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What To Bring On A Cruise With Kids


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Nissie Lipscomb



Embarking on a cruise with kids can be an exciting and memorable experience for the whole family. Whether you’re setting sail on a Caribbean adventure or exploring the Mediterranean coastline, a cruise offers a variety of amenities and activities to keep the young ones entertained. However, to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip, it’s important to pack all the essential items your kids will need during the voyage.


From travel documents to entertainment options, this article will guide you through the must-have items to bring on a cruise with kids. With careful planning and packing, you can ensure that your little ones have everything they need, allowing you to fully relax and enjoy your time at sea.


Before we dive into the list of items, it’s crucial to research the specific cruise line’s policies regarding what you can and cannot bring on board. Different cruise lines may have different rules, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with their guidelines beforehand.


Now, let’s explore the essential items you should consider bringing on a cruise with kids to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable vacation.


Essential Documents

When traveling on a cruise with kids, it’s important to have all the necessary documents to ensure a smooth embarkation and disembarkation process. Here are the essential documents you should bring:

  1. Passports: Ensure that all family members, including children, have valid passports. Even if the cruise only visits domestic ports, having a passport will serve as a universally accepted form of identification.
  2. Medical Information: It’s always wise to carry a copy of your child’s medical records, including any allergies or pre-existing conditions. In case of an emergency, having this information readily available will aid medical professionals in providing the necessary care.
  3. Cruise Tickets and Boarding Passes: Print out all the necessary documents related to your cruise, including your booking confirmation, cruise tickets, and boarding passes. It’s recommended to keep digital copies as well, in case the physical copies get lost or damaged.
  4. Visas and Entry Permits: Depending on the destinations included in your cruise itinerary, you may need to obtain visas or entry permits. Check the requirements for each port of call and make sure you have the necessary documents to avoid any issues.
  5. Parental Consent Letters: If you are traveling with children and they are not accompanied by both parents, it’s essential to carry a notarized letter of consent from the absent parent(s). This document may be required when disembarking at certain ports.

It is always a good idea to make multiple copies of all the documents and store them separately. This way, if any documents are misplaced or stolen, you have backups available. Additionally, it’s advisable to have a digital copy of all the essential documents stored on a secure cloud storage service.


By ensuring that you have all the necessary documents in order before your cruise, you’ll be well-prepared and can focus on creating amazing memories with your kids onboard.


Safety Items

When cruising with kids, safety should always be a top priority. Here are some essential safety items to pack for your cruise:

  1. Life Jackets: Cruise ships provide life jackets for all passengers, including children. However, if you have specific requirements or want to ensure a perfect fit for your child, bringing your own life jacket is recommended.
  2. Waterproof Identification Bracelets: It’s essential for kids to have identification in case they get separated from you. Consider purchasing waterproof identification bracelets with your contact information and the name of your cruise ship.
  3. Outlet Covers: If you have toddlers or young children, bringing outlet covers can prevent them from accidentally sticking their fingers or objects into electrical outlets in your cabin.
  4. Bed Rails: Most cruise ships provide cribs and bed rails upon request. However, if your child is transitioning from a crib to a bed, bringing your own portable bed rail can provide extra security while they sleep.
  5. Childproofing Supplies: Consider bringing childproofing supplies such as cabinet locks or corner guards if your child is in the exploration stage. This will help keep them safe and prevent accidents in the cabin.
  6. Portable Night Light: A portable night light can be helpful in unfamiliar surroundings, providing a soothing ambiance and making it easier for kids to navigate their way to the bathroom during the night.
  7. Water Safety Gear: If you plan to visit destinations with beaches or enjoy the ship’s swimming pools, bring appropriate water safety gear such as floaties, swim vests, or arm floats for your children.
  8. Stroller or Baby Carrier: Depending on the age of your child, bringing a stroller or baby carrier can be advantageous during shore excursions or exploring the ship. It helps keep them secure and saves them from getting tired.

Remember, while cruise ships provide a safe environment for passengers, always keep a close eye on your children and establish clear rules regarding their behavior and whereabouts during the cruise.


