Customize Your Cruise Packing List PDF [+Travel Advisor Packing Tips]

May 25, 2022

Congratulations. You’ve found the motherlode of cruise packing tips! Heading out for a more adventurous trip? A tropical getaway? A cold-weather tour of nordic fjords? A river cruise? There’s a lot of variables to consider. That’s why I consulted with people who know cruising best—travel advisors! They shared top cruise packing tips for every type of sailing.

Below you can take a quick gander at what to expect from HAR's Cruise Packing List! (We think you'll like it!)

You can customize your cruise packing list to include only what you want to bring on your trip.

But we don't stop there. We also have a cruise packing list pdf. What makes ours different? You can personalize your cruise packing list to include only what you want to bring on your trip. Click below to get started!

The Ultimate Cruise Packing List
Click here for your personalized cruise packing list pdf to be sent directly to your inbox!


To get your personalized cruise packing list pdf, all your need to do is answer a few questions about your cruise and deselect the items you don’t want to bring. Then, presto, a customized packing list lands in your inbox. Not too shabby.

You filled out your form and you're probably checking out your nifty packing list now. But don't stop here, because this is just the beginning. Next up we have packing tips from travel advisors who know cruise ships inside and out. Read on for insider cruise packing tips.

If you think you want to book your cruise on your own, think again! Here are 6 ways travel advisors can save you money on your vacation.


Create Your Own Customized Cruise Packing List PDF

It only takes a few minutes to customize your cruise packing list. All you need to do is deselect the items in the form below that you don't want to bring with you. Once you complete and submit the form, a pdf will land in your inbox in a jiffy!


Want to customize the form for your website to share with your audience? Download and customize the form for your site!


Cruise Packing Tips: The Basics

One advantage of a cruise vacation is this: once you haul all your necessities into your cabin/suite/stateroom, you don’t need to schlep them around everywhere you go.

The challenge in packing for a cruise is getting everything you need to fit in your stateroom. These five travel advisor tips below will help you maximize precious space in your stateroom for those who aren't contortionists when it comes to storage. Their advice will give you a leg up on saving precious space.

How well a cruise line utilizes space is one of the many factors travel advisors will take into account on a cruise ship inspection.


1. Know HOW MUCH space you have to work with:

Our free cruise packing list generator is comprehensive. Frankly, it's more than most travelers need. Before you pack, get a sense of how much cabin space you'll have. What’s the storage situation? Are beds high enough to fit your suitcase underneath?

Michele Cartwright, President & Owner of Destinations by Designs champions this strategy, “Use your suitcase as under-bed storage. Simply pull the suitcase out like a drawer when you need to access your clothes/items, then push it back in when you’re finished. This is especially great when three or more people are sharing a stateroom. “


2. Budget for laundering on longer cruises:

“I never take more than four to five days worth of clothes as you can get laundry done for a reasonable cost onboard." - Jean Paugh

Utilizing laundry services is a must for longer cruises. Jean Paugh, Owner of All About You Travel advises, “I never take more than four to five days worth of clothes as you can get laundry done for a reasonable cost onboard. The older I get the less I want to hassle with too much luggage. I am not there for a fashion show; I am there to immerse myself in the local history, people, and cuisine.”


3. BYO Organizers

Cruise ships are essentially impressive hunks of well-distributed floating steel. What does that have to do with packing, you ask? More than you think: cruise cabins tend to offer magnetic surfaces. This opens up your world when it comes to cruise storage. Here's a list of organizing items can you can consider adding to your packing list:

Magnetic hooks are a great way to take advantage of a cabin's metal walls.
  1. Shoe Organizer: Cartwright points out that “a shoe organizer is great for toiletries, makeup, hairbrushes, jewelry, and all the little things that need a place. You may hang this in your bathroom on a towel hook or with your magnet hooks. (Note: please don’t bring over the door organizers — they scratch the doors and are generally no longer allowed.)”
  2. Collapsible Closet Organizer: Cartwright also recommends a collapsible closet organizer, “[Closet organizers that] are fully collapsible fit perfectly in your luggage while maximizing closet space in your stateroom.”
  3. Magnetic Hooks: These are a great way to take advantage of a cabin's metal walls. Magnetic hooks help organize many items on your cruise packing list including shoes, clothing, accessories, towels, keys, toiletry bags, and more. (They also entertain kids and toddlers!)
  4. Standard Magnets: For odds and ends, pieces of paper, invites (and kids and toddler entertainment)
  5. Magnetic pouches: This is great for toiletries, jewelry, etc.


