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26 Cruise Cabin Essentials You Need To Pack


If you are packing for an upcoming cruise, whether it's your first or you're a seasoned sailor, it's important to pack the right items to make your voyage as comfortable as possible. 

While basics like clothing, toiletries, and valid travel documentation are essential, there are additional items that can enhance your onboard experience, especially when it comes to your cabin. 

Your stateroom will be more compact compared to hotels on land, and despite being provided with all of the basics (i.e., bed, television, ensuite bathroom), there are ways to maximize the limited space and increase functionality

Here's our list of 26 cruise cabin essentials that you need to pack. 

Please note that we have linked Amazon items in this article, which contain affiliate links. The affiliate links do not cost you anything extra, but Cruise.Blog will make a small commission if you purchase the item through the link.

Door decorations


A popular cruising tradition entails decorating your stateroom's door. It's a fun way to make the exterior of your cabin stand out in a sea of similar doors. During your cruise, you may see decor commemorating a special occasion, such as a wedding anniversary, graduation, birthday, honeymoon, etc. 

Even if you aren't celebrating anything onboard, you can still dress your door up. Perhaps you're taking a cruise in October and want to make it a little spookier in honor of Halloween, or maybe you're sailing during the winter months and want to partake in the festive spirit of the holidays. 

Regardless of the occasion, make sure that you plan ahead and purchase all of your materials ahead of time. Don't know where to start? Here's some inspiration to get you going:

Make sure that you're abiding by your respective line's rules, as some, including Virgin Voyages, don't allow any door decorations. 

First aid kit


While cruise ships are equipped with a medical center, it's smart to come prepared with some supplies to treat minor injuries. It's helpful to have things on hand in the event you start feeling seasick or accidentally scrape your knee. Rather than having to seek out the medical center, you can bandage yourself up and return to the fun in no time!

Instead of purchasing all the items individually, which can be a hassle especially if you're looking for travel-sized products, consider buying a pre-made first aid kit that includes essentials like bandages, pain relievers, Neosporin, and more. Plus, you can reuse the container in the future. 

It's easy to further customize pre-made kits, too. Since most don't come with seasickness medication, throw in a small pack of Dramamine or Bonine. Those prone to heartburn will want to bring some antacids, such as Tums, while those who use contacts won't want to travel far from home without some eyedrops and contact solution. 



Speaking of medications, you'll want to pack a good mini-pharmacy, as cruise ships won't have as much inventory as your local drug store does. If they do have a certain medication, it'll be more expensive than back home. You're better off coming prepared with things like pain relievers, motion sickness medication, cold & flu medication, antacids, ear drops, cough drops, toothache gel, etc. 

Nobody wants to feel under the weather while on vacation, but having the proper medication handy can help control your symptoms, so you're able to make the most of your hard-earned cruise. 

I tend to buy the majority of my over-the-counter medications in bulk from Costco to save money; however, Amazon is a great place to place an order for 2-day delivery, so you can order what you're missing from the comfort of your home before leaving:

Don't forget to bring your prescription medications! You won't be able to get them refilled while onboard. If you're running low, make sure you visit the pharmacy before leaving town. It's smart to have a few extra day's worth of mediation, too. 

Travel pillow/blanket 


While door decor is a great way to customize the exterior of your cabin, you may want to bring your favorite pillow and/or blanket from home to dress up the inside, especially if you're on a longer sailing. 

Moreover, pillows and blankets can enhance your travel experience, as you'll be able to get cozy in the car or airplane en route to the port. Let's face it, airline-provided blankets are just about as useful as one-ply toilet paper. Both barely get the job done. 

You may not be bothered on a short flight; however, if you're flying across the country (i.e., California to Florida) or internationally, you'll want to consider prioritizing your comfort, as you don't want to arrive grouchy. 

Refillable water bottle


There have been countless times I've woken up in the middle of the night on a cruise with an unquenchable thirst. Thankfully, I've learned the importance of bringing a refillable water bottle. While heading to the buffet to fill it may seem like a small inconvenience when there are other things you'd rather be doing, your future self will thank you. 

