What to pack for a Caribbean cruise - the essentials

What to pack for a Caribbean Cruise 2023 {Essentials}

If you are looking for a packing list for a 7 day cruise to the Caribbean with all the essential items, this is it. 

Planning a cruise vacation is an exciting thing.  And while you will have a great time regardless, there are some cruise essentials you will glad you packed to make your vacation even better. 

This packing list for 7 day cruise – Caribbean will include:

  • Cruise essentials
  • Luggage and bags you need for a 7-day cruise
  • what clothes to pack for a cruise to the caribbean

What to pack for a Caribbean cruise - the essentials.  Image is a packed suitcase on a turquoise background

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Packing list for 7 day cruise – cruise essentials

Proper identification

Your travel documents are the most important things you can pack for any vacation. 

Be sure your passport is valid, and you have any other necessary documents (travel visas, vaccines, etc).  Check with your travel agent or cruise line for the up to date required documents.

Travel documents

Print outs and screen shots of cruise, flight, and transfers confirmations.  Organize your documents in the order you will need them. 

Cruise embarkation tips has more on this.


Don’t forget your credit cards, debit card, and some cash (if you are Canadian, be sure to get your money converted to US dollars.)

The above 3 are critical, you will need these to even board the cruise ship.  These other cruise items will help keep your organized and help you make the most out of your cruise vacation.

Medical insurance

Pack your travel and medical insurance policy.  Be sure you know what to do should you have to seek treatment.

Passport holder

A passport cover with RFID blocking technology is a smart safe travel accessory.

Aluminium credit card holder

An aluminum credit card holder is another travel accessory that can help keep your personal information safe. 

Waterproof phone case

On a Caribbean cruise, there is a good chance at least one of your shore excursions will include some ocean fun.  A waterproof cell phone pouch is in my opinion a must pack cruise essential. 

I have the JOTO waterproof pouch.  It protects you phone when splashing around in the waves, allows you to get some great underwater photos when snorkeling, and allows you to keep your phone with you while you are at the beach.

The last thing you want is to either have you phone stolen when you take a dip in the ocean or to have it damaged by water.

Cruise lanyard

A lanyard is a popular way to carry your cruise card.  Other options can be found in 6 Ways to Carry Your Cruise Card.

Power strip (non-surge protected)

You often find that your cruise cabin doesn’t have enough electrical plug ins.  It is a good idea to pack a power bar or power strip.  Not any power strip will do.  It must have non-surge protection.   

This is the power bar we have.  It not only has extra outlets but also has USB ports.

cruise ship approved power strip

Magnetic hooks add to your packing list for 7 day cruise Caribbean

As you can read in 27 Smart Cabin Organization Tips and in Cruise Magnets, strong magnetic hooks are a great cruise hack.

Magnetic clips

Organize your cruise papers with magnetic clips.

Beach chair towel clips

These fun things are not just cute, they serve two purposes.  They hold your towel in place on your beach chair and stop it from blowing over your shoulder.  Towel clips are also a great visual reference for finding your chair. 

These are especially useful on a sea day when the pool deck is busiest, and everyone is using the same cruise ship beach towels.

Ziploc bags

Packing a few different sized Ziploc bags are a great travel hack.

They have so many great uses and take up hardly any space in your suitcase. 

Some of the ways you can use Ziploc bags on a cruise vacation:

  • Wet bathing suit to prevent the rest of your beach bag from getting wet
  • Protect important documents
  • Keep a book dry in your beach or pool bag
  • Store liquid containers in to prevent spills in your suitcase  
  • Room service leftovers you plan to finish later

Cruise ship luggage tag holders

The cruise lines have you print out your luggage tags at home.  Purchasing a cruise line specific luggage tag holder is such a better option than attaching a piece of paper to your suitcase handle.

Cruise luggage tags – what you need to know has more information and links to purchase luggage tag holders for the major cruise lines.

These luggage tag holders fit Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruises – the link below will lead you to ones for the other major cruise llines.

