First Time Cruisers - Packing Must Haves
Updated: May 9
Cruising for the first time can be daunting, we know we were certainly overwhelmed in the run up to our first cruise back in 2012. Back then, we had no idea what to expect onboard but we did plenty of googling and researched as much as we could. We were also very lucky to be sharing a dinner table with a group of very experienced cruisers, who made sure we didn't miss out on anything.
There's so much information online so we thought we'd try and put together some information to help first time cruisers. We're starting this series with packing must haves. Other first time tips will be shared soon. The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, but we do want to be clear that everything we're sharing in here is a genuine recommendation from either ourselves or other experienced cruisers. We aren't sharing anything that we don't think is useful. Of course all of these items won't be essential for everybody, but we'll include a selection of what we think are the most useful. If you've got any to add, please feel free to drop them in the comments!
Our Top 5 Must Haves
First Aid Items - As with any holiday you never know what's going to happen, so it's always good to be prepared. If you've got any preferred first aid items or over the counter medication it's always worth taking plenty onboard with you. Unlike a holiday in land, you won't always be able to pop to a shop and the shops onboard can be expensive. Regardless of cost, they don't always have the brands that you'll be used to in the small onboard shops and when you don't feel well sometimes familiarity is exactly what you need.
Towel Pegs or Clips - We may have said that all of these are personal recommendations, but this one is a bit of an exception as we're not massive sunbathers. On the few occasions that we have parked ourselves on a sun lounger out on the top deck we have found the wind blowing our towels off irritating. Lots of cruisers recommend towel clips to secure your towel in place, and from our very limited experience of this we can definitely say they would be useful if you're planning on spending a lot of time sunbathing. We think this set on Amazon are great value, but you can also get some great novelty versions if you want your sunbed to stand out.
Multi Port USB Plug - Unfortunately on most cruise lines extension leads are banned because of the fire risks associated with them. You'll find limited plug sockets in most cabins, so this can represent a bit of a problem. We've found a great way around this is to bring a multi port USB plug like this one. Lizzy was gifted one of these at Christmas last year and we can't believe we ever coped without it. We can now charge all of our devices using a single socket freeing up the other sockets for our hair dryer and straighteners.
Packing Cubes - We started using packing cubes in 2021 when we went on our first Iona cruise. Iona's cabins don't have any drawers so we were keen to find a solution for our underwear and other small items. We have a set of these each and find that using them not only keeps our luggage organised but makes unpacking so quick and easy. We keep our clothing in the cubes and place them directly into drawers or onto shelves. For some reason it also seems to give us more space in our luggage, any excuse to pack more shoes!
Magnetic Hooks - You'll see people talking about these a lot on cruising Facebook groups and we'll admit we were dubious. Cruise ship cabin walls are metal, so some choose to use these to stick useful paperwork to the walls with magnets. We've found an alternative use, and think they make great coat hooks, especially if you're on a wetter weather cruise. Lots of cruise ship cabins don't have coat hooks and when you've got a wet jacket, the last thing you want to do it hang it back up inside your wardrobe. We like this set as they're strong enough to hold a light jacket and if you need to hang something heavier you can always double up.
We hope you've found this list useful, and that some of these items will make your first cruise easier.