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What to Buy for a Cruise to Maximize Fun and Good Health at Sea

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Wondering what to buy for a cruise? We've got you covered! Planning a cruise vacation is such an exciting time. There are so many destinations, cruise lines and ships to choose from. But before you race across that gangplank and hit up the buffet line, make sure your luggage contains cruise essentials. Here's what to buy for a cruise to maximize fun and stay healthy at sea.

What to Buy for a Cruise to Maximize Fun & Comfort

(Photo credit: Smallredgirl,

Dramamine and Ginger Candy

Whether you already know the personal curse of motion sickness, or just want to be prepared (good for you!), you should pack some remedies to stave off the nausea caused by movement. Dramamine comes in a few different formulas, including Less Drowsy and chewable grape-flavored tablets for kids. For a medication-free alternative, purchase GinGins candies. These goodies are made with real ginger, known for its ability to soothe tummy troubles. Both should be in your carry-on medical bag. You’ll be very grateful should you need them. Or you may be the hero if you share with fellow travelers who didn't plan as well as you.

First Aid Kit

A small, portable first aid kit is a must. Ensure you’ve customized your kit with your favorite creams, ointments, and pain reliever. Be sure to get prescriptions filled before your cruise and don’t forget about the kids medications, either. There is an infirmary aboard cruise ships, but it's easier to pack the health items you know are best for your family.

Two-Way Radios

Cruise ship WiFi pricing is typically off-the-charts expensive, so no texting or email please. If you want to keep in contact with your kids while allowing them some freedom to roam the ship, present them with a two-way radio (a.k.a. walkie talkie) and teach them how to use it. It’s also great should you be traveling with friends or extended family members and want to touch base with one another while at sea.

Anti-Bacterial Wipes and Gel

My family has embarked on three cruises, and each time I’ve packed along a tub of anti-bacterial wipes. I wipe down all of our cruise cabin surfaces before we unpack. None of us has ever gotten ill, so I swear by this preventative health measure. Tubes of Purell are great for mobile use, too, especially after loading up your plate at the buffet. But the wipes are perfect for surface cleaning and scrubbing phones, door handles and tv remotes.

Power Bar with Surge Protector

A power bar with a surge protector is an essential for all of the many devices you’ll need to power up and keep charged during your cruise. After all, a standard cruise cabin only offers so many electrical ports. Some cruise lines may restrict this item due to potential fire hazards, so check with your cruise line or travel agent ahead of time.

Water Shoes

If you prefer beach time to excursions or shopping on port days, make sure you pack water shoes, and not just flip flops. Some ports may have unexpected rocky beaches rather than soft sand. Water shoes are also handy for water adventure excursions like kayaking and waterfall climbing. Check out your port day beaches online before departure, and be prepared. Just like the Scouts and Guides told you! Take a look at the array of water shoes available from

Shop at

Waterproof Digital Camera

Cruising and snorkeling go hand in hand for many Caribbean and Mexican cruise destinations. The reefs, fish and water in ports are perfect for snapping brilliant color shots. Therefore, you need to make sure your camera is seaworthy. I’ve tried using waterproof covers for our existing point and shoot, but it was a waste of money. The camera moved within the housing and ruined our underwater pictures. Invest in a small waterproof camera that can handle some depth without costing a mint, like this one by Olympus.

Coffee Mug and Water Bottles

If you love coffee or tea at all hours, pack along a trusty portable coffee mug to ensure a warm brew is handy at all times on-board.

Also, do include a reusable water bottle for every traveler, both for on-ship and for port-of-call day use. You’ll be thankful at the beach or walking up a hill in Old San Juan. So many discarded plastic water bottles end up in the ocean, so do what you can to cut down on that waste.

Ear Plugs and Sleep Mask

The noise and motion of a cruise ship may take some getting used to. If you’re a light sleeper or just prefer a really quiet sleep environment, you probably already have ear plugs in your toiletry bag. If not, buy some ear plugs just in case. Your neighbors around or above you may make more noise than you’re used to, and at different hours of the day (or night).

You may want to throw in an eye mask for full sensory deprivation while cruising, too.


Now that you're all set with what to buy for a cruise, you're going to want to read these 12 essential tips for cruising with kids and what to do if you get sick on a cruise.

Do you have any questions or suggestions about what to buy for a cruise? Let us know in the comments below!

About Claudia Laroye, The Curious Travel Mama

Claudia Laroye lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two sons. She started traveling at a very young age, and has never stopped. She’s had the fortune of visiting more than 20 countries on four continents, and has also lived abroad in Sweden. Claudia is passionate about the travel experience and the value of traveling as a family. She is the founder of, and contributes to many online and print media publications around the world. Connect with Claudia on Twitter as @travelling_mom or Instagram as @itsclaudiatravels.

  1. Autumn Reo says

    So many great items that you don’t think about until you’re on the boat! The water shoes, the walkie talkies the ear plugs! Yes!

  2. So many great tips! I would have never thought to have two-way radios. Going to keep this bookmarked for future.

  3. Shelley R Zurek says

    I agree on so many of your suggestions. I just found myself nodding. One other thing I might add is one of those sea sickness bracelets.

  4. I love going on cruises. I am lucky I don’t need any Dramamine. I love reading about all the easy ways to have meds on the go.

  5. What is so funny is on our honeymoon we took a cruise and I researched what to buy. Someone said an air freshener and it was totally true! We needed one to keep our room fresh all week.

  6. Amy Desrosiers says

    My neighbor is actually on a cruise now. She gets to spend 10 days in the Bahamas and enjoying all the tropical places.

  7. Kelly Hutchinson says

    I have not been on a cruise, but these are such great tips. I would have never thought to use two way radios. That is brilliant!

  8. I would definitely have to plan for potential motion sickness. I’ll make sure to remember some ear plugs if I go on a cruise too!

  9. Claudia Krusch says

    I am planning to go on a cruise this winter. I will have to pick up some GinGins candies. Last time i had motion sickness and slept thru a lot of the cruise.

  10. These are great ideas. Dramamine and ginger candies are a must for our family. A power strip is super smart, as are the ear plugs and eye mask! Thank you!

  11. Gingermommy says

    These are great tips! I love that you said antibacterial wipes. They are really a great product to have on hand for any reason. Some of these many would not think to bring!

  12. Great tips. I love cruises, and can’t wait to go on my next one.

  13. These are all wonderful ideas! We’re heading on our second cruise this February! I plan to pack some of these for sure!!

  14. We are going on one next summer and I cannot wait to go! I really like the concept of having a walkie-talkie. That would be a great way to go. I’ve never thought of doing it, but I will now.

  15. Choi Rose says

    Great tips for cruise vacation.
    It’s really help while vacations.

    Thanks for share!

  16. Heather @ Kraus House Mom says

    My kids are dying to go on a cruise. I’ll have to make sure I pick up these essentials.

  17. Vera Sweeney says

    A power bar is genius! With all the devices and chargers that my family has, a bar like this is perfect for us. Great suggestions!

  18. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    These are great tips! It’s always a good idea to bring along some key items that you won’t find on the ship or that you’ll have to pay an arm and a leg for.

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