Entertainment and Toys

Keeping kids entertained and engaged during a cruise is key to a successful and enjoyable trip. Here are some entertainment and toy options to consider when packing for your cruise:

  1. Books: Pack a few age-appropriate books that your children can enjoy during downtime or before bed. It’s a great way to encourage their love for reading while keeping them occupied.
  2. Coloring Books and Crayons: Coloring books and crayons are excellent options for creative play on the ship. They are lightweight and easy to pack, providing hours of entertainment for younger kids.
  3. Travel Games: Compact travel games, such as magnetic board games or card games, are perfect for keeping older kids entertained during the cruise.
  4. Craft Supplies: Bring along some craft supplies like colored paper, scissors, glue, and stickers. This will allow your kids to indulge in creative activities and make their own keepsakes onboard.
  5. Electronic Devices: While it’s good to limit screen time, electronic devices such as tablets or handheld gaming consoles can come in handy during long journeys or when they need some quiet time.
  6. Favorite Toys: Don’t forget to pack a few of your child’s favorite toys to provide them with a sense of comfort and familiarity in a new environment.
  7. Swim Gear: If your cruise includes access to swimming pools or water parks, bring floaties, water toys, and goggles to enhance the water play experience for your kids.
  8. Movie or TV Show Downloads: Download some of your child’s favorite movies or TV shows onto a tablet or laptop for entertainment during travel or downtime on the ship.

Remember to pack a variety of activities to cater to different age groups and interests. This will ensure that there’s always something fun and engaging for your children to do throughout the cruise.


Clothing and Accessories

When it comes to packing clothing and accessories for a cruise with kids, it’s important to strike a balance between comfort, practicality, and style. Here are some essentials to consider:

  1. Swimwear: Pack enough swimwear for your kids to enjoy the pools, water slides, and beaches. Consider bringing rash guards or swim shirts for added sun protection.
  2. Casual Clothing: Pack comfortable and lightweight clothing for daily activities on the ship. This can include t-shirts, shorts, dresses, skirts, and pants suitable for various weather conditions.
  3. Formal Attire: Most cruises have formal or semi-formal nights where guests can dress up for dinner. Bring appropriate attire for your children, such as dresses, dress shirts, or blazers.
  4. Footwear: Pack a variety of footwear options, including sneakers, sandals, water shoes, and dress shoes, to accommodate different activities and occasions.
  5. Jackets or Sweaters: Even if you’re heading to a warm destination, it’s a good idea to pack a lightweight jacket or sweater for cooler evenings or air-conditioned areas on the ship.
  6. Pajamas: Don’t forget to pack comfortable pajamas for your kids to sleep in. Choose fabrics that are breathable and suitable for the climate.
  7. Hats and Sunglasses: Protect your kids from the sun by packing hats and sunglasses to shield their eyes and face.
  8. Accessories: Don’t forget to bring essential accessories like sunscreen, reusable water bottles, and backpacks or tote bags for day trips and excursions.

Consider the duration of your cruise and the type of activities you plan to participate in when determining how much clothing to pack. It’s always a good idea to bring a few extra outfits in case of spills or accidents.


Remember to pack a laundry bag to separate dirty clothes and make it easier to keep things organized during the trip.


Toiletries and Personal Care

Packing the right toiletries and personal care items is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable cruise experience with kids. Here are some items to include:

  1. Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash: Many cruise ships provide basic toiletries, but it’s always good to have your preferred brands for your children. Consider travel-sized bottles to save space.
  2. Toothbrushes and Toothpaste: Ensure that each child has their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Consider packing a few extra toothbrushes in case of any mishaps.
  3. Hairbrush or Comb: Don’t forget to bring a hairbrush or comb suitable for your child’s hair type to keep them looking neat and presentable.
  4. Sunscreen: Protect your child’s delicate skin from the sun’s harmful rays by packing a high SPF sunscreen. Apply it generously and frequently, especially during outdoor activities.
  5. Insect Repellent: Depending on your itinerary, it may be necessary to bring insect repellent to ward off mosquitoes or other pests during shore excursions.
  6. Baby Wipes or Wet Wipes: These versatile wipes come in handy for quick clean-ups, wiping sticky hands, and refreshing during the day. They are a must-have item for any parent on a cruise.
  7. Diapers and Wipes: If you’re traveling with infants or toddlers who are still in diapers, ensure you have an adequate supply of diapers, wipes, and diaper rash cream.
  8. First Aid Essentials: Pack a small first aid kit with band-aids, antiseptic cream, pain relievers, and any necessary medications that your child may require.
  9. Hair Accessories: If your child has long hair, bring hair ties, clips, or headbands to keep their hair in place during windy days or when swimming.
  10. Personal Hygiene Products: Remember to pack any necessary personal hygiene items for older children, such as deodorant or menstrual products.

