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Things To Bring On A Cruise This Year: 19 Cheap & Really Useful Cruise Items

Our list of small things to bring on a cruise that add great value without much expense or taking up too much room in your luggage!

As you are compiling your master list of things to bring on a cruise, don’t forget the little things. Here are some suggestions for small cruise items that will help enhance your cruise travel experience. (Also, be sure to check out our post on travel hacks for families!)

These aren’t necessarily cruise essentials. But, they are cruise items that bring a lot of value for a small price. You should be able to find any of these items for under $20. And most of them usually cost less than $10.

 Do you absolutely need these items to have a perfect cruise? Of course not! Will your experience and enjoyment be substantially enhanced? Absolutely!

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Useful Things To Bring On A Cruise For Less Than $20.

Things To Bring On A Cruise | photo of man packing as he checks list


Things To Bring On A Cruise: Food & Beverage Management

1. Reusable Straws

An increasing number of cruise lines have been restricting or banning the use of plastic straws onboard. In some instances, straws will still be available upon special request. While some lines have eliminated them altogether.

  So, if you personally prefer sipping your drinks through a straw. Or, if you have kids who do much better managing their own beverages when a straw is involved, then you should pack your own.

A good choice would be a set of reusable metal or reusable silicone straws.

reusable metal straw set

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Alternatively, you could also acquire some disposable straws that are made of sturdy biodegradable paper rather than plastic.  Any of these would be eco-friendly and economical.

2. Small Food Containers

Take something to hold snacks. These could be small semi-disposable storage containers and/or small zipper-style sandwich bags. These will come in handy for multiple reasons.

Many cruise lines are now moving away from the 24-hour free room service.  In most instances, there’s now a fee for nighttime room service. And for some cruise lines, there may be a fee for most of the day. So, it will be cheaper if you can keep a few snacks handy in your cabin.

reusable storage containers

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For example, you can grab some extra cookies from the buffet along with a carton of milk. A small container or plastic bag will keep them fresh for later.

This will also come in handy if you want to take some snacks with you when you head off to your shore excursions during port calls. An airtight container will be perfect for dry cereal or other finger foods.

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3. Your Own Beverages

Regardless of whether or not you decide to get a beverage package, you may still want to take advantage of an opportunity to bring on some beverages of your own. Most cruise lines will allow you to bring a limited amount of personal beverages onboard at the beginning of your cruise.

Taking advantage of that allowance could help you save money either by allowing you to purchase a cheaper level package or to reduce the number of drinks packages that you need to purchase.

And, this isn’t just about alcoholic beverages. If your family drinks a lot of bottled water or juices, those items typically incur a charge.

Things to bring on a cruise | beverages

The quantity and type of beverages that may be allowed turns on which cruise line you sail. For example, Royal Caribbean allows families to bring on 12 cans or cartons of non-alcoholic beverages per stateroom. Carnival allows 12 cans or cartons per person. For a 7-day cruise, that might be all the extra you really need.

Related Content: This Is What You Need To Know About Royal Caribbean Drink Packages

And, to be clear, if you’re traveling to an embarkation port by plane, you don’t have to try to squeeze beverages in your luggage. Instead, you would ideally follow one of our embarkation tips and stop by a store in advance of getting on the ship.

4. An Insulated Cup/Thermos 

Bring a large refillable, insulated mug, bottle, or thermos. The kind that’s good for both hot and cold drinks. This is one of the things to bring on a cruise that will be good both on and off the ship.

insulated travel tumbler

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On the ship, you can fill it with the beverage of your choice and have it handy wherever you go or lounge. You can fill it with coffee and lounge on your balcony, or a good deck with a view.

When you’re ready to go off the ship, fill it with water (or your favorite) and take it to the beach, on the shuttle bus, or where ever else your travels take you.

Things To Bring On A Cruise: Health & Safety

5. A Travel Size First Aid Kit

Bring a personal first aid kit. Wherever you might be in the world, accidents can happen. Hopefully, they will be small ones.

When they do occur, it is much better to have small supplies on hand rather than trying to figure out when the medical center is open and then traipsing down to wait.

travel first aid kit

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If you have a small first aid kit on hand, you can slap a bandaid on and keep it moving.

6. Hand Sanitizer

You can never have too much hand sanitizer available.

Although it does not substitute for true, thorough hand-washing, it can bridge lots of gaps.

travel hand sanitizer

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And, it’s good to have some available in your travel bag to deal with situations where soap and water are not readily available.

7. Disinfecting Wipes

A travel pack of sanitizing wipes can come in handy wherever you go.

Great for cleaning tables, chairs, or questionable surfaces when you are out and about.

Use it to clean sand off items when you’re leaving the beach.

8. Toothbrush Protection

Bring something to keep hair, dirt, and other randomness away from your toothbrush.

You’ll have multiple people sharing a bathroom for a week a more. Presumably, everyone will have their own toothbrush.

toothbrush protector

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You could stick them all in one of the glasses that can usually be found in the bathroom. But that can get kind of icky fast.  It’s fairly easy to find a more sanitary solution.

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Things To Bring On A Cruise: For Your Cabin

(Be sure to check out our top tips for making your cruise cabin cozy!)

9. Bathroom Odor Killer

Cruise cabins are typically quite compact. And, the bathrooms can sometimes be downright minuscule. So, ideally, you can avoid the inevitable “big” odors that are sometimes created in a bathroom from dominating your small cabin.

