Cruise Packing List for Men

| October 8, 2007

Here's what a man should pack for a cruise - along with a shortened INTERACTIVE version.


We have asked many people if they have a cruise "packing list," and even when they swear they do, if you ask them to produce it, they just can't seem to find it.

Every time I pack at home, at some point I ask "do I have everything?" One way to know is to run a mental movie of everything I see myself doing during the cruise, imagining what I am wearing or have in my hands. This is when I always say, "Wouldn't it be easier if I just had a list?"

So I made one. And if you chose to use it, you can have one, too.


The thing is, the list gets pretty long when you add absolutely everything you plan to take. You need a LOT of things, many of them smaller than a shot glass, to make sure you will be safe and comfortable.

Some regular cruisers avoid lists by keeping pre-packed bags ready to go. I have a pre-packed "cosmetic kit" and "computer kit." But I still need to go through the mental list to make sure we have everything I need. Important things often get taken out of these bags between trips. "Cosmetic kit," by the way, is what I grew up calling the thing that holds my bathroom accessories for traveling. Some people call it a toiletries kit or a shaving kit. Whatever you call it, I prefer to have one I can hang on hook when I arrive and easily see everything it contains.

Here is my packing list. For male cruisers, I believe it is pretty universal, especially if you are also technology-oriented. Feel free to print this list out and use it when you are packing for your next cruise.

Packing for Your Flight

Assuming you fly to the ship, as most of us do, there is checked luggage and carry-on luggage. A good rule of thumb is to keep all valuables in your carry-on - travel documents, money, expensive electronics -- because you want to have your eyes on them at all times. But to keep it from getting too heavy, you can put some things in your checked luggage - like laptop power supplies and extra batteries.

These days, the Transportation Security Administration has the right to open and inspect any suitcase it wants. TSA-approved combination locks are available that can be opened with a universal key that supposedly only the TSA has. These locks are identified by a red diamond and a green LED that will switch to red if the lock is opened, even by the TSA. When TSA staffers open a bag, they are supposed to leave a slip of paper inside that tells you the bag was inspected.

Here is a link to such a lock:


Never put anything valuable in your checked luggage. Any bag not in your possession is in danger of having its contents stolen - someone might have a TSA key, or simply snip the lock. A bag that is dropped hard enough might split open. Unfortunately, once a bag gets opened, TSA slip or not, if anything is missing it is hard to prove who might have stolen it. If something is missing, consider yourself lucky if you get any compensation from filing a claim.

Electricity Concerns Overseas

Do you need a European/US wall socket converter? Most cruise ships are made in Europe and have 220 volt AC voltage throughout. They usually have one or two U.S.-standard 110 volt outlets in your stateroom (generally one near the desk and another in the bathroom). The European sockets are for extra-wide round-pronged AC plugs. For every electronic item you own, read what it says next to the power cable or plug. Many items can accept either voltage (US 110 or European 220) and will adjust automatically when you plug them in. This is especially true of most laptops and cell phone power supplies. Items made for U.S. sockets that generally will NOT accept European 220 volt power sources are battery rechargers.

Always bring a simple plug converter to change the flat U.S. AC plugs to the rounded European plugs, but note that changing the plug can do tremendous damage to whatever you plug into a European AC source if it is not made to accept 220 volts. Some things will burn up from the extra juice. One example is hair curling irons (which men don't carry, but they make a great example). If you plug a U.S. curling iron into a European adapter and turn it on, if it doesn't burn the unit up first, when your lady goes to curl her hair chances are she will burn her hair off within seconds. You have turned her curling iron into a branding iron.

If you have a lot of electric items built for U.S. 110 volt power, the best solution is to bring a power strip that you can plug into the single U.S. outlet on the desk in the stateroom.

