What to bring on a cruise

Packing for vacation is hard enough, but being on a cruise makes it even more difficult. You’re going to be in the middle of the ocean or in a foreign country for quite a few days, so you can’t just run to the store and pick something up.

If you’ve never cruised before, or it’s been awhile, it’s hard to know what to bring with you. Here are some cruise essentials we recommend.

Waterproof Phone Case

On a vacation, your phone needs to be protected, whether its on the beach, in a pool or on the ocean. While many phones have water resistance ratings, they are not supposed to exposed to salt water, sand or chlorine. These inexpensive cases will provide your with the extra protection you need.

I purchased this set in 2018 and have used them all over the world; on water slides, lazy rivers, waterfalls, and they’ve worked perfectly. I highly recommend them.

Mpow Waterproof Phone Pouch

Reusable Straws

In 2019, many cruise lines stopped using plastic straws on board in an effort to stop plastic waste from entering the ocean. Some lines have paper or candy alternatives and others have nothing. Since I’m addicted to soda and prefer a straw, I bought these for my last cruise.

They’re just a few inches tall but can expand, so they can be used in anything from a highball glass to a large hurricane glass. They’re solidly made and the little carrying case makes it easy to slip it into your pocket between drinks.

Reusable Metal Straws Collapsible with Case

Multi-port USB Hub

Most cruise cabins only have one or two power outlets available. With the number of devices we have now-a-days (your phone, Apple Watch, Kindle, fitbit), it can lead to a fight over the available outlets.

Most cruise lines do NOT allow surge protectors because of fire issues that may occur with cruise ship wiring. Some will allow extension cords that don’t have surge protectors, but there a lot of stories of confused gate agents not knowing the difference and confiscating them anyway.

A safer option is to bring a USB hub. This one specifically will let you charge up to 5 devices at once. What makes this different than some of the cheaper ones out there, is it has a USB-C port on it. This port can be used to fast charge many devices like iPhones, Android Phones, Nintendo Switches and Laptops.

USB C Wall Charger, Anker Premium 60W 5-Port

(Side note, if you have an iPhone 8 or newer, your device supports quick charging but doesn’t come with it out of the box. To get quick charging, you’ll need a USB C charger and this cable Anker USB C to Lightning Cable)


Nothing can ruin a vacation more than a painful, blistering sunburn. Even if you don’t burn easily, remember that the sun in the Carribean, Mexico and Bahamas is strong than the US and Canada. Save yourself some pain and stock up on some sunscreen.

This Equate Ultra SPF 50 sunscreen is my favorite. You may not realize this, but not every sunscreen actually lives up to it’s claims. Every year, a major consumer publication reviews sunscreens and this one comes out as a top contender every year. Not only does it provide the protection it says it does, it stays on in the water and is one of the cheapest available. That being said, remember to reapply every 80 minutes when in the water.

It’s available at Walmart or Amazon
Equate Ultra Protection Sunscreen SPF 50 16oz Compare to Coppertone SPF 50 Lotion

What NOT to bring


Most cruise lines provides towels you can use on ship and in port; just make sure you return them to your cabin when you’re done. Save some precious travel space and leave your beach towels at home.

Power Strips

As mentioned above, power strips are against the rules of most cruise lines and they will be confiscated. Extension cords without surge protectors may make it through, but it depends on the specific agent who makes the decision.

Inflatable Pool Toys

If you haven’t been on a cruise ship before, the pools are notoriously small and there is never room for any inflatable toys or rafts so just leave them at home. For your kids, bring swimmies or water wings if needed. Most cruise ships provide children’s swimming jackets that can be used in the pool, but the swimmies might be helpful for when you’re in port.