16 Must-Haves to Pack for Your Next Cruise

Dollar for dollar, cruise vacations are some of the most affordable getaway deals available — and you can save even more money on board when you arrive fully prepared. If you're ready to set sail, don't leave home without these cruise-ship must-haves. (See also: 5 Most Affordable Cruise Lines for Families)

1. Documentation and identification

Before you leave the house for your excursion, triple check that you and everyone in your party has proper identification not only to travel domestically (assuming you have to fly to get to the port of departure), but also internationally, if that's part of your itinerary. That means government-issued IDs and passports, but also copies of these documents (plus maybe your birth certificate) just in case of an emergency mid-trip. If you have to replace any of these items quickly to get home, your copies will help speed up the process. You should also keep a paper copy of your travel insurance with you in the event you can't access the digital file online.

2. Motion-sickness medicine

You might think you won't get motion sickness on such a large boat, but these ships can really sway if the ocean is choppy. It's a good idea to pack a vial of Dramamine or bring along an anti-nausea band, like the ones from NoMo. The bands are infused with peppermint oil to settle a queasy stomach.

3. Comfortable shoes

Cruise ships are massive, and you'll do plenty of walking on board if you like to participate in the many available activities. Plus, you'll be on your feet sightseeing in your ports of call, and you'll want to have comfortable footwear for that. Flip-flops are great for low-impact days, but you'll eventually want to cut your feet off if those are the only shoes you've packed.

4. Daypack

I carry a daypack with me wherever I go — a habit I developed living in big cities — and it's always been convenient for me to have everything I need for my day. On the cruise, your backpack will eliminate having to visit your room several times a day, and you'll also find it easier to carry souvenirs in your ports as you keep your hands free to have another daiquiri. (See also: The 5 Best Travel Backpacks)

5. Sunscreen

You already know you have to bring your sunscreen — because even on cloudy days above deck you can get burned — but also remember to bring enough sunscreen, especially if you're traveling with children. You'll get it much cheaper in your local stores than you will on board or in the ports of call. (See also: The 5 Best Sunscreens)

6. Dressy dinner attire

If you want to attend the fancy-pants dinners on ship, make sure you bring dressy, cocktail attire. Anything you'd wear to someone's wedding is ideal.

7. Waterproof phone case

You'll want to take plenty of pix on your vacay, and since you'll be in and around the water a lot, it's smart to bring a waterproof case. These also are great for underwater photos if you like to go snorkeling. (See also: The 5 Best Waterproof Phone Cases)

8. Cash

If you're traveling outside the United States, you should have a bit of cash on you at all times. That way, you'll still be able to pay for things if your credit or debit cards are denied for security reasons (my bank flags out-of-area purchases immediately and locks my account down), and you can avoid high-fee foreign ATMs. Plus, you'll want to tip service people in your ports of call. (See also: 11 Ways to Avoid Bank Fees While Traveling)

9. Outlet expander

There are thousands of people on a cruise, but limited outlets to charge electronics. Consider bringing an outlet extender.

"Given the number of electronic devices that most folks travel with these days, an outlet expander is an absolute must-have," says Elaine M. Warren, author of The Family Cruise Companion's Guide to Cruising With Kids. "Some cruise lines do not allow surge protectors, so your best bet is to take one without such a feature. Ideally, one that has a few slots for USB connections as well as traditional plug outlets."

10. Reusable water bottle

You'll want to stay hydrated if you plan to adult-drink your way from port to port. And to save some money on daily excursions while off the boat, keeping a reusable water bottle filled with water from the ship is a good idea. That's especially true if you're traveling to countries that have a less-than-stellar reputation for their drinking water. (See also: The 5 Best Aluminum and Stainless Steel Water Bottles)

11. Back-of-the-door shoe organizer

The bathrooms in most cruise ship rooms are quite small, with extremely limited storage space and counter space. Hanging a transparent shoe organizer on the back of your bathroom door will substantially increase the available storage space in your bathroom. Plus, it's small enough to roll up and pack easily when it's time to head back home.

"It makes it easier to organize your toiletries and the like in an efficient manner," Warren says. "You can organize numerous bathroom items for each family member — toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorants, shaving materials, shower caps, lotions, first aid kit, and medicine."

12. Lanyard

I'm the king of leaving things in my pockets (or anywhere, really), so when I'm on a cruise, I like to wear a lanyard with a plastic pouch to hold my room key and sea pass or cruise ID, since I know I'll be changing my clothes multiple times throughout the day. If it's always around my neck, I won't forget it.

13. Magnets

The walls in most cruise ship rooms are made of metal, and a set of magnets allows you to use your cabin wall space as storage.

"They can be used to hang papers, notes, lanyards, family messages, and other small items on the wall," Warren says. This helps reduce clutter and clear counter space. Depending on the style of magnet selected, they can also be used to hang up swimsuits or clothes to dry, secure beach towels to deck chairs, secure curtains, plus many other helpful functions."

14. Laundry detergent

If you're on a longer cruise and want to cut down on the amount of clothing you pack, bring a small bottle of laundry detergent so you can wash items by hand in the sink or shower and hang them to dry in your room.

15. Wrinkle releaser

I will not go out in public in wrinkly clothing. Never have, never will. So if I know I'm going somewhere without an iron — and I often call ahead to inquire about that situation — I bring a wrinkle releaser. I also hang my clothes in the bathroom while taking a shower and let the shower steam loosen things up.

I've been on cruises, however, that provide an ironing station on certain decks, but these can get very busy at meal times, so I'd recommend doing this chore during off-peak hours.

16. Wine

You can't bring hard liquor to consume on the cruise, but most lines allow one bottle of wine or Champagne per 21-and-older guest. You'll have to pay a corkage fee if you plan to drink the wine at dinner, but you're free to drink it in your room at no extra cost. It's another money-saver.

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