Another alternative is to bring a power converter that you plug into a European wall socket; it drains off half the voltage and converts the output to 110 volts. But these are not recommended. They are very heavy because they contain a large transformer (an iron magnet with copper wire wrapped around it); and they are notorious for burning out. At that point, they fail to reduce the voltage and you burn up your valuable electronics anyway.

Bottom line - make sure you plug anything electronic into a socket voltage the device is made to accept.


The Official CruiseMates Men's' Packing List:

Carry-on Bag

The carry-on is for items that are valuable, fragile (checked luggage is often tossed several feet), and/or things you might need in transit. Typically, your carry-on should have your travel and personal documents, personal electronics, money and medications.

Items for your Carry-on: Electronic

  • Laptop and accessories: power supply, wireless adapter, external mouse, mouse pad.
  • Ethernet cable (RJ-45 for hotels and ships that require wired connections), USB storage device.
  • Digital Camera and accessories: memory cards, extra battery, battery recharger.
  • Camcorder and accessories: power supply, extra tapes (or other recording media), batteries, battery recharger.
  • Cell Phone and accessories: extra battery, recharger.

    A note about cell phones: Depending on where you travel, your cell phone may or may not work. These days many phones are "tri-band," which usually means they work in most regions of the world. Investigate your specific model to see if it will work in your destination, and how much any "roaming charges" will be. With many networks, the phone might work overseas only after you have international roaming enabled by your provider. Do this before you leave.

    Earbud headsets: Typically, you will want headsets for using your laptop or iPod on the plane. Often these headsets will work with the plane's movie system, although some older airline headsets have two prongs (if so, you can still use your iPod headset, but you only get one ear). You can get adapters to fix this problem.


    Items for your Carry-on: Personal

  • Eyeglasses, reading glasses.
  • Pens, pencil, highlighter.
  • Medications etc.: Prescriptions, Dramamine, ear plugs, eye mask, blow-up pillow, wrist bands, ginger, anti-acid, aspirin.

    Note on medications: always consult your physician before using any medication. I carry Meclizine as my choice for motion sickness because it does not make me as sleepy as Dramamine. But Dramamine can be a good choice if you are prone to motion sickness and on a long flight where you want to get some sleep.

    I always carry ear plugs anywhere I may want to sleep. On airplanes they are perfect for shutting out the noise of people talking and engines. Eye blinds will make sure you are not awakened when someone opens a window or turns on a reading light. Wristbands and ginger help control minor cases of motion sickness. A blow-up pillow is necessary for some people to sleep. I spent years trying unsuccessfully to adjust plane pillows so I could sleep, until I tried just lying straight back in my seat. That is now the position in which I sleep best.

    Plastic Bag: Since the TSA now requires you to present any carry-on liquids to them in a plastic bag, I have found it is easiest to pre-pack the following liquids in a bag at home: skin moisturizer, nose spray, eye drops, eyeglass cleaner, hand sanitizer, contact lenses in cases and lens solution.

    Documents: It is essential to manage your personal identification and travel documents. Here is what you need:

  • Passport
  • Debit/credit cards
  • Travel Documents: plane tickets, cruise tickets, transfer vouchers, travel insurance policy
  • Business cards
  • Address book: List of phone numbers (doctor, neighbor, business associates, travel agent, insurance company, credit card company, frequent flyer airlines. List of usernames and passwords (for Internet and ATMs, frequent flyer numbers and PINs)
  • Wallet

    Notes on the wallet: In most cases you will have already given the cruise line your credit information online for onboard charges. If not, bring a credit card with a big enough balance that the day you board, they can submit an approval for about $12.50 per person per day. Most cruise lines pre-approve about this much, which is the average minimum most cruisers will spend.

    Inside the wallet: money, one credit card, one debit card, an international phone card (for making cheap international phone calls at pay phones overseas), frequent flyer cards and important phone numbers like your physician, travel agent, insurance carrier, next-door neighbor, etc. We also suggest having some way to remind yourself of PIN numbers, usernames and passwords. If you can work out a cryptic way to record these, then do so.

