What to pack for a cruise

Congratulations, you’re off to the high seas for a cruise vacation with your crowd! Regardless of your destination, you’re bound to have a great time and enjoy the refreshing change of scenery that comes with adventuring on the open ocean. The great thing about cruises is that so many necessities are available right on board your vessel. However, despite everyone’s excitement, you’ll want to remember a few key packing items that will ensure a fun and comfortable experience.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that a cruise vacation means a lot of deck-time and lot of exposure to the elements. We’ve made a list of what to pack for a cruise no matter your destination to keep the elements at bay and the good times at a maximum.

Pullovers: First and foremost, don’t overlook the importance of packing warmer, protective clothing items amidst your bathing suits and pool wraps. You’ll likely be on deck late into the evenings for stargazing and socializing, and the open ocean at night can be chilly and windy. A warm, long-sleeved layer is a must! Bring something light and comfortable to pull on quickly as you head out to the deck. We recommend the Hartlie pullover by PrAna. It’s light, loosely fitted, and made from a warm wool blend. It even has a hood for extra windy nights! Whatever style you go with, you won’t regret packing some cozier layers.

Durable tote or pool bag: Your pool bag is one of the most important items for your vacation, both for afternoon trips to the pool deck and for longer excursions off the boat. You’ll want something big enough to keep all your daily necessities handy and organized, but also comfortable for toting around with you for several hours. We suggest a nylon bag—they’re durable, water resistant, and lightweight. L.L. Bean offers a variety of practical styles with pockets and nooks for organization and utility. Their Performance Tote and Everyday Lightweight Tote are two great options, but there are a lot of excellent choices for style and portability depending on your to-do list.

Slip-proof sandals: This packing item might seem like a given, but your trusty sandals can be overlooked in lieu of all the flip-flops, walking shoes, and fancy heels in your suitcase. The key characteristics for your sandals are that they’re easy to get on and off and slip-resistant for walking around poolside. It’s worth spending a bit of time finding what’s comfortable for you and works with your wardrobe. Birkenstocks are one of our favorite brands for their quality, comfort and excellent slip-proof soles. Best of all, they mold to your foot the longer you wear them, and are sure to last through many years of vacations.

Aloe or a good moisturizer: One thing you’re sure to be getting a lot of out on the open ocean is sun, sun, sun. If, despite your best protective efforts with shirts and SPF, you’re still looking a little rosy at sundown, you will not want to be without a soothing, nourishing moisturizer. An all-natural Aloe Vera gel is our top pick for a cruise vacation. It’s both cooling to the skin and anti-inflammatory, and will help out not only with sunburn but with windburn, chapped skin, and any other itchy irritation you might experience from the ocean climate. We like FineVine Organic Aloe—good for your hair, too!

Polarized floating sunglasses: Just as important as protecting your skin from that bright ocean sun is protecting your eyes. Cruising along on the high seas means being surrounded by a lot of reflected UV rays. Make extra sure your polarized shades make it into your suitcase, and check that everyone in the group has a pair—eye protection is important no matter your age. Rheos floating sunglasses are polarized for maximum eye protection and have the added benefit of staying afloat during pool parties and afternoon happy hours. These shades are made to keep you worry-free during your cruise activities, and to keep your eyes happy and healthy. Go find your favorite sea-worthy style!

Water bottle or thermos: Have we mentioned how much sun you’ll be getting on the ship? Stay hydrated! Cruises are the best place for socializing and enjoying poolside cocktails, but keeping water or another hydrating beverage handy is crucial for everyone in your party, no matter what the activity. Klean Klanteens are sleek, insulated, will last for years, and come in several different sizes and colors. For any kids in the group, we suggest Camelbak bottles—they’re cute, packable, and affordable. You will definitely not regret including several of these in your pack.

Ear plugs and eye masks: The one downside to making fifty new friends on your cruise—it can be a bit loud come bedtime. Sleeping on the water can be challenging, so we suggest bringing along these items to help get you the best rest you can. Making your cabin seem a little darker and a little quieter really goes a long way! Most sets of ear plugs will do the trick, you can find a great pair at Walmart or Target, but make sure to bring a few extra as they are easy to misplace. For eye masks, look for something comfortable and soft, like the affordable Bucky 40 Blinks Sleep Mask on Amazon. These will get you the best shut-eye, and they’ll keep you rested throughout your entire trip.

Remember, don’t stress as you pack for your upcoming cruise, as most forgotten items will be available even once you’re out at sea. Enjoy the fun of picking out your favorite party outfits, bathing suits, and entertainment accessories to bring along, remember our list of what to pack for a cruise in any vacation destination, and you’re sure to have an exciting and memorable ocean adventure!