Recently, we went on our first ever Carnival cruise.  In the next few weeks, I do plan on sharing a room and ship tour of the Carnival Liberty as well as sharing my thoughts on our trip. But before I get into all that, I wanted to share what I consider my top 10 essential “must have” cruise items.  We have been on other cruise lines — Royal Caribbean and Holland America — and these are the items that I would want with me on every cruise. Hopefully, this list will help you pack for any spring break trips you may have planned.

  1. Lanyard ID Holder and Zip ID Card CaseThis is my #1 cruise must have! Your Seapass (or equivalent) card is going to be your lifeline on the cruise, and you are going to want a safe, secure place to keep it (without having to carry around a purse). It will be the card you use to pay for everything on the ship as well as your room key (and the card to keep your room’s lights and air on for some ships). I love the lanyards from Vera Bradley because they are well made and sturdy. Also, you can get the matching card case which is a great place to keep all of those drink receipts you are going to get. You’ll want to compare those receipts against your final bill at the end of the cruise to avoid any discrepancies.
  2. Cruise Luggage Tags Holders – I have never felt safe just printing out my luggage tags on plain paper and stapling them around the handle of my luggage. Maybe it’s the control freak in me, but it seems like just about anything could rip that off and you’d never see your luggage again. To alleviate my stress, I always put my luggage tags in these clear luggage tag holders that I get from Amazon. They work like a dream and I feel they are more secure.
  3. Travel Swivel Charger with Dual USB PortsBe aware. Most cruise ships have very few (I’m talking one or two) outlets in the staterooms. If you’ve got phones, cameras, iPads, etc. to charge up, you’re going to need extra plugs. However, some cruise lines no longer allow surge protectors, so check with your cruise line before you pick out the power strip you plan on taking. I like a small one like this one from Belkin with USB ports. It allows me to not have to bring so many plugs, just the USB cables.
  4. Packable Travel Daypack – This is the bag I use for shore excursions and to go into port. It doesn’t have to be a backpack. That is just what I prefer. I would just suggest some sort of packable folding bag. Something that is small enough to not take up too much room in your suitcase, but big enough to hold all the necessities for going ashore.
  5. Beach Bath Towel Clips – These clips are great for keeping your towels from blowing away. If you are going to lay out on the deck of the ship with a towel, these are a necessity. It’s windy up there! However, I have found these come in handy on land as well – especially on those private islands in the Bahamas. It can get pretty windy there, as well!
  6. Sunscreen – This should be obvious, but some people underestimate the sun – especially in the Caribbean and close to the equator. I have known people to get sunburnt without leaving their cabin balcony. Put it on no matter what! Even if you don’t plan on ever leaving the boat!
  7. Waterproof Digital Camera – I didn’t think this was a necessity until I actually took one on vacation. Having the option to take amazing pictures without worrying if I was getting dirt or water into my camera was a great experience. Find one you like that fits your cruising style. If you are just a beach goer, you might like one like this Olympus that I have. If you are an adrenaline junkie and love scuba diving and zip lining, you might prefer something like a GoPro. But, that’s a personal decision.
  8. Night Light – You haven’t seen darkness until you’ve awoken on a cruise ship in the middle of the night in the middle of the ocean. Good luck finding your way to the bathroom without a night light.
  9. Travel Alarm Clock (and a Watch) – It’s surprising to me that an industry that gives you a daily schedule of jam packed activities at specific times makes it incredibly difficult to find out what time it actually is. No clocks in the staterooms – definitely no alarm clocks. There are usually some clocks around the ship, but that doesn’t help you at 8:30 am when you had a shore excursion that met at 7:45 am.
  10. Odor Neutralizing Spray – The average cruise ship cabin is about 150 square feet. Tiny bathroom. Small cabin. Lots of people crammed in who just stuffed themselves at the buffet. You get my point. 😉

This list doesn’t include motion sickness medicine (my absolute essential #1 don’t-leave-home-without-it must have) but I figured that was a given and not worth mentioning.

What are your cruise essentials? Is there anything I’m missing that you can’t live without? Let me know in the comments below!