    Notes on foreign currency: The easiest way obtain foreign currency is to use ATM machines wherever you go. They are almost all tied into the same ATM network (Star, Cirrus, etc.) as your personal bank account, and will give you local currency and take the equivalent amount of dollars out of your account. Buying travelers checks or going to currency exchanges have become almost moot. Chances are you will find a convenient ATM as soon as you land in any airport.


    Checked luggage

    Bathroom "cosmetic kit" - this will have things you cannot carry on, so just put it in your checked luggage.

    Body Care (liquids)
    • deodorant
    • shave cream
    • Nail clipper
    • Shampoo
    • conditioner
    • mousse - gel
    • toothpaste
    • mouthwash
    • sun block
    • hydro-cortisone
    • antibacterial
    • liquid Band-Aids


    • Meclizine (sea-sickness)
    • Dramamine
    • Laxatives
    • Antacids
    • Ibuprofen

    Coiffures (sometimes sharp)

    • razors
    • nose hair/mustache trimmer
    • tweezers
    • nail clippers
    • hairbrush
    • toothbrush


    • anti-snore nasal strips
    • styptic pencil
    • dental floss
    • q-tips
    • sealable plastic bags (all sizes)

    Other Handy Things:

  • Personal reading light (book light)



    We cannot tell you how many pairs of underwear or socks you will need per day; that is up to you. Realize that in hot weather you sweat a lot, so you probably need more. But for clothes we will start a basic list and add things we think are important.

    • Shirts: dress shirts, polo shirts, pajama tops
    • Pants: shorts, slacks, (note: blue jeans are not a staple except in cold weather; in tropical weather you are far more likely to wear shorts and sandals than blue jeans and tennis shoes).
    • Underwear: (note: underwear is bulky but may be re-washable.)
    • Socks: Bring light socks for touring, dark socks for formal wear.
    • Belts: a casual belt (brown leather or black) and formal (black)
    • Shoes: sandals (touring), dress shoes (formal), tennis shoes (rugged sightseeing), casual loafers for days at sea (optional)

    Formal Wear:

  • Tuxedos: On some ships a tux is almost mandatory, but on most a dark suit is acceptable. A tux requires the following: Tuxedo jacket, dress shirt with French cuffs requiring cufflinks, bow tie, cummerbund, pants, knee-length thin black socks, formal shoes (typically black patent leather or similar high gloss shine), studs to match the cufflinks.
  • Dress Suits for Cruises: Linen is lighter weight which is good in tropical weather. On formal nights one should wear matching slacks and a light shirt and dark tie. On semi-formal nights the jacket can be worn with slacks, a tropical shirt and no tie; or simple colored shirts and a necktie. Always wear dark socks and shoes on formal nights.

    Clothing Items that do not Mix: (In other words, don't use these as "outfits") Jackets and polo shirts, jackets and shorts, long pants and no socks, patterns on more than one thing - especially if one is a jacket.

    Daytime Tour Wear: shorts, socks with tennis shoes, or sandals (with or without socks), tropical shirt with pocket or polo shirt.

    Daytime Ship Wear: shorts or slacks (no blue jeans), polo shirts or button downs (no T-shirts).

    Outdoors Only: bathing suit, flip-flops.

    Also to be packed in your checked luggage:

    These items should go in checked luggage solely because they are too heavy to take in your carry-on, and you shouldn't need them on the plane.

    U.S. extension cord/power strip, laptop power supply, other electronic power supplies. Even though you don't plan to use them in transit, never pack cameras, cell phone, iPods or other expensive electronic items in your baggage.

    Any alcohol in glass must be packed in your checked luggage; you cannot take liquids aboard a plane. Wrap bottles in bubble-pack and insert them in a resealable plastic bag. Put all these things in the middle of your suitcase surrounded by clothes to pad against shock. Baggage handlers can be seen throwing bags through the air on airport tarmacs.


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