If you are considering a British Isles cruise you may be wondering what you need to pack. The unpredictable weather can make packing for a British Isles cruise a little harder than other locations but I have successfully managed it and will show you everything that I packed in this article.
I took a British Isles cruise in 2018 and it was amazing.
Below is a photo of me during my British Isles cruise. Note the red coat, that came in handy! We talk about clothing later in this article.
British Isles Cruise – Packing List: Essentials
Your Passport is The Most Important Item You’ll Pack
Even if you are from Britain and are taking a British isles cruise you will need a passport.
If you are from America or Australia there are certain cruises which you can do without a passport but this isn’t the case in Britain, all passengers must have a valid passport.
All guests coming from overseas will need a valid passport. It was the case that 6 months validity is required after the trip.
Bring Your Cruise Ticket to Make Everything Easier
Prior to your cruise, you will either:
- Be emailed a cruise ticket (most common).
- A ticket will be sent to you in the mail (less common).
If you are able to print out the cruise ticket it makes the process of checking in for the cruise much easier.
At check-in all that you need is this cruise ticket and your passport, a credit card also usually makes things easier but it isn’t mandatory for you to embark on your cruise.
In theory, the cruise line could find your booking from your passport but it’s much easier if you print the ticket yourself.
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance Confirmation
You will need travel insurance for a British isles cruise even if you are British. If you did become unwell or injure yourself treatment onboard is still incredibly expensive and getting you back to land to seek further treatment can cost a lot.
If you are from outside of Britain this is even more important.
Travel insurance can also cover you for things like lost luggage and possibly even missed ports if the travel insurance you buy includes this feature.
I always use a comparison website to buy my cruise specific travel insurance, check out my recommendations here: Travel Insurance Recommendations.
If you are not yet convinced that you need travel insurance to cruise check out this post which tells the story of a man who died when he had a stroke on a Carnival cruise and was unable to get back to the US as he didn’t have travel insurance.
Bring Any Prescriptions You May Need (Plus Extras!)
When cruising it’s always important that you bring any prescription medicines you may need and also bring your prescriptions with you if possible.
This way if you run out of your medicine when on board for any reason you may be able to get a refill and it provides a useful record of which medicines you take.
It’s important that when you check-in for your cruise you bring medicines in your hand luggage rather than your checked-in bag as you will be separated from your checked-in bag for a while and there is always the possibility that it will be lost.
Cruise ships do have pharmacies on board but these are limited. To learn more about the onboard medical facilities, check out the post below:
Print Your Own Luggage Tags if Possible
Many cruise lines will send you luggage tags. Some send the actual tags and others you are required to download and print at home.
This isn’t usually mandatory and if you don’t do it you can get the tags at the port but it makes things much easier if you have already done it at home.
The last thing you want is to have to stand in another line when you get to the port!
You usually have to either staple or tape your luggage tag to your suitcase so I usually bring a roll of tape with me if I am staying somewhere before the cruise.
You NEED to Pack Travel Adapters For Your Cruise
When I took my first British Isles cruise with a friend she forgot to bring travel adapters (I had a spare)!
Don’t assume that cruise ships cruising the British Isles will have UK plug sockets because the majority don’t.
Generally speaking, cruise ships have a combination of UK and US plug sockets so bring an adapter for both. You can usually buy adapters onboard in the gift shop but these are incredibly expensive.
Bring Your Phone/Camera to Take Photos
I think this one goes without saying but make sure you pack your phone if you have one.
I use mine primarily is as a camera and carry it with me everywhere.
If you have a separate camera or action camera bring this too but don’t forget to bring all the chargers that you’ll need!
I’d also suggest bringing a battery pack if your phone is likely to keep running out of battery.
There isn’t much more annoying than wanting to take a photo of something and realizing your battery has run out.
You’ll Need a Credit/Debit Card and Cash
It’s usually easiest to attach a credit or debit card to your onboard account and to pay for your onboard expenses this way.
On many cruise lines, you are also able to ‘load’ cash onto your onboard account or pay in cash at the end. I also suggest bringing some cash for things like taxis and tipping.
It can be difficult to know just how much cash to bring on a cruise, I usually bring very little, to find out what I do recommend, check out this post: How Much Cash Should I Bring on a Cruise? Budgeting Guide
Save Money on Laundry by Bringing Travel Wash
If you think that you may need to wash some items of clothing but don’t want to pay for the onboard laundry one option is to bring a small bottle of travel wash and wash some clothes in the sink.
I’ve done this on a number of occasions and it does work well for certain things.
Some cruise lines do have self-service laundries and if the cruise line you’re cruising with has these this is usually an easy way to wash your clothes for a cheap price.
That said, don’t spend too much of your cruise doing laundry!
Embarkation Day Bag
When you embark you will check in your luggage and it’ll arrive later in your cabin. For a few hours on embarkation day you will be without access to your luggage so it is important that you keep any essentials that you need in your embarkation day bag.
I usually keep everything I need in my Mia Tui handbag.
A few things to keep in your embarkation day bag are:
- Any Medicines You May Need
- Your Passport
- Your Car/House Keys
- Cruise Tickets and Documentation
To learn more about why you’ll see me with a Mia Tui bag on every cruise, and for an exclusive discount, check out this post: Mia Tui 15% Discount code + Bag Review
British Isles Cruise – Packing List: Clothes
For a 7 night British Isles cruise I would recommend packing the following quantity of each item:
Pack More Underwear Than You Think You’ll Need!
I’d always recommend packing at least 7 sets of underwear/socks and would suggest that you pack more than this.
You might go swimming mid-way through the day and want to change or you might go on an excursion and get wet feet.
