Before packing for my cruise, the first thing I always do is get my carry-on bag ready. I’m too meticulous regarding my carry-on because on embarkation day, you will require a lot of things that you must put in your carry-on luggage. 

Plus, I have a lot of stuff to throw in hand-carry bag for the port excursions. You know how important to carry your extra pair of swimsuits, water shoes, hat, sunglasses, sunblock, coverups, power banks, and all such stuff. That’s why I prefer to get a carry-on with multiple compartments to manage all the stuff easily. 

From my past mistakes, I have learned a lot more lessons, and in today’s post, I’m going to share my list of items that you must pack in your cruise carry-on bag. 

Why You Should Need A Carry-On On Embarkation Day?

No matter whatever cruise line you’re going on, on embarkation day you must hand over your luggage to the porters for security checks. And at the time, you’re only allowed to bring just one carry-on on board. 

The porters deliver the luggage to your stateroom on the same day, but you have to wait for a couple of hours. Over this time, you will find yourself needing numerous items like medications, an extra pair of clothes, slippers, documents, or valuable essentials. 

So, to keep all these essentials with you, the carry-on bag is a must-have. I think you can’t ignore it; even if you’re cruising with your partner, both of you need carry-on bags. 

You’re going to need a cruise purse again on port excursions. For such activities, I prefer a lightweight carry-on like this one. Or if you want a more casual bag, just check out this modern bag.  

Now again, the important thing is what you should pack in the carry-on for a cruise; below is the full list of all such items. 

What To Pack In Your Cruise Carry-On Bag

1- Documents

Always keep your travel documents in your carry-on bag. I prefer to use a dedicated purse for documents and then put this purse in your main hand carry-on. 

When it comes to travel documents, the first thing that you must keep ready is your cruise document, then your Visa, passport, other documents, and as well as your credit cards. 

On the very first day of your cruise, you’ll need all these documents. Your cruise documents and passport will be checked during the security check-up. So be prepared with your travel document bag and always keep it in your carry-on bag. 

2- Medications

mediacal box

If you take medications as regularly as clockwork, then keeping them in your carry-on luggage is the best idea. Apart from that you should also consider some sea-sickness medicines and some others. 

I always bring my emergency medical kit on every journey. Life is unpredictable, and incidents can happen anytime. So, it’s a good practice to have a first aid kit with you at all times. You never know when you might need it!

3- Toiletries

On some cruise lines, the porters are a little slow, and they often run behind the time. That’s why don’t forget to bring your necessary toiletries or daily-use items in your cruise bag. 

These daily use toiletries include brushes, toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, pro sunscreen, etc. Or if you’re pregnant must pack your daily use stuff. 

The good news is you don’t need to carry towels in your cruise carry-on bag; in every stateroom, you will get towels for each guest. 

4- Electronics

laptop bags

Some carry-on bags have separate compartments for electrons, so if you have laptops, tablets, iPads, or other electrics, always go laptop-friendly bags.

By the way, never pack your laptop in your checked bags. These electronics are quite fragile, and they could be damaged during security checks. 

5- Headphones

I can’t live without my headphones, listening to songs and enjoying the natural vistas of the sea is my ultimate goal on every cruise. And my Apple AirPods always remain in my cruise bag.

During port excursions, I like to stroll through alleys and streets, accompanied by the seamless sound of my AirPods.

6- Essentials Clothes

You don’t need to pack your entire wardrobe in the hand carry. Just one single maxi dress and swim wear are enough to keep with yourself. Depending on the weather conditions, you can also pack some layers. 

And if you’re traveling to tropical regions like the Caribbean must pack breathable shirts and shorts in the carry-on. Also, don’t forget to throw a sun hat in the bag. 

Check Out: Cruise Outfits For Women

7- Neck Pillow

neck pillow

The neck Pillow is my best travel companion; it supports my neck and makes me so much comfortable on flights. So, if you’re packing for your cruise, don’t forget to carry the neck pillow in your cruise handbag. 

Especially if you love to sleep on flights, this neck pillow is going to be a must-have item for you. It prevents neck strain and stiffness, which can occur when sleeping in an upright position during flights.

8- Slippers


On the very first cruise day, I usually wear chunky heel sandals that look gorgeous, and I feel so confident in them. But they are not as comfortable as my causal flip-flops that’s why I always pack a pair of lightweight flip-flops in my cruise carry-on. After arriving at my stateroom, I always opt for these comfortable slippers. 

9- Some Snacks


If you’re a health nut or following any diet plan, you must carry some nutritious snacks in your cruise carry-on. Even though some of the cruise lines serve an exciting lunch on the very first day of the cruise, still, if you can’t hold your hunger, always carry on munchies, cashews, almonds, pistachio, or any type of chips. 

10- Water Bottle 

Don’t forget to keep a reusable water bottle in your carry-on bag. Keeping yourself hydrated is key to avoiding seasickness on a cruise.

This water bottle with time marks lets you know when to sip throughout the day so you can complete your hydration goals on the go. 

11- Jewelry

I rarely carry any jewelry in my cruise bag, but if you’re a fan of it, just keep a few matching clocks, bracelets, or necklaces in your purse.

To me, it’s not necessarily important; I often keep jewelry in my checked luggage and wear it on a formal night or any special occasion on a cruise, but based on your preferences, go against it. 

12- Sunglasses


One of the crucial items that can prevent your eyes from sunburn is shade, always keep it in your purse on embarkation day or put sunnies on. If you’re sailing towards the Caribbean, then you must keep at least two pairs of sunglasses in your pack. 

13- Sunscreen

Just like sunnies sunscreen is another important item that avoids sunburn. Especially on cruises, the sun constantly acts its warm flow upon the face, and moist air even makes your skin so much oily. That’s why you should have some kind of skin protection on your face to avoid any skin irritation. 

14- Children’s items

If you have kids sailing with you, the kids’s diapers, pampers, baby bottles, some extra clothes, milk, etc are the items that you’ll want to keep in your cruise purse. 

15- Eye Mask

Pack an eye mask in your purse on embarkation day. On the very first day of the cruise, everybody feels so tired and sleepy and the eye mask is the only ultimate item making it easier to sleep in bustling environments. If you’re a fan of in-flight naps, the eye mask is a must-have for your carry-on purse.

16- Hand Sanitizer

After the pandemic, I’m too conscious about sanitizing my hands, and it’s more like my habit now, that’s why I always pack hand sanitizers in my bag. Always keep it in your hand-carry purse because you are going to be in great need of it on embarkation day. 

17- Portable Power Bank

Portable Power Bank

I forgot to keep it on the top of the list, but yes, this is one of the crucial items that you keep in your carry-on. In particular, iPhone users need a power bank. Similarly, on port excursions, the power bank is also the best companion for your smartphone and lets you constantly capture nature and your moments. 

Final Thoughts

I have tried my best to cover some of the important cruise carry-on essentials. But still, if any item is skipped, you can mention that in the comment box. I hope you will like this short packing guide, and it will be a helpful one for you. 

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