10 Cruise Packing Hacks You Need to Know

Affiliate Disclaimer

Have you ever run out of space while packing? Perhaps you get to your Disney cruise or Caribbean cruise and realize that you’ve forgotten something, or you simply didn’t have enough room.

These cruise packing hacks will help you both plan for your cruise vacation and maximize cabin space. Each cruise tip will help you simplify how you pack and keep you organized.

Cruise Packing Hacks You Need to Know

There are many hacks out there that no one considers when packing for their cruise trip. Most cruisers pack their suitcase with what they feel are the essentials.

We tend to overpack, anticipating every conceivable situation, and later wonder where we are going to put all our stuff. Not all cruise line cabins are roomy, and keeping them clutter-free makes your trip more enjoyable.

Storage Ideas and Organization

Storage tends to be the last thing that cruisers consider when packing for their trip. We assume there is enough space in the cruise cabin to hold all our belongings. While this may be true for some cruises, sometimes cabins can be smaller than you realize.

Even if they are spacious, you will want to organize your items in a way that you can easily find everything. Keep in mind that you will not have the organization that you have at home, and you may be sharing limited counter space. It can get crowded very quickly.

MSC Virtuosa Stateroom
Photo Copyright: Emrys Thakkar

These cruise packing hacks will enable you to quickly organize your items and view them briefly, making your daytime routine effortless. Furthermore, packing everything up becomes easy.

Over-Door Shoe Holder – While many people may chuckle thinking this is great for toting women’s shoes, it has a greater application and packs tightly in a suitcase. Over-door shoe holders will provide an area to organize shoes, flat irons, hair dryers, hats, snorkel gear, and luxury items for easy access during your cruise holiday.

It will keep you organized, you can quickly see what is there, and you can keep the room free of clutter.

Heavy Magnetic Hooks This is a great way to hang lanyards, charging cables, wet bathing suits, or anything else in your cabin. Since the doors and walls are metal, they can be placed anywhere and used for a variety of applications.

USB Port Extender and Outlet – Cruise ships have EU and U.S. options. However, most of these outlets are limited to only two by the vanity or desk area. Two outlets are often not enough since many people take cell phones, laptops, and smart watches. All these items will require charging.

Outlets are located at the top of a counter and are mounted low. The ideal outlet is one that is narrow and long. If you want something different, ensure that you buy one that is a non-surge. If it isn’t, the crew may remove it until the cruise has ended.

Compressible Backpacks – These backpacks are water-resistant and thin. They pack small yet are large enough to hold a beach towel – issued from the cruise ship – or a bottle of spirits. It will allow you to carry purchases made on the island, as well as beach essentials, when you are at various cruise ports.

Useful Tools

There are items that we don’t necessarily think we need on our cruise. The most important thing to any person traveling will be their cell phone. How are you protecting yours from accidental damage?

Cellphone Case (Waterproof) – Phones are a necessity in today’s age, and accidents can happen in a second. To keep your cell phone dry and clean at the beach or pool, use a waterproof case.

Waterproof Phone Pouch with Cruise Lanyards
Waterproof Phone Pouch with Cruise Lanyards

Prior to taking it on your excursion, do a water test to make sure it works. With a transparent case, your cell phone can easily double for an underwater camera. It is perfect to capture breathtaking snorkeling adventures. Many have wrist straps for additional safety.

You can also use a waterproof case that surrounds the phone. This will prevent scratches, accidental drops, nicks/chips, and water damage.


No one anticipates getting sick while traveling. For months, travellers look forward to the trip with heightened anticipation, never thinking about the what-ifs. Sickness, no matter how major or minor, can strike at any time. It is better to be prepared, to have it and not need it than the other way around.

Pop-up Hampers/Laundry Bags – This is a useful item to gather dirty laundry and to keep dirty clothes separate from clean ones.

Hospital Grade DisinfectantsThese wipes can disinfect drawers, shelves, desktops, nightstands, bathroom counters, and doorknobs to keep your cabin virus-free. These wipes will prevent bugs like the Rota and Norovirus that can be prevalent on cruise ships.

Small First Aid Kit/Over-the-Counter Medications – While you hope that you won’t get sick on your cruise, you should still come prepared.

Cruisers should bring medication for:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Motion sickness
  • Indigestion

And supplies such as:

  • Butterfly closures
  • Band-aids
  • Sunburn gel
  • Antibiotic ointments

Getting in to see a nurse or doctor while on board may not always be easy or fast. Furthermore, you may be paying an elevated fee for these items while on board. Also, while traveling, be sure to take several bottles of travel-sized sunscreen. They pack easier in your luggage and decrease your backpack weight when traveling at a port.


These are a few items that people tend not to think about that have practical applications. Many of these hacks are designed to keep you healthy, save space, or keep you comfortable while you’re on your cruise. You want to enjoy your trip, not be frustrated at things occurring around you.

Ziplock Freezer Bags/Space Saver Bags (Gallon) – These bags are ideal for leaky bottles, wet clothing, perfumes, aerosols, collecting seashells, and keeping items dry and sand-free. Space saver bags are handier to use and more substantial, especially when you’re returning home.