4. Luggage Tips:

Packing starts with luggage. Here are a few ways you can leverage your suitcase space to have more cabin space:

Dry bags can help you organize clothing items and can be used as laundry bags for the way home.
  1. Stackable Luggage: If you can stack and store your luggage like nesting dolls, it will save you precious precious floor space in your cabin. (Does it have to be a fancy matching set? No. It just needs to be a carry-on that fits in your suitcase.)
  2. Packing Cubes: Jean Paugh recommends luggage cubes to keep packing simple. “​I use packing cubes to separate my clothes and then roll my clothes as I pack. I take the cubes out and place them on the shelves or in the drawers. It takes seconds to unpack! Simply place the entire cube in a drawer. Super easy and so efficient!”
  3. Lightweight Dry Bags: Dry bags are a lightweight and versatile alternative to luggage cubes. They help you organize clothing items for the way there and help you schlep your laundry on the way home. They're also perfect for storing wet clothes or swimsuits. According to Nikki Miller, Travel Consultant-Owner of Travel With Nikki, drybags are “great for keeping water bottles from getting your day bag wet and good for any clothing that gets wet during a ride.


4. Study up on your dress codes:

Is it cruise casual? Resort casual? Cruise elegant? Smart casual? Evening chic? Optional formal? Is it straight-up casual? A mix of several? What do these things even MEAN?! What is the line between a nice t-shirt and a blouse?

The last thing you want is to be the only person donning your satin evening gown when everyone else is wearing resort casual button-ups and khakis.

The last thing you want is to be the only person donning your satin evening gown when everyone else is wearing resort casual button-ups and khakis.1 Or, more likely in HAR’s case, the risk of coming on board in an inflatable dino suit when no one else is wearing one. (Isn’t that smart casual?).

Every cruise line will have different verbiage for dress codes. Make sure you can decipher it to pack accordingly. Still confused? Ask your travel advisor.

Here's why we highly recommend booking your trip with a travel advisor instead of booking it online.


5. Know what to leave home

Check your cruise line’s policies before you customize your cruise packing list.

There are some pretty stringent rules for what not to bring on a cruise. Some of them are obvious: fireworks and explosive devices are prohibited. But some restrictions are less so. Some cruise lines may not permit power strips or food coolers.

Check your cruise line’s policies or ask your travel advisor before you customize your cruise packing list. That way, you’ll know what to leave at home to save you the pain of having it confiscated onboard.


The Ultimate Layering Guide for Whatever Weather Your Cruise Will Bring

I'm a parent now, which means I can't stop myself from making sure you're ready for any weather conditions The best layering I could find is a web page from an outdoor preschool in my hometown. (No one is more prepared for the elements than outdoor educators.)

Here’s what they have to say when it comes to layers up:

Cruise Packing list, Layering Guide

It's important to pack some layers regardless of the expected temperature range. You’ll want to pack for whatever weather mysteries the skies can dream up for you.

Our cruise packing list generator asks you temp highs and lows so you'll know what layers to bring. (Like I said, parent-life.) You’ll need to pack for the coldest temperatures you anticipate on your cruise.

Below is a run-through of the types of layers listed above with some fabric suggestions. Heaven forbid you end up with A Christmas Story scenario 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼

1. MID LAYER (AKA “CLOTHES”):

By mid-layers, I’m talking about all the standards . . . pants, leggings, dresses, skirts, socks, shirts, and all that fun stuff. (Unlike base layers, mid-layers are “cotton friendly”) You’ll pack mid-layers according to your cruise line’s dress requirements.

2. extra layers:

Extra layers are ideal for when temps dip at night. Ideally, they're lightweight enough to keep you toasty without restricting your movement. Bonus points if it can fit under a coat. A light knit cap, scarf, shawl, and gloves are great extra layers to throw in with a lightweight sweater.

3. Base Layers

Good old long johns. Wool or silk is optimal for a base layer on cooler days. This is the layer you’ll be snuggling up to, so above all, make sure it feels comfy against your skin. The purpose of layers is to wick sweat away from your skin. Do NOT use cotton for base layers as it tends to trap moisture.

