One of the best things about taking a cruise? You only unpack once, thanks to the fact that your home away from home also takes you from one place to the next of more than 240 destinations Royal Caribbean visits, from Alaska to the Caribbean to Europe and Asia-Pacific.
On each of the 25-plus ships you have to choose from, there’s also a lineup of restaurants, bars and lounges, adventures ranging from skydiving to bumper cars, and original entertainment to make it the vacation of a lifetime for everyone. With plenty in store, you’ll want to be prepared for it all.
That’s where this handy packing list comes in, which will get you both prepared for your cruise and excited. Plus, each item is a tried-and-tested tip from Royal Caribbean experts who have cruised to hundreds of destinations.
From long pants for ice skating on board (yes, ice skating) to a tote bag, here’s what to pack for a cruise:
1. Small Bag or Tote Bag With Essentials
You’ll want to get in on the action as soon as you set foot on your ship. There are experiences and activities you can start enjoying right away—from waterslides to hanging 10 on the FlowRider surf simulator. Having a tote bag with a few essentials (like a swimsuit, sunscreen and shades) means you’ll be ready to dive in once you board.
If you checked other luggage, it’ll be delivered to your stateroom that day, which will be ready for you soon after boarding.
Pro tip: The extra bag can also be useful to pack whatever you may need while on a shore excursion or to bring home keepsakes.
2. Quick-Drying Layer or Extra Pair of Bottoms
Because some shore excursions—which can range from zip lining on Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island destination in The Bahamas, to whale watching in Alaska—can involve getting a little wet, consider bringing a change of clothes. This way you’ll be dry and comfortable until you get back to your ship.
Pro tip: We recommend dressing in thin layers you can add or remove as needed when the weather changes—or the AC kicks in—and which take up less room in your suitcase. This is good advice anywhere, especially in Alaska where temperatures fluctuate regularly.
3. Long Pants and Socks
If you’re planning to go ice skating on ships like Allure, Symphony and Wonder of the Seas (and many more!), you’ll want to wear pants and socks. Socks are also good to have in case you want to hit up spots like the rock climbing wall and the zip line on board.
4. Dinner Wear
Dressing on board is pretty much come-as-you-are—you’re on vacation after all. For dinner, you can go casual (think jeans, T-shirts and sundresses), smart casual (a step up from casual, like collared shirts, blazers, dresses and blouses) or even formal (bust out the black tie!). We recommend keeping the swimwear, shorts, flip-flops and baseball caps for other parts of your day.
5. The Right Mix of Shoes
You’ll want to toss some sneakers into your bag if you’re interested in doing things on board like playing laser tag, jumping on the zip line or hitting the Sports Court. Anti-slip, closed-toe water shoes are also good to have for active shore excursions, like snorkeling in Bermuda or exploring cenote swimming holes in Mexico.
6. Portable Charger
If staying connected is important, you can use the WiFi on board 24/7. Make sure to bring a portable charger (aka a power bank), so you can stay connected while on the go—whether that’s by the pool to upload your bragworthy pics from surfing on the FlowRider or to take photos from 300 feet above the ocean on the North Star, the all-glass observation capsule that offers the best views in the house.
7. Aloe Vera or After-Sun Lotion
From racing down the waterslides to kicking back at the many pools and whirlpools on board, to grabbing a drink at poolside bars like The Lime & Coconut and exploring the world’s beautiful natural sights and cities, you can spend a lot of time outside while on vacation. Pack sunscreen as well as aloe vera or after-sun lotion, just in case. And make sure to put it in your checked bag if you’re flying to the city where your cruise starts.
8. Wrinkle-Release Spray
There are washing, pressing and dry-cleaning services on board, of course. You can also take matters into your own hands by packing wrinkle-release spray for a quick and easy way to make your clothes look picture-perfect right out of your suitcase (you won’t find irons in your stateroom—safety first!). That way, you can sooner have a night out on the town on board—be it front-row seats to full-scale entertainment, like “Grease” and “Hairspray,” to dining at one of many specialty restaurants, which range from Italian trattorias and wine bars to American steakhouses.
9. Passport or Birth Certificate
Where your cruise sails from and where you’re headed determines what you’ll need to bring in terms of identification and even visas. A passport is usually a must, and if you don’t have one, you may be able to bring your original birth certificate along with a government-issued photo ID, like a driver’s license or an identity card. We recommend checking to see which documentation you need by clicking here, if you’re a U.S. citizen, and here if you’re a citizen of another country.
The adventures in store on a Royal Caribbean cruise run the gamut, and this packing list will have you ready for anything. If you realize you could use more of one item or another when you’re on board, you can also head to the shops and vending kiosks on the ships for clothing, bags, personal essentials and more.
You’re one step closer to your next vacation. Now, where are you headed? Have your pick of cruises to Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, Australia and more here.