Packing list for 7 day cruise Caribbean continued

Water bottles

Pack a good quality reusable water bottle for each family member.  I prefer the larger mouth bottles so that I can add ice.

Travel mug

If you are a big coffee drinker, consider adding a travel mug to your packing list for a 7 day cruise to the Caribbean.  You can fit more coffee in most travel mugs than the coffee mugs they provide.

More cruise essentials to add to your packing list for 7 day cruise Caribbean

Small travel umbrella

A small foldable travel umbrella is useful in ports of call when you are exploring the beautiful Caribbean islands. 

In addition to the obvious protection from rain, an umbrella makes a great portable sunshade. 

Our printable cruise planner and journal has checklists for the cruise essentials, what to include in your shore excursion bag, and cruise carry on bag.  You can check it out here.

Cruise planner and journal - printable pdf. For every step of the cruise proccess from planning your cruise, to preparing for your vaction to remembering it. Packing lists and to do lists

Portable charger

A lot of time people (like me) use their phone as their camera and video recorder.  This can drain your battery faster then expected.  I throw our portable charger into our tote bag that we bring to the pool.  This saves me from having to go back to our stateroom to charge my phone.

Sea Bands

Sea bands are one of the cruise ship motion sickness remedies.

Poo Pourri

Add a small bottle of Poo Pourri to your Caribbean cruise packing list.  It is made with essential oils and is a great way to keep your stateroom smelling fresh.  Especially if you have an interior stateroom (no outside air).

Pack Poo-pourri spray for your cruise to Bermuda

Wrinkle release spray

One of the tips in How to Keep Clothes Wrinkle Free on a Cruise is to bring wrinkle release spray.

Tide stain remover stick

Reef safe sunscreen

An absolute must for a Caribbean cruise is sunscreen. 

If you are planning on spending any time in the ocean, consider a reef safe sunscreen.

Lip balm

Make sure lip balm is on your Caribbean cruise packing list.  Bring one that has SPF protection.

Antibiotic spray

An antibiotic spray or ointment should be added to your first aid kit.  I pack it in my shore excursion bag.  You can see what else to pack in your shore excursion bag here.


What toiletries pack for a cruise has a list of what to pack for a cruise.  It also includes the items to include in your cruise first aid kit.

A cruise toiletry check list is one of the checklists in our printable Cruise Planner and Journal



What type of luggage to bring on a cruise ship

Here are the luggage and bags you will want to bring on a Caribbean cruise.

Large suitcase

I prefer the hard-shell suitcases with 4 swivel wheels. 

Luggage tag

In addition to the cruise ship luggage tag holders mentioned above, you should also have a regular luggage tag, especially if you are flying to your cruise departure point. 

The cruise luggage tags don’t have your contact information should your luggage get lost.

Cruise carry on bag

A cruise carry-on bag is important for your first day on the ship as you won’t receive your checked luggage for several hours after boarding. 

Your cruise carry-on bag can be a beach tote, tote bag, or backpack.  This can also double as your pool bag.

If this is your first cruise and you are wondering what to include in your carry on bag, The Only Things you Need in Your Cruise Carry On will help.

I use and love this beach bag.  It is water resistant, has a zipper closure, smaller internal zippered pockets and 2 large mesh outside pockets that provide easy access to my water bottle.

Shore excursion bag

You will want to think about what type of bag or day pack you will want with you when you are exploring the different ports. 

You can use the same bag you use as a carry-on.  However, if you have a beach bag for your cruise carry on or pool bag, you may also want a small backpack if you are doing a lot of exploring in the ports.

I’d suggest that if you are cruising with someone, one person use a beach bag or tote bag as their carry-on and the other person use a backpack.  This way you have both bags available to use as your shore excursion bag depending on what your port day plans are.

Packing cubes

Packing cubes are one of those travel accessories that can help you be more organized and help keep your clothes less wrinkled. 

11 Clever cruise packing tips has more helpful information. 

Hanging toiletry bag

A hanging toiletry bag is a great option for storing all your cruise toiletries.  Hanging your toiletry bag on the back of the bathroom door makes use of the vertical space and helps keep your vanity top clutter free.


