I recently partnered with Princess Cruises and cruised the Caribbean on their beautiful Caribbean Princess ship! I couldn’t wait to get home to share some do’s and don’t’s about what to pack for your own Caribbean cruise. Whether you’re new to cruising or an experienced sea-traveler, hopefully this guide will help you make the best packing choices for your upcoming Caribbean cruise! All opinions are 100% my own.
So I literally just returned home from my Caribbean vacation onboard the Caribbean Princess cruise ship and I am SO excited to bring this post to you today! Cruising is probably my all-time favorite way to travel nowadays because it is so easy, efficient and beautiful. Traveling on a Princess Cruise line is truly unlike any other vacation I’ve experienced. Everything is first-class, from the amazing food that’s made in-house each day and fresh to order, to the ports that whisk you away to learn about a new culture in a new country every few days.
And Princess Cruises just unveiled their new Ocean Medallion, which is a SERIOUS GAME-CHANGER for cruising from here on out! I don’t think I’ll be able to cruise without the Ocean Medallion ever again. Having been to Alaska without the medallion, I wondered and was a little skeptical that a small electronic medallion would really change things up. Man, I was so wrong!
The Ocean Medallion is a small, circular electronic device that makes cruising onboard the participating Princess ships SO much easier and more stream-lined. When you order the Ocean Medallions, they’ll come in a little white box with a lanyard, but once on the ship, you can customize your medallion with beautiful pendant necklaces, elegant bangles, silicone watch straps, or a clip-on pin to enhance your Medallion experience.
The state-of-the-art Ocean Medallion houses all your information to make cruising with Princess a breeze: it holds your passport information, your credit card on file, your photo ID, your room number and key and your purchases, just to name a few things! For instance, you still need to bring your passport onto the ship before embarkation, but I never once needed to whip out my passport while coming onto or off of a port because the Medallion housed all the pertinent information regarding my passport/citizenship and proof of being a guest on the ship. As someone who frets about losing things, I always disliked having to bring my passport along to the ports because I worry it will get misplaced or lost somehow. The Medallion means I can still get off and back on the ship while keeping my passport safely tucked in the safe in my stateroom.
Likewise, it also means I don’t have to schlep around a room key! With the Ocean Medallion’s amazing technology, I just approached my stateroom door and the screen next to the door registered I was nearby and automatically unlocked the door. This was a total game-changer because I often arrived after exploring the port with tons of shopping bags and it was SO nice not to have to dig around for a room key!
If you’ve never cruised the Caribbean before, it can be a daunting experience for sure. What can I do on the ship? Will I get bored? Is the food any good? Are the ports safe? What do I pack?
For starters, there is no shortage of things to do on the ship, no matter the time of day or night. From the glittering casino to the shops onboard, the teen and kid rooms to the sports deck, shimmering blue pools and hot tubs to bar after bar, night clubs, restaurants, movie nights, game nights, and the amazing Lotus Spa and Fitness Center, there’s truly something for everyone! I highly doubt you’ll ever be bored on a cruise with this many amenities.
The food is outstanding – by far the best of any cruise line I’ve traveled on. Princess is known for their world-class services and amenities, and the food is no exception. Whether you get the Anytime Dining package or splurge for one of the incredible restaurants onboard, there is something for every palate and craving! For instance, on the Caribbean Princess we had three Anytime Dining rooms, the World Marketplace buffet (which is AWESOME!), Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria, Crown Grill, The Salty Dog Grill, Slice Pizzeria, International Cafe, a coffee and ice cream shop, and the Sanctuary spa menu. So yeah, there’s no shortage of food on the ship! 🙂
As far as ports go, yes, they’re safe. A lot of the ports in the Caribbean are owned by Princess, such as Princess Cays in the Bahamas. As long as you book a tour or excursion through Princess cruise line, you’re good to go! Obviously, never accept rides or tours from unauthorized excursion companies.
And for the packing, well, I have the perfect list for you! Let’s get started…
- Passport: Despite me not needing it at the ports, you need it to get onto the ship and to disembark. Some ports or ships without the Ocean Medallion feature may still require a passport to get on and off of the ship, so don’t forget it!
- Cameras: Whether you’re bringing a massive DSLR or a small point and shoot, cameras are essential! I really couldn’t have done my Caribbean cruise without my Go-Pro, which is waterproof and took some amazing shots underwater in the crystal-clear Caribbean waters. I also loved this point-and-shoot SLR, which is what I took the bulk of my photos with. It was lightweight, packed well, and took incredible shots.
- Swimsuit: I recommend bringing at least 2 so you can allow the other one to dry before using it again. Between the ocean and the pools, you’re going to do a lot of swimming!
- Cover-ups or swim shorts: I really like these for coverage on and off the ship since you can just throw them on and walk around without letting it all hang out, ha!
- Sandals, flip-flops or slides: I actually lived in these during the trip. They were comfortable, not slippery and so cute!
- Sunglasses: The Caribbean sun is BRIGHT, so definitely pack some shades!
- Sunscreen: As well as being bright, the Caribbean sun is HOT HOT HOT! Sunscreen is a must. If you’re checking a bag, I loved this sunscreen the best for its ease of use and not-greasy feeling for my body, and this one for my face. In a pinch, this sunblock stick was great for packing in my beach bag, as you have to remember to touch up! If you prefer to purchase your sunscreen on the ship, expect to pay $10-15.