I prefer taking an insulated water bottle, as the mini-fridge in the cabin isn't always the most reliable. On my cruise onboard Carnival Elation, I joked that the fridge was a sad excuse for even a cooler, as everything was kept at room temperature. I was thankful for my Stanley bottle that kept my water cool during all hours of the night!  

Those with drink packages should visit one of the ship's bars before retiring to bed, as water bottles are usually included unless you purchase a soda package. Having a surplus of water available will be beneficial on port days, too, as you won't have to worry about carving out time to get a bottle to take off the ship with you. 

Packing cubes

Packing cubes

Whether you're traveling with a small suitcase or want to keep your clothing more organized, packing cubes are a must for your next cruise. 

After your luggage is delivered, you'll be able to unpack with ease, as you can simply throw the cubes into drawers or onto shelves within the closet. All of your belongings will be easily accessible throughout the sailing, and they'll help you keep your cabin tidy. 

Pop-up hamper


On the subject of clothing, you'll need a place to keep your dirty clothes. A pop-up hamper can be a great addition to bring since you'll have a dedicated place for all your soiled articles, rather than leaving them in a random drawer. Depending on how long your sailing is and how much you brought, you may not have a spare drawer to use as a hamper, either!

Some cruisers suggest using your suitcase; however, it can be rather annoying to have to pull it out from underneath the bed so frequently. Instead, consider packing a pop-up hamper. Depending on the size, there's a chance it may fit in the cabin's closet, so it'll be out of sight, too. 

Deck of cards or other travel games


One of the major appeals of cruising is that it offers different activities and amenities to appease a wide array of travelers. Even so, you'll want to carve out a little time to spend with your family and friends. What better way than over a few friendly card games? 

Of course, you don't want to pack bulky board games that'll take up a lot of space in your suitcase. Instead, think of card games like Uno, Phase 10, and Cards Against Humanity. You can also bring a standard deck of cards to play Poker, Bridge, War, etc.

While some ships may have a card room with a couple games available, if the weather takes a turn for the worse, you'll be able to play anywhere on the ship away from crowds since you'll have your own collection to choose from. 

Portable charger


Whenever I pull out my suitcase, my next step is making sure that my portable charger is plugged in. From janky outlets on airplanes to older ships with few charging options, having my own portable charger brings so much peace of mind when traveling. 

When I went on my solo cruise around the Mediterranean, I was weary of my phone dying while alone in a foreign country. On my 8-hour excursion from Civitavecchia to Rome, it ended up coming in handy, as I was able to charge my device and offer it to another traveler on the tour whose phone battery was running low. 

Anker is my go-to brand; however, they don't have the cheapest chargers on the market. If you're not willing to shell out $60+ for a portable charger, there are other options, including compact chargers that will take up less space in your bag! 

Non-surge power strip



If you're sailing on a newer ship, you'll likely have plenty of outlets in your stateroom. Those on older vessels, however, might be shocked to learn that you may only have two or three! It's a good idea to research the features of your chosen ship, so you can plan accordingly. You don't want to show up with your family of four to discover you will have to rotate chargers. 

While packing a power strip may seem like an easy solution, they are banned on the majority of cruise lines. You'll have to purchase a non-surge strip, so it isn't confiscated upon arrival. 

It's also advisable to bring a European power adapter, as many ships have at least one European plug in the stateroom. 

6-foot charging cable 


Although newer ships tend to come equipped with outlets near the bed, the only charging options on older vessels tend to be located near the vanity, meaning that you'll need an extra-long cord to use your phone while resting. This is something important to keep in mind when packing for your cruise, especially if you're someone who likes to use their phone while falling asleep. 

Additionally, I suggest bringing at least one USB cable, as many ships have USB ports that you can use. In fact, when I was cruising onboard Carnival Elation, I was surprised that the ship, which launched in 1998, had USB ports beside the bed. Had I not had the proper cable, I would have had to leave my phone on the vanity at night to charge. 