Remember, most cruise ships have shops onboard where you can purchase any essential items you may have forgotten or run out of during the cruise. However, it’s always better to come prepared and have everything you need from the start.


Medications and First Aid Kit

When traveling on a cruise with kids, it’s crucial to pack any necessary medications and a well-stocked first aid kit to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some items to include:

  1. Prescription Medications: If your child requires any prescription medications, make sure you have an ample supply to last for the duration of the cruise. Keep them in their original labeled containers.
  2. Over-the-Counter Medications: Pack common over-the-counter medications like pain relievers, fever reducers, antihistamines, and cough suppressants. Be sure to choose the appropriate products for your child’s age.
  3. Motion Sickness Remedies: If your child tends to get motion sickness, bring motion sickness bands or medications to alleviate symptoms while on the ship or during shore excursions.
  4. Allergy Medications: If your child has allergies, pack any necessary allergy medications such as antihistamines or epinephrine pens. Consult with their healthcare provider regarding usage and dosage.
  5. First Aid Supplies: Ensure your first aid kit is well-stocked with band-aids, antiseptic wipes, gauze, adhesive tape, and any other items specific to your child’s needs.
  6. Digital Thermometer: Bringing a digital thermometer is handy for monitoring your child’s temperature in case they develop a fever or show signs of illness.
  7. Hand Sanitizer: Keeping hands clean is crucial to prevent the spread of germs on a cruise. Pack travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer for convenient use during outings or in crowded areas.
  8. Insect Bite Cream: Include an insect bite cream or ointment to soothe any bites or stings your child may encounter during shore excursions.

It’s essential to keep all medications and first aid supplies in a secure and easily accessible location. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the cruise ship’s medical facilities and protocols in case of any emergencies.


If your child has any specific medical conditions or special needs, consult with their healthcare provider before the cruise to ensure you have the necessary medications and supplies.


Snacks and Refreshments

When embarking on a cruise with kids, having a supply of snacks and refreshments can be a lifesaver. Here are some ideas for packing snacks and staying hydrated during your cruise:

  1. Individually Packaged Snacks: Pack a variety of individually packaged snacks such as granola bars, pretzels, crackers, and fruit snacks. These are perfect for on-the-go snacking during excursions or while exploring the ship.
  2. Fruit and Vegetables: Bring along some fresh fruit and pre-cut vegetables that are easy to eat and won’t spoil quickly. Consider options like grapes, baby carrots, and apple slices.
  3. Nuts and Trail Mix: Nuts and trail mix are nutritious and provide a good source of energy. Portion them out into small resealable bags for easy snacking.
  4. Reusable Water Bottles: Stay hydrated by bringing refillable water bottles for each family member. Most cruise ships have water stations where you can refill your bottles throughout the day.
  5. Juice Boxes or Drink Pouches: Pack a few juice boxes or drink pouches for a refreshing beverage option for your kids. Look for options with reduced sugar or 100% fruit juice.
  6. Ice Packs: Keep your snacks and drinks cool by packing ice packs in an insulated lunch bag or cooler. This will help preserve their freshness, especially in hot weather.
  7. Healthy Treats: Opt for healthier treats like yogurt cups, string cheese, or whole grain crackers to satisfy cravings while still providing some nutritional value.
  8. Special Dietary Needs: If your child has specific dietary restrictions or allergies, be sure to pack snacks and refreshments that adhere to their dietary needs.

