A Momshell’s Cruise Packing Essentials

cruise packing

[I swear I had this cruise packing tips post set to post last Saturday…. I messed up somehow but it’s all good. We’re back from the trip now, but I’m STILL posting this to share with you girls.]

Today we leave for our surprise family cruise! I’ve packed up the kids and will post separately on that. Even though it’s a family vacation, I’m going to squeeze in some “grown up” time with John, as well as some alone time, just to get my head right. I am a chronic over-packer and am trying my best not to do the same on this cruise. Here is what I’m packing this time, and some tips.

One crucial piece I am packing is this:

cruise packing essential

(many thanks to my lovely model)

Popular cruise advice says to take an over the door shoe holder like this one here for the bathroom door, but I prefer taking these shelves for the closet instead. It gives tons of extra space for your belongings and it’s neatly hidden away in the closet (and the closet doors still close perfectly). I’m an over packer and we’ll have clothes and supplies for four people this time. The extra shelving will be a godsend.

In case you’re curious. It does flatten down into a square that easily fits in luggage. I put it in the outside pocket of my suitcase: (Shout out to my Samsonite luggage from amazon for holding me down for sooo many years)

samsonite luggage

Takeaway Tip: Pack your own storage option if you don’t want to live out of your suitcase for a week

My hair gear essentials:

My hair takes a lot of abuse on vacation. chlorine, salt water, wind on the ship, sun, daily washing and manipulation… It’s a lot considering my normal regimen is so hands-off. I’m sure to take lots of conditioner for daily treatments, my sulfate free shampoo, wide tooth comb, boar bristle brush and plastic paddle brush, headbands, elastics, scarf, leave-in conditioner. (Kai and Ro will share with me)

Thank goodness we’re driving to the port and don’t have to fly with all this heavy crap. My trick is to travel with the bottles and jars that are almost done so I can just use them up while away, and have less containers to take home! (More space for souvenirs)

Takeaway tip: bring close-to empty products so you can toss the bottles while on board and bring home less stuff.

Takeaway tip: plan your hair care so you have to pack the least amount of products (they get heavy in those bags)

My skin/beauty essentials:

cruise packing beauty items

After getting a good burn years ago I realized I DO need sunscreen even though I’m blessed with melanin. My absolute favorite sunscreen for face is Neutragena Ultra sheer Dry Touch. (If you’re brown skinned you’ll LOVE that there’s zero ashiness and a great light feel on your skin – and no this is not a sponsored post lol) For body I use whatever I find on sale. #realtalk. And we’re trying out the Equate line from Walmart for the first time. I’m also bringing travel sized skin care products like my honey face mask and lip scrub, my bath mittens, and lotion. I don’t even bother attempting makeup other than eyeliner/mascara and lipsticks/gloss I’m packing my bright and tropical lip crayons from No7. I like misting my face (and John’s) when we’re doing activities in the hot sun so I’m packing my mineral water spray and taking Botanics wipes for wiping down my face all tired/drunk/worn out before falling asleep.

Takeaway Tip: Know thyself and pack accordingly. If you don’t wear a full face of makeup on the regular, you won’t magically start while on vacation.


throwing everything in

This is BEFORE I pared down….#judgemeifyawanna #iwasthrowinganythingin

So…I’m trying my best to pack light. I am good for taking 2-3 outfits for each day, swimsuits for each day with matching cover ups for each one, different shoes for each outfit, etc. Not this time. We won’t be participating in the formal nights on this cruise and with the kids I probably won’t want to do anything above casual. I realize now that it wont kill me to re-wear an item….so I’m just packing: 3 swim suits and cover-ups, a few sets of workout clothes, dresses, some tops and a few bottoms to mix and match. I only need to bring flip flops, sandals and sneakers.

Takeaway tip: It’s okay to rewear a pair of shorts in one week. Pack lighter than you think you need to (even if you’re bringing extra storage from tip 1)



I’m going super light on this cruise! Only 2 bags. Two!! This. is. a. big. deal. I’m just taking my big tote/diaper bag and my favorite small crossbody bag. Since we’re going casual I’m not bringing much jewelry, just a couple earrings, a small pair for day, and a bigger pair for night.

Takeaway Tip: Know your travel plans and pack accordingly. You won’t need to carry much besides your key card while on the ship anyway.


galaxy s7 edge waterproof case

We ordered some waterproof cases for our phones, packing my portable chargers. I’m taking my laptop just in case I’ll be able to do some writing after the kids go down for the night (doubt it) but also so the kids have a DVD player to watch Doc McStuffins or something (Norwegian charges $10 a pop for movies in the room).

Takeaway Tip: Know your ship’s offerings and pack accordingly. You can find out all about your ship on sites like Cruise Clues and Cruise Critics.

Things you DON’T have to bring on board: 

The ship is really good at providing the basics, just like a hotel. If you’re not picky about your toiletries, there’s no need to pack any. You can also leave your beach towels and blow dryers at home. If you’re a regular exerciser no need to bring any travel equipment, the gyms are fully stocked, and if you’re a beachbody junkie like I am you can use Beachbody on Demand for your daily workout.

Honestly, (I told you before) I have “what if” syndrome when it comes to packing (for a cruise, a land vacation, an overnight bag, a day out with the kids… anything.) What if Syndrome leads me to overpacking for every possible scenario. When it came to packing for the kids I let “what if” win, but for my personal packing for the first time ever I was able to keep my syndrome under control.  I still packed a lot… but way less than ever before. #improud.

What are your cruise packing essentials? 

Check out my packing list for Cruising with a Baby Here


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