My family and I just got back yesterday from a 7 day Norwegian cruise to the Western Caribbean. What a great time!
If you are overwhelmed with what to pack on a Caribbean cruise, I have lots of cruise packing hacks you will love.
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If you are anything like me, you like to be prepared!
Unfortunately, busy people (also likely you) sometimes struggle to find the time to get everything together needed for a long cruise.
The fun AND practical items I’ve included in this post are certain to help you have a relaxing, fun, and well-thought-out vacation!
What to Pack on a Caribbean Cruise:
1. Cell Phone Pouch/cruise cabin key lanyard
My entire family used these lanyards to carry our cell phones and cruise cabin keys.
Although they are waterproof, we chose to not risk damaging a phone by fully submerging them.
They are great for splashes of water during boat rides and such!
The lanyards are fantastic to keep a cell phone (for a camera) easily accessible as photo opportunities seem to be at every turn.
It was also really nice for the kids to get to their key cards quickly when they needed them.
If you haven’t cruised before, you should know that your room cabin key card is absolutely essential for you to do anything!
You will need it for any activities on the ship, plus it’s needed to get off and back on the ship when you go on excursions.
We used these same lanyards on our Alaskan cruise last year and all but one survived lots of use for both trips.
RELATED POST: Alaskan Cruise – 20+ Items You Need
2. Digital Scale for Luggage
We traveled with my sister and her family for our past two vacations. Each time, she brought along a digital scale to weigh our checked luggage.
It has come in very handy to keep us under the 50 pound limit required by many of the airlines.
The thought of shuffling our items to make the weight limit in the stressful airport line is not terribly appealing, so consider this!
3. Packing Cubes
I made my first packing cubes purchase last summer. Since then, I’ve purchased two more sets for our family!
We just love them!
The cubes keep us so much more organized.
As you can see, the closet isn’t perfect. BUT, the cubes keep like items together for each family member.
The below picture was taken on day 3 of our cruise. It does look a bit a mess, but the cubes make it much easier to straighten.
To be fair, I didn’t give my family any forewarning that I was taking a photo for the blog.
But I thought this gives a pretty real representation of how things can get messy pretty quickly when an entire family is sharing a tiny, little space.
The cubes just make the mess more manageable. Period.
I use a set of cubes for every trip I take now, even if it’s just over night!
4. Charging Hub for Multiple Devices
With a family of four, we have several devices that require charging each day.
A single charging hub with surge protector is definitely necessary to ensure everyone is ready to go each day.
Even though we had next to no opportunity to connect to the internet, we all use our phones for a camera. SO, a good charge is needed.
5. Portable power bank
Speaking of devices, a portable power bank is a nice thing to have so you don’t risk running out of charge when on the go during excursions.
I just used an inexpensive one I found at Wal-Mart a couple of years ago. It was pretty wimpy, though and didn’t give me a lot of help.
If you plan on taking a lot of video / photos with your camera, it would likely be worth looking into a decent power bank to keep you all charged up and ready to go!
6. Heavy Duty Magnets
The walls on cruise ships are magnetic. This makes it great to use magnets for hanging important information to access quickly.
Each evening you are given the ship itinerary for the next day.
We enjoy keeping it posted for ideas of things to do while on board the ship.
The above image was taken post-cruise as I forgot to take one while on board. BUT…hopefully you get the idea.
7. Large Post-It Notes
The larger sized post it notes are great to use to hang notes on your cabin wall.
They could also be used to leave notes on your door for the stewardess cleaning your room or other guests traveling with you!
I used the post it notes to jot down our cruise itinerary so our family could stay oriented to what we had planned each day.
It is really easy to lose track of the date and time when cruising!
8. Alarm Clock
Speaking of staying oriented, a small, portable alarm clock would be a nice thing to throw in your bag.
We used alarms on our phone each day to ensure we were up and ready for our excursions.
BUT, be sure you keep up with all of the time zone changes each day. It seems like we changed our time almost daily.
My sister suggested just changing the time in the cell phone settings to make it easier (note: you cannot keep it on automatic update with time as you will likely not have cell service).
This worked great!
If you have an iPhone and are curious on how to do this: Go to Settings> General> Date & Time. Then turn off “set automatically” and adjust the time zone to your location.
I did this the evening before each port so my phone alarm would actually go off at the correct time!
9. Appropriate Shoes
In my opinion you will need:
- Flip-flops for the pool
- One pair of shoes for more formal attire if you are doing any specialty dining
- Water shoes for certain excursions (Jason, my husband, loved these water shoes!)
- Tennis shoes
I only packed three pairs of shoes. All of the above with the exception of tennis shoes.
