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Top 20 Must-Haves When Going On A Cruise

Going On A Cruise Top 20 Must Haves When Going on a Cruise Carnival Conquest Cruise Tips Packing Tips Ideas Suggestions What to pack

CONGRATULATIONS!  You’re going on a cruise!!  Whether you are a first-time cruiser or a pro (like me!), this list is meant to help make your trip as convenient and enjoyable as possible.  As a Platinum Level cruiser on Carnival Cruise Lines, I have enough experience to assure you that these ideas will ABSOLUTELY save you hassle and aggravation on your trip!  Trust me!


1. Download my FREE Printable Top 20 Essentials Packing List HERE for these (somewhat surprising) items you'll need to take on your cruise!  You don't want to forget anything!

2.  Additionally, I have included quick links (below) so you can drop these items directly into your shopping cart and make a speedy purchase without having to do a bunch of research.  (I've already done the digging for you!)  


 Going On A Cruise Top 20 Must Haves When Going on a Cruise Carnival Conquest Cruise Tips Packing Tips Ideas Suggestions What to pack 21

 Ready?  Let’s go!  

  1. Power Strip —  Most cruise cabins only have 1 outlet which means you and anyone else in your cabin will be fighting over the single plug.  By packing a power strip, you’ll easily be able to charge multiple items at once and can even use a hairdryer or hair straightener at the same time you are charging other devices.

           Grab these HERE


  1. Travel Cup/Mug With Lid — First of all, if you are a coffee drinker, this is a MUST.  The mugs on the ships are tiny and unless you want to camp out next to the coffee machine, you’ll want a larger travel mug with you.  Additionally, you can use this throughout the day for juice, tea, etc, so it not only comes in handy for coffee in the AM —you’ll be able to use it all day long.

These are especially nice because they come in a variety of colors and have splash proof lids and a straw option.  Add it to your cart HERE

  1. Night light — A small night light (or flash light) will absolutely come in handy.  You’ll find a small light helpful no matter what type of room you have booked, but those inside cabins (no window) are PITCH BLACK once you turn out the light -- so be sure to bring something to help navigate your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

         Nightlights can be snagged HERE 


  1. Air Freshener/Poop Spray — You might not want to think about it, but living in close quarters with others can sometimes prove to be a little awkward.  Having a small air freshener or using the “spray before you go” poop spray will help prevent some smelly situations and help put everyone at ease.

          This one is my favorite in a travel size.  It works!!  Grab yours HERE 


  1. Downy Wrinkle Release Spray — While we are on the topic of sprays, grab a travel-sized bottle of Downy’s Wrinkle Release Spray.  Clothing irons and clothing steamers are NOT allowed on the cruise ship. **Most cruise ships provide an iron in designated laundry areas on the ship if you need to use one—you CANNOT bring your own and if you do, they will confiscate it during the bag-scan before your luggage is delivered to your room.  The wrinkle release spray will work pretty well on cotton/stretchy fabrics but if you have something a little more temperamental then you might need to use the iron that they provide or ask them to professionally press it for you once on board (for a fee, of course).

           If you haven’t seen it before, this is what I’m suggesting you buy and bring    with you to help eliminate wrinkles.  Click HERE to grab yours!  


  1. Hat — Whether it’s a baseball cap, sunhat, or otherwise, you’ll find that a hat comes in very handy out on deck.  Even when the weather is perfect, there will be a breeze from the movement of the ship. Not to mention it helps block the sun from your eyes!  If it’s really windy, you’ll know where the saying “hold on to your hat” came from!

Feel free to check out the hat options available on and be sure to use the promo code BLOG15 for a 15% discount off your order!

  1. Sweater/Sweatshirt/Wrap — Speaking of breezes, the slight wind out on deck at night can feel a little chilly after soaking up the sun all day.  Additionally, the dining room and show lounges are positively FREEZING with air conditioning cranked up on high! You’ll definitely want to have something for those occasions (ie: Every night)!  Bring a sweater, sweatshirt or wrap of some sort!