Hand Sanitizer/Liquid Hand Soaps – Both items are better than using cabin soap. While you may have washed your hands in your cabin or after entering the restaurant, you will still touch menus, other surfaces, and serving spoons prior to eating.

It is recommended to disinfect your hands with a sanitizer prior to eating, as cruise ships – even reputable ones like Alaskan Cruise or Royal Caribbean – can spread a variety of viruses.

Sea Pass Neck Lanyards – Your sea pass is required no matter where you go on a cruise. It needs to be kept on you at all times. Lanyards are more convenient than digging it out of the bottom of your bag when needed.

Cruise Lanyards with ID Holder, Retractable Badge & Waterproof Card Holders
Cruise Lanyards with ID Holder, Retractable Badge & Waterproof Card Holders

Bubble Wrap – This is perfect for protecting and packing fragile souvenirs that you purchased on your journey. You could use clothing, but most of it will probably be dirty, and who wants that touching your new items?

Highlighters – There are many uses for highlighters when you are on board. They will allow you to mark activities and events, plan your itinerary, and even fill in a BINGO card.

Portable Fan – Many ships contain a vibrant nightlife that runs to the wee hours of the morning. People aren’t always mindful of those around them. Voices can become loud and feet can be heard navigating the hallways at all hours. A lightweight fan will block out the noise heard at night.

Ear Plugs – While you may be a sound sleeper, packing ear plugs will guarantee you get a good night’s sleep just in case.

Bleach Pens/TideStain removers are vital when you need to remove accidental stains or spills.

Tips for How to Pack to Maximize Suitcase Space

It seems to be inevitable. You run out of room in your suitcase, yet you need certain items while you are on board. You never know what the weather will be, what events you may decide to attend at the last minute, or what you may feel like wearing on any given day.

Packing Less on a Cruise Vacation
Photo By: Melissa Mayntz

There are always extras, and it may be difficult to pare down what you take. However, what if we told you that you may be able to pack everything you need and then some if you follow these packing hacks?

Roll Your Clothes Instead of Folding Them – Whether you are using a backpack, duffle bag, or suitcase, roll your clothes while packing. It is the best way to avoid wrinkles and optimize space. It also allows you to pack more.

Pack Dryer Sheets – Place dryer sheets in with your clothes. It will keep them smelling fresh when you unpack. There is nothing more refreshing than the fresh scent of your clean clothes.

Hack for Collared Shirts – To retain the shape of a collared shirt, roll a belt and put it inside the collared shirt. This will save you time from pressing and ironing when you arrive.

Pill Container Purpose – Empty pill containers allow you to neatly store jewelry. It will allow you to remain organized and be more selective in what you take. Containers can be found anywhere, including any dollar store.

Plastic Wrap – If you are taking a toiletry bag with bottles, then you may want to either wrap it in plastic wrap or place it in a zip-lock bag to prevent spills. This is especially useful for any liquids like shampoos, conditioners, perfume, or liquid soaps that you may want to take with you.

Comfy Shoes in Shower Caps – While it may seem obvious, you will need to pack comfortable shoes. You will be on your feet, and those fashionable high heels won’t be comfortable after being on your feet all day.

Shoes should be put in a bag to keep them from getting your clothes dirty. Wrap them in a shower cap instead of a bulky plastic bag.

Fill All Available Space But Leave Some Room – Maximize your packing space by filling every nook and cranny. If you are taking a spare bag or purse for travel, you can stuff it with small items. While every bit of space counts, remember that you may buy souvenirs or other items. You will want to leave a bit of room for purchases that you may find on your cruise.

Bring Layers – Even if it’s warm during the day, night air can be cool on the water. Pack a cover-up or extra layers to keep warm. You can always remove layers if you get hot as opposed to not having any and getting a chill.

Final Thoughts on Cruise Packing

The best thing to do when packing is to be practical. This may be difficult, but it will prevent you from overpacking. Try to incorporate some neutral colors in clothing or shoes whenever possible. You will still look great, but you won’t be packing your entire closet, either.

Depending on your location, bring lightweight layers. As mentioned, you can always remove a layer if you get hot. Being cold may ruin a lovely evening and spoil your day. By anticipating cooler nighttime temperatures, you will always be prepared.

Furthermore, it isn’t just the night that you may need to be concerned about. When stopping at ports, you may not know what the weather will be like. Lightweight layers are easier to pack because they aren’t as bulky and can be easily removed without carrying extra weight. Furthermore, they pack easier and can be shoved into a backpack.

These cruise packing hacks will be incredibly useful for your next cruise. You will probably find them more useful than you realize, and many of them are things that we don’t often consider when traveling.

Haiyan Ma
Haiyan Ma
I absolutely love cruising with my favorite ports of call being in the Caribbean. As a former crew member for Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise Line I can continue my passion by sharing my experiences with readers. Find out more about us here.


Free expert cruise tips and news from Cruise Hive! We'll send you the latest cruise updates daily to your inbox.

Don't Miss Any Cruise News!

We'll send you the latest cruise updates daily to your inbox.

Copy link