Ready to pack for a cruise? You might want to leave these things at home.

You might already know what to pack.  But do you know what not to pack for a cruise? With safety at sea the number one priority, maritime rules and regulations are constantly updated. It’s not easy to know what you can and cannot bring onboard. Plus, aside from a safety standpoint, some items are best left at home.

Leave the spirits at home

Unless you want your booze confiscated at embarkation and held hostage or worse, discarded, leave the hard stuff at home. Most mass-market and premium cruise lines rely on alcohol revenue for a large chunk of income. It makes sense that BYOB isn’t widely accepted. Among the cruise lines that don’t allow you to bring spirits onboard at embarkation are Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean. One or two bottles of wine are permitted at embarkation on most ships but check the details with your cruise line.

Decide on a hair-dryer. Or not.

If you sport a wash-and-wear haircut, you’re in luck. All ships furnish some sort of electric hair-dryer in the stateroom. Often, it’s a wall-mounted dryer with a very short connecting tube. Worse, the odd-shaped nozzle usually blows either burning hot or lukewarm air. Other ships’ hair-dryers may look like the one you have at home but the on/off button does not lock into place. You have to continually press one finger on the switch which makes styling and drying somewhat of a challenge. If none of this matters to you, great! One less item to pack. But if you are concerned with styling your hair, bring your blow-dryer from home. Travel-size recommended.

Keep your iron in the laundry room. At home.

Back in the “old” days of cruising, it was perfectly acceptable to smuggle a clothes iron into your suitcase. Luckily, safety standards have improved and it’s now forbidden to use an iron in your stateroom. Fire is something that you do not want to happen at sea. If your clothes are wrinkled from packing, it’s only a few dollars to have the ship’s laundry press your clothes. Some cruise lines (Cunard, Holland America and Carnival, for example) have self-service laundry facilities complete with washer, dryer, iron and ironing board.

All that glitters doesn’t have to be gold

Whether cruising the Caribbean, Mediterranean or anywhere in the world, there’s no reason to risk losing treasured jewelry to a grab and run street crime or simple carelessness on your part. While every major cruise line provides a safe in each stateroom, it’s best to leave the “good stuff” at home. If you absolutely must bling at the Captain’s Dinner, shop for a few shiny pieces of the faux stuff before you leave home.


Bring already-broken-in shoes if doing any walking tours

There’s almost nothing worse than sore, blistered feet when you have a lot of walking to do.  Even brand new sneakers need a breaking-in period.  Sandals, too.  If you absolutely must bring a shiny pair of new shoes on your cruise, be sure to pack an assortment of band-aids.  If you get any scrapes or blisters, you’ll be happy to have bandaids with you.

Ditch the skin-tight jeans

Have you heard about the legendary five-pound weight gain? It doesn’t matter if this is your first or fiftieth cruise, chances are you will gain a few shipboard pounds. There’s nothing more disheartening than looking at the clothes you’ve packed, which fit perfectly a week before the cruise, suddenly leave you gasping for air. Allow for a little “wiggle” room and leave your tightest jeans at home. They may look great for a night on the town back home, but by day four or five of your cruise, you may wish that you had brought the ones with a scoosh more room.

Don’t over-pack if choosing early walk-off

Almost all cruise lines offer “early walk-off.” This is perfect for guests who live near the port, have to be at work that day or want an early start for a long-distance drive home. If you choose the 7AM early walk-off, there will be no one to help you with your luggage. It’s easy to forget how heavy your luggage is if it was checked at the pier and delivered to your stateroom. If you plan to participate in the early walk-off option, be sure to pack lighter than if you were going to set your luggage in the corridor by midnight to be off-loaded by the crew.

Bottom line

Leave the excess at home. You may find it easier to pack, survey the situation, unpack, eliminate at least 1/3 of what you’ve got and repack. Do this a day or two before your cruise.

Don’t get bogged down with luggage that’s way too heavy (think airline fees). Keep the 35 year old single malt Scotch at home rather than lose it to the security guard. No one should have to worry about lost heirloom jewelry or wish that they brought clothes that were more for comfort than the catwalk.

Remember to start organizing early.  You might want to check out what I always pack for a cruise. Happy travels!

Read more: Cruise Maven’s guide to bringing wine on your cruise.


5 Comments on Seven Things Not to Pack for a Cruise

  1. Hi Gloria,
    Just about every ship has singles/solo meet and greet events. Check the daily planner for time and place.

  2. Why dont they have a singles club where

    travelers can locate others to share a room and sabe . maybe even find new friends ?

  3. On the other hand, booking a night at a local hotel affords one a chance to eat a leisurely breakfast and latte, and enjoy one last morning aboard…perhaps take one last dip or grab that last-minute souvenir before leaving?

  4. Hi Meagan, thank you very much. Early walk-off is terrific and avoids the usual debarkation crush. Happy travels. Sherry

  5. These are really great tips! I love that you talk about the early walk-off. I had no idea about that. Great for people who have a long journey home from the port like you stated!

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