  1. Backpack/Tote Bag — You’ll get many uses out of this, depending on how you plan it!  You’ll want a small(er) bag to take on the ship with you the 1st day you board.  Your luggage won’t be delivered to your room for a few hours so be sure to stash your medicines, sunscreen, and any other essentials (kids’ swimsuits, etc) that will be needed during those first few hours in your backpack/tote bag.  ADDITIONALLY, if you plan properly, this same bag can be used as a pool bag/shore excursion bag for when you get off the ship in the various ports. I’m a big fan of getting multiple uses out of everything I pack, so be sure to choose your bag wisely and you’ll be able to do the same!

Feel free to check out the tote bag options available on and be sure to use the promo code BLOG15 for a 15% discount off your order!

  1. Water Shoes — If you plan on doing any water excursions in the various ports, you’ll be happiest if you pack water shoes instead of going in the ocean in your bare feet.  Some of the places you snorkel or have beach time will be gorgeous but also might have coral, rocks, or spikey ocean life scattered all over the ocean floor (I ran into this issue in Grand Turk, once).  Water shoes are small enough and easy enough to bring with you and are worth it!

Here’s a terrific selection of colors/sizes (inexpensive, too)!!  Go HERE and put them in your cart!  

top 20 must haves items needed when going on a cruise 1st time cruiser first ship packing list


  1. Toiletry organizer bag (or some people use an over the door shoe organizer)--  You will have limited space in the cabin bathroom.  If you are sharing the room with multiple people this problem will only be magnified!! By using a hanging toiletry bag (or shoe organizer) you’ll have plenty of space for everyone to store their items without having to schlep their whole suitcase back and forth to the bathroom every time they shower.

           Something like this is perfect for your trip.  Click HERE to add to cart.  You'll be so glad you did!



Going On A Cruise Top 20 Must Haves When Going on a Cruise Carnival Conquest Cruise Tips Packing Tips Ideas Suggestions What to pack 22

  1. Antibacterial wipes — I’m a firm believer the room stewards do a pretty good job of cleaning the rooms.  HOWEVER, I’d rather pack some disposable wipes and do a quick wipe-down of the remote and door handles, etc, myself to assure that I don’t get sick from someone who stayed in the room before me.  As you know, contagious illnesses spread easily in small spaces with a lot of people when given the chance. Don’t let your cabin be ground zero.

          I bring these with me.  Be sure you bring them, as well.  Click HERE to get them. 


  1. Hand sanitizer — I’m going to assume most people bring hand sanitizer on vacation with them, but if not, add it to your list.  Although hand sanitizer doesn't kill all germs, it certainly helps!  We use it before we eat our meals and certainly when we are on shore excursions. (Again, think about all the people who do these tours every single day.).  I’m definitely NOT a germ-a-phobe but I’m also aware that mixing thousands of people in touristy activities in the hot sun (most days) will only be a breeding ground for germs.  Just be smart. Use the sanitizer. Better to be safe than sick on your cruise.

          HERE's a link for a 2pack of travel sized bottles.


  1. Sunscreen/Hand Lotion/Chapstick — Sunscreen may seem obvious (duh!) but it often gets forgotten!  They will charge you a premium price for it on the ship so be sure to bring it with you!  That said, if you’re going to be in the sun and the wind all week, take care of your skin and your lips!  Don’t forget that lips can sunburn as well! I always pack a chapstick that includes SPF!

  1. Pen/Pencil/Sticky Notes — You’ll want to have something to write with and something to write on.  This comes in handy for leaving notes for other folks you share a cabin with or even for your room steward.  Additionally, you might want to highlight or circle items on the daily cruise agenda that is left in your room each night.  The daily agenda shows the locations/times/activities for the following day. Having a way to highlight activities you are interested in will keep you organized and on track to have a great day!

  1. Pop Up Hamper — The cabins are small(!!) and keeping them picked up will be a MUST so that you don’t feel like the walls are closing in on you.  Stash a lightweight/compact pop-up hamper in the closet and toss your (dry!) dirty clothes in there. Then, when it’s time to pack to go home, I simply move the full hamper directly into my suitcase, add my toiletries, and zip the suitcase closed.  Ta-da! When I get home, my dirty clothes are already separated and go straight to the laundry room.

            HERE's the one I have. You'll definitely want to bring it.


  1. Long-Distance Walkie Talkies — These are especially helpful for families with kids.  Either your kids aren’t old enough to have cell phones or if they are, you certainly aren’t going to want to pay the international roaming fees.  Having a couple walkie talkies is extremely helpful (albeit some folks might feel they are not necessary) to keep tabs on where everyone is on the ship.

           We have some similar to THESE.  


  1. Portable Charger — If you plan on using your cell phone as your camera, too, be sure to pack a portable charger and keep it charged before your shore excursions.  You don’t want to run out of battery when that most perfect photo-op comes along!

Very small/portable option good for charging cell phones.  If you want smaller-sized go HERE


Or, if you want to re-charge your GoPro, Tablet, etc while traveling and away from a power source, THIS more powerful option is fantastic (I use it for our GoPro and iPad): 

  1. Lanyards — A lanyard is a fantastic way to attach your room key and keep it with you on the ship.  Simply put the card on/in the lanyard and wear it around your neck! Easy peasy!

         HERE's an inexpensive 2-pack:  


  1. Ziploc Bags (Various Sizes) — I always pack a handful of Ziploc bags (various sizes) in our suitcase.  At the end of your trip, you’ll be bringing home wet swimsuits or other wet clothing and it’s a great way to contain them.  Additionally, remember those water shoes you wore on the shore excursions? They will have sand in them and it’s best to put them inside a Ziplock for the trip home or else everything in your suitcase will have sand in it.  

  1. Strong magnets/Command sticky hooks/or plastic suction hooks — I’m on the fence about these items which is why I saved it for last on the “must haves” list.  I have not had the best of luck with them, to be honest. However, others SWEAR by them so I included them on the list.  The bottom line is that space is very limited in a cruise cabin (these are not your typical hotel rooms—they are tiny in comparison).  So, keeping them tidy is key. Hooks (of any kind) will come in handy for hanging up wet bathing suits, wet washcloths, or even that wrap/sweater I urged you to bring with you.  The trick is that *some* of the cabin walls are textured so things don’t always stick the best. Also, some of the cabin walls are not magnetic, so magnets don't always work.  I HAVE had luck sticking a strong magnet on the INSIDE of the bathroom door to hang up my washcloth after washing my face at night, so I can at least give a thumbs up to that.  Here are various options depending on what you want to go with but DEFINITELY bring one or more of these options:

          Super strong (claim to hold up to 40lb) magnets.  Grab them HERE


           Or, HERE is a 3-pack of Jumbo Command Hooks (holds 7.5lbs).



Or, CLICK HERE for the option for suction cup hooks.

So there you have it!  

A list of the top 20 things that will most CERTAINLY make your life easier on a cruise!

Will you survive without these items?  Probably not. Certain death is imminent.  Just kidding!!! However, will your cruise be more enjoyable, convenient, and FAR LESS of a hassle WITH these suggestions?  As a Platinum level cruiser I’m going to say Abso-Stinkin-Lutely!  YES.

If you have any questions or want to make a suggestion to add to the list, please shoot me a note at or message/DM on Facebook or Instagram.

Thanks for following along!  Happy Cruisin’!

~Pickles and Punch

***For a printable version of this list to help you when packing click here:

Don’t forget to check out and use BLOG15 to receive 15% off your entire order!   And be sure to follow @Pickles and Punch on FB and Instagram so you can see what crazy adventures we are up to next!

 top 20 must haves when going on a cruise packing list things to bring first cruise ship

All quick links that connect to Amazon are part of the Amazon affiliate program and are considered commissioned links.  Thanks for reading my blog!



  • thank you for all the items possibly needed for cruise really appreciate

    Patricia valdez
  • Thank you so much for the Info. There are so many things I wouldn’t have thought of. What about an Alaskan cruise?? Is there anything I would need differently?? Thank you.

    D Gail Slagle
  • Melissa, you’re so welcome for the blog post suggestions! I’m glad you found it helpful! Have a great trip!

  • Thank you so much for your list!!! 😀 this will be our second cruise we are celebrating our three year anniversary and we are huge Bama fans therefore we super excited about this cruise !!! again thank you for the list 😊


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