Cruise Packing List: For Non-Fashion Bloggers

packing notes from our May 2015 cruise to the Bahamas!


Before my cruise, I did a ton of research. Both on the Carnival site (FAQ & forums) and on blogs, mostly found through Pinterest. I wasn’t sure what I needed to take, as far as items or clothing.

I found lots of cruise packing lists. When it came to the items, people were pretty consistent.

There were some things I never would have thought of that ended up being really helpful. For instance, the over the door hanger– it was really nice to have all our sunscreens, aloe vera lotion, sunglasses, gum, chapsticks, hairbows, etc all in one convenient location. While the room was bigger than I expected, it would been easy to lose small items without this. We also took a clock and a small fan for the room. I took some magnetic hooks– not super strong ones, but they held our lanyards with our Sail & Sign cards. Also a mesh laundry bag, just because it was nice to have dirty clothes corralled instead of all over the floor. And an empty duffel bag for souvenirs– we didn’t actually buy a lot of souvenirs, but somehow still filled this (we actually put all our dirty clothes in it to make washing clothes easier when we got home- but our original suitcases still felt really full somehow).

The Sail & Sign card is something every Carnival passenger gets before you even get on the ship: it’s a combination of ID and charge card. You swipe it each time you get on and off the ship, and also anytime you buy anything on the ship *coughboozecough* You can buy Carnival lanyards on the ship, for a price, or you could take your own. I took one from my work, and we used the ones that came from the holders we took for our passports & camera phones.

I purchased this waterproof passport holder as well as this waterproof iPhone case from I don’t actually remember if we used the passport holder in the water- pretty sure we did and it was fine. Either way, it was super handy to carry our IDs and boarding passes for getting on & off the ship. And the iPhone case did GREAT! Our friend who bought the same one had some issues with her’s being a little blurry- I think it depends on how tight of a seal you get, and possibly getting sunscreen on it (I got sunscreen on my camera lens in Nassau & had similar problems). But it took great pictures and videos, even under the water! And the sound was good too. My husband had a Windows phone that’s pretty large (way bigger than my iPhone 5) and it fit fine. This is also what I used in Nassau to carry my passport (and the thing someone tried to steal-story here in my Carnival cruise review).

Besides the stuff, there were a few posts about what to wear on the cruise. I read so many fashionable cruise packing lists.

The problem? Pretty sure they were all written by fashion bloggers, or at least very fashionable people. And I am not a very fashionable person.

So, I’m giving you the advice I wish someone had given me regarding what to wear on a tropical cruise.

Casual wear 

Here is what I took for my casual outfits- to be worn around the boat, on the beach, and in port cities
  • 2 bathing suits (one not pictured)
  •  1 matching cover-up (the blue thing under the striped bathing suit top)
  •  2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 tank tops
  • 2 shorts
  • 1 maxi dress
  • 1 floppy hat
  • Also not pictured- sunglasses, of course

I ended up wearing the blue jean shorts twice with each of the tank tops (one the first day on the boat & one in Nassau), the cover-up something like 3 times (at Half Moon Cay, and on both sea days), and the maxi dress (which I actually wore to dinner, not in port as planned). I wore one of the tees and the brown shorts to get off the boat, but they were too small (I bought them a few years ago & almost never wear shorts, so I hadn’t really spent much time in them lately).  I changed into jeans as soon as we got back to our car (I wore jeans & a hoodie for the trip down to Jacksonville, but left them in the car).  The floppy hat was helpful to keep the sun off my face in Nassau- but made my face really dark for photos. Just something to consider- maybe that’s why so many of the nice fashion-blogger people recommend fedoras instead.


Dinner Wear:



please ignore the mess, I was in packing mode!

 Carnival has “cruise casual” dress code for most nights in the formal dining rooms, and one “elegant” night (on my 5 day cruise). The dress on the right is what I wore to elegant night (from Kohl’s, but I do not see it on their website), and I feel like it was perfect. I was comfortable and felt dressy without being overly dressed. Some people wore gowns or prom dresses- some wore everyday jeans (supposedly they can choose to turn you away for not following the dress code, but I didn’t see this happen). I wore the other dresses to dinner on the other nights (except the blue dress, I ended up not wearing it at all).

The black pashmina (which is a fancy word sometimes used for “really big scarf”) was a great purchase- went with all my dresses (my friend wore the same one with jeans & a tee a few nights and also looked nice) and helped in the chilly A/C rooms. Oh, and I took one bracelet+one watch+two silver necklaces (one long & one short).

Not gonna lie, even though cruise packing is supposed to be all about mixing & matching and reusing items, I took 5 pairs of shoes on a five day cruise- including two pairs of black sandals. I’m not even sorry. Not pictured are my Rainbow flip flops, which I wore all around the ship & in Nassau, and my cheap-o rubber flip flops which I wore to the pool and the beach at Half Moon Cay. I wore the black sandals to dinner, and the tan wedges for the elegant night. Looking back, if anything I would have not taken the wedges just because they’re bigger & I only wore them once, but they did look great with the dress. Although I wore only sandals, I did take lots of socks to wear around the hotel room & at night.

What I didn’t pack but wish I did:

Another cover-up, one pair each of jeans, leggings, & yoga pants along with a hoodie or cardigan. I took two suits and only one cover-up, it worked but it would have been nice to not be in the same thing all the time, or worry that it would be dry the next day (it always was, but a back-up would have been better).

After two days of being outside in the Bahamas, the A/C on the ship started feeling cold. The night after Nassau and our last day on the ship, I saw way more long pants & shirts than in the beginning when it was all tank tops & shorts. Also, the morning we got off the ship we were waiting in the theater and it was so freakin’ cold!

The leggings could have went under any of my dresses & still looked nice, and the jeans/yoga pants would have been good to have during the late night shows or inside activities- they could have been paired with one of the tee-shirts and the sweater/hoodie.
This is a pretty woman-centric list, because that’s what I am.


For the dudes:

My husband took one pair of dress khakis, a black dress shirt, a tie, & black dress shoes for elegant night. For casual wear he took two bathing suits, three pairs of shorts (two cargo- one not), two or three button up short sleeved shirts, something like 5 tee-shirts, a pair of Rainbow flip-flops, & tennis shoes (which he wore onto the ship because his feet are huge & they would have been tough to pack). That’s all I remember- where I packed over the course of a week, he did it mostly in a day or two. Drove me batty, but worked.


I hope this helps! If you’ve taken a cruise, is there anything you wish you had packed but didn’t- or did pack but didn’t use?

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