Wondering what to pack for a Caribbean cruise? I’m sharing my tips on everything you need to pack, plus a free printable Caribbean cruise packing list!
Whether you’re taking a short cruise, or you’re cruising to the Caribbean islands for seven days or longer, you can relax and have the best vacation with this complete packing guide. From your cruise outfits to tips for what you’ll need at the beach, it’s all here.
Start with your cruise carry on bag
Your cruise carry on bag is a super-important part of your Caribbean cruise packing list. I always pack mine first, before I even start packing suitcases. What you do (or don’t!) put in this bag can really make or break your enjoyment of embarkation day. Choose a bag that you can also use for your airline carry on, as a beach bag, and for walking around in port.
I like using my anti-theft travel bag for a cruise carry on bag. It’s large enough that I can fit all my embarkation day essentials, but not so huge that I get annoyed carrying it around. Your room won’t be ready for a while, so don’t take a bag that’s too big.
Cruise carry on bag basics:
- your medications
- your travel documents
- any valuable items (jewelry, electronics, cash, credit cards)
- one swimsuit
- cruise card lanyard
- travel safe
- swim coverup
- something to wear to dinner
- comb or detangling brush (for after swimming)
- basic makeup
- travel toothbrush and toothpaste
Your larger suitcases may take several hours to be delivered to your room, so having a well-packed carry on bag is so helpful when you can’t access everything you’ve packed for the trip.
Read more: What to Pack in Your Cruise Carry On Bag
Toiletries and personal care items to pack for a Caribbean cruise
Don’t forget to check off all of your toiletries on your Caribbean cruise packing list! Buying them on the ship is usually very expensive, and the selection isn’t great.
You can often buy things that you’ve left behind when you’re in port, but why spend your precious vacation time tracking down deodorant?
- shaving cream
- bar soap
- prescription medications
- vitamins and supplements
- hairbrush or comb
- feminine hygiene products
- travel first aid kit
- contact lenses
- contact lens solution
Tip: If you’re picky about your shampoo, conditioner, or body wash (or you prefer bar soap), pack your own. Stateroom bathrooms on a cruise ship generally don’t provide the best or most luxurious toiletries.
- makeup remover
- hairstyling tools
- hairstyling products
- facial cleanser
- nail file and/or clippers
- dental floss
- bug spray
- aloe vera gel
- hand sanitizer
I also like to take along a hanging toiletry bag to hang on the bathroom door. Stateroom bathrooms usually aren’t very big, so having a place to organize all of my toiletries makes a big difference in keeping the bathroom neat and tidy.
Clothing to pack for a Caribbean cruise
Temperatures in the Caribbean are generally very warm, but be sure to check the weather report before you leave.
June can be rainy in the Caribbean, and hurricane season runs from June through November. Pack accordingly, and remember it can be cooler on deck at night and in the air-conditioned dining rooms.
Also check your cruise line’s dress code, especially if you plan on eating in the main dining rooms. Although many cruise lines are moving towards a more relaxed dress code, there are usually some rules around attire in the dining rooms. Examples include no sleeveless shirts for men, no ripped jeans, or no shorts. Take a moment and read through your cruise line’s dress code before you pack.
Some cruise lines have formal nights, and you’ll need to be in dressy attire on those nights in the main dining rooms. If you don’t feel like packing formal clothes, you can always eat at the buffet, a specialty restaurant, or order room service on formal night!
- 2-3 bathing suits
- shorts and/or skirts
- t-shirts, polos and/or tanks
- lightweight dressy tops (blouses or button-up shirts)
- lightweight sweater, sweatshirt or wrap
- swim cover-up or sarong
- formal outfit(s) if necessary
- lightweight long pants (for men’s dinner dress code)
- lightweight rain jacket
- workout or yoga clothes for the gym
Tip: Save room in your suitcase by bringing just one basic dark dress or suit if you have more than one formal night. Accessorize with different jewelry, scarves, or ties.
