Why you should have a family cruise packing list and our top 9 items you'll regret if you forget to pack them!

Confession: I'm a planner. No, not one of those crazy, minute-by-minute kind, but I do like to plan ahead to lower stress while traveling. That's why I put together a family cruise packing list before we leave. You should, too, and here are a few things you'll regret not taking if you forget them on your next trip!

What are your must-have family cruise packing list items?

Are packing lists really necessary? Short answer: YES!

Well, they are for me, anyway. Traveling as a family can be incredibly stressful, whether you're flying or going on a cruise, you've got a lot of things to think about and remember!

If you're like me, it's almost a sure thing I'll forget something on a trip, sometimes even if I remember to make a list! That's okay because every trip is a little different than the last, and your needs will vary. Flexibility on your trip is important, too!

But when you're going on a family cruise, I've come to realize there are a few "staple" items you just have to remember to bring with you every time. Below is our list of items you'll regret not bringing on your next cruise.

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South Friars Bay Beach with a view of Nevis - St Kitts British Virgin Islands
South Friars Bay Beach with a view of Nevis - St Kitts British Virgin Islands

Family cruise packing list essential #1: waterproof sunscreen!

Ok, so maybe not for that Alaska cruise, but for most other cruises sunscreen is a given, right? Even still, it's an easy item to forget from your list, and purchasing sunscreen on board will be quite a bit more expensive than if you bring your own.

Depending upon the length of the cruise, how many "days at sea" there are, and the season, we typically bring at least two bottles of SPF 50 spray-on sunscreen, plus some lotion for your face and ears.

You can't be too careful when it comes to preventing sunburns and skin cancer. A bad sunburn on your cruise can really put a damper on the entire trip, so don't forget to pack this cruise essential!

Family cruise packing list essential #2: good walking shoes.

On many cruises, the port days can be very long, with lots of walking an adventure. Those are good days - they're great exercise and you get to explore somewhere far from home.

All that walking can take a toll on your feet, though. Flip-flops are great for the beach or for the pool deck, but they likely won't cut it on shore excursion days, so be sure to pack a good pair of closed-toed shoes that aren't brand new. You don't want to have to break them in on your trip.

It's important to note that some cruise activities - including onboard and shore excursions, sometimes require shoes as well. On our recent sailing aboard the Carnival Sunshine, we spent a lot of time on the Sky Course while on the ship. This activity required closed-toed shoes, so don't forget to pack yours for your next trip!

Carnival Sunshine Water Slides and SkyCourse - Spring 2018
Carnival Sunshine Water Slides and SkyCourse - Spring 2018
Carnival Sunshine - Interior Room With Picture Window View Stateroom
Carnival Sunshine - Interior Room With Picture Window View Stateroom

Family cruise packing list essential #3: your favorite pillow.

Some people just don't quite sleep the same if they don't have their favorite pillow. If you're one of those people, packing your own personal pillow instantly jumps up on the must-have packing list, for sure.

But think about it for a second - yes, they launder their pillow cases and bed sheets regularly, but how many times do you think that thing has been slept on?

Hundreds of times? Maybe more?

And lumpy pillows can make for a very long and uncomfortable vacation, so if getting some good nights' sleep is important to you, put your own personal pillow on your packing list.

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Family cruise packing list essential #4: extra memory card for your phone or camera.

I take a LOT of photos when I travel. I mean, a lot. There's just so much to see and do and much of it are "firsts" for my boys, so I try to capture many of those special moments.

But let me tell you a scary personal story that happened to me not long ago while traveling.

I had an older mobile phone - my go-to for snapping photos while I travel in most scenarios. This mobile phone had a great camera. I even installed an internal memory card for extra storage.

Yeah, well that internal memory card filled up on a recent trip and I either had to delete my photos and videos, get another memory card (which aren't easy to come by while traveling on a cruise) or stop taking photos altogether!

I learned my lesson - whether you shoot with a camera or a mobile phone, bring extra memory cards. You don't want to run out of space while traveling.

My son on the Carnival Sunshine Ship at Sunset
My son on the Carnival Sunshine Ship at Sunset
Carnival Sunshine Ship - Serenity Deck Hot Tub

Family cruise packing list essential #5: at least one long-sleeve shirt.

It can get pretty chilly outside at night, even on Caribbean cruises, especially before or during spring break. Summer months are warmer, but the ocean air can be cooler than what most people are used to.

Add to that, the fact that the ship is moving and there's really nothing stopping the wind if you're on an outside deck of the ship.

It won't take up much space to include at least one long-sleeved shirt or light jacket. Throw in a long pair of pants or jeans for good measure as well. You don't want to be shivering on your cruise, do you?

Family cruise packing list essential #6: a good mobile phone gimbal.

I know this may sound like a bit of a specialized item, but hear me out.

If you take a lot of photos or videos with your mobile phone, you should really considering getting a gimbal (stabilizer) for your phone.

You won't believe how much better the videos are, and it can even assist in taking cool photos such as high-quality panoramic shots as well.

My mobile phone gimbal is a must-have on my family cruise packing list for sure and I recommend you check them out, too!

DJI Osmo Mobile 2 in Action - St Kitts
Carnival Liberty Review - Maribel Signs My Son's Cast
Carnival Liberty Review - Maribel Signs My Son's Cast

Family cruise packing list essential #7: CASH (it's king).

Cash is a very important thing to remember to pack for your family cruise as well.

Sure, most places in many ports and pretty much anything on the ship can be charged to a credit card, with one important exception.


Yes, you pre-pay tips and gratuities typically when you book. However, we like to bring some cash to give a little extra to people that go the extra mile for us while on our trip.

It can really make someone's day to get an extra tip for their efforts. Why not give it a try on your next cruise?

Family cruise packing list essential #8: flavored coffee creamer.

This is a small packing list item that can make a pretty big impact.

One of the things I DISLIKE about travel is that it has the potential to break up my morning coffee routine.

Daddy no likey not having coffee in the morning!

That's why we started bringing our own flavored coffee creamer. It saves having to pay for the "fancy" coffee on the ship, so that you can spend that money on something more important (like umbrella drinks, of course).

We bring a few boxes of individual serving coffee creamers with us on each trip. It's better for everyone that way.

My beautiful wife at Castillo de San Cristóbal, San Juan, PR Spring 2018
My beautiful wife at Castillo de San Cristóbal, San Juan, PR Spring 2018
Carnival Sunshine - Lido Deck Buffet - Spring 2018
Carnival Sunshine - Lido Deck Buffet - Spring 2018

Family cruise packing list essential #9: a bottle of Tums.

I eat a lot when I go on a cruise.

The funny thing is that I also usually lose weight. That's because I'm so active most of the time while traveling.

That said, I'm not afraid to eat what I want and there's food available almost all the time. Those things can make for a recipe for indigestion, acid reflux and upset stomach.

Again, you can probably get something like Tums onboard, but how much will it cost you compared to bringing a small bottle of your own?

I bring my own bottle of antacid so that I can eat anything I want to while I'm on my cruise.

What must-have items do you include on your family cruise packing list? Be sure to leave a comment below!

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