Liquid hand soap


You don't want to get sick during your cruise, so you will want to do everything in your power to keep yourself healthy, starting with washing your hands. In your cabin, you'll find a small bar of soap for hand washing after you've used the restroom. While the bar will get the job done, I've noticed that it dries out my hands pretty fast. 

Many veteran cruisers recommend packing a small bottle of liquid soap to use in your cabin. Those flying to their embarkation city can stop en route to the terminal and run into a drug store. I'll often stop to pick up a bottle of wine, so it's not a huge inconvenience to grab some liquid soap. 

Hydration packets


Another way to keep yourself healthy is by staying hydrated. Amidst all of the tropical cocktails, though, it's easy for your water intake to decrease. Even though water is easily accessible on your ship, you may be tempted by other beverages, especially if you splurged on a drink package. 

Even if you're consuming more water than normal, the sun's rays can dehydrate you faster. From spending long days ashore on the beach to lounging on the lido deck, it's important to prioritize your hydration. 

I love to bring Liquid I.V. whenever I cruise. They help to replenish your electrolytes, so you don't have to deal with the consequences of dehydration. 


cruise lanyard

Most cruise lines will give you a plastic cruise card on embarkation day that serves as your room key, credit card, and personal identification. On newer ships, they may even be required to turn on the lights in your cabin. In short, you want to treat your card like your car keys or credit card. 

You don't want to lose it, as that means you'll have to wait in line at Guest Services for a replacement, and there are better things to do while onboard! 

The best way to keep your card safe and sound is with a lanyard. Plus, since it'll always be on your person, you won't have to spend time digging through your pool bag while ordering a drink. They are both fashionable and convenient!

Magnetic hooks


Did you know that the walls of your cabin are magnetic? By bringing a set of magnetic hooks, you can utilize the extra space to hang items like hats, bags, and lanyards, reserving the closet and shelves for bulkier items, such as clothing and shoes. 

Hooks will help you keep your cabin organized and clutter-free throughout your sailing, as compact cruise ship cabins can become messy relatively quickly, especially if you're traveling with three or four people in a single room. It's no fun returning from port to a disastrous cabin!

Hanging toiletry bag

hanging organizer

I was gifted a handing cosmetics bag for Christmas, and I simply won't travel without it anymore! 

It proved invaluable on my cruise onboard Carnival Elation, as the bathroom storage was almost nonexistent. Its numerous compartments hold everything from my contact solution to hair ties, face wash, hair gel, toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, travel-sized shampoo and conditioner bottles, makeup remover, razor, and more. 

It helps me keep everything organized and ensures that all of my necessities are readily accessible throughout my cruise. Plus, I don't have to waste time unpacking and repacking my toiletries. 

Shampoo and conditioner


In your toiletry bag, you need to remember to pack shampoo and conditioner, as your cruise ship likely won't provide those products for you. 

If they do, it's may some sort of hybrid product, such as Royal Caribbean's 2-in-1 shampoo and body wash. While lines like Carnival and Celebrity do provide separate body wash and shampoo, the quality is mediocre at best, so I prefer to bring my own products. 

Since I color my hair, I use Biolage's Color Last shampoo and conditioner. It helps maintain my highlights for longer without drying my hair out. Moreover, I like being in control of the scent of my body wash. 

Portable fan


All cruise ship cabins come equipped with a thermostat that allows you to control the temperature. However, many guests love to bring small fans onboard to help cool the room even more. It can be nice to return to your cabin after a warm day in the Caribbean and have a fan blow in your face! 

However, since outlets can be limited, it's best to bring a battery-operated fan. You don't want it to be too large either, as a larger fan would take up precious space on your vanity. Choosing a compact, battery-operated fan ensures both portability and convenience. 

Wrinkle-release spray


Streamers and irons are banned from cruise ships just like standard power cords. Thankfully, there are other methods to get wrinkles out of your clothing. In addition to hanging your garments in the bathroom while you shower, it's smart to bring a small bottle of wrinkle-release spray. 

