The 10 Key Items to Pack for a Cruise Trip
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The 10 Key Items to Pack for a Cruise Trip

Ahoy there, packer! When you’re planning for a cruise you’re not just picking items for the weather and itinerary of your destinations, but for life at sea. That usually includes pool days, buffets, formal dinners, and an itty-bitty cabin of your own. While it’s important to check your cruise line and excursion information for any specific dress codes, here are some staples that we think will pair perfectly with any standard cruise.

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Easy, Poolside Flip-Flops: Crocs

A serious step up from the standard dollar-store pair, these flip-flops are your go-anyplace footwear. Jaunts to the pool, to the spa, down a beach, even to public showers are easy and comfortable with these Crocs at the ready. Made of lightweight, flexible, durable material, they have a comfortable gently molded footbed that can stand up to long sunset walks. Our pick? Navy with a nautical white trim. 

$29.99 at Crocs

Sheer, Wearable Sunscreen

Here’s some bummer news: Even if your sailing was nothing but rainy days, you’d still need sunscreen. Those UVA and UVB rays will find you, whether you’re camped out on the pool deck with the sunbeams in full effect or next to a window waiting for the rain to let up. (Don’t worry, mai tais and karaoke are all-weather diversions.) The solution: EltaMD’s sunscreen. This product has a cult following, a 2018 Allure Beauty award, and a shout-out from Drew Barrymore on Instagram. If it’s kept this ‘90s screen queen looking like she’s still in her “Scream” days, then it’s worth adding to your suitcase.

$35 at Dermstore

RELATED: The Ultimate Toiletries Packing Guide


Brightly Colored Lanyard: Vera Bradley

To wear a lanyard, or not to wear a lanyard? This is the eternal question among cruisers on message boards. But once you’re boarded, you’ll find that almost everyone wears one. There’s no denying their practicality, when your sea pass is your credit card, door key, and ID all in one. Many ships will punch a hole right in the card (or will do so on request at guest services), so you don’t even need a clear case. This Vera Bradley one is available in a slew of fun colors and patterns and costs just about as much as the tackier branded ones available onboard.

$25 at Zappos

Reliable Extra Outlets: Universal Travel Adapter, ZGGCD

Mainstream cruise cabins are notorious for their lack of outlets, and power strips are sometimes prohibited. This means when it comes to keeping all your devices charged up, the struggle is real. But there is a workaround. Your cabin is likely to have North American as well as European outlets. Just bring along this adapter, and you’ll have one extra outlet, along with two USB outlets for charging your electronics. (Remember: Adapters are great for charging, but they’ll burnout high-powered devices like electric toothbrushes or hairdryers.)

$10.99 at Amazon

Handy Hanging Toiletry Bag: LL Bean

If you thought your cruise ship cabin was small, steel yourself for the bathroom situation. Most cruise lines have extremely compact sink vanities with minimal surface area. Plus, items set out by the sink can shift in transit. (Cosmetic compact, meet floor.) Thankfully, this bag solves all those problems at once. You’ll have plenty of room for all your lotions and potions. And the vertical hanging space here gives you a mobile medicine cabinet that keeps everything upright and organized. It’s an LL Bean favorite, with over 1,000 reviewers giving it five out of five stars. There’s even a little removable caddy that you can hang in the shower.

$29.95 at L.L.Bean

Sleek Packable Daypack: Eagle Creek

The beauty of cruising is you’ll only unpack once to visit multiple destinations. But for those days ashore, you’ll still want a carryall to hold essentials like sunscreen, raincoats, or layers. This daypack from Eagle Creek features lockable zippers to prevent pickpocketing, breathable padded straps, and a side pocket for a water bottle. It’s lightweight, sleek, and packs down into its own little compartment. Plus, it’s got a lifetime warrantee.

$31.95 at Amazon

RELATED: The 10 Best Carry-On Backpacks for Your Next Flight


Three-Pack Set of Lightweight Tote Bags: BAGGU

This three-pack set of foldable nylon totes is a colorful little lifesaver. Use one to cart sunscreen and reading material to the pool. Use another to pack-up a still-wet swimsuit after a shore excursion. And put the third to use to keep dirty shoes away from evening gowns or as an extra bag when you overdo it on souvenirs. (Doesn’t everyone love a dashboard hula girl?) As an added bonus, these bags fold down into their own little pocket, taking up next to no space. Plus, they come in fun colors and prints, all in ultra lightweight, durable ripstop material. 

$30 at Shopbop

Pretty Cover-Up Dress: Anthropologie

You’re on vacation, so why bother with buttons and zippers? A toss-on dress is guaranteed to make your life easier on a cruise. Throw it over a bathing suit for a quick-change to transition from the sundeck to the buffet (where swimwear is typically prohibited) and you can skip the cabin pit-stop. This one has the feel of a proper sundress with a playful handkerchief hem finished with tassels, but it feels as breezy and light as a beach sarong.

$198 at Anthropologie

Cellphone Dry Bag: JOTO

Anytime you’re mixing pina coladas, pool time, and your phone, you’re taking a risk. Save yourself an emergency trip to the Genius Bar with this pouch. It’s totally waterproof—meaning it’ll actually survive total submersion. Over 20,000 reviewers on Amazon say it works and rave that the pouch can essentially turn a cellphone into an underwater camera. There’s a clear window on both sides and your touchscreen will work through the pouch, so your phone is still functional while tucked inside.

$9.99 at Amazon

Multipurpose One-Piece Swimsuit: Miraclesuit

No cruise packing list is complete without a swimsuit you’ll want to live in. (True cruise ship veterans bring two suits you can alternate, so one is always dry.) This classic one-piece is a great choice that brings a dose of Hollywood glamor to the pool, beach, or sundeck. Its shapewear-inspired silhouette cinches into a figure eight, and ruching skims over any bumps. The most cruise-ship-ready detail? The suit can be worn with or without straps, great when you want to transition from water volleyball and cornhole to sunbathing on a lounge chair or sitting pretty by the poolside bar.

$146 at Zappos

Classic Style for your next cruise:

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