Packing for a cruise can be stressful, especially for first-time cruisers, and many passengers worry that they aren’t packing enough for their cruise vacation.
More often than not, however, they pack also great deal for your cruise! From beach towels to hair dryers, there are many things that are better left at home.
Having an idea of what you should and shouldn’t bring on a cruise can help tremendously in the packing process.
Some items, such as walkie talkies, are allowed on board, but we advise against it. Others, such as power strips, are prohibited by Royal Caribbean and will be confiscated in the cruise terminal.
Before you pack for your cruise, it’s helpful to have an idea of what you don’t need to bring on board. Nobody wants to waste precious luggage space on things they won’t end up using during their holiday – or worse, aren’t allowed on board in the first place!
Here are the top 15 things you don’t need to bring on a cruise.
Packing beach towels is unnecessary on a Royal Caribbean cruise, as the cruise line provides towels at no extra cost to guests. These towels can be used both on board and in port, but please make sure you return the towels by the end of the cruise. If you leave a towel, you will incur a fee of $25 per towel!
Towels simply take up road too much space in your luggage, so it is recommended to use the cruise line’s towels instead.
The currency of each port you visit
Depending on the cruise destination, it may not be necessary to bring local currency. Many popular cruise ports accept US dollars, especially those in the Caribbean. With so many visitors each day, these ports expect cruise ship tourists to spend US dollars.
If you’re visiting Nassau, for example, US dollars and Bahamian dollars have a 1:1 ratio. There is no problem paying in US dollars, although change can be returned in Bahamian currency.
Of course, US dollars are unlikely to be accepted in ports on cruises from Europe, Australia and Asia, and we recommend bringing local currency with you when booking itineraries outside of North America.
Related: How much cash should you bring on a cruise?
One of the easiest ways to handle payments in different currencies is to travel with a debit or credit card without foreign transaction fees. Many establishments in your cruise port accept credit card payments, especially restaurants and shops.
By using a card, you avoid the hassle of figuring out which currency to use and can be a safer option compared to carrying around a lot of cash.
In most situations, you won’t need to pack snacks on a Royal Caribbean cruise. It’s no surprise that there’s an abundance of food on board, and you won’t need bags of pretzels, trail mix and candy from home.
If you want to bring a snack on a shore excursion, consider grabbing some extra crackers from the buffet and putting them in a Ziploc bag. Alternatively, you can order snack-sized cereals from room service at no extra charge, and these are a good snack option while in port.
The one time we see the value in packing snacks for a Royal Caribbean cruise is if you are traveling with children. If you are cruising with children, it may be a good idea to pack some of the child’s favorite snacks to have on board.
Related: 50 best cruising with tips and secrets for children
Whether it’s chips, granola bars or fruit snacks, it can be useful to have snacks available both on the ship and in port.
As much as you may love to wear sparkling jewelry, we recommend leaving your most expensive items at home or only wearing them while on board.
While it is unlikely that anything will happen to your jewelry on a Royal Caribbean cruise, carrying valuable jewelry in port can draw unwanted attention to yourself and your traveling companions.
In addition, we also recommend leaving your Apple Watch in the cabin while you are in port, or at least putting it in your bag. Wearing expensive items in port is, more often than not, not worth the risk.
Cruising with children? It’s best to leave the big, bulky stroller at home.
Cruise ships are tight spaces, and it can be tough to navigate the ship with a large stroller. Not only that, but taking a bulky stroller into port can be complicated, as many cruise ports can have narrow, uneven sidewalks that make pushing a stroller difficult.
Bring an umbrella trolley on board instead. Umbrella strollers pack down easily and are much lighter, making traveling with these strollers a breeze. Royal Caribbean does not offer these strollers on board, so be sure to bring one from home.
Packing a laptop for your cruise? Unless you are working remotely on a Royal Caribbean cruise, we recommend that you leave your computer at home.
Related: Can you work remotely from a cruise ship? I put it to the test
While some travelers think they might want their computer to check emails and connect with friends and family on board, bringing a laptop is an unnecessary hassle.
Instead, use your mobile phone for all your in-flight technology needs, from check-in to boarding to researching ports of call. If you really need to use a computer while on board, you will find public computers available around the ship.
Brand new shoes
A pre-cruise shopping spree can be fun, but think again about those brand new shoes you bought for the trip. Although cruising is relaxing, it often involves a lot of walking, and no one wants to deal with painful blisters on vacation!
If you buy new shoes for a cruise, be sure to wear them a few times at home before the cruise begins. This will help ensure you break in your shoes properly before your trip, which can reduce the risk of blisters and discomfort on holiday.
Related: The ultimate cruise packing list
It’s usually a better idea to only pack shoes you’re sure will be comfortable during the cruise. After all, no one knows if you’ve worn a pair of shoes 200 times before, so bring a pair of trusted sandals as opposed to a brand new pair.
