26 Cruise Packing Hacks That Will Make You Love Your Space
26 Helpful Items to Make Cruising Better
Whether preparing for your first cruise or tenth, you'll love organizing your small cabin space with my tried-and-true hacks! Bringing these handy essentials simplifies the packing process and keeps your small area tidy and organized.
The following items are quick and easy to stash in a shoe organizer and are my top recommendations of must-have items for a stress-free, organized cruise!
To pack and organize your small necessities, check out my other handy packing hack you won't want to miss!
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-irons, hats, and 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 and doors of your cabin are metal--yes, you read that right, metal--so these can be hung anywhere and used in many different ways.
3. Compressed Backpack. There's 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 compactly 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. A reusable, insulated bottle is key to optimal hydration, especially if you don't buy the cruise's beverage package. We take our Yeti 20 oz. Tumblers (with the "Magslider" lid option). They are the bomb for piping hot coffee or iced beverages at the pool deck or on your balcony.
5. Lightweight beach sand blanket. One thing you'll find on many of the islands is pressure to charge you a pretty penny for beach chairs and umbrellas which can run from $20–$40 depending on the island and location. We take this oversized, parachute-fabric blanket (with sand stakes) because beach time is often limited as we explore most of the islands on foot or by taxi and hate spending a ton of money for a short time.
6. Water Shoes. Snorkeling is fun. A slice on your foot from a sea urchin or sharp coral isn't. Take along some water shoes for seaside wading, swimming, or snorkeling.
7. Rain Poncho or Compact Umbrella. The weather can be very 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 nearby beaches and coves, be prepared, sanitary, and comfortable with personal gear adjusted to fit you properly. We prefer fog-free, panoramic masks, and dry snorkels. You can get quality sets on Amazon that are quite affordable.
9. Small Corkscrew. It took two cruises to bring wine onboard (purchased locally before boarding) to learn I had no way to open it to learn my lesson finally. 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, the crew will confiscate it until after the cruise. 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 essential daily necessity. 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.
12. Tide or Bleach Pen. A stain remover pen or wipe is key when you need to clean up that wine you spill on yourself!
13. Laundry Bag or Pop-Up Hamper. A place for dirty laundry will help keep clean items separate from the dirty or 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 most reliable 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.
19. Gallon-Size Ziploc-Type Freezer Bags and Space-Saver Bags. These are perfect for wet clothing, leaky bottles, collecting shells, and keeping personal items dry and sand-free. You'll find numerous uses for these throughout your cruise. The Space-saver bags are more substantial and handy to use, especially on the return trip home when you most likely need more space liquor and other souvenirs!
20. Liquid Hand Soap and a Potent Hand Sanitizer. Both are 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 before eating. I recommend this spray to disinfect your hands again before touching your food. Take it from someone whose family of six got Norwalk virus on a cruise!
21. Towel Clips for Your Beach Chair. Clothespins pop off, and Amazon has a wide 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. Bubble wrap is quite handy for packing and protecting your purchased alcohol and souvenirs.
24. 1 Dollar Bills. These are handy for tipping the luggage porters upon arrival to the port and for incidentals 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.
I hope you're enlightened by my tips and tricks to prepare you for the perfect cruise experience! Be sure to stop back often as I keep this list current with the latest and greatest items. I'd love for you to follow me and 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.Helpful 27
Do the cabins have a blow dryer?
Yes, there is a small blow dryer in the drawer of the desk or mounted in the bathroom.Helpful 5
Do you have any suggestions for a non-beach cruise? ie: Alaska?
What a fantastic question! I am going on an Alaskan cruise next July, so I hadn't considered this until now. I will certainly give this thought and create a section for non-beach cruises! Please bookmark my article and check back in a few weeks once I've had a chance to ponder this!Helpful 4
Were you able to take a curling iron or hair straightener on the MSC Seaside? I have read on their rules that they are not allowed. I’ve also seen posts from women that say they were able to take and keep theirs and others that say no they do not allow them. I’m confused! We’re leaving in the near future and I don’t know if I should pack a straightener or not.
© 2018 Debra Roberts