4. Outer Layers:

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who are familiar with the term "wintery mix" and those who live in a more reasonable climate.

If you don’t plan to be out in the elements, you can probably throw in a lightweight down-insulated puffy coat and call it a day. However, the mere possibility of a bone-chilling combo of rain/sleet/snow will require additional layers. Next up you can select what type of cruise you're taking so you can be sure you're getting the packing tips for your specific vacation.


Choose Your Own Cruise Packing List Adventure

Below click on what type of cruise you're taking to get the best insider tips for your specific cruise. If your cruise is an in-betweener, read up on all the sections that apply so you don't miss out!

1. Caribbean (or warm-weather) Cruise


2. Alaska (or cold-weather) Cruise


3. River Cruise


4. Disney Cruise


5. Adventure Cruise


Caribbean or Warm-Weather Cruise Packing List

If you're venturing out into warmer weather, packing is easy peasy. If you don't expect temps to drop too far below 60°F, it's easy to pack light with a variety of mid-layers.

By mid-layers, I’m talking about all the standards . . . pants, leggings, dresses, skirts, socks, shirts, and all that fun stuff. (More on layering soon).

Cruise Packing list, Caribbean cruise clothing

You'll want to be sure you choose these items according to your cruise line's dress requirements. We have additional tips on packing for a river cruise, Disney or theme cruise, or adventure cruise later in the article!

This is a mere summary of clothing you'll need! Don't forget to check out our personalized packing list pdf form so make sure you have everything you need, including travel documents, toiletries, miscellaneous items, and more.


swim gear, footwear, and toiletries for a Caribbean cruise

The complexity of packing for a warm cruise is to remember all the extras you'll need for poolside lounging or on-shore beach bathing. Here are extras you'll want to remember when packing your accessories and toiletry department:

Cruise Packing list, beach wear

But if you're expecting anything beyond temperate weather (read: any chance of temps dipping much below 60ºF or a chance of rain) then not so fast! Make sure you studied our layering guide above.


Alaska Cruise Packing Tips (or any Cold-Weather Cruises)

Let’s talk chilly weather. If you’re embarking on a chillier nordic fjord-fest or Alaskan cruise, here are some things to think about.

As a general rule for a cold weather cruise, you'll need base layers, mid-layers, and extra layers.

The tricky thing is that many cold-weather destinations are fickle. Places like Alaska have no loyalty to a consistently high or low temp.

You’ll need to pack for the coldest temperatures you anticipate on your Alaska cruise. As a general rule for a cold-weather cruise, you'll need base layers, mid-layers, and extra layers. If you anticipate temps will drop below 40º, you’ll want to bring outer layers too.

Here are a few notes on cooler-weather layering.


1. COLD-WEATHER & ALASKA CRUISE PACKING LIST: BASELAYERS

Good old long johns. Wool or silk is optimal for a base layer on cooler days. This is the layer you’ll be snuggling up to, so above all, make sure it feels comfy against your skin. The purpose of layers is to wick sweat away from your skin. Do NOT use cotton for base layers as it tends to trap moisture.

Cruise Packing list, base layers

Quick note: if you’re adventure cruising or day-tripping, make sure you also check out our adventure cruise packing guide . . . which happens to be next!


2. COLD-WEATHER & ALASKA CRUISE PACKING LIST: OUTERWEAR FOR COLD/SNOW

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who are familiar with the term "wintery mix" and those who live in a more reasonable climate.

If you don’t plan to be out in the elements, you can probably throw in a lightweight down-insulated puffy coat and call it a day. However, the mere possibility of a bone-chilling combo of rain/sleet/snow will require outwear. I recommend bringing a light raincoat to go over your warmer coat if it's not waterproof already. Here are a few other essentials for those braving the elements:

Cruise Packing list, outerwear


3. COLD-WEATHER & ALASKA CRUISE PACKING LIST: RAINGEAR

If you don’t plan on being out in the elements, then you can scale down your rain gear to the bare minimum. But if you plan to do shore excursions and fancy braving the elements, you'll want to dig into this list:

Cruise Packing List Rain Gear

4. COLD-WEATHER & ALASKA CRUISE PACKING LIST: MISC. Footwear, accessories & toiletries

What else will you need for your wintery trek? Here's a rundown of some extras you may want to haul along with you on your cruise:

Cruise Packing list, Alaska Cruise Accessories

You're all set! But make sure you also check out our adventure cruise packing list . . . which just happens to be up next!


