Packing for a trip with kids is an art in itself. Whether you’re a cruise ship newbie or a veteran you know that cruise vacation requires a different packing strategy that normal vacations. Cabins tend to be smaller than the hotel room or Airbnb.
A lot of cruise ships will provide certain kid items such a high chairs, cribs and even bed rails. Disney is one cruise line that provides all three of those things. So before packing these items check with the cruise line to make sure they don’t already have them.
Here’s a list of things that may be better left at home when going on a family cruise:
- Travel crib – most cruise lines have these
- Travel high chair – again most cruise lines have these
- Fancy clothes – from my experience it’s better to stay practical when cruising with kids. One nice outfit is plenty.
- Fancy uncomfortable shoes – cruise ships are huge, there will be a ton of walking try to bring shoes you like walking in.
- Alcohol – check with the cruise line before packing up your wine some cruise lines don’t allow it
- Giant stroller – it would be very difficult to maneuver around people in a double Bob.
- Ipads, computers or Tablets – anything that requires Wi-fi to enjoy may be better left at home. Cruise Wi-Fi is expensive so unless the computer or tablet has lots of pre-loaded games and activities you might not want to risk the fees.
Now for the fun part: what you SHOULD bring on a cruise.
It’s never fun being told what to NOT do, so here are suggestions of things that from my experience can make your cruise vacation more enjoyable.
Kids won’t need a lot of shoes for a cruise, to save room bring one pair of really good, comfortable shoes. These keen’s last forever, dry quickly and are even good in colder weather if you have kids wear socks.
2. Sunscreen – this one is my favorite because it lasts so long
A good sunscreen is important for a cruise because on the open seas you’re exposed to more sun. The pool area typically has little cover and even when it’s not hot you’ll still want to have sunscreen on hand. This brand is really great and a little goes a long way because it doesn’t just come off like some others.
If you have any kids 3 and under and Ergo is amazing for travel. My middle daughter would literally just live in the Ergo. These things are super durable, we’ve had ours for almost 8 years and it’s still going strong. Now they make them even cuter than when I bought ours, I’m kind of jealous.
4. Kid Sunglasses – these ones are comfortable and stylish
Again cruise ships are really sunny places, if your kids are anything like mine they will want sunglasses or they will act like vampires that just emerged from a 10 year sleep. “Mom, my eyes!” This may be a Seattle area kid problem.
This travel journal is adorable, not only will it be such a great keepsake of the trip but it keeps kids entertained and working on their writing skills. It’s a win win.
6. Kid’s Camera
I’m not for bringing a ton of toys on vacation. We travel pretty light. We’ve actually been accused of traveling too light by an angry Danish airport employee. But this camera is such a cute way for kids to document the trip. It’s their vacation too, so I love that they can take charge of their own memories.
We’ve bought a lot of kids backpacks and had them fall apart. Now I only buy these ones. They literally will last forever. They are a great size for kids under 10 and have lots of handy pockets and side pockets for water. When you’re off the cruise ship on an excursion you’ll want to pack snacks and water for all the kiddos and this is a great backpack to have them carry their own things. Now you will always have a quick answer to “Moooommmm, I’m thirsty!”
If you’re taking a flight to your cruise terminal, or driving far away I usually pack some things for the little kids to play with. It really helps when you’re on hour 4 of a flight and promising to yourself you will never travel with kids ever again (am I the only one who does that haha?)
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Free Printable - A Packing List for Kids: Download this kids packing list to make packing easier on you.
Kids can help pack too, they just need clear instructions.
- Works even for kids that aren't reading yet
- Spaces to write in extras
- Flexible space to write it how many of each item you'd like packed