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Family Cruise Packing List

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!

Family Cruise Packing List

Family Cruise Packing List

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!

Essentials for the WHOLE Family

  • 1 Daytime Outfit per Full Day of the Cruise +2
    • It’s always a good idea to pack an extra option or two, so you have a choice on what to wear – or in case a kid has an accident!
    • Don’t forget to consider your excursions!  You might need specific clothing.
  • 1 Evening Outfit per Night of the Cruise
  • 1 Go-Home Outfit
    • We like these to be extra comfy, since you get off the ship early in the morning!
  • A Light Jacket or Sweater
  • Pajamas
    • Try to pack a pair that is lightweight and one that is cozy!
  • 2-3 Bathing Suits
  • Cover-Up
  • Flip-Flops
  • Lanyards for Key Cards
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe
  • Evening Shoes
    • For me, these are dressier sandals or a close-toed option for the kids.
  • A Few Pairs of Socks
  • Gym Shoes (if planning to workout!)
  • Undergarments
  • Antibacterial Wipes/Soap
    • This will be offered a lot during your cruise – particularly before you eat!  But they’re always nice to have on hand!
  • Some Anti-Nausea Medicines
    • You never know who might have some seasickness!
  • Prescription Medicines
  • Emergency Pain Relievers
  • Mosquito Repellant
  • Bandages (just in case…)
  • Chargers for ALL THE DEVICES
  • Power Bar with Surge Protector
    • There aren’t many outlets in most cruise ship staterooms, so bringing a power bar can help you charge several items at once!
  • Toiletries

Essentials for the Kids

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.

  • Favorite Stuffed Animals
    • You might want to bring second-favorite options, just in case something were to happen…but these are crucial to maintain those bedtime routines from home!
  • Diapers/Wipes/Butt Paste
  • Water bottles
  • Tablets
    • For in-room tech time
  • Quiet Time Activities
  • Some Essential Snacks
    • Cruise ships are notorious for having lots of food options, but sometimes kids just need an easy snack from home.
  • Inflatable Tub
  • Nightlight
    • The room can get very dark, so the nightlight helps to make the room accessible for midnight bathroom trips!
  • Beach Toys
  • Umbrella Stroller
    • No need to bring the big stroller from home – this little gem will help transport your child without taking up too much space in the ship’s hallways, etc.

Essentials Just for Mom

  • Books! 
    • Now, this could be an essential for everyone, but if you are a bookworm like me, it’s TRULY an essential.
  • Glasses
  • Make-Up
  • Specific Hair Products
    • I often use mousse while cruising!  I like the laid-back lifestyle of vacationing, and that means keeping your hair an easy task.
  • Beach Bag
    • To tote everything!
  • Bras
  • Sports Bras
    • Just in case you want to check out the ship’s gym!  And also: many ships have a jogging track available!
  • Special Medicines
    • Girl needs her B12, you know what I’m saying?

Essentials Just for Dad

  • The Nintendo Switch
    • (Or is this just us??)
  • Baseball Hats
  • Workout Clothes
  • A Book to Read
  • A Few Collared Shirts or Button-Downs
  • A Pair or 2 of Long Pants

Does Your Cruise Line Matter?

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!

Packing for theme nights

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?!)

…and you’re off!

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.

Suggested Reads:

How to Pack for a Cruise with Kids

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About the Author

The Merry Kate

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.

Family Cruise Packing List

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  1. Amy | 21st Sep 19

    Cruise room hacks: post it’s and highlighters for notes and marking the daily!

    • The Merry Kate | 26th Sep 19

      Oh yessss! I love seeing rooms with magnetic dry erase boards, too! So the whole family can keep tabs on one another!

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