Boats · Travel

12 First Day Cruise Carry On Bag Essentials

Spread the love

Did you know that not only can you take a bag on board with you when you embark on a cruise, but you should. Just like a plane, you can pack a cruise hand luggage bag full of important and helpful things for your first day (plus bring a handbag too). Read on to make sure you don’t forget and of these 12 essentials for your cruise carry on bag. – Photo by belchonock

This post may contain sponsored content or affiliate links that help support the blog. All opinions are our own.

Picture this: it’s the first day of your cruise. You arrive at the port, excited to board. You are guided to the luggage drop off point, your bag is tagged & off it goes. You board the ship & then, that bag doesn’t arrive at your stateroom for 8 hours. It happens and it is maddening when your important bits and bobs are elsewhere.

See you later luggage!

To ensure a smooth first day, bring a cruise carry on bag & here’s everything you need to pack into it:

1.) Important Documents

It is all too easy to pop your passport/ID & cruise papers into your checked bag and only realise when someone asks for them. Instead, carry a small pouch or dedicate a pocket in your cruise carry on bag for these important things. In my bag, the front zippy pocket is where everything important and imminently required goes. Then, once they are finished with, they go in a little clear folder in the main pocket.

Travelling with someone else? Show each other the spot you are using and watch each other put the docs in there!

Don’t forget to take your passports off the ship with you (if the cruise line doesn’t hang on to them). This makes getting home or to the next port if anything goes awry much, much easier.

Jet2 boarding pass inside a red UK Passport

2.) Your Medication

Wherever you are travelling, ensure that all of your important medication should be with you at all times. Anything lifesaving should never leave your side; blood pressure, insulin and other important meds can all go in your hand luggage and you will have much greater piece of mind. Also, bring plenty spare (that goes for any time your travel anywhere).

Remember, it doesn’t have to be medication per se, even if it is just helpful in your daily life, consider what would happen if it didn’t reappear. Will you be a sleepy person without your Vitamin C? Do you need a dose of B6? – Photo by poznyakov

3.) Essential Toiletries

After a long travel day, or just a hectic, sweaty morning you’ll probably want to freshen up. You will more than likely have shower gel etc in your room but if you have a firm favourite that you want to bring with you. In terms of skin or hair care, you might have specific requirements (sensitive skin, special shampoo etc) so pack some of that. You can decant a little into a small bottle so you aren’t lugging the full size one around.

Bring everything you need to feel presentable (deodorant, make up, a comb etc). Even if it’s just a quick glam up for the sail away, you will want these items handy. (A slick of lippy, a swipe of deodorant and a refresh of mascara can work wonders) – Photo by natlit

4.) Some Pool Gear

On a cruise, the first day is usually the least crowded time at the pool. Everyone heads to the buffet & you can lay out for a relaxing afternoon. Of course you might want to pop down after a trip to buffet yourself and you might lost the best spot but it will still be far less busy. Either way ensure you have your swimming gear, some flip flops/sandals/sliders/jellies to wear poolside & of course, your sunglasses.

(Don’t get too chilled and miss the muster though).

Virgin Voyages Pool surrounded by blue sun loungers
The pool on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady on day one

5.) An Extra Outfit

Whether you want to feel fresh after embarkation, or need something a little more fancy for dinner, make sure you have a change of clothes. Some people love to hit the gym and so they need their workout gear. Some like to hit the bar so they need their drinking shirt. You don’t know when your case will arrive at your room so think ahead. A dress is a really easy thing to pack and requires little to no styling.

6.) Permitted Drinks

Some cruise lines allow passengers to bring on a little wine or champagne. Often it’s one per person (two per cabin). Others allow a twelve pack of soda/fizzy drinks/pop. Although they are a little heavy, make sure these are with you in your carry on bag. Leaving them in your big bags can delay your luggage being delivered as security sometimes wants to check what’s in the bottles/cans.

7.) A Charger

There can be so many fun photos and exciting videos to take on your first day! It would be so sad for your phone or camera to die. If you have been travelling and navigating, or watching videos in the queue you might be lacking battery before you even board. Personally, I bring a power bank as it means I can charge my phone as it goes around the ship with me. You could also bring a plug and cable which you can have as a back up but that does rely on you having a plug socket to plug it into. – Photo by

8.) Any and All Valuables

The number one rule for travelling with your belongings: If you love it, don’t leave it!

Laptops, tablets, jewellery, and family heirlooms should all be with you as you board. You know exactly where they are and you can make sure nothing is damaged. Once you are given access access to your room, you can put it all straight in the safe and rest easy. – Photo by natlit

9.) Some Entertainment

Some people want to run around the ship and do ev-ve-ry-thing! If you are after a much more relaxed cruise then you don’t need to spend your first day hurtling around to see where everything is. (This is especially true if you have sailed on the same ship before). Bring a book, some headphones, a deck of cards or a jigsaw puzzle. If you want a relaxed cruise full of the things you love to do then bring it with you and you can get straight down to chilling out.

10.) Sanitisers

Be buffet ready with a squeeze of hand sanitiser. Most ships have some sort of hand sanitiser these days (a good thing that came out of the pandemic) but it is still a good idea to have a little of your own in your cruise carry on. You can’t guarantee there will be any sanitiser in their dispensers, and you may not like it. We sailed with one line that had really sticky sanitiser so we used our own the whole time. – Photo by Sonyachny

Some people also like to bring antibacterial wipes to clean down their stateroom. Hot spots that may be missed by housekeeping include the remote control, handles, and flat surfaces (especially those with your glassware on, or where you will pop your phone). Staying free of nasties is a good idea for everyone on a cruise!

11.) Reef Safe Sun Cream

Heading to the pool deck on your first day is a lovely, relaxing way to start your cruise. Obviously if you are planning to enjoy the sun then sun cream is a must. Alternatively, if you are planning to run around the ship, or head outside for sailaway then you will be exposed to the sun too. Sun cream can be very expensive on board so safe some pennies and bring it with you.

And why reef safe?

You may not think you need it to be reef safe if you aren’t diving in the Caribbean or snorkelling in Australia, but even a paddle in the chilly Mediterranean can affect the sea life there. It is an investment in the future if the sea.

12.) A Lanyard or Card Holder

This is a very personal choice. I love having my cruise card around my neck. This is especially true when sailing with a cruise line that needs to scan your cruise card with every drink you order. My wardrobe consists mostly of dresses and very few have pockets. It’s such a pain to dig it out of a bag every time so just having it right there is easier.

Mr Fluskey has plenty of pockets in his shorts and trousers, and prefers to have it in a little protective holder.

Either way, having these to hand as you are given your cruise card is a good idea. – Picture by Kenterville

Final Thoughts on These 12 First Day Cruise Carry On Bag Essentials

It may feel like a real drag to bring all of this on board with you, but it is totally worth it. To make carrying it easier, use a cabin-sized wheelie for your cruise carry on. You can park it up as you have lunch or chill by the pool and won’t knacker your shoulders carrying it all in a tote or backpack. You can always stash it in your room as soon as it is ready for you.

Of course, if it is a shorter cruise, you could always go hand luggage only. You don’t have to check a bag in, tip a porter and you literally have everything with you from minute one. No dramas!

Rosie xx

Spread the love

Leave Us A Comment