Cruise packing tips – five items that make life on-board more comfortable

Sea PrincessI recently travelled aboard Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess on a six-night round-trip from Sydney to Tasmania. (You can read my story on the cruise at Escape.) This was my first ‘big ship’ cruise, though at 2000 passengers, it’s smallish, as far as big ships go.

When it came to packing, I wondered if there were any special cruise-specific items I should take, apart from the usual travel clothes, accessories, toiletries and medications. Turns out there are a few things that make life on-board a little easier or more comfortable. I’ve combined these with some clothing items you might not think to pack, but are a godsend in certain conditions.

1. A slim-line card holder – if you don’t fancy wearing your cruise card on a lanyard around your neck (like you are part of a tour group or a conference attendee). A small card holder that slips into your pocket is an ideal way of securing your cruise card (used instead of cash to charge all expenses to your account) and the mini map you’ll need to find your way around for the first couple of days.

Credit card pouch

Alternatively, a small clutch or shoulder bag, if you want to carry your phone, lip gloss and glasses along with your cruise card. A tiny slimline shoulder bag with a strap long enough to be worn across the body leaves your hands free and a small clutch works well with evening attire.

2. A power board – as there are a limited number of power points per cabin it’s a good idea to take a power board, especially if you have multiple cameras, phones, tablets or laptops to charge. Check out my previous blog post for my favourite little travelling power board from Jackson, which includes two sockets and two USB outlets and comes in its own pouch. 


3. A light-weight cardigan or pashmina – although the on-board temperature is regulated, it can get a little cool in the restaurants, especially if you are seated directly under an air conditioning vent.  So take a shawl, wrap or lightweight cardigan to go over your evening clothes, especially if you are bearing your shoulders. A wrap or pashmina can also double as a lightweight blanket on deck if necessary. (Thanks to my friend and cruising guru Louise Goldsbury for this tip. Check out her riveting ‘behind the scenes’ blog The Cruisey Life: Uncensored.)

I’m currently loving my Threadz Handbag Cardigan, which is feather-light and scrunches into a tiny ball. Twist it around itself and use it as a neck scarf or tie to your handbag. Currently available online from Australian retailer Sorbet. Available in black, white and a variety of citrus brights.

9092 Black_175x233

4. A warm jacket – regardless of the weather or time of year. Even in summer a warm jacket or windbreaker is essential for those times you want to be on deck in the early morning or late evening, such as arriving or departing from ports – or just sitting and watching the majesty of the sea in wild weather.

5. A lightweight raincoat – for those unexpected showers on shore excursions. Find one that fits easily into your handbag or day pack and always carry it with you.  You’ll be the envy of fellow travellers as they queue to buy neon plastic ponchos while you are enjoying the scenery. 

Do you have any favourite items you pack for a cruise?

Happy Sailing.

About Briar's Travel Beat

Briar Jensen is a Sydney-based freelance travel writer. In her blog, Briar's Travel Beat, she shares her travel experiences to inform, entertain and inspire.
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8 Responses to Cruise packing tips – five items that make life on-board more comfortable

  1. The power board is a great idea Briar; my husband has adopted that for travelling overseas. I also have started taking bubble wrap and rubber bands with me for any fragile purchases, etc. And a simple clothes line for the ships without laundries, or when sailing on a Cunard Queen and someone has decided that my clothes are dry enough… Here’s why:


    • Briar Jensen says:

      Hi Genevieve,
      Thanks for your comments. The simple clothes line is a great idea for those ships without a line in the shower. Especially as I prefer to hand wash most things.
      Thanks also for your link to the ‘laundry incident’. Hilarious, but sad to think that someone would stoop as low as to steal someone’s hand-sewn dress. I was also surprised by how many people queued for things, especially afternoon tea!
      Happy travelling!


    • sandyeime says:

      Ditto. I take one or two old bubble wrap envelopes for the same reason. Plus with the powerboard you can use just one adapter instead of one for every appliance/charger.


  2. Thanks Briar – I enjoy writing about the humourous and quirky side of cruising.


  3. This is the post I needed to read. I’m doing a 3 day cruise from Sydney not this weekend but nect and will have all my devices with me, powerboard is a great idea… and rain coat too as I’ll need to get fresh air whatever the weather. I’m off on the Digital Parents Conf which this year is afloat… have sailed on lots of yachts but never on a cruise ship before.


    • Briar Jensen says:

      Glad you liked it Seana. The other thing to check is what sort of power points they have onboard, as you may need to take an international adapter too. I just travelled on P&O Arcadia, and they had British power points. Hope you enjoy your three day cruise. a good first sample. And the Digital Parents Conference sounds interesting. Cheers, Briar


  4. Looking forward to the next cruise. says:

    I know this is a bit late, but I have only just come across this thread. Your comments above are all very true. My wife and I have cruised several times now and we always take some magnet backed hooks and clamps. Cruise ship walls are made of steel and the magnets allow us to hang some small items on the walls instead of draping them over the light fittings. The clamps are useful for keeping the daily newsletter or excursion tickets. Cheer, Peter


    • Hi Peter, Thanks so much for your comment. Magnet-backed hooks and clamps are a great idea, especially for the daily newsletter, which always seems to get buried on the desk. Happy cruising! Cheers, Briar


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