26 Cruise Packing Hacks That Will Make You Love Your Space

Updated on July 1, 2019
Deb Vesco Roberts profile image

I'm always looking for savvy ways to make travel and packing easier. Here's some tricks I think you'll love!

These essentials will take the stress out of packing for a cruise!
These essentials will take the stress out of packing for a cruise! | Source

26 Helpful Items to Make Cruising Better

If you're preparing for your first cruise or you're a seasoned cruiser who wants to make better use of your small cabin space, I have tried and true hacks just for you!

Not knowing what's provided, available for purchase, or if there is ample space to stow everything you wish to bring, can leave you tired of packing and unpacking. Taking along these handy essentials will simplify the packing process and keep your little space tidy and well organized.

The following items are quick and easy to stash in the shoe organizer shown below. These are my personal recommendations of must-have items that will help your cruise go off without a hitch. Here's everything you need for a stress-free and organized cruise!

To pack and organize your tiny necessities, check out my other handy packing hack no cruiser should sail without!

Shown on inside of cabin closet door. Can be hung on adjoining cabin or bathroom doors, or on a wall using magnetic hooks.
Shown on inside of cabin closet door. Can be hung on adjoining cabin or bathroom doors, or on a wall using magnetic hooks. | Source

Storage and Organization

1. Over-the-Door Shoe Holder. I can't say enough how handy, compact, and lightweight this organizer is! If you take anything away from what I'm about to share with you, this is it! Keep your shoes, snorkel gear, hair-iron, hats, and all the luxury items I'm about to share, organized and easy to grab and go. Your cabin attendant will thank you for a tidy cabin and you'll love the ability to live and relax in a clutter-free room!

2. Heavy Neodymium Magnetic Hooks. These are great to hang your charging cables, lanyards, and wet bathing suits. The walls of your cabin are metal--yes, you read that right, metal--so these can be hung anywhere and used in many different ways.

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Gear

3. Compressible Backpack. There is nothing worse than not having a way to carry your island purchases or beach essentials. We love these light, thin, water-resistant packable backpacks. They pack up tight like a rain poncho, yet hold a cruise-ship-issued beach towel or even a bottle of your favorite island spirits.

4. Insulated water bottle. This will be key to hydration, especially if you do not buy the cruise's beverage package. We take our Yeti 20 oz. tumblers (with the Magslider lid option--spend the extra $10 for this feature) as they are the bomb for piping hot coffee and iced beverages at the pool deck or on our balcony.

5. Lightweight beach sand blanket. One thing you'll find on the islands is a huge push to charge you for beach chairs and umbrellas. This can cost anywhere from $20–$40 for two chairs and an umbrella, depending on the island and location. We take this oversized, parachute-fabric blanket since we know ahead of time our beach time is limited as we explore most of the islands on foot.

6. Water Shoes. Snorkeling is fun. A slice on your foot from a sea urchin or sharp coral is not. Take along some water shoes for any seaside wading, swimming, or snorkeling you might do.

7. Rain Poncho or Compact Umbrella. The weather seems to be unpredictable when cruising, so pack for precipitation when walking around the ports of call as the rain comes and goes without warning.

8. Your Own Snorkeling Gear. Whether on a paid excursion or exploring on your own at the nearby beaches and coves, you can be prepared, sanitary, and comfortable using your own gear that's adjusted to fit you. We prefer fog-free, panoramic masks, and dry snorkels. You can get very nice sets on Amazon that are quite affordable.

Handy Tools

9. Small Corkscrew. It took two cruises to bring wine on board (purchased locally prior to boarding) to learn I had no way to open it to finally learn my lesson. I had a hard time finding a corkscrew I could keep in my carry-on, so I was excited when I stumbled across this TSA-approved one. Save yourself the hassle and get this little guy for the wine you're permitted to bring onboard or that you may buy and consume while visiting the islands. Even though this is TSA-approved, they may still ask you to take it out for inspection. Stow it in an easily-accessible side pocket if taking carry-on luggage.

