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15 ESSENTIALS TO PACK IN YOUR CRUISE CARRY ON BAG

Hi my lovely readers!

Chances are that you won’t be able to get into your cabin straight away when you board the cruise ship on embarkation day. Normally, cruise passengers have to vacate their cabin by about 8 or 9 am and then a massive cleaning and turnaround operation begins to prepare the ship for the next voyage and passengers.

It will take several hours, almost the entire day to clean the ship from top to bottom, clean hundreds of cruise cabins, especially on the mega ships to welcome new and excited cruisers.

When you get to the cruise port you normally hand over your luggage to the luggage handlers and see it again in a few hours, mostly in the late afternoon or early evening.

But of course you are able to enjoy all the amenities already once you get on board, even if you can’t access your cabin yet. Therefore, you need a few items with you throughout the day to make the most of your embarkation day and enjoy it to the fullest. You need a cruise carry on bag that you can carry with you throughout the day before you can reunite with your luggage in your cruise cabin.

Here are 15 Essentials you need to pack in your cruise carry on bag.

1. PASSPORT

One of the most important things you need to pack into your cruise carry on bag is your passport.

You will need your passport to check in, get your cruise card and so on. If you don’t have your passport, you won’t be able to board the ship.

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Some cruise lines might also accept national ID cards, but not all do. Check with your cruise line in advance if they accept ID cards as well.

2. IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS

That leads me to my second point, which is taking any important documents with you such as your booking confirmation, copies of your passport and drivers license, travel insurance, vaccine passports and any documents about your medical history.

In case something happens to you, it’s always good to have a record about your medical condition and history. This helps medical staff to treat you in a timely manner and appropriately.

Vaccine passports aren’t always necessary to take with you, but again it’s good to have them with you as they’re about your medical history, too and some cruise itineraries require you to have specific vaccines actually.

For example, some African cruise itineraries require you to get the yellow fever vaccine and you’re required to present the vaccine certificate to the cruise line.

3. WALLET

A no brainer is to keep your wallet or purse close by. You will need this to store your cruise card, which is the same size as a credit card and to possibly have access to your cash if you wish to tip staff on top of your gratuities.

4. LANYARD

Another item that I think is super useful to have in your carry on bag is a lanyard. You might think it’s a bit tacky to carry the cruise card around your neck all the time, but you will see that the majority of cruisers have one and use it.

You need your cruise card for so many things that it just makes sense to have one to have the card easily accessible and more over not lose it.

You need your cruise card to get into your cabin, buy drinks, play in the arcades, play in the casino, buy your Bingo cards and the list goes on.

5. MEDICATION

Put all your medication into your carry on bag, again just in case something happens to your luggage and as you won’t be able to get to it for several hours if it’s in your luggage.

Especially if you have a life-threatening disease or allergy that requires immediate treatment, make sure you have your medication close by.

6. POOL WEAR

This is the fun part! Once you get on the ship you’re able to jump into the pool straight away. Have your swimsuit ready to hand and start your holiday, especially if you’re doing a Caribbean or Mediterranean cruise.

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You would want to pack your swimsuit, maybe a beach kaftan and a summer hat. There is no need to pack a towel as these are supplied by the cruise line and you will be able to find some by the pool.

7. CHANGE OF CLOTHES

Or you do it the other way around. You can wear your swimwear under your clothes and then just strip of by the pool and jump in.

In this case you would want to pack a change of clothes to have something dry to change into. You don’t want to stay in your wet swimsuit all day long as you might catch a cold or even worse a bladder infection on your first day.

8. SLIP ON SHOES

Another good idea is to pack some slip on shoes such as flipflops into your carry on bag if you are planning to spend time by the pool and want to sun tan already.

This is for comfort and convenience. You would want to be able to get in and out of your shoes quickly and easily.

You don’t want to undo your shoe laces, put your shoes on, do your shoe laces just to get a glass of water.

9. SUNSCREEN

If you’re travelling in hot weather destinations, make sure you pack your sun block or sunscreen into your carry on bag.

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There’s nothing worse than getting a sun burn on your first day. Trust me, I’ve been there and it’s not fun at all. I would recommend having a look at my post Do I Have To Wear Sunscreen?

10. SUNGLASSES AND READING GLASSES

Another important item or items are your glasses, whether it being reading and/or sun glasses.

You would most likely need them if you are sailing in warm weather destinations, well any day when the sun is out and in your face, as well as while you’re reading your magazine and relaxing on a sun lounger or in one of those comfy armchairs in one of the bars and lounge areas.

11. SOMETHING TO ENTERTAIN THE KIDS

If you’re travelling with kids, it’s important to pack their favourite toys, games, cuddly toy, whatever keeps them busy and happy to bridge the time between getting on the ship and getting into your cabin.

If you’re travelling with infants, also pack all those items that you need for feeding, nappies, change of clothes etc. There are no restrictions on how many carry on bags you can bring on board.

12. ANYTHING VALUABLE

I would also recommend putting any valuables such as jewellery, your smartphone, chargers, your Kindle and so on into your carry on bag.

I normally do this in case luggage gets lost during my flight to the destination, but also during the luggage handling process, when you hand over your luggage to the luggage handlers at the cruise port. Luggage labels can come of and luggage can get lost, although rarely.

Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

Clothes can be easily replaced. You can buy new clothes at the next port and the cruise line will help you out until you get new once, but of course it’s a different story with valuable items that are expensive, hold a sentimental value and can’t be replaced instantly.

13. CAMERA

Make sure to put your camera into your carry on bag. I’m sure the majority of us do that anyways. But really make sure you have it with you as you would want to take some pictures or take videos of when the ship is leaving the port, during the sail out.

Some ports, I have experienced this in Japan, put on small events when ships get into or leave ports. This can be for several reasons such as welcoming visitors, showcasing their heritage or welcoming a ship for the first time to the port and making this a special event. And I promise you want to film those.

Some sail outs are rather scenic and eventful, too such as sailing out from New York and passing the Statue of Liberty, sailing underneath bridges and so on.

14. BOOK, KINDLE OR MAGAZINE

There are plenty of things you can do while waiting for your cabin to be ready. One of them might be relaxing by the pool with a cocktail in your hand, perhaps an Amaretto Sour and reading a good book or magazine.

Therefore, I would recommend just putting one into your carry on bag. A Kindle is of course a good option as you can put lots of books on it, but it doesn’t take up any space.

15. REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE

Another useful and important item to take along is a refillable water bottle. It’s always important to stay hydrated first of all and having a drink with you at all times is a great way to make sure you drink enough and on a regular basis.

Plus, most often the drink stations can be found on the lido deck and you don’t want to be getting up all the time, walking across the ship for 5 min from one end to the other just to get a glass of water.

A refillable water bottle will also come in handy at night when you are ready to retire to your cabin to go to bed. If you refill it just before you go to sleep, you will have something to drink available in case you wake up in the middle of the night because of thirst.


I hope you found this useful, let me know in the comments and what you would pack!

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5 thoughts on “15 ESSENTIALS TO PACK IN YOUR CRUISE CARRY ON BAG

    1. Haha, in my opinion you can never pack too much if you’re going on a cruise πŸ™‚ I normally take a backpack, but I also see people with proper hand luggage on embarkation day

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