What to pack for a Caribbean cruise

It’s exciting to set out on a holiday, and a Caribbean cruise can be one of the most exciting of all: your hotel moves you from place to place while you eat, drink, swim, party or relax without a care in the world.

A great way to ensure that kind of relaxation, is to make sure you have everything you need with you – without having the burden and cost of hauling a massive amount of luggage along with you!

As you plan for your Caribbean cruise, keep these tips in mind.

What to pack cruise

What things should you bring on a cruise?

A carry-on

Even if all of your belonging can fit into your checked bag, and despite the temptation to hand it over and walk away unburdened for your travel to and from the ship, always pack a carry-on.

Put your essentials in it, and a couple of comfort items – like a novel or magazine, a snack, and a change of socks – and you’ll be sure to up your comfort level during travel, if there are any delays, or when you first arrive at your destination. You might even want to put your swimming costume in there and get a swim in while others are still waiting in their staterooms.

Sun protection

One of the draws of a Caribbean cruise is the Caribbean weather. Hot, sunny, and gorgeous. For this reason though, it is essential that you have sun protection. Sunscreen is item number one, and should be applied several times throughout the day. It’s not a bad idea to set an alarm for every couple of hours for reapplication.

A hat is a must-have too. Not only will it keep the sun off sensitive foreheads and scalps, it will reduce eye strain from the glare and, let’s face it can glam up your outfit too.

Water is an essential tool in sun-defense too. Keep hydrated and your skin will do a better job at offsetting the effects of the sun and heat.

Space for gifts

Don’t fill your suitcases before you go, leave some space. Most of us never use everything we pack, and many of us wind up buying an additional suitcase to bring home gifts and souvenirs that we forgot to plan for before leaving – that or we lug shopping bags along with us on planes and taxis, which is even worse!

This time, plan ahead. Figure out how many people you want to buy for, and save room in your bags for that. Leave room for some small, cheaper gifts too, for anyone you forgot whole planning. You never know when your son shows up with a new girlfriend to pick you up from the airport, it might be nice to start things off with a little something for her too!

Personal essentials

Make sure you have any necessary medications (though there will be a pharmacy on board for basics), and anything for which the particular brand name is important to you. This includes toothpaste, deodorant, and that kind of thing. Pack travel sizes if you can, but if you’ve done well in other areas, you’ll have plenty of wiggle-room for that electric toothbrush and your hair-straightener.

Check for compatibility with anything needing power – it’s not just the plug adapter, make sure the power level is appropriate too. Most Caribbean countries use the same power system as the United States. Cruise ships themselves vary.

What not to bring on a cruise

One of the mistakes many novice travellers make is packing too much stuff! This isn’t a Victorian adventure into the South American jungle; this is a holiday on a self-contained cruise ship designed for your comfort, convenience, and ease.

Anything you don’t have with you, you can easily pick up, so don’t weight yourself down with clutter. A few things not to bring?


You’ll want your phone with you for emergencies, but if you can leave your laptop at home, you’ll have a better vacation. All your Netflix and Prime programs will still be there when you get back, and so will work duties. Give yourself a break from that. Shut your phone off, and forget about it unless you need it… and leave the computer at home.

Too many shoes

Bring a pair for smart-casual events, a pair of trainers or similar for walking is essential, and maybe a pair of flip-flips or sandals for airing out your toes while sipping slushy drinks. That’s it. The max.

Shoes take up a lot of space in a suitcase, and seldom make up for it. Leave anything non-essential at home.

Heavy books

Many of us love to read, and love the feel of a good book in our hands. That’s fine, but can be a nuisance on a holiday. Why not try treating yourself to an eReader (like a Kindle) and loading up a few good books for the trip?

Buy a model that includes backlighting options, you can read in dim conditions, and one that can be read in bright sunlight too. Carry a library in something as light and convenient as a thin paperback, and leave the bulky tomes at home.

Too many clothes

You will need almost nothing for this trip. Light clothing is best, and only the essential amount.

Check with dress codes on board, so you don’t miss out on any formal dinners or shows you might want to attend, and bring one outfit for that.

Bring a couple of sets of clothing suitable for walking in the sun, touring port towns, etc., but not more than three. Most of the time you’ll be wearing shorts, bathing costumes, and since almost every cruise line offers laundry services, you can have a set or two cleaned up while you’re wearing another.

But… don’t forget one jumper or sweatshirt for cooler evenings. Especially after a hot day in the Caribbean sun, a drop in evening temperatures can be a shock to the skin and require something a bit more substantial than a tee-shirt.


A Caribbean cruise should be about ease and comfort – a simple break from a complicated life.

So, pack simply and with foresight. Bring what you need, leave at home what you don’t, and remember that you can get most anything there, if there are emergencies or you’ve forgotten something. With a little space left aside for those special gifts and keepsakes, you won’t end your holiday with an arduous journey home, either… it’s all about convenience and leaving worries behind.

Bon voyage.

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