With the height of the cruise season right around the corner, I have no doubt that the excitement for your first cruise is building. It is time to begin your research! When I think back to my very first cruise over 20 years ago now, I wish that someone had told me what cruise essentials to pack in my carry-on and things I should know.
Now that the internet and social media can be accessed from anywhere it is much easier to find all of the answers to your cruising questions and much easier than it was all of those years ago.
When arriving at the cruise port, a porter will immediately take your luggage leaving you with your personal items and a carry-on, if you have one. The luggage will later be delivered to your cabin. Many times it could be much later.
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As a first time cruiser, I know how excited you will be to get on board that ship to do some exploring, and hit one of the several pools and/or bars. Trust me when I say that if you haven’t packed the proper essentials into your cruise carry-on, you will be wasting several valuable hours of your precious time on the ship.
In order to ensure that you enjoy your first day onboard the ship to the max, I have assembled a list of carry-on essentials for the first time cruiser.
It is finally your time to board, so let’s get started….
PASSPORT, BOARDING PASS & OTHER PAPERWORK
In order to save precious time, all of these documents should be pre-printed before you even leave home.
- boarding pass
- pre-paid tour purchase confirmations
- pre-paid drink package confirmations
- passage contract
It should go without saying that all of these papers should be kept in your purse or carry-on. Many people don’t like the clutter, so they will pack it in their suitcase. Please don’t! Without your boarding pass, you will be unable to board the ship. Having all of these documents readily available will save you a substantial amount of time and a huge amount of headaches.
JUST ONE TIP: I always pre-purchase my tours and water package well in advance of the cruise. This will eliminate the chance of any disappointment I may have in the event a specific tour sells out (and they sell out fast). I then print all of the paperwork and assemble it all into an envelope and in my carry-on it goes
This one should be a no-brainer, but I am always surprised at the number of people who pack their medications in their checked baggage. Always remember when cruising, it may be well into the evening before your bags arrive at your cabin, so it is essential that all medication be kept on your person at all times.
All electronics, including your camera, cellphone, laptop, chargers, etc. should be packed as an essential into your carry-on. By the time you board the ship, you have likely been on the road (or in the air) for hours, and your phone will need re-charging. Even though it is difficult to use your cellphone when at sea, most cruise lines have an app which allows you to access your shipboard account, see what events are taking place on the ship at any given day or time, and best of all, it allows you to text your travel mates while on board the ship.
As a first time cruiser, I know that you will want to explore the ship almost as soon as you board. I am sure that you will be in complete awe of the sheer beauty and size of the ship, so you will want to have your camera close by in order to click away and capture all of those first impressions.
After a long day of travel, you will be anxious to immerse yourself into ship life. It is absolutely essential that you pack the following swimwear items in your carry-on:
- bathing suit
- beach cover-up
- flip flops
- suntan lotion
- sun glasses
You will be extremely disappointed if you didn’t have these essential items with you and were unable to join in the fun. If there is anything that you won’t want to forget to pack in your carry-on, it is these items!
CHANGE OF CLOTHES
It will be highly unlikely that your luggage will arrive in your cabin by the time dinner rolls around, so it is a smart idea to have an extra set of clothes packed into your carry-on. If you plan on eating at the buffet your first night on the ship, then shorts and a t-shirt are sufficient. If you plan on enjoying the finer dining in one of the dining rooms, then you will want to pack a dress or a smart pair of pants and top.
There are also other dining options, which will include pizza and hamburgs on the pool deck. Some, but not all, cruiselines also offer room service. Keep in mind though that the staff are extremely busy on embarkation day!
After a long never-ending day of travel, you will want to freshen up at some point throughout the day. It is for this reason, that it is essential that you pack at least a toothbrush and toothpaste and hair brush in your carry-on. I am not a make-up person, so I pack this in my checked luggage, but if you want to get all dolled up for dinner on your first cruise day, then by all means pack your makeup in your carry-on.
Last but not least, there are some additional items that you might want to have with you in your carry-on:
- Book: if you are a reader, you may want to relax poolside or on your balcony with a good book.
- Wine: most cruise lines allow each passenger to bring one bottle of wine onboard. I am that person who enjoys a cocktail on my balcony before heading for dinner. It is for this reason that it is essential that I pack my bottle of wine in my carry-on.
- Lanyard: Unless you want to carry a purse or bag with you wherever you go on the ship, this item is essential! When you board the ship, you will be given a key card, which will grant you access to your room, allow you to charge all purchases to your shipboard account, and on most ships this key card will also turn the lights on in your room. This card will be with you wherever you go, so I highly recommend packing a lanyard in your carry-on so you have somewhere to put this card without having to carry a purse or bag.
I truly hope that this list of essential items to pack into your carry-on help all of you first time cruisers. You don’t think you will remember all of these items? Not a problem! You can PIN this post for later.
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Experienced cruisers, I would LOVE to hear what essentials you pack in your carry-on?
HAPPY SAILING AND BON VOYAGE! 🙂
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