- Aloe: While the ship has aloe, I highly recommend this aloe with lidocaine. I did get burned despite my best efforts, and this was such a relief after a long, hot day in the sun.
- Dresses: I really loved this dress that I packed! It was pretty wrinkle-resistant and was lightweight, swingy and breezy! I also love packing maxi dresses or caftans!
- Shorts: A must in the tropical heat!
- Tank tops or lightweight T-shirts: Easy to pack and light enough without feeling bulky. I like cotton or cotton jersey blends for comfort.
- Formal wear: There are usually one or two formal nights on each cruise. Some people get decked out like they’re going to the Oscars, but generally, a cocktail dress (such as a little black dress) and heels for women are standard, while a suit or nice, pressed shirt and slacks are appropriate for men.
- Books!: These are a must! Whether you pack a single paperback or download them onto your Kindle, I found it was so relaxing to read by the pool on sea days or on our balcony in the mornings with a cup of coffee.
- Portable charger: I almost forgot this little gadget but was thankful to have remembered in the nick of time! It’s so compact and handy to use when you’ve been taking pictures all day in port and need a quick surge of battery life for your phone or camera.
- Closed-toe shoes or sneakers: You may need them for the gym, or you may want them for certain excursions that involve hiking or lots of walking. Likewise, if you opt to do the Chef’s Table experience onboard (which I highly recommend!), you’ll need them in order to see inside the expansive kitchen.
- Bonine/Dramamine/Sea Bands: I personally love Bonine because I find it isn’t as drowsy as the dramamine. My grandma’s secret is to take one 24 hours before sailing, then another 1 hour before sailing, and then once a day for the duration of your cruise. The sea bands are also quite helpful, and you can find them at most pharmacies.
- Lightweight crossbody purse: You can never be too careful, and I found crossbody styles are most secure than a purse you carry with your hands or on your arm. Plus, you’ll be hands-free and ready to explore without a cumbersome bag to hold.
- Waterproof/travel-size makeup: I feel totally exposed without my signature black cat-eye and some mascara, so I really loved THIS eyeliner and THIS mascara, which lasted for hours swimming in the ocean without so much as budging.
And here are some things you should TOTALLY pack that you may not have realized you need! Things like…
- Power strip: Outlets are few and far between in stateroom cabins, so a power strip is a necessity. It was such a lifesaver for my mom and I, between both our phones, my camera charger, her C-Pap machine, and anything else that needed an outlet.
- Compression bags: These were incredible! They don’t require a vacuum to seal – only the pressure from your body! – and they bought me so much extra room in my suitcases.
- Beach tote: While the ship provides towels for your excursions, you’ll want a place to store those, along with your book, sunscreen, cameras, and souvenirs!
- USB charging port: Especially if you have a camera or Go-Pro that charges via USB, this was a lifesaver for me so I didn’t have to keep my computer running in order to charge.
- Wrinkle spray or a mini steamer: We brought both and used them equally as much. There are no irons on board, so this was a must to press your items before formal night or to zap out any wrinkles before an excursion.
- Bug spray: I was attacked by a few mosquitoes here and there, so a travel-size bug spray was a must.
- A waterproof phone pouch: I picked these up last minute and loved them! Perfect for water-centric excursions and for those of us who do not have waterproof phones!
- Magnets: The walls of your stateroom are magnetic, and these were great to hang up future excursion tickets, itineraries, and other reminders we needed.
- Poo-Pourri: You’re in a very small cabin with one or more other humans. Take my word for it and buy this!
- Goggles (if you can’t see underwater): While some goggles may be provided on snorkeling excursions, you’ll definitely want to bring a pair to explore the beaches on your own! The water is SO clear, so it is a must!
And as for things you DON’T need? Here’s the list of Don’t’s!
- Towels: The ship provides towels for all beach and pool activities and excursions.
- Slippers and robe: You’ll find both of these in your stateroom closet!
- Snorkeling equipment: Unless you’re not doing an excursion, all excursions will provide snorkeling equipment and life-vests for you.
- Toiletries: Yep, that’s right: leave your mini bottles of lotions and potions at home! The ship provides an adorable little package of products from their world-famous Lotus Spa, including soap, shower gel, shampoo & conditioner, a shower-cap, emory board, lotion, and even gel eye masks!
- Hair dryer: There’s actually a small one in the stateroom, but if you are a hair extraordinaire, you may want to consider bringing your own. For basic needs, this one did the trick!
So that’s that! I hope you find this checklist handy for all your Caribbean cruise needs. Princess is such an elite cruise line; I think you’ll find you can pretty much get anything and do anything onboard at all times! Between the shops and all the restaurants and activities, there’s something for everyone, for all ages!
Are you ready to book your Caribbean Princess Cruise yet?! I highly recommend it, as all the stops were lovely, safe, clean and rich with history and flavor! You’ll adore the sights, sounds and clear ocean water and white sandy beaches, I promise!
Have a super sweet day, and an awesome Caribbean vacation!
Disclaimer: I worked with Princess Cruises to bring you this post. I was compensated, but all opinions are 100% my own. This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. If a purchase is made using my link, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for keeping my blog and business alive with your purchase!