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Top 8 Cruise Packing Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Some people constantly worry that they have forgotten to pack something when they go on a cruise – others have packing down to a fine art and never worry about it at all.

Whichever category you fall into, these are the top packing mistakes you may want to avoid.

#1 Overpacking

I try to make a conscious effort not to overpack. I try to stick to packing a neutral pair of sandals that go with every dress and similar-coloured clothing items so that I can mix and match.

It is very tempting just to throw in that extra pair of shoes or extra outfit – but so many times I have brought back clean clothes from a cruise that I have never worn!

If you are fly cruising, not over-packing is even more important. You have to be mindful of the baggage weight limit of your airline. You don’t want to be charged for excess baggage.

There will be limited storage space in your cabin if you do bring lots of clothes. When my clothes are dirty, I tend to throw them in my suitcase, which I keep under the bed until I have to repack it properly. This makes more wardrobe/closet and drawer space.

Packing with Hudson
Avoid Packing “Just in Case” items!

I tend to use packing cubes for ease of packing and unpacking. One contains T-shirts, another contains underwear and socks, another contains dresses etc. I can then just put the packing cube in the wardrobe or drawers when I arrive at my cabin.

Find the packing cubes I use below:

Use code 'EMMACRUISES' for 15% off
Packing Cubes – Mia Tui

Protect your clothes from stains, wrinkles, and damage while traveling. Our packing cubes also help you avoid overweight charges and airport stress by rearranging weights between bags or taking one cube with you as a carry-on item.

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#2 Forgetting Important Documents

It is essential to make sure you have your important documents, or won’t be cruising anywhere!


  • Passport
  • Any Necessary Visas
  • Cruise-Specific Travel Insurance
  • Cruise Tickets (or E-tickets Via the Cruise Lines App)
  • Print Luggage Tags
  • Carparking paperwork
  • Flight Tickets

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. To find out about other things you may need to bring, read this more detailed article next:

Cruise Paperwork! Make Sure You Don’t Forget Essential Paperwork, or You Won’t Be Sailing Anywhere…

#3 Pack Travel Adapters

I always travel with lots of electronic equipment that needs charging.

Newer ships have plenty of plug sockets, and some have USB chargers by the bed. Older ships do not…

There was only one usable plug socket when I sailed on P&O’s oldest ship, Aurora.

Research the plug sockets your specific ship will have in my searchable table below:

Complete Cruise Ship Plug Socket Guide: Search by Ship

This is the travel adapter I use. It is everything I ever need:

#4 Don’t Pack Prohibited Items

All cruise lines have items listed in their Terms and Conditions that you are not allowed to take onboard.

Some, like Guns and Knives, would appear to be common sense. Others, like Irons, Steamers and electrical extension cords are not quite so obvious.

It is best to check your cruise line’s Terms and Conditions to be sure you are not packing anything you shouldn’t be

Find out about the top 5 most regularly confiscated items that people try to take onboard cruise ships here:

These Are The 5 Items Most Regularly Confiscated by Cruise Lines

#5 Comfortable Shoes

Bring comfortable walking shoes with good grip for shore excursions and exploring ports of call.

Even when you are onboard, you are likely to be walking thousands of steps – particularly on the Mega ships with seventeen or eighteen decks.

I would typically pack a pair of walking shoes for port days, a pair of trainers/sneakers for around the ship and a pair of nude-coloured sandals to go with all of my dresses.

It really isn’t practical to pack lots of high heels – there are lots of stairs to climb, and the ship might be rocky in bad weather.

I remember seeing a wonderful singer onboard a ship in a beautiful long evening dress. She lifted her dress slightly to show us that underneath, she was wearing a pair of white trainers! The sea was a little rocky that night, and she didn’t want to take any chances!

Nude-coloured sandals go with all my dresses.

#6 Swimwear

Don’t forget your swimwear, it is easily done!

Ships have multiple pools, hot tubs and Spas. You might also want to visit beaches when in port.

You can take a pool towel when you go to the beach, but you might be kicking yourself if you haven’t packed something to swim in.

Emma cruises, Inside pool Celebrity Infinity
Enjoying the Inside Pool – Celebrity Infinity

#7 Sun Protection

A common mistake is forgetting to pack something to protect you from the sun.

You should really think about Suncream/sunscreen, sunglasses and sunhats – are you travelling to a warm destination?

It’s easy to pop these things into your suitcase or hand luggage/carry-on bag.

Emma Cruises, Norwegian Encore Balcony
I visited Alaska on Norwegian Encore

I rarely travel anywhere without my sunglasses. Even in Alaska, I was glad of them. It wasn’t warm, but it was sometimes sunny.

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#8 Forgetting A Coat Or Jumpers/Cardigans

You might think this is obvious, but it is very easy when travelling in the summer to forget to take a coat and then find that you are cold or have nothing if it begins to rain.

I like to take a small “Pac A Mac” “- a small, water-resistant coat that folds away into a bag or pouch.

Wearing my trusty “Pac A Mac” in Alaska

I always make sure I have a cardigan or a lightweight jumper to wear around the ship. Even when it is warm outside, the ship is airconditioned, and I often find it chilly in the theatre or restaurants in the evenings.

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Before You Go

Find out about all the great reasons to sail from your local port in the article below:

7 Reasons To Sail From Your Local Cruises Port

Not sure about all those cruise ship terms you hear? Bust the cruise ship lingo by reading the article below:

Cruise Lingo Exposed: Don’t Fall for These Tricky Terms!

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.