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The Ultimate Guide to Packing for a Cruise (Photo: REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock.com)

The Ultimate Guide to Packing for a Cruise

Updated September 26, 2018

There's more to packing for a cruise than throwing an arbitrary pile of clothes and accessories into a suitcase and saying, "Bon voyage!" Cruisers need to consider factors like cruise line dress codes and temperature differences between homeports and ports of call. Read through Cruise Critic's packing guide to learn the ropes, get the inside scoop on savvy-cruiser packing hacks and see examples of what to wear for different activities and climates. You'll be a pro before you know it.


Booked? Find your Roll Call to see who's sailing with you.

The Basics

Cruise Packing 101
There's no need to pack your entire wardrobe for a cruise. Lighten your load with these simple guidelines.

Pictures of What to Wear on a Cruise
Need packing inspiration? See what our members like to wear onboard and ashore, in different types of environments.

Cruise Line Dress Codes
No cruise line dress code is the same. Find out what your ship requires.

Anatomy of a Cruise Carry-On
What you pack in your carry-on bag could make or break your first day onboard. Start your cruise off right by keeping these necessities handy.


Tips & Advice

Top 10 Cruise Packing Tips
From keeping personal documents close to leaving room in your suitcase for souvenirs, here are 10 packing tips for a smooth sailing.

9 Cruise Packing Hacks That Will Revolutionize the Way You Travel
Combat common packing problems with these simple solutions you never would have thought up on your own.

What to Pack for Kids on a Cruise
Pack the right gear for your family cruise to prevent complaints about boredom, long walks and low-battery electronics.

What Not to Pack: 5 Things You Want to Bring on a Cruise -- but Shouldn't
Don't make it awkward. Make sure none of these items are in your suitcase before you board.

17 Worst Cruise Packing Mistakes
Even the savviest cruisers make mistakes. Laugh along (and learn how to stay prepared) with these "not so perfect" packing stories.

9 Reasons to Pack Duct Tape on Your Next Cruise
Who knew duct tape had so many powers? We list a few reasons you might want to slip a roll in your suitcase.

12 Pictures of How to Pack for a Long Cruise
So much to bring, and so little room. Master the art of packing for a long cruise with these quick tips.


Packing for the Destination

10 Pictures of What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise
Flip-flops, snorkel gear, resealable plastic bags... Here's how to pack for a cruise on island time.

10 Pictures of What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise
Leave the Hawaiian-print tees at home, but bring the sunscreen. Prepare for the Last Frontier with these packing recommendations.

10 Pictures of What to Pack for a European Cruise
Europe is full of culture and sights to see; make sure you have what you need to navigate.

10 Must-Pack Items for an Exotic Cruise
Whether you're headed to the Maldives or the Middle East, use this guide to pack smart.


New to Cruising

10 Pictures of Must-Pack Items for New Cruisers
You don't have to learn the hard way. Here's how to pack like a pro for your first cruise.

What to Expect on a Cruise: Cruise Clothing
How fancy do people get on formal night? What shoes should I bring? We answer common questions about what to wear on a cruise.

Pictures of 9 Fashion Faux Pas and How to Avoid Them
Take advice from a professional. We consult with Kelly Nishimoto, host of TLC's "Something Borrowed, Something New," on how to stay fashionable at sea.

Find a Cruise

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How To Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks
6 Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid
You might expect loud noises, close quarters and crazy manoeuvres in the dance club onboard your cruise ship -- but not in your cabin. Even if you don't plan to spend much time there, it should be a restful and private place so you can maintain that much-needed holiday stamina. To help you do so, we've compiled a list of cabins you'll want to avoid booking if closet-like dimensions or scraping chair sounds overhead aren't appealing to you. Heed our advice, and you might be feeling a bit less claustrophobic and a tad more refreshed come disembarkation.
Onboard Credit: How to Get It, Where to Spend It
Free. Money. Are there two more beautiful words in the English language? While money doesn't grow on trees, increasingly it can be found somewhere else -- on the high seas. Call it an incentive, call it a bonus; whatever you want to call it, onboard credit lets you spend more freely with less guilt. You've paid your cruise fare, and now you can splurge on those enticing extras -- Swedish massage, specialty restaurant, an excursion to swim with the dolphins -- without busting your budget. Not many need convincing as to why onboard credit -- money automatically deposited into your onboard account-- rocks, but finding out exactly how to get it and where you can spend it is a bit trickier. We found eight ways to hit the OBC jackpot (some more preferable than others) and offer even more suggestions on how to burn through it, although you probably have your own ideas already.