Packing the right cruise accessories for your family cruise vacation will definitely enhance both your comfort and your fun! Don’t finish packing before checking this list!
Getting ready for a cruise can be both exciting and stressful! Sometimes folks get anxious over figuring out exactly what they need to pack, and what travel accessories may or may not be helpful. When it comes to talking about people’s favorite cruise accessories, you can quickly get into a heated debate over what items are useful and which ones are just a waste of space.
I’m not really trying to wade into that morass. Rather, I’m simply presenting my list of cruise accessories that our family has found useful. And, ones for which I was able to use repeatedly over the course of dozens of cruises. So, for your consideration, my favorite cruise accessories for a family cruise:
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OUR FAVORITE FAMILY CRUISE ACCESSORIES
I. Pack These Cruise Accessories To Organize Your Cabin
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out 9 Remarkably Easy Tips To Make Family Cruise Ship Rooms Cozy.
Probably the most recommended cruise accessory of all time will probably be the over the door shoe organizer for the bathroom. I was originally skeptical when I first heard this suggestion. But it actually works! With this cruise essential you don’t have to worry about limited counter or shelf space in a small bathroom. Plus, you can assign different rows to different family members to help keep things organized.
I prefer the ones that you can see through with lots of pockets.
There have been reports that this are now frowned upon by Disney Cruises, so those cruisers should proceed with caution. But, we had no problems with these on our most recent cruises on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Norwegian and MSC.
A 5-shelf sturdy closet organizer provides additional storage space for clothes or almost any other item you choose. It maximizes the use of vertical space without sacrificing overall storage capacity. This frees up other valuable drawer, shelf and counter space throughout your cabin.
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. 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.
Your family likely travels with numerous electronic gadgets and devices. Unfortunately, most cruise ship cabins have limited electric outlets. There will not be many, and likely only 1 or 2 will be readily accessible. A family of four with a variety of tablets, phones, and other devices will need a little help, so pack an outlet expander. One that does not have a surge protector. Our favorite is one that has slots for several USB connections as well as two plug outlets. It is very compact and takes up minimal counter space.
But, if you don’t want to sacrifice any counter space at all, you can also get a compact cordless version that plugs into the wall. Be sure to get one without surge protection.
Also, be sure to check out our post on why an outlet expander or small power strip is a must have cruise accessory!
We always pack our own set of travel laundry bags when we sail on a cruise. We drop them at the bottom of the closet and fill them as we go along. For longer cruises, we bring one for each family member. Laundry bags are a small item that can help keep your stateroom organized. They will also help with your packing when you get ready to return home. Note that the bags that you typically find inside the cruise cabin closet are paper, and they don’t hold up well. So whatever bags you bring from home will be a big improvement.
II. Pack These Cruise Accessories For On The Go
These card holders with matching neck lanyards allow you to carry your cruise card everywhere hands free. It has a transparent window on the front which reduces the need to remove the card, and it also has a slot on the back for additional cards, money or notes. Made of attractive, sturdy materials that will last for many cruises. You can pick up a multi-pack before you leave that will be cheaper than a single lanyard once on ship.
The style shown above is the one we use, but at times it goes out of stock. So, you can check out this comparable alternative lanyard as well.
Perhaps we are overly accident prone, but we always seem to need some sort of minor first aid care on every trip. It’s usually something that a band-aid and some antiseptic can handle. But, occasionally we need a little bit more. Including a small standard first aid kit in your cruise accessories can assist with a wide range of minor scrapes and injuries. Tossing one in your suitcase will help avoid high prices in the ship’s shops, and/or having to wait around for help in the ship medical center. So a savings of both time and money. A double win!
Check out this article from Travel + Leisure for more great tips on things you should consider including in a travel health kit.
When you are running around all day on shore or around the ship, a portable battery charger really comes in hand. This one is our all time favorite because of the built-in cables. It includes one for Apple products and one for Android products. It’s small size makes it easy to charge your devices in your purse or backpack while on the go.
A versatile tablet can be your best friend when traveling – both on and off the ship. Ideally, everyone can have his or her own device. Tablets can be great for downtime in your room, providing entertainment on a long bus ride (with headphones), or during other long waiting periods.
A fully load tablet’s also good if you don’t like the limited options available on cruise television.
III. Pack These Cruise Must Haves For Babies And Toddlers
For young children, consider bringing an umbrella stroller. It will be useful when trying to move quickly about the ship and at the airport, etc. But be mindful that for some shore excursions it can be more of a burden – if there are numerous steps, uneven ground, or all sand. That said, while a stroller can be a real pain at the beach, for babies/toddlers it can be a great secure way for kids to nap (under umbrella). Take something light and compact. A truly bulky stroller will take up way too much space in your room, even when folded up.
The key features I love about this stroller: (1) It has a very roomy basket underneath — great for storing a wide range of family items when out and about, not just the baby’s. (2) It has multi-position recline — great for accommodating naps.
During our bottle-washing days, we always brought along this compact drying set. It held up really well for several years. (And we still have the brush in our home kitchen!).
For more information on what to take on a cruise with a baby, read Reduce To These Essential Baby Items On Your Family Cruise.
IV. Favorite Cruise Accessories For Beach & Pool
If your cruise vacation includes a trip to the beach, be sure to read 6 Items To Absolutely Include On Your Family’s Caribbean Cruise Packing List. As far as our favorite cruise accessories for fun times at the beach and pool, these are some of our favorites:
We always pack our own swim vests. Although some cruise ships will provide vests for on-board use, you won’t necessarily find them at public beaches or day resorts. You will see lots of folks with the traditional arm float bands, but I always feel more secure with an actual vest. (We’ve gone through several vests over the years; this one is our all-time favorite.)
Basically, you can never have too many swim goggles! They often get lost or forgotten. Or, mysteriously float away in the ocean. And, if you wait to get them while you are away from home, you will pay much higher prices. I always get packs of multiples.
Don’t forget sand toys for the beach! This is another item that if you wait to think about it until you are traveling, you will likely pay more than if you had planned ahead. I try to take a set that has enough pieces to share — with siblings and other kids. Plus, I like to get one at a price point such that we can have no qualms about leaving them behind. That way we are not packing home sand in our suitcases, and we have more room for souvenirs.
These extras have helped make our cruises easier and more fun over the years. Go ahead and give these a try!
For more cruise tips on what to bring on your cruise, read 24 Absolutely Useful Items You Need To Pack On Family Port Calls.
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