If you’re going on a cruise, you’ll have a much better time if you have everything you need with you when you get on the boat. It can be tough to remember everything you need to pack. This packing list will help you get started:

  • Clothes: Mostly light, summer stuff, but also include some comfortable warmer clothes as well. Additionally, most cruise ships don’t allow jeans and T-shirts in the dining cabin for dinner, so bring appropriate clothing for that. Bring at least one (preferably 2) formal outfits for the formal dinner nights.
  • Sunscreen: SPF 15 or higher
  • Aloe vera or other sunburn treatment
  • Sunglasses
  • Personal care necessities, like your toothbrush, hairbrush and toiletries.
  • Swimwear
  • Medical insurance information
  • Travel insurance information, if applicable
  • Tickets and other documentation related to the cruise
  • Airline ticket information and hotel confirmations, if applicable
  • Your camera
  • Basic medical stuff, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, antacids and anti-diarrheal medication
  • Dramamine or other medication for motion sickness
  • Insect repellant
  • Money belt or pouch to keep your money protected during shore excursions
  • Stuff to read and/or listen to

If you’ll be leaving the country on your cruise, there’s one item that should be on the top of your list: Your US passport. Passports are required unless you are traveling to Mexico, the Caribbean or Canada on a closed-loop cruise, one that begins and ends at the same US port. For a closed-loop cruise to one of these regions, you can get by with a driver’s license and a birth certificate (or other form of US citizenship.)

However, even for closed-loop cruises, it’s still a good idea to bring your US passport with you.  You need a passport to fly anywhere outside of the US, so having your passport with you will make it much easier to get home in a hurry if you have an emergency of some sort. Also, if you don’t make it back to the boat on time during a shore excursion, if you have your passport you can fly to the next port and catch up with it. Finally, some cruise lines may require you to bring a passport even for closed-loop cruises, so call and ask if you have any questions.

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