Earplugs – Also for light sleepers, earplugs will block out hallway noises if you have some unfortunately loud neighbors or are over or above the galley kitchen or are bothered by the deck chairs being moved around during the night.  These earplugs are my absolute favorite so far.


Boca clips do triple duty on a cruise, clamping towels to your beach chair, holding clothes from blowing away and keeping the window curtains shut while sleeping. Dishanddelish.com

Boca Clips are great at triple duty chores while on cruise

10. Towel clips (Boca Clips)  These little gems do triple duty. First, they’re perfect for clipping your towel or clothes onto your lounge chair on the deck or on the beach. Second, when you’ve clipped them on a chair and walk away to swim or play shuffleboard or get something to eat, other people can tell you’re returning for your things. (Sometimes if you only leave a towel behind with no belongings your towel will get moved). And third, I discovered that if I use 2 of them to clip my window curtains together at night, I don’t have light sneaking in the window before I’m ready to wake up.  If it’s out of season, you can still find them on Amazon.


11. Clothes pins – There is a string in the shower area you can pull across to hand wet clothes on to dry. I always throw a couple of clothes pins in my bag so I can maximize how much I can hang up.


12. Small games – You might not play games at home, but for some reason, playing games on a ship just feels right. If you have kids you already know what’s age appropriate for them, but if you’re adults traveling there are a lot of fun adult games to play like Rotten Apples, Exploding Kittens, Superfight, Say Anything, The Game of Things, Deck Around, and the wildly inappropriate Cards Against Humanity.  Check them out on Amazon or search for your own new favorites.


13. Pump hand soap – I have a thing about using liquid soap instead of bar soap at the sink. The cruise ship provides bar soap for the bathroom sink plus shampoo and shower gel in the shower. I’m a little partial to my favorite brands and always want a seashore scent, so I bring a bottle along to use instead.


14. Mini Hand Sanitizers – These are perfect for cruises because I bring a couple mini bottles and throw one in every bag and room. Although the ship has hand santizers and handwashing areas located here and there, it’s just so much easier to lay on your lounge chair and reach in your bag and grab a hand sanitizer in your favorite scent. Bath and Bodyworks started making mini bottles of hand sanitizer a number of years ago and I stash them everywhere I can.


15. Hard Case for Sunglasses – I always make sure to bring a hard case for my sunglasses because when I’m off the ship and might need access to money or a driver’s license, it’s a convenient place to hold important items and no one can tell you don’t have just sunglasses in there. And I know it’s going everywhere with me because I don’t go anywhere without sunglasses.


A. B. C.

16.  Save your skin with umbrellas!  – If you’re fair-skinned like me (I’m a strawberry-blonde with freckles) or have younger children, you understand the need for a great umbrella.  These three options from Sport-Brella were game changers for me!

This red A. Versa-Brella 4-Way Swiveling Sun Umbrella clips onto your lounge chair (also great for strollers and wheelchairs) and can be adjusted in countless different positions.  It’s also longer on one end so you can move the umbrella into the perfect position as the sun moves throughout the day.  I brought this on the Lido deck for my lounge chair on sea days and had no issues or complaints and it also didn’t bother other passengers.

This blue B. Sport-Brella Portable All-Weather and Sun Umbrella is perfect for the beach.  There’s no guarantee I’m going to get a clam shell (and honestly, when the sun moves, they are often too unwieldy to move to the perfect position) so I bring this instead.  I don’t have to stress about trying to get there early to grab or rent a clam shell and I can move it when I please.  It has side panels and wind flaps so I can adjust everything I need to protect my skin.

The C. Sport-Brella XL Umbrella is even larger and can fit 2 adults or multiple children comfortably.  And they all fold up for easy transport!


17. Clock – Bedside clocks have largely disappeared in staterooms. If you like having a clock on your nightstand, you’ll need to bring one with you. I liked this convenient alarm clock radio that has a bluetooth speaker and USB charging port for my phone.


18. Nightlight – Your room will be very dark at night. If you wake up in the middle of the night and would rather not wake the other occupant(s) getting to the bathroom either of these nightlights will help.  This plug in style comes as a set of 6 or try these magnetic, rechargeable LED lights with motion sensing on and off.  They come in a pack of two, so you could place one near the bed and one near the bathroom.


19. Hanging Shoe Bag – The hanging shoe bag is a great catch-all for shoes but you’ll need to use one that has a hook on the top that can be hung from the hook installed on the bathroom door (don’t bring one that hangs over the door, it can scratch). The stateroom actually has a fair bit of storage for two people but if you have more people in your room, or just like to keep things tidy, it’s a great help. You can store all the little things like jewelry, sunscreen, hats, lotion, camera, Post-it pads, pens & highlighter, sunscreen, and make-up.


20. Post-it notes – Leave your travel partner a note on the mirror if you wake up first and go up to grab a coffee and watch the sunrise.  Put a note on your door for your friends letting them know where you are.  Hey, why not just write “You look gorgeous!” and put it on a random door and make someone’s day?  Keep the theme going with these cute aviator beachy Post-it notes.


5 Bonus Insider Tips
Buy a deck of cards in the Carnival cruise casino for $1. Dishanddelish.com

21. Deck of Cards – I promise, you’ll feel compelled to play cards on the ship, even if you don’t at home. Go to the Casino and ask to buy a deck of cards. They’ll sell you a deck that had been used at the casino tables for $1.   If you don’t know how to play cards, here’s a great book to get you started.


Look at the back of the tv for an assortment of HDMI plugs on your Carnival cruise. dishanddelish.com

22. Phone charger – It goes without saying, bring a phone charger! However, if you find you’ve only brought the cord and forgotten the adapter, look at the back of your television. The TV has HDMI and a hookup for your phone cord in the back!




23. Portable DVD player and cables – When you’re in the middle of the ocean it stands to reason that the reception on the tv will frequently go out.  (And it does.) Slip this portable DVD player and some movies into your luggage so you have something to watch while you get ready for dinner or to help the kids settle down.  You can also plug the portable dvd player into the back of the TV!


24. Magnetic white board – Without the use of your phone, how do you find one another? The old fashioned way, of course, you leave notes on people’s doors. Seasoned cruisers like to bring white boards to let their friends know “hey, we’re on the Lido deck”, “went to the Serenity deck, see you at 5 pm”, or “I’ll meet you for football trivia in the Red Frog Pub at 5 PM.”  I especially like this one because it rolls up and has magnetic pens and an eraser.


Change your lock screen to your room number while on a cruise in case you lose your phone. dishanddelish.com

25. Change your phone’s lock screen – We don’t buy wifi on the ship (you’re on vacation, you’re unplugged for a reason!).  I do, however, take my phone with me everywhere to take pictures.  Change your lock screen when you get on board to either your name or your room number.  That way, if you lose your phone, someone can figure out how to return it to you.

(It happened to one of our group last trip!).


Do you have more great tips to add to the list of things to pack for a cruise?  Comment below to share your favorite cruising insights!


1 Comment

  1. Cheryl on January 27, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    I find it’s helpful to also bring:
    Several $1, $5 and $10 bills for tipping people on the island stops. If your tender operators do a great job, its great to be able to tip them, or anyone else on the islands.
    A lightweight bag to use on the boat as a beach bag, especially if you’re traveling with kids.
    My kids love the 24 hour ice cream, but there are no toppings. So sneaking in a shaker of sprinkles makes a nice treat for them. I’ve even had strangers kids present their cones to me for sprinkles too!

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