10. Outlet and USB Port Extender The ships are equipped with both US and EU options, but outlets are limited to two by the desk/vanity area. Since we both take our laptops, cell phones, and fitness watches, two outlets don't cut it. If you opt for a different one, be sure it is a non-surge type, otherwise, it'll be confiscated. The outlets are mounted low to the top of the counter, so you'll want one long and narrow like this one.

11. Water-proof cell phone case. Our phones are an important daily necessity we're rarely without. Keep yours clean and dry at the pool or beach by using a water-proof case. (be sure to do the recommended water test first). Your phone can also double as a great under-water camera with this protective case. It's perfect for snorkeling or snapping photos in the water. It also has a wrist strap for added safety. I've tried several and this one works the best for the money.

Clothing Care

12. Tide or Bleach Pen. This will be key when you need to clean up that wine you spill on yourself!

13. Laundry Bag or Pop-Up Hamper. This will help you keep your clean items separate from your dirty, sandy ones.

14. Lint Roller. Everyone's pet hair becomes your pet hair.

15. Safety Pins. These are great for quick repairs and mishaps you don't want to sew. I pack a variety of sizes that can hold up a hem, replace a button on pants, or repair a bra strap.

Health and Wellness

16. Chlorox Healthcare Hospital Grade Disinfectant Wipes. I wipe down the shelves, drawers, desktop, bathroom counter, nightstand, and doorknobs before unpacking a single thing. A virus-free cruise is a happy cruise. To kill the big bugs like Noro and Rota Virus, the ones that hit cruise ships fast and hard, you'll need the strongest wipes available and these are it.

17. A Small First Aid Kit and Over-the-Counter Meds. Though you hope your cruise goes without incident, it's wise to come prepared. I recommend bringing something for headaches, diarrhea, motion sickness, and indigestion, as well as band-aids, butterfly closures, antibiotic ointment, and sunburn gel. It's not always fast nor easy to get in to see the nurse or doctor on board and you'll pay a pretty penny for these items at the ship's store. I once hit my head on the ship's railing when my chair was too close as I popped up to grab my hat before it blew away. I was not able to find anyone in the infirmary to fix my gash and the butterfly closures and antibiotic ointment saved the day. Being a nurse helped too!

18. Several Travel-Size Sunscreens. Being sunburned on your cruise is just awful, so be sure to use plenty of sunscreens. The smaller-sized containers are less cumbersome and decrease your pack weight when leaving the ship.

Miscellany

19. Gallon-Size Ziploc-Type Freezer Bags and space-saver bags. These are perfect for wet clothing, leaky bottles, collecting shells, and to keep personal items dry and sand-free. You'll find numerous uses for these throughout your cruise. The Space-saver bags are heavier and handy to use, especially on the return trip home when you'll most likely need more space liquor and other souvenirs!

20. Liquid Hand Soap and a Potent Hand Sanitizer. This is much better than using that tiny bar of soap provided in your cabin. Even though you did the "washy washy" ritual as you entered the restaurant, you'll be touching the menu, serving spoons, and other surfaces prior to eating. I recommend this spray to disinfect your hands again before touching your food. Take it from someone who's entire family of six got Norwalk virus on a cruise!

21. Towel Clips for Your Beach Chair. Clothespins pop off and Amazon has a wonderful variety of fancy, colorful, larger-sized towel clips that are bigger and more sturdy to withstand the high winds. These are also great for hanging your swimsuits to dry.

22. Sea Pass Neck Lanyard. You'll need to keep your Sea Pass with you at all times, and it's nice not to have to dig it out of your bag each time you need it! Amazon has quite a large selection.

23. Bubble Wrap. This is very handy for packing and protecting your purchased alcohol and souvenirs.

24. $1 Dollar Bills. These are handy for easily tipping the luggage porters upon your arrival to the port and for incidentals while on the islands.

