Whether you’re the kind of person who spends the fortnight before a holiday making detailed lists of what to pack in your suitcase, or you’re the kind who chucks seven outfits haphazardly in a case the night before your travels – it’s important to know what to pack for a cruise holiday.

From clothes, toiletries and personal effects to medications, electricals and books, we’ve put together a definitive guide to what to pack for a cruise holiday. And to help make sure you’ve got what you need when you need it, we’ve broken it down into hand luggage and hold luggage.

Hand Luggage


You’ll be asked to check in your suitcases as you make your way onto the cruise ship – and you won’t see them again until they are delivered to your cabin a few hours later. This means, that all the stuff you’ll need in the first few hours should be packed in hand luggage.

Swimming Costumes – Can’t resist the temptation of taking a plunge at the first given opportunity, make sure you pack your trunks and tops.

Travel Documents – Just to be on the safe side, keep all your travel documents, passports and excursion information of your person, or safely tucked away in hand luggage.

Currency – Likewise, it’s always a good idea to keep currency close. Plus, on the first day of the cruise, it’s likely the kids will bolt off to the shops and then demand a handful of cash for one treat or another.

Earplugs – Had a long drive to the cruise terminal, and fancy a little nap whilst everyone else acquaints themselves with the ship? A pair of earplugs is an absolute must.

Change of Clothes – It could be a good few hours until the bulk of your wardrobe makes its way to your cabin – so make sure you’ve got some suitable holiday clobber by packing a change of clothes.

Hold Luggage


Although cruise ships are pretty well stocked with on-board stores, some of the prices may be a little steep. Pack these essentials and you’ll be well covered for almost any eventuality.

Adaptors – It may be worth checking with the cruise line you’re travelling with as to whether they feature sockets that will service your Irish electricals. Only P&O Cruises and Cunard Line boast Irish sockets, with the other lines featuring either Continental or US socks – so check, to identify which adaptors you’ll need. Also, ask about the presence of USB charging sockets – these are being added to newer and refurbished ships.

Favourite Toiletries – Although your cabin will likely come stocked with the essentials, it’s worth taking your trusted toiletry brands with you. From your favourite shampoo to the toothpaste you know and love – these can keep you fresh and feeling good.

Medicines and First-Aid Kit – On-board pharmacies are often relatively basic, so if you require any medicines, make sure you’re stocked for the full trip. If you require a prescription, enquire with your GP about getting enough to keep you stocked up for the duration.

A basic first-aid kit is also very helpful – covering cuts and bruises as the kids (big and small) get a little over-excited on their holidays.

Alarm Clock – There’s so much to see and do during a cruise holiday, you won’t want to waste any time in bed. Pack your alarm clock, and get up in good time to enjoy another wonderful cruise day.

Sunscreen – Whether you’re exploring a lovely Mediterranean city, or spending the afternoon chilling by the pool – it’s vital you and your family are covered and protected from the sun. Sunscreen in the on-board shop may be a little pricey.

Extra Storage – Savvy cruise ship regulars know the importance of this one, especially when booking into smaller cabins. Packing things over-the-door toiletry holders can handily free up space around the sink and bath.

Soft Drinks – Unless you’ve sprung for a drinks package, it can be pricey shelling out for soft drinks all day every day – especially if you’re travelling with sweet-tooth children. Packing a few sealed bottles of cola and lemonade could save you serious spends over the first few days at least.

Clothes for Formal Evenings – Cruise holidays have certainly got less formal over the last decade or so, but cruise guests still pop on their best glad rags for on-board formal nights. Plan how many formal nights you’ll be attending and pack accordingly. Tuxedos, formal suits and cocktail dresses are the order of the day.

Now, you’re armed with packing knowledge, why not head over to our homepage to check out our amazing array of cruise deals? Alternatively, give us a call on 01 536 0938 and our helpful team will help you find your perfect cruise package. 



About Author

Belinda Goodman

Cruise 1st veteran Belinda has a passion for travel, especially cruising. She has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years, including a 3-year stint working on cruise ships as a croupier. Belinda regularly writes for the Cruise 1st blog, with a focus on company news and advice for first-time cruise travellers.

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