Cruise Planning Checklist

Let’s say you’ve just booked a last-minute cruise deal. The destination is ideal, the weather is set to be perfect, and you received a great discount too.

But then comes the dreaded question: what do I need to do before going on holiday?

You probably booked a cruise to relax and enjoy some pampering - not to stress.

That’s why we’ve created this cruise planning checklist, so you can get organised before you embark on your special cruise. It doesn’t matter whether you’re leaving in 6 months or 6 days. Below, you’ll find everything you could possibly need to get things in working order.

What to pack for a cruise

Long cruises

A long-haul cruise trip can last over three months - so it’s not surprising that some people get confused about how much clothing to pack.

For starters, it’s a good idea to invest in some durable luggage that has plenty of storage space. This is particularly true if you will be connecting to any flights during your voyage. Unlike cruises, you will be subject to luggage allowances. This can often catch cruisers out, resulting in expensive additional charges. In ideal circumstances, your suitcase will be around 26 inches and be a bright, visible colour - so it’s easy to identify at the port.

But what should you pack?

Excellent question. Regardless of your cruise destination, it’s a good idea to pack as many layers as possible. Even if you’re travelling to Venice in summer, there’s a chance that it’ll get chilly on deck in the evenings. That means light jackets, jumpers, shawls, or perhaps something waterproof, in case of temperamental weather conditions!

It’s also worth noting that there will be on-board washing facilities, meaning you won’t need to bring a new outfit for every day of your cruise.

In terms of evening wear, smart-casual is the best way to describe the dress code. You won’t need a cocktail dress every night, or a top hat, but you might fancy wearing something glamorous on a special occasion. Unless you plan on attending a chef’s dinner.

Men will also have the option to rent a tuxedo on-board, so there’s no need to bring your own.

On a daily basis, however, it’s a good idea to bring mix and match clothing that can be easily interchanged. This will help to minimise the amount of clothing you actually bring, without compromising on comfort.

And if you’re travelling to a sunny location, don’t forget your swimming costumes, glasses, and plenty of sunscreen.


Like long-haul cruises, mini voyages will require guests to dress for their destination.

This also means bringing layers, and any necessary swimming costumes and/or sports clothing depending on your preference for leisure activities.

But the main difference, obviously, is that you won’t need to bring as much clothing. You will still have the opportunity to access launderette facilities, so you never need to bring more clothes than necessary.

In terms of personal items, here is a list of some products you may wish to bring:

  • Alarm clock
  • Camera
  • Electronic entertainment (eReader, iPad, etc)


As a general rule, however, the less you bring - the more you can take home!


If you are planning on cruising to a destination that requires conservative clothing, then you will need to plan for this accordingly.

Of course, if you are visiting the Middle East, then you probably know this already. But there are also several European destinations that ask guests to dress modestly before entering a place of worship. This includes:

  • Italy: in Rome, for example, the Pantheon and Vatican will request that both men and women cover their knees and elbows. This rule also applies to the décolletage
  • Greece: like Italy, all Orthodox churches will ask that men/women wear long sleeves and trousers
  • Turkey: mosques will also enforce a strict dress code when abroad - commonly asking both genders to cover their arms, legs, and (for women) sometimes hair. If you are ever in doubt, the mosque will have guidelines before entry


In these circumstances, it is advised that you remember to pack additional layers for visiting any places of religious worship.

What to leave behind

So far, we’ve covered everything you’ll need to bring on your trip.

But there’s also lots of things - whether it’s a gadget or generic painkiller - that you won’t need to pack, such as:

  • Portable DVD players - these will be available in your cabin
  • Alcohol - cruise ships strictly prohibit alcohol, but you will have plenty of opportunity to purchase alcoholic beverages on-board
  • Generic painkillers - aspirin and paracetamol will be available
  • Hairdryers - most cruise liners, like Carnival, offer hair dryers in their state rooms
  • Soap/shower gel- these toiletries will be provided in your room
  • Sports equipment- if you want to play tennis, or basketball, you will be given all necessary equipment on-board


Consider this good news. It means more room for bringing back presents!

Legal matters

If there’s one piece of advice to take away from this guide, it’s this: the only thing you really need to bring with you is your travel documents.

The rest is just a bonus.


You will receive these either digitally or by post, depending on your purchase agreement. It is crucial that you bring this documentation with you on your day of departure.


A passport is your ticket to the world - and you’ll need one for travelling on a cruise.

A member of staff will request to see your passport before you embark on the cruise ship.

It is also worth pointing out that, in many countries, it is mandatory that tourists travel with a copy of their passport at all times.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is strongly recommended for any foreign holiday and a cruise is no different.

This form of protection can be invaluable when it comes to any lost items or securing the appropriate medical care in an emergency.

For this reason, we suggest that every cruiser takes out travel insurance before departure.


If you are a UK national travelling around the EU, you probably won’t need a VISA.

However, for other destinations, it is necessary that all cruisers to bring their own VISA. This document will include the following information:

  • The length of your journey
  • Cruise stop-offs
  • Travel history
  • Passport details


It is paramount that all this information is accurate.

ETSAs, on the other hand, are specific to those travelling to the United States. It is a document which determines the potential danger you pose to visiting this country. It can be easily obtained by filling out a form online and costs $14 (approx £8.50) per person.

Cruise planning checklist

A cruise is an opportunity for relaxation and adventure, not to worry about packing.

So next time you book a cruise, have a look at our checklist to make sure you have everything you could possibly need. We guarantee it won’t be as stressful as you think - regardless of whether or not you’ve booked a last minute cruise deal.

If you would like to learn more about planning a cruise, or booking your next trip, please contact one of our travel experts today on 08004084612.

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