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What to pack on your next cruise

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Going on a cruise? Packing for a trip out on sea differs from other types of vacations for multiple reasons, mostly because cruising involves spending the majority of your time in the middle of the ocean. Planning ahead of time and bringing some essential items aboard – like these must-haves – helps ensure smooth sailing while on your trip.

Top products in this article:

Rollink Flex Vega collapsible suitcases, $185 and up

Bagsmart over-the-door toiletry organizer, $24 after coupon (reduced from $28)

Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, $190

Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag, $38

While unexpected, cruising has bounced back in popularity in the post-pandemic world. "Things were definitely rough," Aaron Saunders of told CBS in October 2022. "The cruise industry is really experiencing a bit of a resurgence." Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises experienced their single largest booking day in history on Black Friday, while Holland America Line and Carnival also reported higher volumes of booking than pre-pandemic. 

Once you book your vacation at sea, packing can be tricky as there are so many types of voyages, explains Jonathan Alder, CEO of Jonathan's Travels. "The number one advice is to look through your sailing documents—especially the dress code section," he suggests. "While cruise lines are usually all casual during the daytime, many still enforce a formal dress code or semi-formal dress code in the evenings."

Also, consider the weather and the environment you're going to. "You may need exploration gear for something more nature-based or really comfortable walking clothes for touring capital cities of Europe," he says. 

What to pack on your next cruise

CBS Essentials asked the experts on what to pack for your next cruise. Their recommendations range from gadgets to clothing and accessories. 

Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition


Interior designer and Celebrity Cruises Edge Series Travel Ambassador Nate Berkus cruises with his family at least five times a year, and he never boards the boat without a few books. However, avid readers should consider loading up a Kindle with a bunch of titles in order to save space. An added bonus? This Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition comes with a three month trial of Kindle Unlimited. 

Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, $190

Hat Attack packable hat

Hat Attack

Berkus also recommends "a hat for the pool." Hat Attack, a brand favored by Gabrielle Union-Wade and Jessica Alba, makes the perfect packable hat that refuses to shape-shift in your suitcase.

Hat Attack packable hat, $75

Bagsmart over-the-door toiletry organizer


Keep your toiletries organized by packing them in this roomy organizer. Once on ship, hang the clever bag over the door to maximize bathroom space. 

Bagsmart over-the-door toiletry organizer, $24 after coupon (reduced from $28)

Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag


Amber Rose Powers, a travel advisor at Fora travel, suggests investing in one of Lululemon's best-selling pieces. "The Everywhere Belt Bag is the perfect size for your credit cards, ID, phone, lanyards, lip gloss and all the basics you'll need around the boat and on excursions," she says, noting that you can wear around your waist or crossbody.  

Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag, $38

Rollink Flex Vega collapsible suitcases


The downside of cruising? Unless you splurge on a suite, most rooms skew on the smaller side. Rollink collapsible suitcases make the perfect luggage option. Each size features a durable polycarbonate shell, silent wheels and a telescopic handle, folding up flat to around two-inches thick for convenient storage in a closet, under the bed or even hung up.  

Rollink Flex Vega collapsible suitcases, $185 and up

FaceTory Sun Bae sheet mask, pack of 5


Hydrate sun-quenched skin with these individually wrapped soothing sheet masks, formulated with aloe vera and shea butter. 

FaceTory Sun Bae sheet mask, pack of 5, $9

Spongology by Spongelle Coconut Travel Body Buffer


Swap out your body wash, exfoliator and body lotion for this three-in-one sponge, formulated with essential oil and infused with skin softening body wash. 

Spongology by Spongelle Coconut Travel Body Buffer, $12

Vacation Chardonnay Oil, SPF 30 


Don't forget to pack lots of sunscreen, says Berkus. Vacation, a sunscreen that smells so good the brand bottled up the fragrance as a perfume, formulated this lightweight grapeseed oil sunscreen to offer protection while nourishing your skin and leaving behind a shimmer and shine. 

Vacation Chardonnay Oil, SPF 30 (3.4 oz), $22

Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler


This viral tumbler makes the ultimate multitasker for your travels and also doubles as a packing hack. You can use the large 40 oz bottle to house toiletries or other small items while inside your bag, and then clean it when you're ready to hit the cruise ship or lounge out on the pool deck, filling it with coffee, water, booze or whatever other beverage you drink.  