I really regretted not having comfortable tennis shoes on excursions that required lots of walking.
10. Refillable Water Bottle
This is personal preference, but I liked to keep my water bottle full of ice water in my room.
I’d make a quick trip to the main dining area each evening and fill it up!
Perfect for late night sips or a drink first thing in the morning.
The water bottle did not really go with us on excursions as I didn’t want to lug it around. Plus, many of the trips you take will provide water to drink.
11. Small Back Pack for Your Excursions
A back pack is essential for your trips off the ship.
Things I tried to throw in my bag for each excursion:
- Cash for tips (seems as though everyone expects a tip, so have plenty of $1’s and $5’s and tip as you see appropriate)
- sunglasses (a MUST!)
- Hat or visor (my brother-in-law loved taking a wicking ball cap)
- Travel sized anti-bacterial wipes and/or Germ-x
As I mentioned earlier, I kept my phone and room key card in my lanyard. I also took my driver’s license when leaving the ship for excursions.
If I was doing a lot of walking, I would toss the lanyard in my backpack as it could get a bit heavy on the neck.
Each time you get back on the ship, you will go through ship security and be required to scan your key card. It seems as though they did peek at my driver’s license occasionally, too.
My friend, Jill from Finding Jillian suggests making a copy of your passports to take on excursions with you.
Then you would just leave the actual passports in your room safe!
12. Snorkel gear
We brought our own snorkel gear and I’m glad we did.
I’m a bit weird about germs and it made me feel better knowing I was the only one that would be using mine.
I didn’t have to worry who used it before me and if it got adequately cleaned.
My husband and son used this snorkel set I found on Amazon.
Since my daughter is smaller, she used this:
BUT, my husband ordered the below full face snorkel for me which was super sweet.
We’ve been snorkeling in the past and I ended up with canker sores. He wanted to ensure I had the best experience possible so he thought this might help-;-)
It worked beautifully. I would get it over again for certain!
13. Beach Towel Clips for Pool Lounge Chairs
It is pretty windy on the ship.
If you plan on lounging by the pool or one of the decks, these clips would come in pretty handy to keep your towel from blowing away.
We did not bring these on our cruise, but I saw them everywhere! They were definitely a popular item.
14. Binoculars for sightseeing
We forgot our binoculars on this trip and my husband mentioned wishing he had them several times.
If you have a small set, throw them in your bag!
15. Appropriate attire for dining on the ship
Be sure to read the attire requirements carefully on the cruise line you will be sailing.
My husband and son did not pack any long pants (we aren’t very formal people!). I was assuming nice dress shorts and a collared shirt would be enough for them in the nicer restaurants.
Unfortunately, since they did not have dress pants, we were limited on the specialty dining selection.
If this is something you think you might be interested in, just be sure to read details specific to your cruise prior to your trip so you have the clothing needed.
16. Other things to consider:
- Don’t forget any medication you might need to take (prescription as well as over the counter. Over the counter medication ideas: ibuprofen, Dramamine Original and Non-Drowsy)
- Bug spray
- Aloe Vera
- Over-the-door shoe organizer –I have read that many people like to put this over their bathroom door on the ship to give them more toiletry storage space. I did not find this necessary, but keep it in mind as an option.
- Deodorizer — With several people in a tiny space, this is definitely something to consider. I wished several times I would have had something to make our room smell a bit better! You will have lots of hot, sweaty days in the Western Caribbean.
- Dirty laundry bags
- Kindle e-reader with several books downloaded prior to trip
- Small, portable speaker
- Candy, gum, mints, or other snack items for your room
- Bandaids and/or small first aid kit for room
- Receipts of all booked excursions, flight information, etc. (I keep all of this information in a folder for easy access).
You are now ready for your Caribbean Cruise!
Here are a few more pictures of our trip to help you get pumped and ready to go!
Roatan Bay Islands, Honduras
Maya Key Beach Private Island:
Harvest Caye, Belize
Costa Maya, Mexico
I was a bit shocked how high we were able to climb on some of the ruins, but so glad we were able to get the experience!
Amazing Secret River Tour in Playa del Carmen
My favorite of all our excursions!
On the Norwegian Breakaway Ship
The rest of my family enjoyed the rope course. I tried it on a really windy day and chickened out!
My kids weren’t on their phones much, believe it or not. They had some down time most evenings in which they chose to play an occasional game.
Hopefully, the above image gives you a good idea of how the cabin looks with the bunk beds assembled.
I had a hard time finding images of this online prior to our trip!
Thanks for stopping by today!
You now know exactly what to pack for a Caribbean cruise!
I hope you have an amazing cruise experience in the Caribbean!
If you’ve cruised before, leave a comment below to add any other packing tips you might have.