Top 10 Things to Buy for your FAMILY CRUISE

Our family just finished our first cruise, and I was super-worried about keeping my family of 5 organized in a tight space. I did a lot of research before packing for our trip, and I made sure to purchase the items that people recommended. Today, I am sharing my favourite 10 items that you should definitely buy before you cruise (and MORE useful items to remember to pack). You may be able to find some things locally, but I have also included some Amazon links in case you want to just order everything online. (The links are affiliate links, so if you use them, you I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you... thank you!)

1) Clear Shoe Rack - I think the best thing I bought before my cruise was a clear shoe rack. The staterooms are small, and a clear shoe rack is a great way to keep organized. I filled ours with the items we needed to have easily accessible: sunblock, medications, towel clips, Ziploc bags, sunglasses, charging codes, earphones, water bottles, bathing suits, etc... Here is a link to the one I purchased.

2) Magnetic Hooks - All the walls and doors in the staterooms are magnetic, so it only makes sense to make use of this space for storage. We used our hooks to hang hats, bags of jewellery, lanyards, schedules, etc... Here is the link the hooks I ordered... and they worked perfectly.

3) Lanyards - Your sea pass card is something you are always going to want to have with you on your cruise. It holds your dinner show reservation, and excursion information, it allows you to charge things to your room, and it's your ID for getting on and off the ship. A lanyard is a convenient way to carry it with you and make sure you don't lose it. You can get your sea pass "hole-punched" at guest services, or you can get a lanyard with a plastic sleeve. (I've heard some people recommend the plastic sleeve because sunscreen can cause the ink on the seapass to smear.) I purchased mine at the dollar store, but I love the cruise-themed ones you can find here.

4) Rubber Ducks - I know this might be a strange one, but if you have kids (and even if you don't), hiding rubber "cruising" ducks is a fun activity. You can read all about it here.

5) Backpack or bag for excursions - Backpacks are perfect for excursions, and for packing items that you may need on the days you are getting on and off the ship (when you may be a few hours without your luggage). You can fill a backpack with everything you need (e.g. a bathing suit, sunscreen, change of clothes, snacks, ID, phone, etc..). I love the lightweight version here because it would be easy to stuff in a suitcase.

6) Ziploc bags - Ziploc bags are fantastic for many things. We use them for packing wet and dirty items and for packing items in suitcases that could possibly leak (like shampoo, sunscreen, etc...) They are also great for packing food for excursions. We always packed snacks like bread, peanut butter, and pastries when we left the ship.

7) Towel clips - Cruise ships and beaches can be windy, so towel clips are great for securing towels to chairs. You can also use the clips to keep the curtains closed in the stateroom (and the light out). You can purchase towel clips online here.

8) Water bottle - Insulated water bottles are great for on and off the ship. There are places on the ship to refill water bottles for free on the ships, and keeping hydrated while at sea is very important.

9) Travel size containers - Saving space in luggage and in the tiny stateroom bathrooms is a great idea. Leaving full size bottles at home is easy if you use travel size size containers. 

10) Hanging clothes dryer - The bathrooms in the staterooms are small, so clothes dryers can be really helpful... especially when you are travelling with a family. We used ours to hang bathing suits to dry and for drying items that we washed out in the sink.

These are my top 10 items to buy for a family cruise, but here are some MORE items you might want to purchase and pack before you get on a cruise ship: 

  • folder for important paperwork (e-ticket for the way there, boarding passes for the cruise, cruise documents that mom sent, itinerary for the cruise, e-ticket for the way home, travel insurance info, copies of birth certificates and passports)
  • small container of laundry detergent (for washing out small items in the sink) and a Tide stick
  • night light or small flashlight to put by your bed... because the staterooms can get pretty dark
  • sea bands (if you are worried about motion sickness)
  • power bar / surge protector (for extra plugs for hair dryers, curling irons, and charging devices)
  • sunscreen... because it is very expensive on the boat
  • first aid kit (containing tylenol, benedryl, band aids, etc...) - These items are very expensive on the ship, and it might not be convenient to get them when you need them, so be prepared.
  • poo-pourri spray... helpful when sharing the close quarters of the stateroom bathrooms
  • sticky notes...helpful for leaving notes for other passengers in your room. Small magnetic white boards work well too.
  • highlighters... to highlight the items on the ship's daily schedule that you want to take advantage of
  • cash in small bills for tipping
  • game for passing time in airports... we like Skipbo because it is easy and fun to play, and it is portable
  • reusable straws... which are great for people that aren't fans of the paper straws used by the cruise ship
  • hats for excursions
Have you taken a cruise with your family? Is there one item you found really helpful? Did it make my list?

I really did find these items invaluable on our family cruise. I hope you find my list of 10 things to buy for your family cruise list helpful!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)


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