Cruising: what to pack

For many new cruisers, there are additional things to consider when packing for a high seas holiday compared with one on land. So what essentials should be on your list? Here’s a practical list of basic items to consider. 

A light sweater or jacket 
Even in hot climates, things can cool down once you’re at sea, especially at night, and in windy or bad weather. An extra layer can also be useful for exploring ashore early in the morning or late at night. Extra layers are essential in destinations such as Alaska, where the weather is highly changeable.

Sun protection
Always take a hat, sunglasses and a broad-spectrum sunscreen for everyday use with a minimum SPF30 factor. In popular cruising regions such as Australia, the sun’s rays can be incredibly strong even in winter.

Some people leave their cameras at home when they travel, using a smartphone or tablet instead, but a traditional camera can be much more versatile and durable on a cruise. Be sure to take spare batteries for long excursions, a charger, and extra memory if you’re not planning to download your photos along the way. 

Pack enough for the entire cruise plus a few extra days in case of delays or mishaps, and copies of your prescriptions. Also include any over-the-counter medicines you take regularly, and a basic medical kit with painkillers, band aids, and an antiseptic cream; these can be expensive to buy on board, and there won’t be much choice.

Top of your packing list should be important documents for all people travelling in your party, including passports, cruise tickets, airline tickets, cruise luggage labels, and travel insurance documentation. For extra security, also take photocopies of the key pages of your passport.

If you’re an avid reader, or your ship doesn’t have a library, take your own books, or an iPad or Kindle with plenty of options loaded. If you enjoy music, consider taking an iPod and portable speaker to use in your stateroom, and if you’re travelling with a laptop, DVDs of movies or your favourite TV shows can help to wile away sea days. 

Essential clothing
Pack your bathers, as many ships have indoor or covered pools and jacuzzis, and for spa facilities including saunas. Comfortable shoes are also a good idea for walking on deck, as the surface can be slippery when wet. Many ships have formal nights, requiring black tie outfits, and some cruises have optional theme nights, where you can dress up as pirates, or don country ‘n’ western gear.

To find out more about cruising or to find the cruise of your dreams within your budget, visit

Written by joannaha