Cruise Advice

Packing for a cruise: The essential items only seasoned cruisers know about

Experienced cruisers will know there are certain items you cannot travel without when packing for a cruise. I’m not talking about packing the right clothing, remembering currency or stocking up on sun cream. I mean those small essential items that you only learn about after doing a cruise or two. Most first-time cruisers won’t know about these until they get on board. So, inspired by an idea conjured up by friends and family, here is my guide to creating the ultimate ‘cruise pack.’

Cruise ship

Seasickness tablets

It might sound obvious, but seasickness/travel tablets are really important and a lot of people don’t pack them. I’ve met a number of people who claimed they didn’t suffer from seasickness, until the ship hit rough weather. You can get these on board, but they are often the really drowsy versions like Avomine. I prefer Stugeron and Boots’ own brand tablets, as I find these far less drowsy. I take them everywhere with me, even in the Caribbean. My experience of catamaran tours is not good, so I always take a seasickness tablet beforehand. They are also great for long coach journeys.

Giant pegs for sunbeds

Beach towel clips

Seasoned cruisers know that bringing your own ‘extra-large’ pegs is essential. Why? The pegs stop your towel from blowing off of your sunbed, which is always handy on a windy sea day. I like these funky beach towel clips. I found them in Matalan for £5. You can also buy large pegs from Lakeland.

Washing powder capsules, travel wash and stain remover

Travel wash

If you don’t have to fly to join a ship, definitely bring your own washing powder. The products they sell on board can be harsh on clothes, and fabric conditioner is sometimes hard to come by. I often use Dylon’s travel wash, which you can buy in Boots and Waitrose. I also pack the little lingerie bags, as the ship machines can be heavy-going on delicate fabrics. Always time your use of the launderette carefully as it can get very busy, and don’t be afraid to hand wash items in your cabin.

Clothes peg airer

Collapsible clothes peg airers are great for hanging washing on in your shower (or balcony) and they fold down easily. If you are short on space in your cabin, then these are worth packing.

Bottle opener

Enough said!

Hand gel

I actually cruised on a ship that didn’t sell hand gel in the shop, which really surprised me. I always have hand gel with me when I go ashore, particularly if I am having something to eat in a restaurant. I really like Soap and Glory’s Hand Maid gel from Boots.

Gang plug and travel adapters


A gang plug is a great item to pack if you know that you will be staying in a cabin with limited sockets. It is useful to know what type of plugs the ship has beforehand. I advise taking one or two travel adapters, if you know you’re on a ship that needs a power convertor.

First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

I always make sure I pack these items in my First Aid Kit: paracetamol, indigestion relief tablets, plasters, Lemsip, ibruprofen and travel sickness tablets. I have used all of these on cruises in the past and I feel more comfortable using brands that I am familiar with. I once tried to get the equivalent of Lemsip in Spain, but it didn’t compare!

Clip-on parasol

I’ve seen a few people using clip-on parasols on their sunbeds in really hot weather. This is a great way to get some shade and they are cheap to buy on websites like Amazon. Alternatively you can buy pushchair clip-on parasols that work on sunbeds too, like this one in ASDA.

Laundry basket

Peg airer and laundry basket

I always pack a laundry bag when I go on holiday, although we normally take a collapsible laundry basket on a cruise. It slots in to your suitcase easily and it doesn’t take up too much room in your cabin. They are also inexpensive and easy to pick up in stores like Tiger and B&M.

A book to exchange with other passengers

Some cruise lines have the facility to exchange books with other passengers. It’s worth taking a book with you, so that you can swap it with other people when you are on board. Not everyone does this, but I’ve always thought that it’s a really nice tradition and I use the book exchange a lot.


If you can think of any other essential items that you take in your ‘cruise pack’ then please feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can read more of cruising tips on the ‘Cruise Advice‘ section of my blog.

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  1. Thanks……..another, I always take magnets (2) for notes/reminders/tickets to stick on the walls (they are magnetic!) very useful -usually get others as a momento so use those!

  2. One thing that we find invaluable in our cabin is a USB charging station. With phones, tablets, watches
    and fitness monitors all needing regular charging a station that can handle 5 or 6 devices at once whilst needing only one plug, frees up plug sockets on your gang socket.

  3. Hi, I take magnetic towel clips so can use them for hanging things in the cabin/stateroom so 2 in 1. The only other thing I would suggest is if you have made bookings for your shore excursions prior to getting on board, take the list with you. we had the list of what we had planned though tickets on bed when we arrived, information on the trips and the activities planned where not available unless you went to the shore desk, of course we had booked them ages before and forgotten what was included on a couple. P&O only cruise line I have been on that don’t try forcing you to buy trips all the time though would still have liked the descriptors of what i had booked. (Not a criticism of P&O).

  4. Great tips. We always take towel pegs, love the ones here in all the different characters! A power pack is another essential we carry to ensure our cameras don’t go flat when we are out and about.

  5. Swiss army knife – has bottle opener, scissors, etc. Also, if you are taking regular medicines make sure that you have enough with you for your entire trip. I also tend to pack a clothes brush as well.

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