25. Highlighter. You'll find many uses for a highlighter, from marking what you want to do on the Cruise Compass to filling in your BINGO cards.

26. Portable Fan to Block Noise. The nightlife runs into the wee hours and people are less than mindful of their voices and heavy feet when navigating the hallways. We love this to block the sounds of the hallway stampedes.

Source

I hope you're motivated and enlightened by my tips and tricks that will prepare you for the perfect cruise experience! Be sure to stop back often as I keep this list current and add or change up items as the needs arise. I'd love for you to follow me here so you'll be in the know when I post new cruising tips and advice, ship reviews, and more great packing hacks.

Any Other Helpful Suggestions?

This is my personal list, but I'm open to hearing suggestions for other helpful items or tips you might have as well!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • I will be sailing to the Caribbean, and I am concerned about sea sickness. Do you have any tips?

    First off, are you prone to motion sickness when traveling by car? If the answer is no, you will most likely be fine at sea. When we cruise, we find that the waters are relatively calm during January, as it's post-hurricane/tropical storm season. I only experienced motion sickness once, and that was en route to Bermuda during Hurricane Isabelle, and it lasted one day before I finally acclimated without the need for any interventions. You can take some Bonine with you, get some Sea Bands, or have your doctor prescribe a patch. But be warned that alcohol will interfere with the action of these medications and could make you sick that way. We took our neighbors this past January on their first cruise, and they were so sure they would be motion sick, they donned patches the second they boarded, against my better advice. The first night, the husband was basically confined to his cabin with flu-like symptoms, felt better the next day, but for two days on, was seeing double and could not read the menus. (they had the alcohol package and were making good use of it). Finally, on day three, I told them both to ditch the patches and trust me. They both immediately started to feel "normal" and that evening said they'd never use them again! So, my advice is, take the meds with you and only use if you are feeling bad and not acclimating. Most of all, don't think about the movement, just enjoy it and relax and breathe...our minds are our own worst enemy! I would get acupressure bands, as they are non-medicated. Try them first, then move on to about half the recommended Bonine dose, and work your way up. It causes drowsiness, and that is no fun.

© 2018 Debra Roberts

Comments

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    • profile image

      Thuy 

      5 weeks ago

      I’ve never been on a cruise before! I’d definitely bring the over the door shoe organizer and I never thought of bringing my own snorkel gear, but that’s such a great idea

    • profile image

      Erica (The Prepping Wife) 

      5 weeks ago

      I've never been on a cruise, so I would have no idea what to pack before reading this post. I find this especially true for the shoe rack to hang over the door. I'm always packing too many things, so this list will be invaluable when I do embark on my very first cruise.

    • profile image

      Live Learn Better 

      5 weeks ago

      Great and informative post you have here. I'll keep this bookmarked for any cruise plans in the future.

    • profile image

      Lindsay Brown 

      5 weeks ago

      Wow this is an awesome list! Ive never been on a cruise but have always wanted to. I've always felt that there is something very glamourous about cruising. Especially if one is as well equipped as you are when packing! I love the over the door shoe holder idea. This would work well for any vacation too! I will definitley be keeping your list in mind for my next trip!

    • profile image

      trish veltman 

      5 weeks ago

      Comprehensive list of necessary items - I've never beenb on a cruise but I imagine the cabins are pretty small so those space-saving tips are very useful!

    • profile image

      sharon wu 

      5 weeks ago

      to be honest i am not the biggest fan of cruises when it comes to vacationing, BUT my parents LOVE it. i will have to share these packing tips and essentials with them for their next cruise!

    • profile image

      Snehal 

      5 weeks ago

      That portable fan for block unnecessary noise is something new to me. And it is so cool! I would like to check it out. Very informative post for those planning a cruise trip. :)

    • profile image

      Lyosha 

      5 weeks ago

      awesome tips! magnetic hooks are golden! such a fab idea! i wish I knew it before because I am sure I will enjoy my cruise way more now!

