Taking your first cruise is exciting. When you sail you’re going to experience a trip that offers something for everyone. Want to hang out on the beach? Go snorkeling or diving? Eat fantastic food? See Broadway-caliber shows, try your luck in the casino, or simply have breakfast on your own private balcony?
No matter what makes you happy, you can do it on a cruise.
But while it’s exciting to take your first cruise it can also be a bit hard to prepare for your trip. After all, cruising is a bit different than any other trip you can take. From the luggage rules, to transportation to the port, to even boarding and debarkation, they all differ on a cruise than what you’ll find from airlines, hotels, or other resorts.
One place where there is a lot of difference is in packing for your cruise. When you take a cruise, you need to bring anything with you that you might need. After all, there’s no heading out to the store when you’re in the middle of the ocean. Meanwhile, there are also needs you might have on a cruise that you normally don’t have on any other vacation. Towel clips (featured below), for instance, are a must on a cruise.
Now if you’re looking for everything to pack for a cruise, we have full list here. But if you’re a first-timer, we’ve covered things that many first timers don’t know they need below…
Note: The links to Amazon used below are affiliate links. Should you make a purchase, we receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.
Wrinkle Release Spray
One of the differences with cruising is that most appliances that heat up — including irons — are not allowed on the ship. If you want something pressed or ironed, then you need to send it off to the laundry room and pay for the service. Instead, many passengers find that a small bottle of wrinkle-release spray works just fine. Spray it on, smooth out the fabric, and you’re good to go. You can get a couple of bottles on Amazon for just a few bucks.
The good news? Newer ships are putting more outlets in cabins. The bad news? A lot of ships still have only one or two plugs per room. So what do you do when you have to charge your phone, a camera, a laptop, and other electronics? That’s when you bring an outlet adapter. Plug it in and you instantly have more outlets available for charging everything, as well as powering items like a fan or a nightlight. No more having to unplug one thing to plug in another. The adapter shown above is made for cruising, and you can find it on Amazon.
You might not think about what happens if you get an upset stomach… or a headache… or a sunburn while on your cruise. Want some relief? There are small stores on the ship that sell these items, but they are often at exorbitant prices (we’ve seen cold medicine at $17 a bottle!). Instead, be sure to pack all the over-the-counter medicines you might need.
If you do forget, then hopefully you can wait until you get into a port. Most ports of call have small pharmacies where you can pick up forgotten items for cheaper than buying on the ship.
One of the unique things about cruising compared to a traditional resort or hotel is that many people sail in rooms with no windows. If you are sailing in an interior room, then know that they are pitch black when you turn out the lights. If you don’t want to have to keep a room light on during the night, pack a small nighlight with you. It can provide just enough light to see by if you need to get up during the night. This pair costs about $10 on Amazon.
Cruise Line App
Every major cruise line now has a free app that you can download. While you can download them once on the ship, it’s much easier to do so at home before you board.
Why so important? These apps are extremely useful for your cruise. They have everything you need to know about your trip, including ship maps, your spending account, the daily schedule, and more. You can even make reservations for restaurants and use the apps to talk to others on the ship. Go ahead and download it before you sail so that it’s ready to go on cruise day.
Waterproof Phone Case
These days our phones are way more than just calling and texting. Not only do they have the cruise line app that you already downloaded (see above), but your camera, and your online access. In other words, you’re going to be bringing it with you when you head to the pool or into port. To protect it, bring an inexpensive waterproof case. You can get them for about $10 on Amazon, and they can help keep your phone safe if you have to take it with you into the water or if you get caught in a rainstorm.
One other way that first-timers are surprised on a cruise is that it’s always breezy. Cruise ships may look slow, but they can move 20 miles per hour when underway. If there is no wind, that’s a 20 mph breeze. Meanwhile, if there is a breeze that the ship is sailing into, it’s further amplified. Head out on the pool deck and try and get some sun and there will be a constant wind. That means your towel on your chair will be flying around like crazy. A set of inexpensive towel clips can solve the problem and make that annoying flipping of your towel a thing of the past.
These days wristwatches have almost become obsolete for many people. But it’s handy to have one on your cruise.
Ships stick to a schedule, and that can mean everything from when your dinner reservation is scheduled to when to make it back on board from port. Even knowing how long you’ve laid out tanning is helpful.
Bring along a watch and you won’t ever be in a lurch to know what time it is — and risk missing the ship before it leaves the dock. Best of all, the don’t have to cost much. You can find a number of inexpensive watches on Amazon.
What to Do If Your Forget to Pack Something
First things first, you want to be sure you have all the important things that you need. That means things like your wallet/purse, your ID, and your passport or birth certificate. Forget something like this and you may not even be let on the ship. Also be sure to pack anything that’s vital like prescription medicines.
But most people remember the important stuff. It’s the smaller comfort items that you might forget. In addition to what we’ve listed above, you might forget thinks like a hat, mouthwash, a razor, etc.
If this happens, don’t worry. Cruise ships have small shops on them that will sell a lot of necessities you might have forgotten. Just be wary that they can be highly priced. If it’s something that can wait, then ports of call will have small pharmacies and stores that sell anything you might need for much cheaper.
What Else to Pack for Your First Cruise
Obviously you need to pack more than just the items above for your cruise. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Be sure to see our article — 39 Useful Things to Pack For Your Cruise (Including 17 You’d Never Think Of).
There, we cover a full range of things you’ll need for your cruise that you might not realize. After all, we assume you already know to pack a swimsuit. Click here to read more.