It’s always better to pack more underwear than you think you’ll need! If you do run out though, you can use the travel wash that we mentioned earlier.
Underwear is very easy to wash using a travel wash and can be hung in the bathroom to dry.
Simple T-Shirt and Tops Are Key!
7 t-shirts or tops of some kind should be more than enough. That said, you will probably want to get changed for dinner and may want to include some more formal t-shirt or blouses.
If you are planning on doing any exercise classes onboard you may also need a couple of workout appropriate tops.
Princess cruises cruise around the British Isles frequently and have free Zumba classes onboard. Don’t miss these if you are cruising with Princess!
To learn more about the included Zumba and other things that you shouldn’t miss on a Princess cruise, check out this post: Golden Princess Review, Food, Ship & More!
Bring Evening Wear if You’d Like to Change
Depending on the cruise line you may have formal nights.
Formal nights usually require men to wear a shirt and women to wear either an evening dress or a top/trousers combination.
I usually pack 2 or 3 ‘formal’ outfits for a 7-night cruise but don’t forget that things like formal shoes/cardigans/shrugs can be re-worn!
It isn’t against the rules to wear the same thing for multiple formal nights either, you’ll likely only be wearing it for a few hours and if you don’t spill anything down your front you are good to go!
You’ll Need Pants/Trousers/Jeans as The Weather is Unpredictable
The weather in the British Isles can be INCREDIBLY unpredictable.
I was very lucky when I cruised to the British Isles because we had glorious sunshine almost every day.
That said, even if it’s sunny in the morning it can be pouring with rain in the afternoon so it’s important you have enough trousers/jeans to wear every day if needs be.
For a 7 night cruise, I would pack around 3 pairs of pants/trousers/jeans.
Do NOT Cruise to The British Isles Without Multiple Sweaters/Jumpers/Hoodies
This is possibly the most important thing that you will pack for a British Isles cruise and I would recommend that you pack more layers than you usually would.
For a 7 night cruise, I would recommend packing 3 hoodies/jumpers/cardigans/pullovers of some kind.
Even if you are lucky and have the best weather possible this is likely to be mid 20c’s (70f’s) and the weather can change fast.
I’d always recommend bringing something small with you incase it does get cold and/or rain. The weather, particularly in Scotland can be very unpredictable.
Bring Comfortable Shoes (and Formal Shoes Too)
For a British Isles cruise, I would recommend that you first pack a pair of shoes which you are comfortable walking in such as sneakers or trainers.
You will probably be walking quite a lot and if you are visiting places like Giants Causeway it’s important that you have a good grip and feel comfortable walking in the shoes.
I’d also recommend that you bring some waterproof shoes such as boots. When it rains it rains a LOT and having wet shoes is not ideal. I’ve been on cruises before where it has taken multiple days for my shoes to dry after a rainstorm.
For formal nights/onboard the ship I would recommend that you pack a couple of pairs which are either heels/flats/sandals.
It’s usually relatively warm inside the cruise ship and you don’t have to worry about your feet getting wet!
Don’t be afraid to re-wear the same shoes, by sticking to neutral tones you can avoid having to change your shoes to go with each outfit.
I usually bring one pair of nude or black heels which I pair with most outfits for dinner.
Consider Bringing Nightwear
This one is up to you but I’d recommend packing some nice pajamas.
Some cruise cabins do include bathrobes but being able to step out onto your balcony in your pajamas is nice!
The Most Important Thing to Pack for a British Isles Cruise is a Coat
I would recommend that you pack at least one good heavy coat.
The best thing to do is usually to wear this on embarkation day as then it doesn’t take up too much room in your suitcase.
As far as coat sizing goes bring a larger coat than you would usually wear because you’ll probably be layering up and wearing this over a sweater.
Don’t be fooled if you are embarking on a British Isles cruise in Southampton and the weather looks good that it will be for the entire cruise.
The weather changes quickly and it can be sunny in one part of the country and pouring with rain in another. Never take a British isles cruise without packing a coat.
British Isles Cruise – Packing List: Extras
Consider a Small Umbrella
Having a little umbrella in your bag can save the day when on a British isles cruise.
I wouldn’t recommend bringing a full-sized umbrella as having to carry this around can be quite annoying but a small fold-up one that can fit in your backpack or handbag is definitely a good idea.
If you are cruising with a luxury cruise line like Viking you will have umbrellas available for you to use.
To learn more about cruising with Viking, including how to make the most of the included drinks, check out this post: Viking Ocean Cruises: What’s included (12 things)
Pack Hat and Gloves if Cruising to the British Isles
It can get incredibly cold and having a simple hat and gloves is definitely a good idea.
You probably won’t need these in the peak of summer (July-August) as it’s more likely to be rainy than cold but if you are traveling at any other time of year I’d recommend packing some.
If you’re cruising outside of summer a scarf might be a good idea too.
You May Need Suncream/Sunscreen, Even in Britain!
This may sound silly given the suggestions above but believe it or not, it can get pretty hot on a British Isles cruise!
Before you go have a quick look at the weather forecast and if there is any risk of hot wear make sure you pack sunscreen/suncream.
You would be able to buy this on the ship if you forgot it but toiletries sold on the ship are usually very expensive.
Always Bring A Small Fold up Coat
On my British Isles cruise, I took a very small fold-up waterproof coat that folded into a bag.
It was very inexpensive and wasn’t really very waterproof but it did the job when there was a light rain forecast.
Fold up coats like this are also great because they don’t make you very warm, sometimes wearing a big coat can feel too hot even if it is raining, especially if you are walking around a lot.