While cruise ships offer a wide range of dining options throughout the day, having your own supply of snacks ensures that you have options readily available, especially during off-hours or when your kids need a quick pick-me-up.


Remember to abide by any food and beverage policies of the cruise line, and be respectful of dining venues and their restrictions.


Electronics and Gadgets

In today’s digital age, electronics and gadgets play a significant role in keeping kids entertained during a cruise. Here are some electronics and gadgets to consider packing for your trip:

  1. Smartphones or Tablets: Bringing a smartphone or tablet can provide endless entertainment for kids, whether it’s playing games, watching movies, or listening to music.
  2. Headphones: Pack a pair of comfortable headphones for each child to enjoy their electronic devices without disturbing other passengers.
  3. E-Readers: If your child loves to read, consider bringing an e-reader loaded with their favorite books. It’s a space-saving alternative to physical books.
  4. Portable Game Consoles: If your child has a portable gaming device, like a Nintendo Switch or a PlayStation Vita, consider bringing it along for their gaming enjoyment during downtime.
  5. Chargers and Power Banks: Don’t forget to pack chargers for all electronic devices and consider bringing a portable power bank to keep them charged on-the-go.
  6. Digital Camera: Encourage your child’s creativity by giving them a digital camera to capture their own memories during the cruise.
  7. Video Camera or GoPro: If your child is interested in videography or wants to document their adventures, a video camera or GoPro can provide an exciting way to capture their experiences.
  8. Travel Adapters: Depending on the cruise destination, you may need travel adapters to charge your electronic devices and keep them powered up.

While electronics can be a great source of entertainment, it’s important to balance screen time with other activities and experiences during the cruise. Encourage your child to participate in onboard activities, enjoy the pool, and explore the destinations.


Remember to enforce guidelines for responsible and safe use of electronics, such as setting time limits and reminding kids to be mindful of their surroundings while using devices.


Additional Tips for a Smooth Cruise with Kids

Cruising with kids can be a wonderful experience filled with fun and excitement. Here are some additional tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable cruise:

  1. Plan Age-Appropriate Activities: Research the onboard activities and facilities offered by the cruise line and plan activities that cater to your children’s ages and interests. From kids’ clubs to water parks, there are plenty of options to keep them entertained.
  2. Establish a Routine: While cruises offer a break from daily routines, maintaining some semblance of a schedule can help keep kids settled and reduce meltdowns. Stick to regular meal times and bedtimes as much as possible.
  3. Review Safety Protocols: Familiarize yourself and your children with the ship’s safety procedures, including emergency muster drills. Assign a meeting point in case you get separated and ensure your children know who to contact in an emergency.
  4. Use Child Monitoring Systems: Many cruises offer child monitoring systems, such as wearable GPS devices or onboard apps, that allow you to keep track of your kids’ whereabouts. Take advantage of these systems for peace of mind.
  5. Participate in Family-Friendly Activities: Take advantage of family-friendly activities on the ship, such as treasure hunts, movie nights, or family game shows. It’s a great way to bond as a family and create lasting memories.
  6. Pack Sun Protection: Protect your kids from the sun’s rays by applying sunscreen regularly and providing them with hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing. Seek shaded areas when spending time outdoors.
  7. Patience and Flexibility: Keep in mind that traveling with kids can be unpredictable at times. Practice patience, be flexible with your plans, and embrace the unexpected. Remember, it’s about creating lasting memories together.
  8. Engage in Educational Activities: Look for educational opportunities during the cruise. Many ships offer interactive workshops, science experiments, or cultural activities that can be both entertaining and educational for kids.
  9. Encourage Social Interaction: Encourage your children to make new friends by participating in kids’ clubs or joining group activities. Cruises provide an excellent opportunity for kids to interact with peers from around the world.
  10. Take Breaks and Relax: While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, make sure to schedule downtime for rest and relaxation. Allow your kids to recharge and enjoy some leisurely moments onboard.

Remember, a successful cruise with kids is all about finding the right balance between structured activities, exploration, relaxation, and quality family time. By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to create unforgettable memories onboard.