Stop Taking These On A Cruise, Take These Instead!

Stop Taking These On A Cruise, Take These Instead!

Stop Taking These On A Cruise, Take These Instead!

On 99.9% of my cruises, I no longer take a camera, certainly a camera like the one below with a big lens. The reason I had it on this particular trip is because I was on an expedition cruise. We were going to be seeing polar bears, which we did way off in the distance, and you needed this kind of camera to capture them. I do not take cameras to take pictures anymore, I literally only take my mobile phone, because that does the job.

Which got me thinking a little bit more about, what do I pack and not pack, because I realised, I also take a dramatically smaller suitcase than I used to take when I first started cruising.

What I’ve stopped packing, and I think you should stop packing. What I pack differently to do the same job, but it’s new things. Thirdly, things that I’ve always packed and still pack. And fourthly, things that people tell you to pack but I don’t think you should pack, and I certainly don’t pack.

Stop Taking These On A Cruise, Take These Instead!

Stop Packing These

I’ll come back to the camera a little bit later, but let’s talk about things that I do not pack anymore. And that is really around clothes. I’ve dramatically reduced the amount of clothes I bring, and particularly smart clothes.

Formal Clothes

When I first started cruising, on the likes of Cunard, you had to bring a tuxedo. You had to bring a jacket and tie, long sleeve shirts and smart shoes. Ladies, the equivalent.

Even on lines like Cunard, which is the most dressy of all cruise lines, they don’t have formal nights, they have gala nights. And they encourage you to dress up, but you can pretty much get away with a suit.

I hardly ever take a jacket on any of my cruises, even really smart cruises. Why? because the dress codes have changed dramatically and it’s becoming much more of a suggestion rather than something that’s enforced. Just smart casual is the most I take.

Stop Taking These On A Cruise, Take These Instead!

Vaccines and Covid Test

Of course, the other thing that we don’t need to take so much anymore, though it depends on which region you’re in, is your vaccine certificates and COVID tests. Although, there are a couple of regions, like Australia, which I believe still requires them, based on what people are telling me.

Pack These Instead

I want to talk now about things that I pack differently to before, and let me come back to the whole thing around cameras. Now, when I first started cruising, you would take a mobile phone perhaps with you but it’d be switched off. You didn’t have apps, you didn’t have Wi-Fi.

More Patience

One thing that I do now pack much more than I ever used to before is patience. Patience, more patience, and a good sense of humour. Cruises have changed dramatically and they have a reputation for being a bit more rowdy and crazy than they used to.

They’re certainly full these days, and the way that people act and behave is very different to before. So, you do do need to bring more patience and a better sense of humour – just be ready to go with the flow. Things have changed quite a lot, and particularly as I’m seeing more and more families are cruising on all lines, not just the traditional family lines like Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, or MSC. I’m seeing loads of kids on Holland America, on Seabourn.

Mobile Phone

Wi-Fi was crazy expensive, but that has changed. The mobile phone has become an absolute essential for cruising, whether we like it or not. And there’s a couple of things that it’s fundamental for. First of all, I already mentioned it is my prime camera. I take all my photographs with it. In fact, I use my mobile phone to more now to video.

Secondly, most cruise lines now have an app that you need in order to check in online. You look at the daily program, you look at your account, you need to book dining, entertainment, whatever, so you need the app and a mobile phone.

The third thing that I do is I store all my important documentation. So I set up a Dropbox on there and I set it to be available offline, and I put things like my travel insurance. I always travel with travel insurance. I put a copy of my passport in there. And any important documents that I think I might need, I keep a copy of that on Dropbox, which is available offline.

Also, my phone is really important for me to stay in touch, and particularly with my mother. My mother doesn’t have a mobile phone. She only uses a landline. My mother is poorly sighted and I have to call her on a landline, and I like to call her as often as I can. So, I actually put Skype on my phone and I put some credit on, so it means that I can phone her landline.

The mobile phone also is, of course, the alarm, the nightlight, and it’s replaced all those things that I used to bring along and pack.

Cameras Only If Needed

Now, of course, because I make videos, camera equipment is important, but I used to take these big cameras and I used to have to take tripods and all sorts of other stuff.

Now, I basically use my mobile phone and much smaller cameras. As an example I use a Sony RX100 VII, which is a tiny little camera. It has a really good lens and it’s very good in low light. I take this tiny little thing, which is a DJI Osmo Pocket, which has got a built-in gimbal stabiliser, and I use that a lot as well.

in short, I take cameras along with me, but they are higher quality. They shoot in 4K, not just high definition, and they’re tiny and discreet.

One of the other things I pack is the Insta360 X3, which enables me to take drone-like stuff. Because I can’t pack a drone anymore, so it lets me create those kinds of effects. But also, it’s really good fun for posting on social media and really cool funky kind of stuff. These cameras take up less space.

Apple AirTags

Apple AirTags are also something that I never used to pack and now bring along because the technology is available. This I put in my suitcase and my rucksack, and it helps me track where my case is.

These have proved absolutely invaluable, particularly when I’m changing flights. I can check that the bag is making it all the way. And it really helped me once when I came back from a cruise and my suitcase didn’t appear at all. I used this and discovered they’d put it on the wrong belt, and it was actually in the hall.

Stop Taking These On A Cruise, Take These Instead!