What toiletries to pack for a cruise – Ultimate list outlines what you will want to pack.

Our printable Utimate Cruise Planer & Journal includes a first aid and cruise toiletries checklist. 

Electronics organizer

This is not a necessity, but it is nice to have.  Keep all your cords, chargers, and extra batteries together.

Packing list for 7 day cruise Caribbean continued

What clothes to pack for a cruise to the Caribbean

When deciding what clothes to pack for a cruise to the Caribbean there are a couple of things to consider.            

  • The cruise line’s dress codes – are there formal nights? Other restrictions? 
  • The type of shore excursions you plan on doing.  Do you need long pants?  Runners? Water shoes?

Many cruise lines such as Princess cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean have formal nights.  On a 7-night cruise you can usually expect 2 formal nights.  The dress code applies to the main dining room. 

The remaining nights are often a resort casual dress code. 

A specific cruise packing checklist of clothes is difficult as clothing options are so varied, especially for women.

I find that checklists that say pack 5 shorts and 7 t-shirts for the day, don’t work for someone who likes to wear sundresses or rompers.  And those checklists that include this plus dresses and rompers are then too many outfits. 

I find a better approach is to plan your outfits.    

Decide what you will wear each day of the cruise, it doesn’t have to be on day 2 I will wear this.  It’s more of one day I will wear this.  Plan a day outfit and an evening outfit especially for the formal nights.

I talk a bit more about this here.

Here are some of the clothes you will want to pack for a 7-day cruise to the Caribbean.

3 Bathing suits

You can get away with 2 swimsuits if that’s all you have.  Hang your wet bathing suits on the clothes line in your bathroom shower so that you can re-wear them.

2-3 Swimsuit coverups

29 crochet swim suit coverups has some cute options.

8-9 Pairs of underwear

Maybe more depending on how many days pre and post cruise you will be away from home. A few bras and a sports bra if you plan on working out.

2-3 Pairs of socks

More if you plan on wearing running shoes most days. 

7 Daytime outfits

If you have pre or post cruise days, try to re-wear one of your other outfits.

Daytime cruise outfits for women

Plan 7 outfits, choose shorts that go with more than one shirt to pack lighter.

  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Sundresses
  • Rompers
  • Pants made from lightweight fabrics

Daytime cruise outfits for men

Plan 7 daytime outfits that can be mixed and matched.

  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Muscle shirts
  • Lightweight pants

Evening cruise outfits

If your cruise line has formal or elegant nights, plan 2 different formal outfits.  To save packing space, bring one skirt or dress pants and 2 blouses or dress shirts.

Evening wear for women

Formal attire (x2) such as

  • Cocktail dresses
  • Skirts and blouse
  • Pant suit

5 resort casual (nicer casual) such as

  • Casual dresses
  • Skirts
  • Casual pants
  • Capris
  • Nicer shirts

Evening Caribbean cruise outfits for men

2 formal outfits such as

  • Dark suit
  • Dress pants (x1)
  • Dress shirt (x2)
  • Tie (x2)

5 casual outfits such as

  • Polo or golf shirts
  • Short sleeved button up shirts
  • Khaki pants
  • Golf pants

Night clothes

Gym clothes – if you plan on going


A cardigan, zip up hoodie, or light jacket is recommended for all cruises as the air conditioning onboard cruise ships can be chilly.

Comfortable walking sandals

Comfortable shoes are important, especially for walking around in the ports of call.

Flip flops

Slides or flip flops are great for around the pool deck or an evening trip to the hot tubs.

Dress shoes

Try to pack one pair of dress shoes that go with both formal night outfits.

Best shoes for a cruise has more information.

I hope this has been helpful in deciding what to add to your packing list for a 7 day cruise to the Caribbean.

Some related posts you might find interesting if your Caribbean cruise stops in Grand Cayman or Jamaica.  Stingray city & Dunns River Falls.

If you are new to cruising then you will want to read 35 Things to Know Before a Cruise – First Cruise Tips.