The spray is easy to use and will help get the larger wrinkles out, though some small ones may still be noticeable. Nonetheless, it's a better solution than paying to do laundry on the ship, as it can be pretty expensive. 

Stain remover pen 

Tide to-go

From unexpected rocking that causes accidental spills to other unforeseen mishaps, you'll want to have a stain remover pen on hand during your cruise. If you get something on your favorite blouse on the first evening, you will be thankful that you have a pen to quickly and effectively treat it, rather than let it soak for the entire sailing. 

Since most cruise lines charge upwards of $7.00 for a single shirt, having a way to get the stain out yourself is ideal. Plus, it's much quicker than waiting for your clothes to be returned, as you have to pay extra for same-day service. 

Over-the-door shoe organizer


While I prefer hanging toiletry organizers, many cruisers are fans of over-the-door shoe organizers, as they're more versatile and offer a convenient storage solution to help maximize valuable vanity space. Simply attach the organizer to your closet or bathroom door and stash items like shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, toiletries, sunscreen, water bottles, and more. 

Over-the-door organizers may be more useful on longer sailings when you're bringing a wider array of essentials. One bottle of sunscreen just won't cut it for a weeklong cruise! Similarly, if you tend to overpack, it will help you keep all those random extras organized and prevent clutter. 

Laundry packets


Many cruise ships don't have self-service laundry facilities onboard, meaning that if you want to return home with clean clothing, you'll have to pay for its laundry service, which can often be quite expensive! One alternative is to bring travel-sized laundry packets for your stateroom. 

Cruise.Blog writer Allie swears by them. In fact, when traveling on Semester at Sea, she did all of her laundry for 100 days in her cabin's sink thanks to these little packets. 

While you may not want to think about doing laundry on vacation, if you get exceptionally dirty during an excursion (think an ATV tour) or your child ends up spitting up, you will be grateful that you brought some packets with you. 

Ziploc bags


Ziploc bags are great to bring on cruises because they can be used for so many different things. From storing cash and valuables during excursions to packing wet swimsuits and other toiletries to return home, you won't regret throwing a couple bags in your suitcase before you walk out the door. 

I forgot to bring Ziploc bags on one of my recent sailings, and we didn't have anything to safely secure our wet bathing suits in. When we got home, our clothing didn't smell the best since it was trapped with wet articles for so long! 

Since the capacity of smaller bags is more restricted, it's best to bring quart-sized ones, as they will be able to hold more. 

Portable white noise machine

Sound Machine

Cruise ships aren't known for having soundproof walls. In fact, you'd be surprised how easily sound can travel. When sailing onboard Carnival Conquest, I was constantly hearing people talk outside of my cabin and regretted not bringing a portable white noise machine, as it would've drowned the sound out. 

Those who want a little more assurance that they'll sleep soundly during their cruise will want to invest in a compact white noise machine. If it's too large, you may have trouble traveling with it! If you cannot sleep with any noise, a pair of ear plugs would work, too. 

Night light


Night lights are a common household item that you should bring to upgrade your stateroom experience, regardless of what cabin you're staying in. 

Since the ocean is pitch-black at night, those in ocean-view and balcony cabins, as well as lavish suites, won't be able to rely on natural light to guide them from the bed to the bathroom. Nobody wants to trip on a stay cord or pair of shoes! 

Though leaving the bathroom light on is an option, it often emits more brightness than most would prefer when sleeping. Night lights, specifically those that are motion-sensored and battery-operated, will help you navigate around the cabin with ease. 



Cruises are a time for indulgence, meaning you'll be eating more than usual. Plus, your diet will likely consist of foods that you do not eat on a daily basis. For some, that can result in stomach aches and frequent trips to the restroom. 

Bringing a travel-sized Poo-Pourri bottle means that you won't have to worry about leaving any unpleasant stenches behind, regardless of whether you're using the bathroom in your cabin or those around the ship. 

Travel-sized Poo-Pourri ($9.99)

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