Cruise Essentials: Your Ultimate Shopping Guide for Onboard Must-Haves

We’ve curated links for our favorite items discovered over 80 cruises! From convenience to necessity, these are all things we’ve personally used ourselves and recommend. We are still a young website and if you choose to purchase an item that’s linked, we may receive a small kick-back. If you discover something you’re interested in, we hope you’ll purchase via the links below to help us keep expanding!

Lightweight Water-Resistant Collapsible Backpack

I’ve been using this collapsible backpack for 5 years on excursions. It’s roomy enough to hold two beach towels, sunscreens, phone, portable charger, and has a zippered compartment for cash/wallet. It’s collapsible for packing (space saver) and it’s water-resistant which is helpful on a beach excursion or when it’s rainy.

Outlet Splitter with 3 Plugs and 4 USB Ports (3 USB, 1 USB C)

An outlet splitter is an absolute necessity on a cruise ship. While newer ships have installed more plugs, many ships still have one single outlet! The version I have has been upgraded to include 3 standard plugs, 3 standard USB outlets, and 1 USB-C outlet. 26,000+ reviews and a 4.8 rating. #essential

Wine Diaper Bags

Wine Diapers are one of the “must have” items I tell friends about when they book a cruise. This essential cruise item protects your clothes from spills (whether it’s a bottle of champagne or sunscreen). The bags have a super-absorbent interior that soaks up any leaks. They’re reusable, but break down over time. After 50+ cruises, I’ve gone through a couple sets (something broke, bag rips, etc.). I gladly purchase new ones when needed and have also given these as gifts. #essential

Adult Anti-Seasick Bands

On the very first day of my very first cruise, I got seasick. I was miserable! So I went down to the gift shop and I purchased sea sick bands. They are the only item on this list that have accompanied me on every single sailing ever! These Adult Anti-Seasick Bands are a different brand than what the cruise ship sells, but they are the same concept (and have almost 30,000 reviews and have the highest rating of any out there).

Cruise Tip:
Don’t wait until you’re on the cruise to find out if you need these. I promise, these are way cheaper than they were when I bought them directly from the cruise ship! lol #essential

Youth Anti-Seasick Bracelets

Similar to the adult version, these youth seasick bands (or nausea relief bracelets if you want to use their official name) are the same, just designed for kids. I haven’t used these as an adult, but they have nearly 2,500 reviews with a 4.3 star rating. Again, purchasing ahead of the cruise as a backup is usually significantly less expensive than having to make the purchase onboard.

Non-drowsy Dramamine Ginger Chews

I had never heard of these until sailing Mardi Gras in December of 2021, and now, I don’t sail without them! Like the seasick bracelets, these all-natural chews are designed to help reduce stomach discomfort. And while the sea bands work great for seasickness, they don’t always work great when you’ve had one too many to drink. That’s where these gems come in!

Compact Portable Cell Phone Charge

This has been our primary battery back up for several years. It’s held up very well and has charged many cell phones over that time. While there are smaller ones out there, this still fits in pockets/purses and we prefer the 5,000 mAh as there’s enough juice to charge two iPhones, or, provide a single device a couple charges. #essential

MagSafe Power Bank Battery Pack

This is the newest battery backup in our arsenal. It’s MagSafe compatible, so it just attaches to the phone in a snap (pictured with an iPhone 13 mini). At 6,000 mAh, there’s a ton of juice in this power bank. In fact, we’re using this a lot more than our original portable cell phone charger because it just becomes one with the phone. That, and you don’t have to worry about remembering to bring your phone’s charging cable!

3M Disposable Ear Plugs

Sometimes cruise ships can be a little bit noisy. Or, maybe you travel with a cruise mate who snores. I’ve been cruising with these 3M disposable ear plugs since 2017 and I consider them an #essential cruise item. I’ve tried many different ear plug varieties over the years with these being the best buy far. I’ve gone through several boxes in the past 5 years and will buy them again. They have over 2,300 reviews and a 4.7 star rating.

Reusable Luggage Tag Holders

I sailed for 3 years before discovering bag tag holders! When you check in for your cruise, you receive bag tags that help identify and get your bag to your stateroom. Amateurs (like I was) scramble to find tape or a stapler to attach the bag tag. One day, I saw someone using these and purchased them the same day! I consider these #essential for the convenience alone. This company offers different sizes for the different cruise lines with a 4.8 rating and over 2,900 reviews.

Magnetic Hooks Rated for 25 Pounds

We’ve received similar hooks from friends several years ago that we haven’t been able to find again. We use them to hang random stuff (belts, hats, etc.) These are similar. The reason magnetic hooks are great is because the stateroom door and walls of cruise ships are metal. Note: If you don’t like the color or weight option of these specific hooks, there are other choices available. These hooks have 4.5 stars across almost 750 reviews.

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes

Picture it: January 2016. We’ve never been sicker on a cruise ship in our lives. While we don’t know for sure where we picked up the bug, we’ve brought Clorox Disinfecting Wipes on every cruise with us since and wipe down all of the common surfaces (phone, door handles, light switches, etc.). I hate to tell you this, but you will be surprised at what you find your stateroom steward missed.

