Cruise Like a Pro With These Must-Pack Essentials

Staterooms are getting smaller and smaller, and cruise coffee sucks--even on the fancy ships. Make your time at sea more comfy with these must-pack products.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.
March 14, 2019

Photo By: Amazon

Photo By: Anthropologie

Photo By: Amazon

Photo By: Amazon

Photo By: Amazon

Photo By: Amazon

Photo By: Amazon

Photo By: Amazon

Photo By: REI

Photo By: REI

Power Bank

Cruise ship staterooms are tiny and outlets are limited, especially when you’re trying to charge phones, an e-reader, a hair dryer and your camera battery all at the same time. A power strip is a great way to create more outlets and charge multiple devices at once.

Buy It: Amazon, $25.99

Water Bottle

Whether you’re exploring a port of call or lounging on the pool deck, it’s important to stay hydrated while in the sun. If you don’t bring a water bottle, you’ll be forced to make constant trips back to the cafeteria to refill those tiny plastic cruise cups. This water bottle from Que holds 20 ounces and collapses for easy packing.

Buy It: Anthropologie, $26.00

Clothes Hangers

It’s laughable how tiny the closet is in a stateroom. And on top of that, you usually get just a couple of hangers. Make the most of the storage space you have by bringing extra hangers. These travel hangers are lightweight and fold up for easy packing.

Buy It: Amazon, $11.99 (Pack of 5)

Instant Coffee

I’ve traveled on several different cruise ships and with several different brands and I’m calling it: cruise ship coffee is gross. It’s watery, not strong enough and, no matter how much creamer you add, it just tastes like emptiness. Instant coffee packets aren’t perfect either but definitely a step above cruise coffee. I’m a big fan of Joe Coffee Company’s instant packets.

Buy It: Amazon, $18.99 (Pack of 6)

Travel Alarm Clock

Unlike hotel rooms, most cruise ship staterooms don’t have an alarm clock, so it’s a good idea to bring a travel alarm clock as a backup. This clock from Marathon is super light and won’t take up much space in your suitcase.

Buy It: Amazon, $13.95

Antibacterial Wipes

I love cruising, but the first thing I do on embarkation day is immediately disinfect my stateroom with Lysol wipes. Germs spread fast on a cruise ship and some cruise companies will actually quarantine you to your room if you develop a highly contagious virus. That is no way to spend a vacation so I make sure to wipe down high-touch areas such as the TV remote and door handles.

Buy It: Amazon, $2.85


If your stateroom is on the pool deck, you’re going to hear a lot of screaming kids. Or worse, if it’s close to the lobby or nightclubs, you’re going to hear music and revelers all night long. Foam earplugs from the drug store are great, but if you’re a super light sleeper, splurge on these sleep buds from Bose. They’re a pretty penny but a lifesaver when traveling.

Buy It: Amazon, $211.65 (Originally $249)

Lanyard Necklace

One of the best things about cruising is the lack of stuff you have to haul around on board. You don’t need a wallet or purse, just your key card. Keep it within reach with this handy lanyard. If you’re traveling with kiddos, give each kid a different color necklace to keep track of everyone’s card.

Buy It: Amazon, $15.99

Travel Laundry Detergent

Most cruise ships offer laundry facilities, and I always take advantage of this as I refuse to check a bag when I travel. I wash my clothes mid-cruise and outfit repeat so I don’t have to pack as much. While using the machines is typically free, I’ve seen some cruise lines charge for detergent, so I just bring my own. This tiny detergent bottle is three ounces and fits into a quart-size TSA bag.

Buy It: REI, $4.95

First Aid Kid

A first aid kit isn’t the first thing most people think of when packing for a cruise, but it should be. While every cruise ship has an infirmary with medical supplies, you’ll pay a hefty stateroom charge for some Advil or TUMs.

Buy It: REI, $49.95