The Ultimate Family Cruise Packing List

What to pack to make the most of your cruising vacation.

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.

Parents Travel Family Cruise Packing List

Parents / Tyler Roeland

This summer, my family of five is about to embark on our very first cruise, and while we’re well-seasoned travelers, something about going on a massive ship just hits different. All of a sudden I feel unsure on what to pack and what to expect. Luckily, there are a whole bunch of families out there that have made cruising part of their yearly family vacation plans who were willing to share valuable tried-and-true packing wisdom, and help me whittle down my list of must-haves beyond the obvious swimsuits and dressy clothes.

Scroll down for a list of packing essentials to help make any family cruise vacation the best time ever.

Packing Cubes

BAGAIL 8 Set Packing Cubes


According to multiple cruisers, don’t bring luggage larger than carry-on size. This means being smart about what—and how—you pack. Our family of five is often able to squeeze everything we need into a couple carry-ons thanks to these genius packing cubes that really maximize the interior space. I usually pack each kid's clothes in one cube so it’s easy to know what belongs to who.

To buy: Bagail 8-Piece Packing Cube Set, $21.24 with onsite coupon;

Motion Sickness Treatments

Dramamine Motion Sickness Non-Drowsy


Take it from someone who knows, motion sickness is the worst—but so is being drowsy on a trip due to medication. That’s why I’ll be preparing for some rolling ocean rocking with the non-drowsy version of traditional Dramamine. One regular cruiser—who often got “seasick” on previous cruises, but felt even worse on Dramamine— revealed that they were initially doubtful of the non-drowsy version but that “these not only took away my seasickness nausea, but also made me not even respond to the boat movement at all.” It’s a “game-changer for cruising,” they raved.

To buy: Non-Drowsy Dramamine $6.74 (was $7.55);

Small Daypack

Terra Sling Bag


Offshore excursions—especially with kids—will require more than a purse, but if you don’t want to be weighed down with an enormous diaper bag or backpack, a small daypack to store your essentials is a must. I love the generous size of this Calpak Terra Sling Bag that has multiple exterior and interior pockets to organize all the things you’ll need. It even fits a bottle of water and snacks, which just may be the most important things when traveling with kids.

To buy: Calpak Terra Sling Bag $68; 

Sun Hats

Sunday Afternoons Kids Play Hat


Sunburns on any vacation are no fun, and a quality sun hat is just one layer of protection against UV rays. This one has a sloped brim and neck veil to help ensure every part of them is shaded and is rated for UPF 50+ sun protection and mesh panels to keep their heads nice and cool. Thanks to unpredictable at-sea weather, it can often be pretty windy for certain portions of the cruise so make sure to get one with a chin strap to make sure they remain secure on their heads and don’t blow away into the sea. 

To buy: Sunday Afternoons Kids Play Hat starting at $14.36 ;


Roxy Kids Whole Hearted Long Sleeve Rashguard


Cruising with kids often means spending a lot of outdoor time, in and out of the water. Protect delicate skin from sunburns by making sure to pack every member of the family rashguards. We love these affordable and high quality ones that have UPF 50 sun protection in them. Not having to constantly chase them around to reapply sunscreen on their bodies is a huge plus.

To buy: Roxy Kids Long Sleeve Rashguard $22.10 (was $30) ;

Water Shoes

Quickshark Kids Water Shoes


Depending on where you’re cruising and what the offshore excursions entail, you may want to have a pair of water shoes for the kiddos.

To buy: Quickshark Kids Water Shoes starting at $19.99;  

Waterproof Phone Case

Hiearcool Waterproof Phone Pouch


When you’ll be near all sorts of bodies of water from pools to the ocean, a waterproof phone case is prudent. This two-pack is on sale for less than $9 right now.

To buy: Hiearcool Waterproof Phone Case, 2-Pack $8.49 (was $9.99) ;

Slip-Resistant Sandals 

Quiksilver Kids Oasis


Easy to slip-on sandals like flip flops are kind of an essential for a cruise ship, but just make sure they have good treads on the bottom so kids don’t slip on wet surfaces.

