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Your Complete Packing List For a Cruise Vacation With Kids

Your Complete Packing List For a Cruise Vacation With Kids

Here is a list of items you want to be sure to pack on a cruise for your family. This packing list assumes you are going someplace warm: The Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Latin America, maybe Australia & New Zealand.

Hot places are becoming even hotter these days, especially for summer cruises. Take seriously items meant to keep you healthy and safe in the sun, including hats, insulated water bottles, plenty of sunscreen and clothes that wick or have built-in UV protection.

Pair this with
• My Basic Packing List for every Vacation
• My Essential Carry-on Items Packing List
• For Alaska and Nordic Cruises, add hiking shoes, rain gear, a fleece and a scarf.
Scroll to the bottom to Download & Print this Cruise Vacation Packing List

Tips For Packing Any Warm Weather Cruise

Start with some key essentials

Luggage: Even the biggest state rooms are designed to be compact. You’re meant to unpack and stow your luggage under the beds. Most standard luggage fits. On the rare occasion it doesn’t, you can ask your cabin steward to store it for you.

Some people store their carry-ons inside their larger suitcases before stowing them. We tend to keep our backpacks lying around because they hold items like books, laptops and chargers.

Clothes: Think a lot about versatility when you’re packing. I make sure all my tops coordinate with each of the skirts, shorts and pants I pack, so I can carry less and still have plenty of outfits to choose from.

I also like dresses that I can dress down for a shore excursion and dress-up for the evening with a scarf or jewelry and different shoes. Extra accessories take up far less room than additional clothes.

A cover-up is nice when you’re going from the hot pool deck to the highly air-conditioned hallways and restaurants. My favorite ones have a pocket for room key, phone or sunglasses.

For excursions I like technical shorts, tops, Capri pants and even skirts that wick sweat and dry quickly. If they have UV protection, even better. I have a growing collection of very light long-sleeve tops, too. I like them because I don’t have to worry about sunscreen wearing off on long days out.

I wear sporty sandals on most excursions, too. They’re comfortable when I do a lot of walking, keep my feet cool and can get wet. I pack a second pair of fashionable sandals for evenings, but even these are comfortable and fairly casual.

I do pack sneakers, too, in case I need closed-toe shoes for an excursion, but on our last cruise I only wore them while learning to play pickleball.

Waterproof phone pouch: A waterproof pouch for your phone is important for beach and water excursions. And it’s nice added protection for your device around the pool. I prefer one that’s bigger than my phone so I can also use it to keep cash or a credit card, an I.D., earbuds and even my watch dry and close to me when we’re out on the water.

Mini first-aid kit: It can be surprisingly hard to find something as simple as aspirin on a cruise ship. So I usually pack a pouch with a pain reliever, allergy meds, cold medicine, antacid, anti-diarrheal, antiseptic gel, some band-aids, arnica and aloe or calendula to handle the routine maladies that can pop up.

Then Consider These Optional Items

Evening Clothes: Cruises typically have one “fancy dress” night where people don suits, cocktail dresses and slinky heels. For some families this is a highlight of the week, and they use it to have family portraits taken by the ship’s photographers. We never want to pack the extra clothes this requires and have never done it.

Some cruise lines still have requirements for evening dress. Ask whether yours does, so you pack the right clothes without over-packing.

Multi-plug outlet: If you have several phones, laptops, eReaders and cameras that all need to be charged, a powerstrip with several USB ports and outlets will be handy. Make sure you have one that is approved for cruise ships, without a surge protector.

Daypack: I always pack a drawstring backpack or tote bag. On shore days it holds all the extras we needed for whatever activity we were doing. Even on board I often use it to stash a book, sunglasses, phone and a sunhat when I head to the pool.

Lanyards: If your cruise doesn’t use ID bracelets, you’ll need your key-card with you all the time, for onboard food and drink purchases as well as to get into your cabin. Lanyards keep them handy and decrease the odds of kids losing them (or adults, for the matter).

We save lanyards for just this purpose when we go to conferences. But Amazon sells a lanyard 3-pack for less than you’ll pay for a single one in the gift shop. Guest services will punch a whole in the keycard for you.

Snorkel gear: If we’re planning to go snorkeling, we carry our own masks and snorkels. We gladly borrow fins, but using a shared snorkel is kinda gross.

Diapers: Pack plenty of regular diapers. You don’t want to have to buy them on board or go hunting for them in port towns.

But Cruise lines never allow swim diapers or tots who aren’t toilet-trained in any of the pools. Some allow them in the toddler splash pad if there is one. Check the facilities and rules for your particular line and ship before you bother packing them.

The Complete Caribbean Cruise Packing List


  • Passports for everyone
  • Visas if required 
  • Airplane tickets/boarding passes
  • Receipts for prepaid land excursions
  • Reservation numbers 
  • Cruise line app

Things you DON’T want to buy on the ship

  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Basic Toiletries
  • Spot stain remover
  • Laundry detergent pods
  • Batteries
  • Water bottles
  • Memory cards
  • Sunglasses
  • Lanyards for your key card



  • Pool shoes/flip-flops 
  • Sport sandals
  • Sneakers or hiking/walking shoes 
  • Casual dress shoes 

Clothing for adults

  • Sunhats 
  • Wrap or cardigan for air conditioning
  • 2 bathing suits per person
  • Cover-up 
  • 2-3 dresses
  • 3-4 Shorts, skirts or skorts
  • Casual tops
  • Active wear
  • Capris or light loose pants
  • 1 light long-sleeve top (for the sun)
  • Pajamas
  • Underwear and bras
  • 1 camisole
  • Toiletries bag
  • OTC medications
  • Make-up

Optional Extras

  • Eyeglasses
  • Contact lens accessories
  • Aloe
  • 1 cocktail dress (moms)
  • Dress-up clothes for the kids
  • Slacks/jacket/tie (dads)
  • Exercise clothes
  • Specialty clothes for land excursions
  • Rain jackets
  • Kids books
  • Kids activity books
  • Portable board/card games
  • Books/magazines for you
  • eReader
  • Day tote bag
  • Snorkel gear

Clothing for kids

  • Sunhat
  • 2 bathing suits
  • Light hoodie or sweater
  • Underwear
  • 1 light long-sleeve top
  • Sun dresses
  • Shorts
  • Light pants
  • Short-sleeve tops
  • Capri leggings
  • 1 pair long shorts 
  • Pajamas
  • Toiletries

If you have a baby or toddler along

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Rash ointment
  • Baby sunscreen
  • Bottles or sippy cups
  • Pacifiers
  • Mid-weight pajamas
  • Snuggly animal
  • Small toys 
  • Bedtime books
  • Baby blanket
  • Crib sheet

Download & Print This Packing List