Adventure Cruise Packing List + Tips

Greetings, adventurers! Since many adventure vessels may be small enough to get into the nooks and crannies of fjords or glacial inlets, cabin space may be more of a premium. Adventure cruises often require more extras so may require more thoughtful packing.

When it comes to adventure cruises the clothing and accessories you bring will depend on your destination and activities. Read on below to see what you’ll want to consider when packing for your adventure cruise.

Hey travel advisors! If you're planning adventure trips, make sure you have all the required travel waivers!


Clothing considerations for an adventure cruise

Functionality takes a higher priority with adventures cruises. Even if you do want to pack a few dresses or nicer pants, consider lightweight wool material that can double for a dressier dinner or casual day trip.

In addition to cruise clothing basics, here are clothing specifications you’ll want to consider for your adventure cruise:

Cruise Packing List, adventure clothing.png


Pack according to your adventure cRUISE activities

As with all cruises, you’ll want to take advantage of amenities available to you and pack as little as possible. This is even more important for adventure cruises. Don’t bring anything your guides will provide (unless you're really attached to your custom-fitted skis/helmet/paddle).

Here are a few things you might want to add to your cruise packing list pdf if you're adventuring during your vacation:

Cruise Packing List, adventure extras


Disney Cruise Packing List: 5 Travel Advisor Insider Tips

Packing for a Disney cruise is not too much different than packing for a standard cruise. However, there are critical travel advisor insider tips you'll want to follow and park-specific extras you'll want to bring along.

What makes Disney cruises unique are their special events, itineraries, and guidelines. I recommend booking a Disney cruise with a travel professional . . . especially for first-timers. (Though if you book once with a travel advisor, you’ll never go back to DIY. Why? Because they will spare you from the internet trap of spending more time researching your Disney Cruise than you spend on the ship itself.)

I consulted with Nikki Miller, Travel Consultant-Owner, Travel With Nikki, and Michele Cartwright, Owner, Destinations by Designs to come up with Disney Cruise packing tips.


1. Don’t forget to add costumes to your list of clothes to pack:

Disney cruises are known for their theme parties and events. Chances are, if you’re attracted to one of their theme cruises, you’ll already have your Marvel costume, prince/ss regalia, or your Halloween duds. After all, you don’t want to be the only one at the Pirate party without your jerkin and flowing linen shirt. So make sure you throw in some costume-friendly onto your Disney cruise packing list pdf.


2. Bring markers and an autograph book:

Traditionally, if you’re on a Disney Cruise you absolutely need a Sharpie and autograph book with you AT ALL TIMES in case you run into Elsa by the pool. (Miller recommends a thick pen for the characters' very large hands.)

However, during the pandemic (and at the time of publication), in-person character signings are not possible. As an alternative, you can bring a heavy-duty cardstock or autograph book, and ask your room steward at the beginning of the cruise if it will be able to be signed by the characters. (Psst, if you do this as a surprise for younger Disney-fanatics, it will help take the edge off your departure.)


3. Bring Disney Trinket & toys to prove your parenting prowess:

"On your cruise, leave Disney-themed trinkets on your child's towel animals/pillow and let them know their favorite character left it for them." - Michele Cartwright

Need a win with the kiddos in your crew? Cartwright's suggestion is a sure-fire way to wow your kids, “Buy little trinkets for the kids (Disney themed, of course!) well in advance of the cruise. On your cruise, leave these trinkets on your child's towel animals/pillow and let them know their favorite character left it for them. #ParentWin (Bonus points if you print off cute notes for your child using Waltograph font!)”


4. Portable power banks/chargers are especially critical on a Disney Cruise:

A Disney Cruise requires the use of its Disney app, which will drain your cell battery pretty quickly. According to Miller, “the Disney app is required for mobile food orders. Checking dining reservations and wait times will drain a battery very quickly.”

You heard the lady, add that portable charger to your Disney cruise packing list ASAP!


