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I’ve mastered packing for a cruise with these must-have items - and they’re under $25

Cabin Luggage

While planning for an upcoming cruise vacation is always exciting, packing your suitcase can feel daunting. No one wants to waste time packing items that aren’t necessary to have a great cruise. Those who are new to cruising might even feel overwhelmed about what to bring onboard for their first cruise.

Additionally, those who need to fly to a cruise port will need to be more cautious of overpacking to avoid unwanted baggage fees at the airport. Optimizing your suitcase space is key for a seamless travel day and a smooth start to your cruise vacation.

As someone who has cruised over 40 times, packing has become much more routine for me. Of course, some itineraries and destinations are more difficult to pack for. For instance, how you pack for a 7-night Alaskan cruise will be entirely different than a weekend getaway cruise to the Caribbean.

Boarding Suitcase

In fact, I try to cruise with only a carry-on these days to create a simpler traveling experience! Having just a carry-on provides more flexibility at the airport while also giving you the peace of mind that everything you need for your cruise is in your possession. This is not always the case, though, as I do tend to pack a checked suitcase for longer itineraries or sailings to more unique destinations.

After so many cruises over the last 20 years, I can proudly say that I’ve mastered the art of packing for a cruise thanks to these must-have items. I really believe packing for a cruise would not be the same without these things. Whether you’re opting for just a carry-on or you plan to pack a larger checked suitcase, these items should be on your packing list. Best of all, these must-haves are all affordably priced at under $25.

As a note, Cruise.Blog will receive a small commission if you purchase these items from our affiliate links. Purchasing from the links in this article - or from our Amazon storefront - will not cost you nothing extra.

Must-have cruising items

Apple AirTag


In recent years, Apple AirTags have become wildly popular for cruisers and travelers alike. With many airlines increasingly losing passengers’ luggage, Apple AirTags are an easy way to track the location of your belongings. About the size of a quarter, they can easily fit within your suitcase.

Apple’s AirTags utilize Bluetooth technology that allows Apple users to monitor the location of their items within the "Find My" app. Within the app, you can see real-time data on your AirTag’s location.

I first purchased an Apple AirTag in 2022 for a 12-night European cruise that I had planned. With many logistics involved, including flying to Paris for a few days before flying to Rome for our cruise departure, I loved being able to ensure my suitcases were onboard the flights. In addition, I was able to track my suitcases at the cruise terminal to see that my luggage had safely made it onboard.

Ever since then, I always pack an Apple AirTag in my cruising suitcase whether I am driving or flying to the cruise port. Whenever I check my suitcase at the airport, I ensure that my Apple AirTag is tucked away inside the bag.


Read more: I tried AirTags to track my luggage on a European cruise

Moreover, you will hand off your luggage to the porters upon arrival at your cruise terminal. With my Apple AirTag, I can be confident that I won’t lose the location of my luggage. The price is minimal compared to the peace of mind it provides knowing the exact location of my belongings at all times.

Finally, you will place your luggage outside of your stateroom on the last night of your cruise. Once you disembark the ship and return to the cruise terminal, you will be responsible for finding your luggage. With the Apple AirTag, you can even play a "ding" sound to quickly locate your suitcase in the sea of luggage.

A single Apple AirTag is on sale right now for only $24; however, you can purchase a 4-pack of Apple AirTags for $78.99 if you want more than one. Either way, I highly recommend adding an AirTag to your cruise packing list. 

European Travel Plug Adapter

European Adapters

Unless you’re sailing on a newer cruise ship, you will likely find that most cruise cabins have very limited outlets for powering devices. The newest cruise ships have integrated more outlets and plugs for guests to use in their staterooms; however, any cruise ship older than a few years will probably only feature one or two outlets in each cabin.

Back in 2022, I sailed on Carnival’s then-oldest ship, Carnival Ecstasy, right before her retirement. I was shocked to find that the cabin on this 31-year-old ship had just one single outlet to use in the entire cabin. Unfortunately, I did not bring any sort of extender or even a portable charger. This created an annoying situation when it came to charging devices each evening.

Jewel of the Seas

Read more: Why smart cruisers bring a European power adapter on a cruise ship

If you’re like me, you travel with many devices that need to be charged, including my phone, watch, tablet, laptop, camera, and headphones - just to name a few. With multiple people sailing in a cabin, it can quickly become cumbersome to share only one or two outlets for the duration of your cruise.

However, most cruise cabins will feature both US and EU plugs for guests to use. For many years, I never utilized the EU plug in a cruise cabin until I purchased one of these European travel plug adapters. Now, I truthfully never cruise without it!

These European travel adapters are easy to pack and use. If you happen to be planning a European cruise, this will be even more crucial to include in your packing list. This particular must-have item comes in a 2-pack and includes three standard USB-A plugs, two US outlet plugs, and one USB-C plug. I never have to worry about whether or not I will be able to charge all of my devices.

8-Piece Set of Packing Cubes


When it comes to optimizing space and staying organized, packing cubes will change the way you travel! For many years, I heard of people raving about packing cubes, but it wasn’t until I tried them for myself that I understood the hype!

When I tried my first set of packing cubes, I was amazed at how much I could stuff inside one cube. I found that the cubes naturally compressed my clothes, so I could fit more inside my suitcase. This was especially helpful when I was flying to a cruise port and cruising with just a carry-on. I was even able to pack for a 7-night Alaskan cruise with just my carry-on thanks to packing cubes.

Packing Cubes

Read more: I packed for a European cruise in just a backpack - here's how I did it

I also appreciated how easy it was to stay organized when I arrived onboard the cruise ship when I used packing cubes. I always unpack my suitcase on the first day of a cruise, as a small cruise cabin can quickly become cluttered. Getting settled into the cabin was a breeze with packing cubes. I could simply place the packing cube in the cruise cabin’s drawer or closet. It was so convenient!

Packing cubes come in a variety of sizes from small, medium, large, and extra large. This particular 8-piece set comes with three packing cubes, one underwear bag, one accessories bag, one shoe bag, one cosmetic bag, and even a small laundry bag.

You’ll undoubtedly feel more efficient and organized when utilizing packing cubes for your cruise. I never travel without these packing cubes now!

Electronics Organizer


If you’ve cruised before, you know the cabins onboard are typically pretty small and compact. Most cruise staterooms are smaller than a standard hotel room, ranging anywhere from 140 to 200 square feet. Because of this, it’s important to keep your cruise cabin organized so the small space does not feel cramped!

Along with packing cubes, I purchased this electronics organizer a couple years ago in an effort to keep all of my cords organized. It’s quickly become one of my favorite items to pack when I cruise!

With many devices needing to be charged throughout your cruise, having an electronics organizer can keep your cords all in one convenient location. I am able to have all of my charging cords neatly packed in this electronics organizer.

Cruise Cords

When traveling to and from the cruise port, it’s so handy to know exactly where my cords are located. Similarly, I keep this organizer on the vanity to keep the cabin tidy. Too many cords can quickly become overwhelming in a small cabin! Using an electronics organizer might not feel like a necessity, but it has totally amplified my cabin organization.

During the day, I simply pack away my cords in the organizer so my cruise cabin’s vanity is actually usable and not cluttered with cords. This electronics organizer is my favorite must-have cruise item. I love this purchase so much that I’ve gifted the same electronics organizer to my friends and family who also cruise often.

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