Not only are walkie talkies an unnecessary item to pack for a cruise, but the noise they produce can be annoying to other passengers. Also, they don’t work very well onboard, since the metal walls on cruise ships produce significant interference.
Related: The Worst Cruise Package Mistakes to Avoid
Instead of bringing walkie talkies on the cruise, use the Royal Caribbean app. Royal Caribbean’s app has a free chat function where you can send messages to others in your travel party.
Communication via the Royal Caribbean app works much better than walkie talkies. It is completely free even if you do not have a wifi package for the sailing.
Over the door shoe organizer
A popular hack for cruise cabins is bringing a shoe organizer over the door to provide extra storage space in your cabin. Many cruisers like to bring these to store not only shoes, but toiletries, snacks and other accessories.
When we tried an over-the-door shoe organizer on a recent cruise, we thought it was more trouble than it’s worth. Although you can fit many items in the organizer’s spacious pockets, we didn’t feel the extra storage space was necessary.
Related: I tried the best interior cabins on cruise ships to see how well they worked
Most Royal Caribbean cabins – especially those on newer ships – have more than enough in-room storage space. In fact, there’s often more storage space than you need, so there’s no need to waste packing space with an over-the-door shoe organizer.
All Royal Caribbean cabins are equipped with hair dryers, so in most cases there is no need to pack your own. For most passengers, a hair dryer will take up too much luggage space and is not worth the trouble.
However, if your hair requires careful styling, you may want to consider bringing your own hair dryer. You can find several travel-sized hair dryers on Amazon that can work well for those with limited luggage space.
So you’ve found the most elegant dress for your cruise and can’t wait to wear it on board. The only problem? The outdoor decks on cruise ships can be extremely wind and you definitely don’t want to show your underwear to everyone on board!
Before packing short, flowy dresses, it’s important to understand that there is a (strong) possibility that these dresses will fly up in the wind. While you can certainly still pack flowy dresses, bring a pair of shorts to wear under the dress and/or avoid blowing outdoor decks while wearing the item.
Now that we’ve discussed the items you don’t need to bring on a cruise, let’s move on to the items you do can not take on a cruise. Like all cruise lines, Royal Caribbean has a list of prohibited items.
If you bring a prohibited item on a cruise, the item will be confiscated at the cruise terminal and you can collect it when you pass the terminal on the day of disembarkation.
Here are the most common prohibited items cruisers try to bring on board that you should avoid:
Clothes irons are a fire hazard and are therefore prohibited on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Unfortunately, this means that your clothes may have more wrinkles than you prefer during the voyage.
Fortunately, Royal Caribbean offers dry cleaning and pressing services on board, although it comes at a cost per item. You can expect to pay around $6.99 to have a long-sleeved shirt cleaned and pressed, and $13.99 for a dress.
Related: Royal Caribbean laundry services on the cruise
Alternatively, you can pack anti-wrinkle spray for your cruise, which can help remove unwanted wrinkles in your outfits.
Although pizza and unicorn-shaped pool floats are popular on Instagram, they are not allowed on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
Inner tubes, pool noodles, floating mats and other floating devices are not permitted in Royal Caribbean pools.
Related: What you can’t take on a cruise
Arm floats for children are tolerated, but the best option if you are traveling with children is to take advantage of Royal Caribbean’s free life jackets. These are available on the pool deck and come in four sizes: infant, child, youth and small adult.
Although flotation devices (other than life jackets) are not permitted on board, you may be able to use them on beaches or pools at your ports of call.
Cruise ship cabins, especially on older ships, have limited outlets. This causes many first-time cruisers to pack power strips in their luggage, but this is prohibited on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Power strips with extension cords are a fire hazard and will be retained from luggage on the day of boarding.
Instead, consider packing a USB hub or outlet extender. Unlike power strips, these items are allowed on board and can drastically increase the number of sockets in your cabin.
Bringing alcohol on board Royal Caribbean cruise ships is strictly prohibited, except for one 750ml bottle of wine or champagne per adult in your stateroom.
Beer and spirits are prohibited, and smuggling liquor onto your ship is not recommended.
If you’re hoping to save money on alcohol on your cruise, you have a few options:
- Order a drink package early, and reprice it if the cost goes down
- Save money by drinking in port instead of on board
- Ask for the drink of the day, which is usually a few dollars cheaper than other cocktails
- Take advantage of bringing your own wine on board
Do not under any circumstances bring liquor on board. It’s not worth the risk!
Complete list of prohibited items:
- Firearms and ammunition, including realistic replicas
- Sharp objects (shaving products and scissors with a blade less than 4 inches are allowed)
- Illegal drugs and substances
- CBD oil and products
- Candles and incense
- Coffee machines
- Clothes irons and travel steamers
- Hot plates
- Martial arts, self-defense and sports equipment
- Flammable liquids and explosives
- HAM radios
- Baby monitors
- Electrical extension cords
- Hazardous chemicals
- Perishable food and meat products
- Alcoholic beverages (except the permitted amount of wine)