Expert Packing Tips for Your Next Cruise

Updated March 15, 2023

Packing for a cruise requires thought and proper planning. You will need dressy clothes, casual options, bathing suits, shoes for multiple occasions and more. Your stateroom storage options might be limited, so it is best not to over-pack. Use these essential cruise packing tips to help you bring the right things on your next voyage.

Comfortable Shoes

Walking – Cruise excursions can require quite a bit of walking. If you are looking for something a bit more stylish than your running shoes, try these lifestyle sneakers from New Balance. They are lightweight, unbelievably comfortable and look great with just about everything.

New Balance 327

Evening – It is never easy to walk around on a moving ship in high heels. For evenings, I prefer slightly lower, chunky heels that still look great. These Naturalizer Strappy Sandals have a solid heal and work great with both dresses and pants. Plus, they have a cushioned insole, so you can wear them all night without your feet hurting.


I have finally found a reasonably-priced designer with dresses that make me feel pretty. Eliza J makes fabulous, feminine dresses that are perfect for dinners onboard a cruise. Their fit and flare maxi dresses look good on just about everyone and are easy to pack. Simply steam out any wrinkles once you arrive.

Insider tip: Use Rent the Runway to “borrow” new dresses for each cruise. It keeps your wardrobe fresh at a fraction of the cost!


At this point, I am more comfortable in a one-piece rather than a bikini. But that doesn’t mean my bathing suit has to make me feel frumpy. I love this flattering swimsuit from La Blanca. It has just enough coverage (but not too much), and the built-in tummy toner makes me feel confident whether I am swimming in the pool or lounging on the sundeck with a cocktail.

How to Pack for a Cruise

I only pack in a roll-on suitcase. It is true. No matter how long my trip is, I make it fit. I make sure that all of my toiletries are TSA-compliant and that I have enough for a week or more by using these tips. The thought of losing my luggage before a cruise makes me a little crazy. How will it catch up to me once we are at sea?

Packing Cubes – I use compression packing cubes to make clothes lay as flat as possible to pack in my one suitcase. Plus, they keep me organized. Usually, I stay in a hotel for one night prior to embarking. I just pack that day’s outfit separately in one cube. That way I don’t need to dig through my suitcase and make a mess to find what I want to wear.

Packing for a cruise

Luggage – I have several carry-on bags. However, the one I use the most is my Delsey 21″ Expandable Spinner. This hard-sided suitcase has spinner wheels which make it glide effortlessly through the airport. I feel like sometimes I walk a million miles connecting from one terminal to the next. It also expands just in case I buy a few things while I am cruising.

Packing for a cruise

Travel Backpack – I am in love with Flip & Tumble reusable shopping and travel bags! This lightweight foldable backpack is perfect to keep in your suitcase. It rolls it up into its top flap and folds down to be only 1″ thick. You never know when you might need a backpack for an excursion or a day at the beach.

Additional Packing Tips

There are a few other things I always keep packed in my suitcase, like over-the-door hooks, which are especially helpful in small cruise cabins. Compression socks are essential for long flights. VIM & VIGR make super cute ones that are extremely comfortable, reduce swelling, and help with circulation. And I use a jewelry organizer, so my necklaces, earrings, and bracelets don’t end up in a tangled mess!

Tell me your cruise packing tips in the comments below.

Commenting area

  1. On my first and only cruise trip so far I had everything in a big backpack. A suitcase would not have been possible, I could not have worn it because I was on crutches with a cast leg on the way. If I cruise again, your tips will be helpful.

    • Oh my goodness – a cruise on crutches. That must have been difficult. I hope you go on another when you are able to get around better.

  2. I discovered through this post that those packing cubes are compression designed! I used to think why would I add weight and volume with cubes? Now I know!

  3. I haven’t been on a cruise yet, so this will be handy when I go, hopefully soon. I’m impressed you only take a carry-on, really? Love the idea of hooks for over the door. What about hanging toiletry bags?

    • The hooks save me every time! I don’t use a hanging toiletry bag because I find them bulky in my luggage. I use this bag instead. It is roomy, lightweight and has a handle.

  4. Havent done a cruise before but I am looking at it. I think I could get away with a small suitcase for all my stuff but my wife, god knows! I hope she doesnt turn out to be like the lady from the film Titanic and has about 10 suitcases being put on the boat by a porter. Great advice here, and I will be passing this on. 😀

  5. Cruise is not so popular in India and that is why I’ve never been on one. And I’m not sure if I want to be on one as I can get claustrophobic with small spaces. But these are great packing tips whether for cruise or not.

    • Agreed. Shoes take up a lot of space. I usually only bring the two I mentioned in the article (sneakers and fancy for dinner) and then I wear my heaviest pair on the plane. Hope you get to go on your first cruise soon!

  6. I can usually pack travel essential things in a hand-carry luggage or backpack. The challenge with packing for a cruise based on your post is the diverse types of clothes and footwear you need to pack. Haven’t been on a cruise yet so I’ll remember the tips you included here.

  7. I have been looking for chic, waterproof sneakers and I’m so glad I came across your post. Cruise or no cruise, these shoes are one item I would need in my wardrobe. And as you say, they can be compressed too.

  8. I love these tips for what to pack for a cruise, I was lost when we went on our Caribbean cruise. We had to pack both summer and winter clothes because we did NYC for NYE and then the Caribbean cruise.

  9. Never been for cruising but in future I have some plans for it. You have given useful details about what to pack. I loved the Naturalizer black sandals as it will work with many dresses. Also packing cubes are very useful.

  10. As someone who’s actually never been on a cruise before, bringing various types of shoes is a really good point. You definitely don’t want to be caught in a formal dinner with only sandals, and comfortable sneakers are important for checking out the port towns on foot. I also love that dress from Eliza J! It looks so comfortable for hot weather and also very classy.

    • Shoes always take up the most space. So ones that crush flat like the plae sneakers are awesome. Additional tip – always wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane to free up extra room in your suitcase.

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