21 Must have cruise essentials to take on a cruise. These are the best things to pack for a cruise vacation.

21 Best Things to Bring on a Cruise

Here are some of the most helpful and best things to take on a cruise that you may not have thought of. Check out these cruise must-haves.

This article started out to be the 16 best things to bring on a cruise, however after trying out a few other cruise items, I had to include those as I bring them on each and every cruise.

Best things to take on a cruise vacation.  These must pack items are cruise essentials.

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21 best things to bring on a cruise

1. Cruise Card Lanyard

Cruise Lanyards, 3 Pack Waterproof Cruise Lanyard with Detachable Buckle & ID Badge Holder for Cruises Ships Key Cards, Cruise Essentials & Must Have Accessories (Light Blue + Dark Blue + Red)

2. Beach Bag

Even if you don’t plan on doing any shore excursions to the beach, you will want to bring a beach bag for going back and forth to the ship’s pool. It’s handy for carrying things like a towel, sunscreen, water bottle and a good book.

My favorite beach bag for a cruise

3. Power strip

Most cruise staterooms have limited outlets and with so many things to charge these days power bank is a great way to increase the number of plug ins you have.

Please note not any power strip will do. It must be cruise ship approved and have NON-SURGE protection.

The one pictured below is the one I have and bring on every single cruise.

Cruise Power Strip No Surge Protector with USB Outlets - Ship Approved (Non Surge Protection) Cruise Essentials in 2023, 2024 & 2025

4. Zip Loc Bags

5. Smaller Backpack

Use it as your travel carry on, then you can use again for taking on shore excursions. I like to use a small backpack instead of my beach tote when I’m going to be walking around exploring a port. It just makes it easier to carry and hands free. It’s great if you are going to be shopping in a cruise port.

ZOMAKE Lightweight Packable Backpack - 35L Light Foldable Hiking Backpacks Water Resistant Collapsible Daypack for Travel(Yellow New)

Ultimate Cruise Planner and Journal

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6. Smaller Bills

Take several bills in smaller denominations for tips (gratuities). These will be for tipping the porter at the pier who takes your luggage at the cruise terminal, room service, tour bus drivers, and shore excursion tour escorts in port.

7. A Good Quality Water Bottle

You can usually find water and ice machines in the buffet restaurant.

I would suggest a water bottle with a wider mouth to easily fit ice cubes.

YETI Rambler 26 oz Bottle, Vacuum Insulated, Stainless Steel with Chug Cap, Seafoam

8. Waterproof Cell Phone Lanyard Case

These are great for even just hanging out at the beach. You can keep your phone and ID with you when you go into the water to cool off. These phone pouches protect your phone from the water and help protect from theft since it is on your body and not left on the beach.

JOTO Waterproof Pouch Cellphone Dry Bag Case for iPhone 11 Pro Max Xs Max XR X 8 7 6S Plus SE, Galaxy S20 Ultra S20+ S10 Plus S10e S9 Plus S8/Note 10+ 9, Pixel 4 XL up to 6.9" -Black

This is the brand we have (the whole family has one). We do have to remove our phones from their cases for them to fit, but we don’t find that to be an issue. Always test your phone pouch with a piece of paper or tissue.

9. Sea Bands

Sea-Band The Original Wristband Adults - 1 Piece

10. Sweater or Cardigan

11. Biodegradable Sunscreen

Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 50 All Natural, Water Resistant, Moisturizing, Biodegradable, Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Ocean Friendly Mineral Sunblock from Reef Repair 4 fl. Oz

12. Travel Coffee Mug

The coffee mugs on the cruise ships can be on the small side.

YETI Rambler 20 oz Tumbler, Stainless Steel, Vacuum Insulated with MagSlider Lid, Black

13. Band-Aids

Throw a few Band-Aids into your cruise toiletry bag, these will help with not only cuts and scrapes but I bring them along incase I get blisters.

14. Small Travel Umbrella

Pack a small foldable travel umbrella in your shore excursion bag. I bring it along more for shade than for protection from rain.

SY COMPACT Travel Umbrella Windproof Automatic LightWeight Unbreakable Umbrellas-Factory outlet umbrella (Black)

15. Portable Charger

Don’t let your phone, which is likely your camera, die. You don’t want to miss out on capturing your cruise vacation memories because your phone is in your room charging.

Anker Portable Charger, Power Bank, 10,000 mAh Battery Pack with PowerIQ Charging Technology and USB-C (Input Only) for iPhone 15/15 Plus/15 Pro/15 Pro Max, iPhone 14/13 Series, Samsung Galaxy

16. Beach Chair Towel Clips

Towel clips are especially nice on a cruise as there is always a slight breeze. These clips which come in some really cute styles help keep your towel from blowing off or constantly blowing onto your shoulder.

O2COOL Bocaclips - Beach Towel Clips for Beach Chairs, Patio and Pool Accessories - (Flip Flop) 2 Count

Aren’t these beach towel holders so cute? There are so many different styles and colors available.

17. Magnetic hooks

Use them to hang your cruise lanyard, dresses, hats and more.

18. Downy Wrinkle Release Spray

19. Cruise Luggage Tag Holders

Carnival Luggage Tag Holders by Cruise On [4 Pack] Fits All Carnival Cruise Line Ships & Tags for Cruises in 2024 & 2025

20. Travel sized medications

This is one that really should have made the initial top 16. You should bring travel sized medications whenever you travel.

Think through different scenarios and pack for that. If you had a headache or sore throat or upset stomach, what would you take.

21. Hanging toiletry bag

The bathrooms on most cruise ships are tiny. A hanging toiletry bag is a great cruise organization hack. You can hang it on the back of bathroom door and keep the small counter top clear.

Keep Reading:

Add these helpful cruise items to your cruise packing list. Other articles you might find helpful in planning your next cruise vacation:

16 Must have cruise essentials.  These are the best items to pack for a cruise.  Be sure to add these things to your cruise packing list.