Planning to take a cruise with your kids? Then, you’ll definitely want to make a family cruise packing list!
My husband and I have cruised solo before – and, packing wasn’t such a big deal. We brought swimsuits and sunscreen and a bunch of outfit choices, and we didn’t lose any sleep about it. But – I swear, when you add your kids to the mix, the packing list grows by leaps and bounds.
Did you remember their favorite stuffed animal? What about a special juice cup for in-room relaxing? Do your kids use special sunscreen? Or toothpaste? Do they need a sound machine to catch some zzz’s? THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS TO REMEMBER.
Our family lives in Florida, so cruises are a great getaway option (except during hurricane season), since we can just drive to the port and head out to sea. But to take full advantage, our family cruise packing list has to be top-notch and ready to go. Otherwise, we spend too much time making sure our suitcases have all of the necessities.
These are the must-have guidelines we follow when packing our family for a cruise!
When it comes to attire, cruises often include a few theme nights (including formal) during a week-long sailing. So, it’s important you know exactly what is on your cruise calendar ahead of time.
And, pro-tip, even without a reason to dress-up, our family likes to pack daytime outfits and a change for dinner. After a full day playing in the sun, there’s nothing better than putting on a fresh outfit after those afternoon naps and showers.
So, after the absolutes: passports, boarding passes, airline tickets (if needed), and any other documentation you have to have – this is our list!
Heads up: If your little one is still in diapers, swim diapers aren’t allowed on most ships! So, don’t bother – unless your cruise has a splash pad or a place where your babe can play without being submerged in water.
Your family cruise packing list might just change based on which cruise line you’re taking!
We have taken cruises with Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney. The first two are rather similar in their expectations of how their travelers should dress. For example, 7-night cruises will almost always include a formal night or two. Make sure you’re aware of the specific recommendations per restaurant or Day of the cruise.
As for Disney Cruise Lines, there is a bit more theming to consider. One thing to know is that Disney almost always includes a pirate night! There is no requirement that families dress in pirate gear, but it sure is fun to take part! Disney also offers Star Wars Day at Sea and other themed-cruises with options for dress-up activities!
Also, with Disney cruises, there are a lot of character meet-and-greets, so you’ll want to plan appropriately. We brought pillow cases and fabric markers to have each of the characters sign for a lasting souvenir.
Disney also has “fish extender” groups that are great fun! So, to take part, you’d need one of those, too. (PS: We really love those Disney cruises, can ya tell?!)
That’s it! That’s all I’ve got. Pack up your bags and you are ready for the wide open seas!
Drop a comment if I left something off the list: We definitely want our cruising pals to be ready for action.
Katie Johansen is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with her M.A.Ed in Children’s Literature. She spent 6 years as an elementary school teacher in South Florida before transitioning to stay-at-home #momlife. Now, it’s all things PB&J – with an extra large cup of coffee on the side.