5. Reusable Straws:

Miller pointed out that, “Disney only provides paper straws so bring your own disposable or reusable straws if you have a strong preference.” If you’re a slow sipper of all things beverage, you may want to bring a reusable straw so it doesn’t dissolve into mush before you finish your drink.


River Cruise Packing List: 7 Insider Travel Advisor Tips

While a famous quote tells you, “it’s the journey, not the destination,” when it comes to river cruises, it’s definitely all about the port destinations. River cruises often have enough amenities to help you lighten your suitcases.

According to Steve Lincoln, Owner, Lincoln Travel LLC, “Staterooms aboard most river ships are quite spacious, ranging from approximately 160 square feet up to a whopping 710 square feet. To maximize space, we generally utilize drawer space, closets, and closet shelving for bulkier items.” Here's a few other key travel advisor tips for packing for a river cruise.

However, trying to compare river cruise staterooms to ocean cruise staterooms is an apples and oranges situation. When I asked the President of MGA Travel, Michael Graham, how they compare he mentioned, "That is a tricky question on river cruise vs. ocean cruise cabins as there are so many variables."

He also mentioned that he'd be able to do a sound comparison if I could provide a cruise line for both ends, and offered this resource on selecting a river cruise cabin. Moral of the story? A great advisor will not only put you on the right type of cruise, but they'll also help you select the best class of room for YOU.

We have advice from seasoned river cruise advisors below!

Here's 10 more reasons why you should use a travel advisor (versus booking online).


1. MInimize: Don't Pack What Your River Cruise Lines already Provides:

River cruise lines offer a lot of extras when it comes to amenities. Lincoln notes that “The cruise lines generally provide robes, slippers, good quality toiletries, hairdryers, umbrellas, and even walking sticks — so there’s no need to bring any of that with you.”

Packing everything you need in one carry-on is the holy grail of river cruising. Elizabeth Psimas, President/Owner, Travel Designers Inc., has minimalism down to a science, “I don’t carry any shampoo or soaps with me as all lines now carry these items in the cabins. In addition, I always try to pack travel-size makeup products and personal hygiene items – less space and weight in a suitcase. I also carry a large zipped purse for traveling and only take one small “evening bag”. When touring, I try to wear pants/jacket with pockets, so I don’t need to carry a purse at all.”

When you go through our customizable cruise packing list, make sure you’re considering the amenities offered and really only packing the bare minimum.


2. take advantage of river cruises' more casual dress code

Typically, river cruises lean more casual, so you can leave the ball gowns at home. Most river cruise line dress codes fall somewhere in the ballpark of resort casual or elegant casual (many allowing jeans).

Paugh recommends color coordinating to keep it simple, “There are plenty of hangers if you have blouses or dresses, but again no need for fancy clothes! You can do 1 or 2 pairs of dress pants for the evening and then bring shirts/blouses to change into. If it is summertime then you'll want shorts. If you're visiting Christmas Markets you're going to want jeans.”


3. But don't forget to consider a site destinations dress code

Even if your river cruise is casual, specific points of interest (especially religious sites) may have specific decorum when it comes to attire. Make sure you’re packing with all potential tour stops in mind.


4. Function & Fashion will lighten your luggage for your river cruise:

You’ll be spending a lot of time walking out and about. While you’re clocking in the miles, make sure you’re getting the most miles out of your clothes as well. Any clothing item should meet at least two out of these three requirements: 1. It's versatile (you'll wear it often) 2. it's comfortable 3. It matches your other clothing items

Also, pack things you’ll wear more than once and keep them basic. Ideally, you’d be able to close your eyes, pick any top and bottom at random, and it will go together well enough. Color coordinating before you go can reduce the number of clothes on your river cruise packing list.


5. make sure you can walk a mile in your own shoes:

Comfortable shoes are important for any cruise but even more so for river cruises. Day trips to European destinations may require covering some mileage on uneven or cobblestone roads. So make sure your footwear is up to snuff.

Jean Paugh emphasizes the importance of comfortable walking shoes, “I suggest 2 pairs of good walking shoes so they can alternate each day. Then take your comfy sandals or shoes you love on the river ship. I like my feet to be as comfortable as possible. This helps with back, hip, and leg alignment for the trip. A lot of people are not used to this type of pavement and amount of walking at a slower pace. It can cause discomfort if you don't have the right shoes.”