Stanley Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler, $40 

Quince Mongolian cashmere duster cardigan sweater


Dori Saltzman, editor of Travel Market Report and long-time cruise expert, suggests always bringing some kind of sweater or wrap. "Even if you're cruising in the Caribbean in August, inside your cruise ship it can be freezing. Particularly in the theater and restaurants where they turn up the AC," she says. This cashmere duster from Quince keeps you warm and looking chic.  

Quince Mongolian cashmere duster cardigan sweater, $100

Rothy's The Point washable flats


"For women, multiple pairs of ballet flats are easy to pack and give you the option to change your shoes in the evening to match different outfits," says Saltzman. "I usually have three to four pairs of ballet flats, at least one in my carry-on bag because they hardly take up any room." These flats from Rothy's make the perfect travel shoe. If they get dirty on your trip, just pop them in the washing machine when you get home. 

Rothy's The Point washable flats, $149

Welly Human Repair Kit


On land or sea, this first aid kit in a tin, complete with bandages and single use ointments, creams and hand sanitizers, comes in handy. 

Welly Human Repair Kit, $8

Apple AirTag, 4 pack 

Apple AirTag
Apple via Amazon

Whether you travel by land or sea, attaching an Apple AirTag to your luggage helps keep track of your personal belongings, in case they get away from you. 

Apple AirTag, 4 pack, $99

Erin Condren Travel Prep Bundle

Erin Condren

Not only does this fun Erin Condren bundle come with three packing cubes, but it also has a packing list notepad, a travel journal vacation planner and pretty pens to use on your travels. 

Erin Condren Travel Prep Bundle, $58 (reduced from $74)

OOFOS sandals


Made with OOFOS's trademark technology, these impact absorbing sandals make the perfect all-day footwear option, whether you choose to stroll around the ship deck or an island stop. 

Women's OOFOS OOlala Sandal, $70

Men's OOFOS Sandal, $60

Vineyard Vines Lined Hybrid Shorts 

Vineyard Vines

Made out of soft, stretchy, quick dry fabric, this swimming trunk and shorts hybrid make the perfect pair for all day wear. Because who has time to change in between swimming, dining and sightseeing? 

Vineyard Vines Lined Hybrid Shorts, $128

Andie The Amalfi swimsuit


One of the most universally flattering and versatile swimsuits, The Amalfi from Andie continues to achieve bestseller status year after year. Not only does it work for the pool and beach, but throw on a pair of shorts or a skirt and head out for a day of sightseeing. 

Andie The Amalfi swimsuit, $98

Monday Swimwear Barcelona Tunic


"Monday Swimwear cover ups are great quality but super lightweight and don't take up a ton of space in your suitcase," says Powers about the Barcelona tunic, available in various color options. "The oversized shirt can help you look elegant while still being super casual and comfortable."  

Monday Swimwear Barcelona Tunic, $138

Tuckernuck Beach Kenzo dress


Because closet space is limited, prioritize packing double-tasking items for a cruise. This adorable dress-slash-swimwear cover up stylishly transitions from the pool to the restaurant. 

Tuckernuck Beach Kenzo dress, $128

Vineyard Vines Edgartown Piqué Performance Polo

Vineyard Vines

Berkus reminds that men should pack at least "three polo shirts" for a cruise, as collared shirts are generally required for dressier restaurants. Moisture-wicking and stretchy, this style from Vineyard Vines offers comfort for all-day wear in addition to fitting the dress code. 

Vineyard Vines Edgartown Piqué Performance Polo, $95

Dagne Dover The Dakota neoprene backpack

Dagne Dover

This water-resistant neoprene backpack makes the perfect travel companion. Stash all your personal items in the roomy bag, boasting plenty of pockets, including a padded laptop sleeve holding up to a 16-inch device. Once on your, use the stylish accessory as a pool or gym bag or expedition backpack.

Dagne Dover Dakota backback, $215

Veja Condor 2 running shoes


Don't forget your running shoes, notes Berkus. Most cruise ships offer fitness classes, luxurious gyms, and even tracks for outdoor running. For example, Celebrity offers F45 classes and Peloton cycling. Also, once you get to port, a great pair of sneakers come in helpful for all your excursions. This pair of Veja sneakers is great for exercise and looks great with resort wear. 

Veja Condor 2 running shoes, $195

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