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What to Pack for a Family Cruise Vacation

Disney Cruise Line

What to Pack for a Family Cruise VacationOf course, you've got to passports and other travel documents. Beyond that, careful packing for your family cruise vacation can mean the difference between a successful cruise or a three-hour-tour turned nightmare.

With three children and passports filled with stamps, my family and I have become pretty adept at traveling and packing. Packing for a cruise, however, is entirely different. Though the shops on cruise ships are often well-stocked and keep the needs of families in mind, they're often expensive and may not have a preferred brand or a favorite item. Of course, you've got your passports and other travel documents. Beyond that, careful packing for your family cruise vacation can mean the difference between a successful cruise or a nightmare.

Appropriate attire

Bathing suits, underpants, shorts, T-shirts, sundresses, sandals, and the like are often the attire of choice for cruise ships. Don't forget to pack an extra outfit for every traveler in your family, just in case of spills or accidents. There will be laundry and dry cleaning services on board, but it's easier to manage your own items if possible. Throw in one more bathing suit for good measure. Don't forget to bring slightly more formal attire for dinners out - even the kids will love getting dressed up to eat in the dining room once or twice. Bring along a sweatshirt and trousers for cooler evenings on the deck.


Sundry shops on ships will be well-stocked with shampoo (even the no-tears variety), sunscreen, aloe, children's ibuprofen or pain reliever, and other must-have items for families. However, it will be more expensive than packing your own. Use ship shops for these items as a last resort only.

Bring along your family first aid kit, too. Bandages, medications (prescription and over-the-counter), antiseptic, diaper rash cream, and the like are all important for families to pack when they're on a cruise.

Favorite snacks and drinks

Does your five-year old prefer only one kind of fruit snacks? Is your toddler obsessed with a certain juice box? Bringing the comforts of home (in the shape of snacks and drinks) can be a real comfort for kids while you're cruising.

Comfort items

If you're trying to save room in your suitcase, you might be tempted to leave certain comfort items and favorite toys at home. Save yourself the heartache and make room (even bring another small bag, if you have to). There's much to see and do on cruise ships, even for children, but if your children want a special blanket or to play a game they love, these activities will be of little consolation. This is especially true if, like me, you have early risers. Bringing along a smartphone for games in the morning or a favorite DVD can be a lifesaver.

For families, packing well for a cruise can help guarantee that everyone has a great time - including your kids, you and your spouse, and even the other passengers on the ship.


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