Free Carry On Packing List

The Extras to Add to Your Family Cruise Packing List

Ready to head on a cruise? Here are some must pack items to add to your cruise packing list!

Now that I’ve finally completed my commentary regarding our family Caribbean cruise aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line ship, Norwegian Pearl, I wanted to share some tips for when you next pack for a cruise. You’ll find below a list of items that were either a lifesaver for us or something we wished we would have packed. (affiliate links included below)


  • Low Denomination Bills

Make sure you don’t just take some $20 bills from the ATM on your next cruise. The low denomination bills ($1, $5, $10) come in handy for tipping drivers and negotiating prices in ports.

  • Lanyards

Everybody aboard the ship gets an ID keycard, including kids. These are used for room keys and for getting on and off the ship. They also are used for charging privileges, however the kids’ cards are snipped to prevent charging. This cute Disney Princess Lanyard is available at Amazon. You can also find them at your local party supply store and even the dollar store sometimes.

  • Multi-Outlet Power Strip/Surge Protector

If you’re a family who relies on electronics (ipods, ereaders, tablets, etc.), you’ll find a power strip especially helpful. Outlets in the rooms can be limited and when everyone wants to charge up their devices, there may be a shortage. With a power strip, you’ll be good to go. Pick one up at your local Target or buy this Belkin 6-Outlet Home/Office Surge Protector at Amazon. Make sure you check with your cruise line to verify these devices are allowed.

  • Water Shoes

This was something we didn’t pack and wished we had. At Great Stirrup Cay it was really rocky in the water. Our whole family was envious of those who were wearing water shoes. And again at Dunn River Falls in Jamaica, you had to have water shoes to climb the falls. They had rental water shoes, but you could save some money by packing your own. There are lots of options, like these Speedo Women’s ZipWalker Water Shoe available at Amazon. You can also find these in most stores during the summer, but Amazon is your best chance if you’re not cruising in the summer.

  • Water Bottles

We were so happy we thought to pack water bottles with us on our cruise. We’d fill them up in the Garden Cafe before heading ashore, and have fresh water to sip on while exploring the ports. These Contigo AUTOSEAL Water Bottles work great. They have a self sealing feature and a carabiner clip built into the handle which is great for clipping to your beach bag. Many colors are available, which is great for a family too! My new favorite water bottle is the Bobble Insulate Stainless Steel Bottle since it can help keep your water cool on those hot caribbean days, but also works for hot drinks, like coffee, if you want to enjoy a warm drink out on the deck without it cooling off fast!

  • Waterproof Digital Camera

Our daughter actually owns the Kodak Sport Waterproof Digital Camera with 5x optical zoom which we used at the beach and during our snorkeling tour. My in-laws had the Fujifilm FinePix XP100 Digital Camera which they used during our trip. Both cameras did a great job. We’ve used disposable waterproof cameras before, but I really recommend you look at investing in a waterproof digital camera for your trip. You can find lots of options on Amazon, like the two listed above. I’ve also seen the Fujifilm one at Costco.

Lately I’ve been a big fan of using a LifeProof Waterproof Case for my iPhone. These are waterproof cases for your phones and they’ve worked perfectly for me when I’ve used them. Just be sure to go through the set-up testing as directed before using it for the first time.

  • Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer

This has got to be the best tip I can offer for a cruise packing extra. We use this Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer in our home for winter hats and mitts, but I grabbed it and added it to the zipper pouch of my suitcase when we were getting ready to leave. It was such a lifesaver! We hung it over one of the closet doors and each person had a “row”. We stored flip-flops  lanyards, electronics, and other stuff in the pouches. It really helped keep things off the floor and make sure all our little things had a home in our home away from home. You can see it in use in the second photo of our stateroom.

Many cruises are starting to ban these due to the scratches occurring from the hooks. An idea is to attach one to a hanger or two for hanging on the room hooks, or pack some magnetic hooks that can stick to the metal doors.

  • Cover-up

When you’re heading off the ship to visit a beach you’ll probably want to wear your swimsuit when disembarking. A cute cover-up is the perfect way for ladies to wear their swimsuit and still feel comfortable riding in taxis or walking around town. These also work well for grabbing a snack after taking a dip in the pool.

  • Day Bag

Each time you head off the ship you’ll probably want to bring some things along with you so a day bag is a must. I really like these shoulder sling bag styles. You’ll be able to store your wallet, camera, and a small water bottle for excursions.

I hope this list has helped you get ready for your cruise vacation. And if you don’t have a cruise planned yet, bookmark this page and come back when you’ve got one booked. Check out my Customizable Packing List for packing all your other cruise necessities. And take a peek at our own experience during our family cruise aboard the Norwegian Pearl: “Part 1: Car Rental & Arrival”, “Part 2: Stateroom & Dining“, “Part 3: Ports of Call“, and “Part 4: Activities Aboard“.

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  1. kalanicut says

    These are GREAT ideas and would work for any kind of tropical/beachy trip. Power strip is genius! I love the shoe organizer idea. I hate trying to stake out a place for my keys, phone, etc. in a hotel room and then have everyone else piling their stuff in the same place. I am putting a shoe organizer in my suitcase permanently now.

    • Kim says

      The shoe organizer is so handy! I actually just bought another one so I could have one permanently stored with my luggage. :) Thanks for stopping by!

      • Karen Dawkins says

        We use the shoe organizer, too, and love it. Each family member gets a row for their stuff… and my youngest gets the bottom row for toys. She tucks her dolls into their “beds” each night and I don’t trip over them or worry about losing them in the room somewhere.