Read more: How to Prevent Wrinkled Clothes on a Cruise
Shoes to pack for a Caribbean cruise
Shoes can take up a lot of room in your luggage, so think about what activities and shore excursions you have planned before you start packing too many shoes!
Around the ship, most people wear casual footwear, like sandals, flip-flops, boat shoes, or tennis shoes. A pair of comfortable rubber-soled walking shoes is a necessity if you’ll be doing any walking tours.
If you’re visiting the beach or doing any water activities, you may want to pack an inexpensive pair of water shoes to protect your feet from rocks and hot sand.
Sometimes you can rent water shoes for the day, but it often costs as much as buying your own pair. For example, when we climbed Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica, the shoe rental was $10 per person per day!
If you plan to hit the gym on the ship, don’t forget to pack your running shoes.
Pack a pair of dress shoes if you’ll be attending formal night or if you plan on hitting the nightclub or joining in on a dance class. I like to pack a single pair in a versatile color (like gold or silver) so they’ll match with everything.
- rubber-soled walking shoes to wear in port
- warm-weather shoes for around the ship (sandals, flip-flops, or boat shoes)
- water shoes for shore excursions
- running shoes (if you’ll visit the gym)
- dress shoes for formal nights and/or dancing
Read more: How to Pack Light for a Cruise: 9 Essential Tips
Accessories to pack for a Caribbean cruise
You don’t need to pack lots of accessories for your Caribbean cruise, but I like to pack a few things that make life on board easier, or that help save a little money on the ship or in port. For example, I always pack my own snorkel gear so we don’t need to rent it.
Here are some accessories that I never cruise without:
- towel clips (for loungers on board and at the beach)
- strong magnetic hooks (to hang items on the stateroom wall)
- highlighters (to mark activities you’re interested in)
- packing cubes
- snorkel gear
- laundry basket or bag
- powdered laundry detergent (if your ship has self-service laundry)
Want to learn more about accessories that are great to take on a cruise? Read The 19 Best Cruise Accessories You Need to Pack
Make sure you get your free printable Caribbean Cruise Packing List. It has everything you need for an amazing Caribbean cruise! Just enter your email in the form below, and I’ll send it right over.
What are your must-haves to pack for a Caribbean cruise? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
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Thursday 25th of March 2021
I'm going to the Caribbean in December 21 is there any new updates that I should know about and what to wear. What's the weather like. Need a mobility chair. And if I need to upgrade a room how soon.
Sunday 28th of March 2021
Hi Catherine, it sounds like you're super-excited about your Caribbean cruise! Without knowing exactly where in the Caribbean you're cruising to, and with travel recommendations changing so quickly due to COVID, I'm not able to give you specific recommendations on updates. My best recommendation for you is to pack for temperate weather with layers for cooler evenings. Make sure you have a rain jacket or packable waterproof poncho (and appropriate shoes) in case of a wet day.
You asked about a mobility chair. I'd look into two companies: Special Needs at Sea and Scootaround. Both have great reviews for mobility device rentals, but they don't offer their services at all ports. Call your cruise line for recommendations if neither company is a good fit for your situation.
Your last question was about upgrading your room. I know your cruise doesn't depart until the end of the year, but if you want to upgrade (and you still can) I'd advise doing it now.
Of course, it all depends on demand, but I'll share my own experience (since you asked). I had five cruises cancel due to COVID, so I have a significant amount of future cruise credit that I need to use.
I'm seeing cruises into 2022 where I can't even book a balcony - or even an oceanview! Only inside cabins or suites are left. Hopefully you followed my advice and booked the cheapest stateroom you'd be happy with.
Thursday 27th of August 2020
I've been on a couple of cruises but I find your articles very helpful. Thank you.
Thursday 27th of August 2020
Hi Alyce, I'm so glad you enjoy reading my posts :) I always try to include tips that help first-timers and people who have cruised before, so I'm glad to hear that you find my posts helpful. Thanks for stopping by!