    • profile image

      Luna S 

      6 weeks ago

      This is wonderful! Many of these I would have never thought to bring with but they all sound so helpful, thanks for putting this together and sharing it with all of us.

    • profile image

      Tracy @ Cleland Clan 

      2 months ago

      This is a really extensive list! I'll definitely be pinning it to reread before our next cruise. I would never have thought to bring bubble wrap--what a great suggestion!

    • profile image

      Ntensibe Edgar Michael 

      2 months ago

      Hhhhmmmmm....good one here! I have pinned it for when that time comes. Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      Shannon Dewease 

      2 months ago

      What amazing tips! This informative post will no doubt make any travellers packing for a cruise easier and lighter. Ive never been on a cruise, however, its on my bucket list. So, when the time comes, thanks to you, I'll know exactly what to pack!

    • profile image

      Deepa Jaisingh 

      2 months ago

      That's such a good informative post on Cruising as I myself is planning to do my first cruising this year, this list will come in handy.

    • profile image

      pbj Happy Dogs 

      2 months ago

      Thank you for the great packing tips. We will be using them on our next trip.

    • twoguyswhoblog profile image

      Scott DeNicola and Vinne Monaco 

      3 months ago from New York

      Very useful post for any cruiser out there. With the size of cabins, it's best to maximize your space in any way possible! And definitely bring your own snorkeling gear for obvious reasons. :) Disinfectant wipes are a big one too. I will certainly use these on my next cruise expedition.

    • profile image

      Hollysbirdnest 

      5 months ago

      Great post! We all can use this for any traveling!! Thank you!

    • profile image

      Tammy Staley 

      5 months ago

      This is a great list, I have never been on a cruise but i think this list would be very helpful! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Mary Beth 

      5 months ago

      I love the idea of the compressible bags. I have those and hadn't thought of those. I would also add BUG SPRAY! OMG! I got eaten alive at one beach along the way. Of course, we were there at twilight when the bugs are at their worst. Great list though. :-)

    • profile image

      Ntensibe Edgar 

      5 months ago

      Hhhhmmmm...this list is quite long but spelt out well enough. Mostly, I was struck by the safety pins and how important they are, while on water, you know.

    • profile image

      Nero 

      5 months ago

      This has got to be the most comprehensive list I’ve ever seen, of items to take with you on a cruise. I think out of this list, I’ve only brought sunblock with me on a cruise.

    • profile image

      Donna of The Upward Blip 

      8 months ago

      I have never been to any cruise and would really love to experience it one of these days or maybe when the kids are older. These are great for the inexperienced like myself! Thank you so much for the tips!

      P.S. Your amazon links look cool!

    • profile image

      Keke 

      8 months ago

      Great tips! We’ve only been on a couple of cruises, but hope to do more in the future. Would have never thought of several things on your list.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      9 months ago from UK

      Thanks for the information. I will check it out.

    • Deb Vesco Roberts profile imageAUTHOR

      Debra Roberts 

      9 months ago from Ohio

      Liz, you first need to set up an Amazon Affiliate account with Amazon (using your existing account or a new one if you don't have one). They you link your affiliate i.d. with your HP earnings account. Once it's setup and approved, you can add products to your blogs as long as they are discussed and relevant to your blog post. I hope this helps get you started. It took a bit of trial and error to get it to work, but I have had a few people buy things using my link, so it's working!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      9 months ago from UK

      How did you set about doing your Anazon links?

    • Deb Vesco Roberts profile imageAUTHOR

      Debra Roberts 

      9 months ago from Ohio

      I know, right? Live and learn! I am pleasantly surprised to see that people are actually ordering many of the items I suggested and linked to Amazon! This was a fun post to put together for sure!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      9 months ago from UK

      Great list. I laughed at the corkscrew and bubblewrap. I take them wherever I go. Nothing worse than a corked bottle with no means of opening it! The bubblewrap works wonders in keeping bottles intact in a suitcase in the hold of a plane.

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