Have you ever forgotten something you needed while traveling? It happens to all of us, but that doesn’t make it any less stressful. To help prevent it from happening on your next cruise, use this handy Caribbean cruise packing list.
Caribbean Cruise Packing List: Clothes and Shoes
When packing clothes and shoes for a Caribbean cruise, consider how long the trip will be and what sorts of activities you’ll be doing. Try to strike a balance between packing light–since there isn’t much room in a cruise ship cabin–and making sure you have the right things for what you want to do.
You will likely be spending plenty of time in your swimsuit and cover-up, but there will be occasions for different kinds of clothing, too.
Here’s a list of the clothes and shoes to consider including when you pack for your Caribbean cruise.
Swimsuits and Rash Guards
Women will want to bring a few different swimsuits. A lot of time on a cruise is spent lounging on the deck, swimming in the pool, or soaking in the hot tub, for which a bikini is perfect. But you might also want a swimsuit for port days and excursions.
Port days are scheduled stops in different areas and islands. In most instances, these port days can include some time on the beach or going on different water-based excursions. You’ll want to bring a one-piece that is well-suited for any activities you plan to do, such as snorkeling, kayaking, etc. Consider bringing some swim shorts as well.
Men will want to bring a couple of swimsuits so that a dry one is always available.
Both should also include rash guards, which not only protect your skin when you’re involved in watersports but also keep you from getting sunburned.
Women will want at least one cover-up to wear over their bathing suit when walking around the ship (this is required by many cruise lines) or in port.
Most of the daytime activities on board a cruise ship don’t have a dress code, so casual shorts and t-shirts or sleeveless tops are great options to pack. You will also want cool, comfortable casual clothes that you can easily move around in for port day adventures and exploring.
Consider whether you will be doing any special activities like hiking or playing sports, and be sure to bring clothes that are appropriate for that.
Unfortunately, rain is possible on your cruise. Caribbean islands are known for frequent and sometimes unexpected rain showers. To help you stay dry, pack a light raincoat.
Most people on cruises tend to dress a little more nicely at night. Restaurants often have a dress code, and while most evenings do not require formal clothing, shorts and t-shirts won’t fly either. Evening clothing should be something a little more upscale.
Women should consider packing a skirt, pants, or nice jeans plus a nice top (not a t-shirt). Men can usually wear nice pants or jeans and a short-sleeved, collared shirt.
Since nights in the Caribbean can get a little chilly, especially at sea, it’s a good idea to bring a scarf or light sweater or jacket.
On most cruises, there are occasions where you will need dressier outfits, such as the formal nights at dinner. Also, specialty restaurants often require more formal attire.
The general rule of thumb when it comes to formal clothing is to think of a cocktail party. Women should stick to cocktail dresses or skirts/nice pants and elegant blouses. Men should wear slacks with a button down shirt and a blazer or sport coat. (Don’t forget accessories that might go along with your nicer outfit, like belts, ties, and jewelry.)
Underwear and Sleepwear
Since you won’t be able to do laundry, bring enough underwear to last the trip. Women may need a range of bras like strapless or sports bras in addition to regular bras, depending on the activities planned. Bring whatever you like to sleep in when the weather is warm as well.
You’ll want to pack a few different types of shoes, depending on the activities you’ll be doing on and off the ship. Shoes to consider include flip flops for around the pool and beach, sandals, water shoes, tennis shoes, hiking boots, and formal shoes for dressy outfits. Don’t forget socks!
Caribbean Cruise Packing List: Must Have Items
While clothing is important, there are other items you’ll need to pack, too. Some help with comfort and convenience, some are required.
Travel and Important Documents
The first, and most important, item is any and all travel and personal documents. You’ll need your passport and government ID to board, so don’t put it in your checked luggage. Keep it in your carry-on (or purse for women) so it’s ready to hand over.
The same goes for cruise and lodging documents. You’ll want to have all tickets and reservation confirmations close by, so don’t put them in your checked bags!
Credit Card and Cash
While you may not need these on board the ship, it’s good to have them on hand when you head into town. Keep them with you in your purse or carry-on, not in checked luggage. Be sure to call your credit card company in advance to let them know you’ll be traveling.
It’s always a good idea to make a few sets of photocopies of your credit cards, ID, passport, and travel documents just in case. Leave one at home with a trusted friend, carry one with you, and leave one in your cabin.
Cell Phone and Charger
While you probably don’t need to be reminded to bring your cell phone, don’t forget to pack a couple of chargers (including any wall plugs).
Sun Hat, Sunglasses, Sunscreen, and Bug Spray
The Caribbean is a sunny place, and the ocean reflects and intensifies sunlight. You’ll want to be sure to protect your eyes and skin so you can enjoy your trip!
Pack a wide-brimmed, lightweight sun hat that is comfortable to wear so you’re not tempted to leave it off. You’ll be out in the sun for a lot of your cruise, and you’ll want to make sure your skin is protected. A sun hat is a quick and easy way to keep the sun out of your eyes and off your skin.
Bring a good pair of sunglasses that block UV rays. You may want to bring a backup pair, just in case the first pair gets lost.
And while getting a little sun is part of a Caribbean cruise, you still want to be safe and healthy. Pack plenty of sunscreen to make sure you can easily and quickly reapply it, and be sure it’s a high SPF. Not only will you avoid painful sunburn, you’ll also avoid paying astronomical prices for sunscreen on board the ship. If you plan to go snorkeling or diving, bring reef-safe sunscreen. Don’t forget some lip balm with SPF as well.
If you plan to get off the ship, bring bug spray. You’ll be glad you have it!
Most cruise lines give each guest a cruise card that you have to carry with you almost constantly. An easy way to do that is with a lanyard. And while you can buy them onboard, they will likely cost more than if you bring one from home.
While ships will have shops onboard where you can buy over-the-counter medicine, be sure to bring any prescription drugs that you take. Keep it all in original bottles to avoid any issues. And you might want to bring a small supply of pain reliever, seasickness medicine, stomach remedies, and first aid supplies. Prices on the ship will be higher, and it’s easier to have them already on hand if you need them.
Be sure to pack medicines in your carry-on so you don’t risk losing them.
Since you will need a number of these items while exploring different ports and islands, you’ll want to bring a day pack or backpack to carry them more easily. It will also be a great place to hold any souvenirs you might find while out and about, and can double as a beach bag if you’re headed to the beach.
Caribbean Cruise Packing List: How to Pack
Sometimes what to pack is only the first part of the problem. After getting everything planned out, it’s time to figure out how to get everything to fit in your bags.
The first step is to figure out what items need to be packed in your carry-on and what goes in your checked luggage. Anything you pack in your checked luggage won’t be readily available while boarding, so it’s important to keep everything you might need early on in your carry-on.
Once you have the items separated into carry-on and checked luggage, it’s time to figure out how to pack everything else while saving space. One tip is to roll and stack clothing–this takes up less space and keeps things less wrinkled.
For longer cruises, you might want to consider putting clothing in packing cubes. The cubes come in large sets of differing sizes, so you can stay organized while saving space.
There you have it! You’ll feel more prepared and less stressed if you use this Caribbean cruise packing list and follow these suggestions. Then it’s all about enjoying the Caribbean sun and fun.
Do you have any other tips for packing for a Caribbean cruise? Let us know in the comments! And if you’d like help deciding which cruise is best for you, you can get in touch with one of our trusted travel experts here!