6. Use laundry services:

If you’re going on a longer river cruise don’t pack for more than a week. Utilize laundry services available to you so you can pack light. Most river cruises will offer this and in some stateroom categories, it may even be included. Travel advisor expert Jean Paugh puts it best, “I never take more than 4 -5 days' worth of clothes as you can get laundry done for reasonable cost onboard. The older I get the less I want to hassle with too much luggage. I am not there for a fashion show I am there to immerse myself in the local history, people, and cuisine.”


7. Travel Advisor Tipping Advice:

Even if you pre-purchase onboard gratuities for a river cruise you may need to pack some cash for local guides for excursions and/or drivers. While we’re on the topic of cash, you may want to bring local currency instead of relying on ATMs at port destinations. While most larger restaurants and cities will take plastic, small towns may not cater to that convenience.

How much to tip? Psimas recommends “Take small bills/coins in the local currency to use for gratuities to tour guides (the equivalent of $1-$2USD per guide per person per tour.)”


8. Consider Accessibility

River cruise lines may have even more stringent accessibility considerations due to space constraints when it comes to wheelchairs or other adaptive devices.

Steph Lee, Founder of Host Agency Reviews, weighed in with some of her accessibility wisdom as well. She noted that, In addition to the challenges of storing a power chair in a cabin, the gangways at the ports in terms of boarding and disembarking aren't typically friendly for those with physical disabilities. European cities, especially smaller ones, may not be easy to navigate if they need assistive devices or have trouble walking on cobblestone streets.

Make sure your travel agent puts you on the right river cruise for your specific needs.

Read Steph's experience traveling in adventure territory with limited mobility (and get connected to other accessible travel resources).

If you needed to read this entire article to convince yourself to try it out, then you've arrived! Try out our customized cruise packing list below!

The Ultimate Cruise Packing List
Click here for your personalized cruise packing list pdf to be sent directly to your inbox!



Customize HAR's Packing List for YOUR Site!

02/26/22 Update: Jotform is experiencing tech issues where the PDF doesn't attach to the form when you clone it. If you'd like to copy this form for your site, reach out to JotForm directly and ask them clone the form from this URL: https://form.jotform.com/220334452993154

We think the customized packing list is pretty. We can't just keep it to ourselves! You can go ahead and download our cruise packing list for your site with YOUR branding on it! Here's how to do it:

  1. Find our Cruise Packing List Generator Template in our JotForm template hub.
  2. Check out our video tutorial on how to customize forms (the example isn't this exact form, but the process is the same!)
  3. Autoresponder Emails: Take a look at the notification and/or autoresponder emails. You'll need to add your email/name and maybe some less template-y text.
  4. Thank you page: Add your logo or some thank you text specific to your agency.
  5. Embed to your site and/or share your link with your clients!

Have any questions on it? Just give us a holler at Hello@HostAgencyReveiws.com! If you want to use our form on your site, all we ask is that you link back to this article! Thank you!!


You’re Ready to Get Packing

One of the things that make our resource so unique is the ability to customize your cruise packing list! Using HAR’s packing list is painfully easy. In fact, you’ve probably already toyed around with it.

But if you haven't, go ahead and plug your email in below. It will take you to your very own customizable packing list. (The page will also walk you through how to use it!)

If you’re reading thinking, “Wow I didn’t know there were so many different options for types of cruises, let alone cruise lines. How will I ever decide?”

Want to know where else you can find travel advisors who specialize in cruises? We recommend ASTA’s (American Society of Travel Advisors) Travel Sense tool or CLIA’s (Cruise Line International Association) Agent Finder.

Questions? Comments? Packing tips? Favorite Marie Kondo YouTube video recommendations? Give us a holler in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!



Footnotes

  1. Disclaimer, I'm not sure if button-ups and khakis count as resort casual.
About the Author
Mary Stein - Host Agency Reviews

Mary Stein

Mary Stein has been working as a writer and editor for Host Agency Reviews since 2016. She loves supporting travel advisors on their entrepreneurial journey and is inspired by their passion, tenacity, and creativity. Mary is also a mom, dog lover, fiction writer, hiker, and a Great British Bake Off superfan.