One of the best things about cruising? You only have to unpack once. After all, your lodging doubles as your mode of transportation. That said, there’s nothing worse than opening up your suitcase and realizing you forgot something important. No worries: Just check this handy packing list and you’ll be good to go.
1. Passport or birth certificate. Because you’ll probably be visiting exciting ports in foreign countries, you’ll need to come prepared with identification. If you don’t have a passport, never fear: For closed-loop cruises (AKA those that both start and end at the same U.S. port), an original copy of your government-issued birth certificate may suffice. Just double-check here in advance to make sure it’s OK for each of the ports you’ll be visiting. And always remember to leave copies at home.
2. Carry-on. When you board the ship, you’ll want to start having fun right away. So while your luggage is being delivered to your room, keep the essentials (like a swimsuit, sunscreen and some reading material) close at hand in a lightweight carry-on. Bonus: The extra bag doubles as a handy tote for whatever you need during shore excursions, or as a way to bring home souvenirs.
3. Portable charger. Cameras, smartphones and tablets aren’t much fun when their juice is gone. Make sure you bring device chargers and a portable charger that lets you charge on the go. 4. Formal attire. Days onboard (and on land) are pretty much come-as-you-are. In the evenings, the dress code is smart casual for ladies and pants and a collared shirt for men. For ships with formal nights, you’ll want to dress up. Ladies should bring a cocktail dress or nice pants suit, and men should pack a suit (tie optional). 5. Quick-drying cover-up or pair of shorts. Because some shore excursions involve getting a little wet and wild, you’ll want a cover-up (or change of clothes), so you can ride back to the ship dry and comfortable.
6. Aloe vera. In case you get a little overzealous with the sun worshipping, you’ll be glad you remembered this skin-saving balm. Pro tip: Buy the spray-on stuff for easy application; just make sure to put it in your checked bag if you’re flying to your port of departure.
7. The right mix of shoes. We know you won’t forget the flip flops, but make sure you toss some sneakers in your bag as well if you’re planning to work out or climb the onboard rock climbing wall, dressy shoes for formal nights, and anti-slip, closed-toed water shoes for all of those active shore excursions.
8. Long pants and socks. That is, if you’re planning to go ice-skating on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager, Freedom and Oasis-class ships. Pants and socks are required.
9. Binoculars. Sure, you don’t have to bring these, but with the amazing views you’ll encounter on deck and from your stateroom window or balcony, you’ll be really glad you can get a closer look.
10. Pashmina. Breezy evenings on deck can feel a little cool, so tote along a lightweight wrap to keep warm. It can double as a stylish beach towel or even a colorful backdrop for Instagram photos!
11. Wrinkle release spray. You won’t find an iron in your stateroom (fire safety first!). So bring along some wrinkle spray to ensure your clothes look picture-perfect right out of your suitcase.
Still forgot something? There’s a good chance you can find it at one of the onboard shops — just note that they don’t open until the ship begins sailing, so if you’re still at the port of departure, you’ll just have to sit tight for a little while.