What to pack for a Caribbean cruise - the essentials

What to pack for a Caribbean Cruise 2024 {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. 


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.

ACdream Passport and Vaccine Card Holder Combo, Cover Case with CDC Vaccination Card Slot, Leather Travel Documents Organizer Protector, with RFID Blocking, for Women and Men/Grey

Aluminium credit card holder

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

ELFISH Mini RFID Aluminum Wallet Credit Cards Holder Business Card Case Metal ID Case for Men Women (Acolorful)

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. 

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.

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

Cruise 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)

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.   

cruise ship approved power strip

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

Magnetic hooks used in a cruise stateroom to hang a cover-up and lanyard

Neosmuk Magnetic Hooks, 27 lb+ Heavy Duty Earth Magnets with Hook for Refrigerator, Extra Strong Cruise Hook for Hanging, Magnetic Hanger for Cabins, Grill (Silver White, Pack of 10)

Magnetic clips

Cruise cabin organization tip - use magnetic clips to organize papers

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.

O2COOL Bocaclips - Beach Towel Clips for Beach Chairs, Patio and Pool Accessories Clothes Pins or Bag Clips - (Flip Flop) 4 Clips

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.

Royal Caribbean Luggage Tag Holders by Cruise On [4 Pack] Fits All Royal Caribbean Ships & Tags for Cruises in 2023, 2024 & 2025

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. 

Repel Umbrella The Original Portable Travel Umbrella - Umbrellas for Rain Windproof, Strong Compact Umbrella for Wind and Rain, Perfect Car Umbrella, Golf Umbrella, Backpack, and On-the-Go

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-Band Adult Wrist Bands, pair by Sea-Band (Pack of 2)

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).

Poo-pourri spray

Wrinkle release spray

Tide stain remover stick

Reef safe sunscreen

An absolute must for a Caribbean cruise is sunscreen. 

Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion | Vegan and Hawaii 104 Reef Act Compliant (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free) Broad Spectrum Moisturizing UVA/UVB Sunscreen with Vitamin E | 8 oz

Lip balm

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

Antibiotic ointment

Neosporin Original First Aid Antibiotic Ointment with Bacitracin Zinc For Infection Protection, Wound Care Treatment & Scar Appearance Minimizer for Minor Cuts, Scrapes and Burns,.5 oz




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. 

Coolife 3-Piece Lightweight Hardside Spinner Luggage Set with TSA Lock

Luggage tag

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.

ESVAN Original Water Resistant Large Tote Bag for Gym Beach Travel, Upgraded, White, Pineapple

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. 

8-Piece Deluxe Compression Packing Cubes for Travel - Maximize Space in Luggage with HybridMax Double Capacity Design, Luxury Suitcase Organizer Bags, Large, Small, & Medium Set

Hanging toiletry bag

This is the hanging bag I have. When it is full, it can hang a little funny, but I have never found it to be a problem. I like the large size and that it can also sit on the counter. Some hanging toiletry bags are shaped so that they don’t sit well on their own.

Buruis Large Capacity Toiletry Bag for Women and Men, Hanging Toiletry Organizer Cosmetics Makeup Bag, Water-resistant Dopp kit Shaving Bag for Full Sized Toiletries, Travel Essentials (Purple)


Electronics organizer

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

BAGSMART Electronics Organizer Travel Case, Small Cable Organizer Bag for Travel Essentials, Travel Tech Organizer as Travel Accessories, Cord Organizer for Phone, Power Bank, SD Card, Black

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.

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

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.

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

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