RFID Blocking Passport and Vaccine Card Wallet

I first ordered this for myself in 2018 and my passport and credit cards haven’t left the passport holder since. In fact, I’ve since ordered several more as Christmas and birthday gifts. It’s an absolute must have as it holds your passport, 3 credit cards, and your vaccination card. I also keep a hidden $20 inside the pocket for emergencies. The passport wallet comes in multiple colors to suit your cruise taste.

Soda/Beverage/Beer Saver Can Lids

I got one of these as a gift and wasn’t sure that I’d ever use it, but it sure comes in handy! Cruise ship refrigerators are small and clunky with their shelves. Not only does this protect against spills in the awkward space, but it keeps soda bubbly for up to a full day once it’s been open. I’ve taken this cruise item out of the packing room and have it in general rotation until I sail!

Flexible Cell Phone Tripod

This portable flexible tripod fits most phone sizes and can stand on its own, or wrap around a railing for ideal mounting locations. This is what I trust my phone with when filming time-lapse videos, or any other type of footage where I need my phone to be steady. It collapses down very small and is easy to transport. Great addition to anyone’s collection who enjoys portability and stability all at the same time!

Travel Sound Machine

Whenever we travel and know there will be an overnight stay, we always pack this convenient travel sound machine. It has an internal rechargeable battery and will last all night. Not only does it play white noise sounds, but you can also have soft music play and even some subtle lights. We love it for how well it blocks out noise from the outside.

CamelBak Water Bottle

Whenever we head out into a port to explore, we never leave our water bottle behind. We’ll fill up the water bottle at one of the many free water fill stations on the ship, throw on a carabiner, attach it to our backpack and head into town! The best part about this water bottle, is that it comes in many different colors so each person in your group can have their own (favorite) color!

Carabiner D-Ring Clip

These Carabiner clips come in really handy the cruise. We use ours to clip our water bottle to our backpack, but you can also use it to carry your sandy water shoes outside your backpack, or you can conveniently hang other lightweight items as you tour the port. Back on the ship, you may find use to use these in conjunction with your magnetic hooks in the room. There are multiple color options available for these!

Travel Umbrella

Depending on when you cruise and where you go, your sailing may encounter rain. In most cases, these rain storms (especially in the Caribbean) will be quick and over before you have time to even open up your umbrella, but just in case they last a little longer, here’s a great travel umbrella option that we love! It’s lightweight, compact, and comes in many different colors to match your mood.

Lightweight Rain Poncho

In the event that your itinerary does have rain in the forecast, you’ll want to pack a poncho, something that you can quickly slip on and off without hassle, and while keeping you cool. Humidity levels will be high and the last thing you want to do is fumble around for a jacket to put on, or even carry around the port with you. This poncho is sold in a set of 5 and comes in a variety of colors.

Australian Gold Sunscreen

Sunscreen and Bronzers

Whenever we go on a cruise, we always make sure we bring our Australian Gold sunscreen with us. The product provides excellent coverage, regardless of which SPF level you choose, you won’t be disappointed! Catch one smell of this stuff and you’re instantly transported to a white sandy beach on a far away Caribbean island! But no, we really do enjoy this product and wanted to share our love for it with you.

Portable Fan – Magnetic and Rechargeable

A friend let me borrow her portable fan one cruise and I was instantly hooked! This thing is AWESOME! Not only is it rechargeable, it has strong magnets in the base allowing you to place this fan on most any cruise ship wall. It has 3 speeds (low, medium, and high) and lasts the entire night! You can also operate it plugged in if you have a plug near your bed. It’s awesome, it’s quiet, and it’s super easy to pack!

Venetian Masks

This is only a “must have” item for Carnival’s Venice-class of ships, Carnival Venezia and Carnival Firenze. Both ships host a Captain’s Toast/Gala Evening where Venetian-style masks are encouraged. Carnival Venezia sold masks on board, but at a significant markup, which is why we recommend picking yours up ahead of the cruise! In fact, we like these specific masks as they come in a set of 2 (saving you money!) and a ton of different styles and varieties.

Design On The High Seas: Cruise Liners by Joseph Farcus Architect

Ok, so this isn’t really a cruise necessity, but I’m adding it to the list for honorable mention. As someone who loves cruising (obsessed, much?), I purchased this book in 2018. It’s a tribute to legendary Carnival designer Joe Farcus and is a beautiful presentation of various ship designs he has created over the years. In addition to beautiful photos, the book speaks to Farcus’ design vision and why Carnival ships look the way they do. It’s truly a fantastic coffee table book and I even dedicated the very first TCL post ever to this book!

Note: For items that are no longer sold, we’ve found the closest substitute with similar qualities. We’ve made note of each substitute recommendation in the item description.

Bring the Cruise Home

Got all of the necessary items you’ll need for your cruise? Great! Check out our little shop on Redbubble to discover some of our favorite cruise memories and pick up a souvenir of your own.

We’ve created a variety of items that use the cruise images below including prints, stickers, greeting cards, phone cases, masks, totes and more. Let the beach and ocean inspire you with one of our picture-perfect designs.

A Cruise SunsetA Perfect Day in MexicoWindow to the Ocean in San Juan
Here are just a few of the many items available for purchase. You can check out an individual item below. To see all items, simply click the image above to access the products page for that design.

Lined Notepad

Greeting Card

Throw Pillow



Art Print