        If the organizer doesn’t work on the bathroom door (my last Royal cruise), it can hang in the closet.

  2. damama55 says

    I might suggest, too, to bring T-shirts, or hats, of the same color for excursions so it is easy to spot one another. Good idea??

    • Kim says

      You could absolutely do that! For our small family it hasn’t been necessary, but it’s always a good idea to know what your kids are wearing when heading into a crowded area!

      • Karen Dawkins says

        When we travel, I take a family pic in the morning as we leave the hotel or cabin. If I ever lose a kid (it happened once, long before cell phones and my son handled it quite well), I have a photo showing their clothes, hair style, everything. I don’t need to commit it to memory!

        • Kimberly says

          We used to do this and then I kind of stopped when the kids got older. I always carry their student IDs that come in their school photo packet, but I need to get used to the photo thing again!

  3. Jen says

    You should also bring a large beach bag or a small carry on bag. On many cruises you are required to leave your packed suitcase outside your room the night before. Then in the morning you get off the boat. You will need a bag to carry your sleeping clothes, toiletries, the clothes you had on the night before and so on. You don’t want to be the person carrying your dirty clothes, shampoo and toothbrush around the next morning. It takes a pretty long time to deboard a large ship.

    • Kimberly says

      We were lucky to get to take our carry-on suitcases with us off the ship. A beach bag or tote is a good plan for shore excursions too!

      • tash says

        I always bring a light weight grocery bag style tote even for our jackets in the airport. it folds up easy, and flat in the carry on bag but its so nice not have to worry about little hats, scarves and jackets falling our of your already full arms as you chase your “too warm” toddler through that terminals.

  4. Karen dawkins says

    On my last Carnival cruise, Fantasy, January 2014, we needed special permission to use a power strip. Because my friend used a power chair, they allowed it. Check with the cruise line to learn whether power strips or extension cords are still allowed.

    • Kimberly says

      I’ve never heard of this Karen. Thanks for the tip! How did you hear that you needed permission to use it?

      • Karen Dawkins says

        I traveled with a friend who uses a power scooter. Our cabin had only ONE outlet (old ship). When I called to make sure there wasn’t another one hiding somewhere, the guy told me it’s an old ship…. And then he told me that for special circumstances they allow an extension cord or power strip. They determine it on a case by case basis. Thankfully, they allowed it for us.

        Generally, though, when we travel, we lock phones and other electronics in the cabin safe and forget about them till it’s time to go home. It’s nice to unplug sometimes.

        • Sandy says

          I have used power strips on my last three carnival cruises, once with an extension cord plugged into it, and never had an issue. I plan to pack one for my upcoming cruise also.

        • Heather says

          I believe that was just because it was the Fantasy. I’ve been on it 2x and it is one of the fleet’s smaller & older ships. The Fascination was the same way, but I’ve been on the larger ships since those 2 and have been able to use my power strip every time.

  5. Dot says

    just FYI a lot of cruise lines like Disney’s that we are going on this next week (January 2015) won’t allow the over the door shoe hangers anymore because of the damage caused to the doors from the hooks. There is a $100 charge for any damage to the door. They also have a policy against adhesives and things with gel clings. So check with your cruise line before packing the shoe holder. This of course I found out after I bought mine because thought it was a great idea

    • Kimberly says

      That’s good to know Dot. I do know that you can line the hooks with some felt, which we’ve done at our own home. But, you’d have to decide if it’s worth the risk. We’ve used a shoe organizer a few times and never had any marks left, however I can see that irresponsible people might just throw something up and cause damage. Thanks for letting us know!

      • Gina says

        To avoid damage to doors i have used cheap heavy duty magnetic hooks to hang up shoe over door storage as long as its not too heavy and magnetic clips to hold ship events newsletters, lanyards, cables etc.

    • Kimberly says

      Thanks Missi! A few people have said that some cruise lines are forbidding the shoe organizers since I guess some have caused damage to the cabins, so be aware of that possibility. We didn’t have that on our recent Norwegian cruise, but someone said Disney is fining people for using them. If you are allowed to use it, some simple inexpensive felt might be useful to make sure the hooks don’t scratch the furnishings! You can also hang it in the closet instead of over a door if you like the pocket organization.

  6. Virginia says

    Thank you for putting this list together – we used your suggestions on our trip in Dec 2015 and the shoe organizer was an absolute must for our family of four. Along with the power strip (which instead we just got two plugs that had USB outlets so our 4 iphones and ipad and camera battery could all stay charged up.

    I would also add bringing a few command hooks (the kind that peel off the wall) so that we could have extra places to hang things like baseball caps and lanyards.

  7. Jonene says

    We have travelled with a shoe organizer for years — both cruising and for hotel stays. We carry a lightweight towel to protect the door. In a pinch, we used socks! The command strips have heavy duty hooks now, which would also likely work for the organizer.

    One other item I won’t travel without is a small roll of duct tape. On stormy waters one night, the shoe organizer and the curtains had way too much movement. A couple of rolls of strategically-placed tape, and viola! No more noise from the organizer hitting the door or flashes of light from the curtain sway. The tape has also been used to repair a broken latch on a camera, to emergency hem a pair of pants, and to fix broken suitcase handles and zippers.

  8. The Terminal Traveler says

    Excellent list! I would add in a nightlight if you have kids. While opening the bathroom door slightly works too, but not if you hit rough seas.

  9. Jean says

    I always pack a couple of plastic skirt hangers (the ones that sometimes come with a garment purchase are fine). These are great for hanging rinsed out garments in the shower.


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