Poo Potpurri odor killer

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We have tried a variety of ways to corral those unruly odors. One that has been particularly effective is poo potpourri.

It actually works exactly as it claims. Good news. Now available in smaller sleeker travel-size packaging.

Another alternative is travel size lysol or something similar. This is something that could be used “after the fact” or in other areas that may need some freshening up.

travel size spray Lysol

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10. Travel Laundry Bags

Travel Laundry bags can help keep your cabin organized and help you speed up your packing when it’s time to go home.

You can just drop them at the bottom of your closet (or a hidden corner behind a couch), and fill them as you go along.

travel laundry bags

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Whatever bags you bring will be better than the paper ones provided in your stateroom.

11. Outlet Extender

Okay, this one actually does rise to the level of a must have cruise accessory. Typically, outlets in a cruise cabin are few in number and often not conveniently located. This item will make the life of everyone in your travel party much easier.

outlet expander with cord

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Whether you’re charging up a camera, cell phone, tablet, curling iron, or anything else that requires power, this will come in handy. And, it is something that can be used for years to come in a variety of travel situations on or off a cruise ship.

You have two main styles to choose from. The kind with a cord — which allows you to place your power source in a more convenient location. Or, the kind that sits against the wall — which frees up counter space.

small compact outlet expander

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(Also check out – 9 Best Travel Power Strips For That Next Fantastic Cruise).

12. Wall Magnets

Most cruise ship walls are made of metal. Use that to your advantage with large wall magnets. This allows you to utilize your cabin wall space as storage. Some people recommend the “hook” style magnets. But we prefer the clamp style because they can provide help with clutter and keeping counters clear.

large magnet clamps

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Use magnets to hang papers, notes, lanyards, and other small items on the wall. These cruise essentials help reduce clutter and clear counter space. You can also use them to help keep your family organized (or at least informed) by posting family schedules, notes or other information. (Magnets can also be a great idea for decorating your cabin door!)

13. Over The Door Storage

Probably the most recommended cruise accessory of all time is the over the door shoe organizer for the bathroom. Believe the hype. This is 100% useful. With this item on hand, you don’t have to worry about the limited counter or shelf space in a small bathroom. Plus, you can assign different rows to different family members to help keep things organized.

Get the transparent kind with lots of pockets.

14. Glow Sticks

You can get a lot of use out of a pack of glow sticks. First, they are just plain fun! You can get a lot of entertainment value out of them with your kids. But they can be particularly useful on a cruise ship as a fun replacement for a night light that lets everyone know where the bathroom is.

Once the sun sets, your cruise cabin will get quite dark. And, for those who need to go to the bathroom during the night, you want to be able to find it without waking up everyone else in your room.

You can wrap a few of these around the door handle and Voila! You know exactly where the bathroom is. And the light isn’t so bright that it keeps people awake.

This can also be useful if you have night owls who will be returning to the cabin at different times. You can leave one of these on or near the bed, so that they can more easily find the way.


Things To Bring On A Cruise: Keeping Up Appearances

15. Wrinkle Remover

Some people have no concern about wearing wrinkled clothes.

Many of the clothes that you pack for vacation may not warrant any special attention. Either because you’ve mastered the art of wrinkle-free packing. Or, perhaps they are items that you really don’t care if they’re worn wrinkled or not.

wrinkle remover spray

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But for those times when you do want to look a tad neater, a travel-size bottle of wrinkle release will do the trick.

It can also help with refreshing fabrics and eliminating odors.

16. Instant Stain Remover

This is another item that can help you with looking tidy. It will help your clothes last longer and cut down on concerns with your family laundry on the cruise. Both the Shout and Tide versions work well for most typical items you encounter in a day. So go with your preferred delivery method. Shout comes in wipes, while Tide comes in pen form.

stain remover wipes

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Things To Bring On A Cruise: Personal Entertainment

17. Extra Headphones

An extra set of headphones is always one of the great things to bring on a cruise. It’s good to have a backup in case you or a family member breaks or loses one.

Also, if you usually have really nice headphones at home, you may want to just leave them there and take something that’s easily replaceable.

affordable wireless headphones

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These are probably the best wireless headphones you’re going to find at this price point.

They are generally waterproof and noise-reducing. Great for listening to tunes or an audiobook by the pool or at the beach. Or, if you have aspirations of checking out the gym or jogging track, these will hold up for as well.

And, if they get lost or damaged during your travels – it was not a large investment.


Things To Bring On A Cruise: For Heading Off Ship

18. Identifying Luggage Strap or Tag

Make your luggage stand out with a color strap or a novelty luggage tag.

luggage straps

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A unique/colorful luggage strap or tag will help distinguish your luggage from the thousands of other pieces of luggage that will be lined up after you disembark the ship.

novelty luggage tags

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Now, you may think that you will always recognize your luggage. That may be true, but it’s not just about you. It also serves as a flag for others.

19. Lightweight Foldable Backpack

A light foldable backpack can serve many purposes throughout your travels. It’s a great item that you can slip in a purse or pocket and whip out if you need some extra storage or carrying capacity.

lightweight foldable backpack

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For instance, if you pick up souvenirs or other extras. This works whether you’re in the airport or out touring during your port calls. And, it can be used by an adult or child.

Elaine Warren

Founder & Crew Chief

Elaine founded this website after publishing the book The Family Cruise Companion’s Guide to Cruising With Kids. She has sailed on 40 cruises (and counting). She loves helping families navigate their way to an adventure-filled, fun, and memorable vacation.

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Last update on 2024-06-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API