Another thing that’s really important for me is my iPad. That’s because I can connect to Wi-Fi. I’m a bit of a geek and I like to watch my Star Trek or whatever, and with great Wi-Fi, I can now download those and keep up to date with shows that are important to me. So, I download stuff on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and I can keep up with the shows that I like as my evening entertainment.

Next, I want to talk about things that I’ve always travelled with, and I still take these, and I think they’re really important that everyone should think about. First of all, I like to take a home pleasure. And everyone does.

So Mark, my partner, likes to take his own pillow. He’s really fussy about his pillow. For me, it is Bluetooth speakers. I love listening to music. I love listening to music all the time, and I bring these along with me. That’s my home pleasure.

Other people bring things like their favourite tea bags or fluffy toys or whatever, but bring something that you’d love bringing and love having it. It’s going to make it feel more homely.

Stop Taking These On A Cruise, Take These Instead!


then there are medical things. I bring along my prescriptions and information, but importantly, I always bring it in the original prescription bottle. That means if I get any hassles with immigration or customs or whatever, they can see that it’s all right and proper. I basically bring along a month’s supply even if I’m only going on a week-long cruise.

For me, the other medical thing is a spare pair of glasses. I can’t read anything without those. So I bring that because that’s a count in the medical area. So anything that’s important from a medical perspective, which brings me on to my all-time favourite thing, which is my first aid kit.

First Aid

Now, it’s just this little bag, but there’s some really important things that I pack in it and that I strongly recommend.

One of the most important and most undervalued ones is the tooth repair kit. So, a tooth repair kit. If a crown falls out or a filling falls out, it gives you a chance to just patch it up until you can see an emergency dentist or until you can get home.

Because on cruise ships, they do not have any dentists, any type of dentistry at all. And this has helped me a couple of times. When a tooth cracked, I was able to patch it up until we got to Key West and I then saw an emergency dentist. It’s happened to Mark, my partner, and I’ve even lent it to friends on a cruise.

Plasters, Band-Aids are really important. That’s helped me so many times. When I was on the Alaska trip, I actually put my hand into my toiletry bag and I cut my finger open quite badly. I was able to plaster it up. Even on this cruise, I’ve slightly dented myself and dinged myself taking off my boots from going on a hike. So plasters are really important.

The Basics

Then I bring along some basic medications, like Imodium. Antidiarrheals are really important, because on cruise ships, you can’t buy things like Imodium in the cruise shop. You have to go to the medical centre because it’s a trigger for a couple of things. It’s a trigger for norovirus, and it’s also a trigger potentially for COVID. I also pack headache pills, seasickness medication, sanitiser gel, Savlon, Bonjela, and insect repellent.

So those are the key things I have in my particular first aid kit. I’m sure you’ll have other things. So I always keep a list, a note of things that I use at home, and then I pack those in the kit.

Good Night Sleep Aids

I’m obsessed with light and noise when I’m sleeping, so I always bring eye shades and earplugs. I strongly recommend that you bring those, because you never know what sort of cabin you’re going to get. You never know what the situation’s going to be, and this is a real lifesaver.


Of course, then, the thing I always pack are my adapters. I have a bag with US adapters, Euro adapters, and multi-USB adapters, so I can charge everything up. And lots of all the cables and stuff. That’s kind of an obvious one.

US Dollars

I also pack US dollars in small denominations, so that I can then use those to tip crew or when I’m out and about. US dollars I bring because no matter which line you’re on, no matter where in the world you are, US dollars is always an easy currency, and a lot of the crew come from countries where the US dollar is their prime currency or very easy to exchange.

Things I Never Pack

I mentioned I was going to talk about a whole bunch of things that people tell you to bring that I never pack. I’m not one of these people, despite all of my cruises, who brings a lot of the cruise paraphernalia.

Cruise Paraphernalia

I don’t bring a lanyard, for example, but I know a lot of people love those. I don’t bring clips for clipping towels on the pool deck or closing the curtains – I’ve got my eye shades to do that. And I don’t bring over-the-door holders, which a lot of people like to use to sort out stuff. I know a lot of people love those and they find those really helpful. I just have my own little system in the cupboards.

So I don’t bring a lot of that kind of stuff. I know a lot of people really do like those. So if that’s important to you, make sure that you pack those.

Drink Allowances

The other thing I don’t do, because I don’t drink alcohol, but I strongly recommend if you do drink alcohol is check what your allowance is and bring that with you. On some cruise lines, you can bring multiple bottles of wine. On others you can only bring one per person, but you may as well bring it along because drinks are getting more and more expensive on board. I don’t do it, but I would strongly recommend that you do.

Stop Taking These On A Cruise, Take These Instead!

Banned List

And the other thing that I never bring, and I always check, is anything on the banned list. Every single cruise line has a banned list. And I get loads of people sending me messages around, for example, extension cords. You can’t bring those with surge protectors because of the way the system on ships work.

As I mentioned earlier, you can’t bring drones. You can’t bring anything that looks like a weapon. In some cases, you can’t even bring remote controlled toys for the kids. So always check the banned list. It’s easy to find. Just put in your cruise line, banned list, and you will find it there. So don’t bring any of that kind of stuff.

Is there anything that you used to pack for a cruise that you don’t pack? Why don’t you let everybody know by leaving a comment?



Gary Bembridge

I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.

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