To buy: Quicksilver Kids Oasis Sandals $22.40 (was $28);

Hiking/Walking Shoes 

KEEN Kids Newport H2SHO


Depending on the excursions you’ll be going on off the boat, shoes with good tread may be a must-have. These pull double duty as water shoes and hiking shoes, saving precious room in your luggage. 

To buy: Keen Newport H2Sho Kids Water Hiking Shoes $24.70 (was $50) ;

Lightweight Sun Protection Long-Sleeve Top

StayCool pullover hoodie


I love these affordable lightweight hoodies—they’re great for excursions off the ship, windy afternoons on deck, or anywhere, really. The comfy top comes in five different colors, and is made of a sweat-wicking maternal that also has UPF 50+ protection.

To buy: Primary StayCool Pullover Hoodie $28;


M2C Boys & Girls Hooded Light Weight Windbreaker


Cruising isn't all sunshine and clear skies. There are often breezes and chillier weather (on or off the boat.) These affordable windbreakers are light enough to roll up and pack in a suitcase, backpack or purse and not take up too much space.

To buy: M2C Lightweight Kids Windbreaker $29.99;


Quiet Color - Magic Mint

Loop Earplugs

Cruise ship cabins tend to be on the small side and chances are you’ll be sleeping with one (or more) kids in super close proximity, and as all parents know, kids make lots of weird noises when they sleep. Make sure you’re still able to catch some restful slumber with a set of earplugs. We love this reusable pair that reduces noise by 27 decibels and comes with four tips to ensure a good fit for every ear. They’re also great for kids with sensory sensitivities that just may need some quiet for a bit. 

To buy: Loop Quiet Earplugs $24.95;

Sunscreen Face Stick

Sun Bum Kids' Clear Sunscreen Face Stick


I love these sunscreen face sticks for quick and easy application on kids’ faces, and the fact that they like to do it themselves. This new Sunbum Sunscreen Face Stick leaves no white residue and simply glides on and is portable enough for older kids to toss in their pocket for on-the-go protection.

To buy: Sunbum Kids SPF 50 Clear Sunscreen Face Stick $12.49;

Spray Sunscreen

Mineral Mist SPF 50

Tubby Todd

When having fun is on the line, getting sunscreen on quickly before they hit the water is key, which is why I love this mineral aerosol sunscreen for babies and little kids. It’s water-resistant and protects skin for 80 minutes, and never irritates my toddler’s sensitive skin. 

To buy: Tubby Todd Mineral Mist SPF 50 Sunscreen $28; 

Wet Bags 

ALVABABY 2pcs Cloth Diaper Wet Dry Bags


These are a must-have wherever we travel, but on a cruise, they’re definitely essential. Whether you need to store wet clothes or swimsuits after an offshore excursion or just need an extra place to carry some things, they never go unused. This 2-pack is on sale for less than $10 right now, so I’ll definitely be scooping these up for our upcoming trip.

To buy: Alvababy Wet Dry Bags $9.99 for two (was $14.99) ;

Deflatable Floaties

Swimways Soft Swimmies Toddler Floaties


Designed for kids ages 3 to 5, these soft floaties deflate down to take up practically no space in your luggage. While many cruises aimed at families will often have their own safety flotation devices for kids to use, many also do not, so better safe than sorry. 

To buy: Swimways Soft Toddler Floaties $10.99 ;

Clear Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer

SimpleHouseware Crystal Clear Over The Door Hanging Shoe Organizer


This is a genius hack I’ve heard over and over again, especially for cruise cabins where the living quarters can often be tight. Toss this over the door to not only store shoes, but other essential items like phones, chargers, hair ties, swimsuits, and more. And for less than $10, it’ll make a huge difference in the comfort of your cruise stay.

To buy: SimpleHouseware Clear Over-the-Door Hanging Shoe Organizer $8.87 (was $13.99);

Insect Repellent 

Babyganics Natural DEET-Free Insect Repellent


Sure, you could always buy it on the ship in a pinch, but it’s guaranteed to be way more expensive than if you just brought it with you. I love this DEET-free version for my family—the insect repellent comes out smoothly, it’s easy to spread around, has a pleasant non-bug spray smell, and most importantly, keeps the bug bites at bay.

To buy: Babyganics Natural DEET-Free Insect Repellent $11.49 ;

Shop More Deals for Parents

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles