Planning a Mediterranean cruise vacation soon? Lucky you! Exploring beautiful European ports of call while being able to stay in one home base of the cruise ship is one of my favorite ways to see a wide variety of cities in a short time. It is important to note that a Mediterranean cruise is different than a traditional Caribbean cruise, as they are generally filled with port intensive days.
That said, be sure to pack soft, breathable clothing with your most comfortable walking shoes to fully enjoy your day. A lot of walking can be involved, depending on your port plans, so be sure to be prepared with a great cruise packing list.
A European cruise or a Mediterranean cruise is a great bucket list adventure, so before you start packing, read through this list of essential items to be sure to include in your Mediterranean cruise packing list. Let’s get sailing!
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Paperwork and Documents to Pack
One thing you want to check as soon as you start researching a cruise ship vacation is what paperwork and documents will be required. This is particularly true post 2020. Each cruise line and cruise port may have varying rules about what vaccinations may be required and mask rules. You may find a variety of rules, depending on if it is a European cruise, a Caribbean cruise, an Alaska cruise and so on. It is a good idea to read all of the fine print before you put down a deposit on your reservation.
Also, as you read more about major European cities, just like any major cities, it is always a good idea to pack essential items wisely. Consider packing a money belt to hold your most important items, cash, and IDs close to your body. This is one of my favorite money belt options.
A few pieces of paperwork and documents to pack for your cruise essentials include:
- photo ID, like a driver’s license
- travel documents, confirmations
- vaccination cards (if required, be sure to upload beforehand if needed)
- travel insurance paperwork (if purchased – highly encourage travel insurance)
- travel books
- port arrival paperwork (if given by cruise line)
- credit card (call credit card company if traveling internationally)
- shore excursions paperwork (if needed)
What should I pack in my carry-on bag?
Be sure to pack a day bag for your first afternoon on the cruise ship. Often, your luggage may not arrive at your stateroom until several hours after embarkation. Along with your important paperwork, include a bathing suit, sunscreen, and flip flops if you and your family want to hit the pool early (without the heavy crowds.)
You can also include a good book or magazine. Explore the ship a bit and then relax in a lounger by the pool until your stateroom is ready!
Be sure to throw a pair of sunglasses, a hat, and a portable cell phone charger in your bag. Most likely, you will have to report to your muster station during the first afternoon. Most cruise lines are now putting all of your cruise info on an app, so having an updated and fully charged phone is essential.
Contact your cell phone provider before you leave to find your plan’s policies on using your phone abroad. You can purchase Wi-Fi plans on board many ships, but they can be costly and spotty. You can always use Wi-Fi at many locations during port excursions. The WhatsApp is also a great way to message friends back home while traveling abroad.
Consider bringing a water bottle in your carry-on bag. You can refill it often throughout your time on the ship, without having to worry about going back and forth to the restaurants.
I also like to include a travel coffee mug on our sailings, so I can take my coffee on the go, especially when I am trying to make it off the ship for early morning shore excursions. Here are a few of my favorites.
Also, be sure to include any necessary medications, sunscreen, and hand sanitizer in your carry-on bag.
What time of evening wear do I need for the ship?
Consider the line of cruise ship you are sailing with when you think about what type of clothing you will need for your sailing. Are you sailing with Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, or Viking? For most cruise lines, a dressy casual look (think country club) is perfect for evening meals on the ship.
Check to see if a formal night is included on your sailing. If so, consider a formal wear outfit. This may not mean formal attire like a full-on evening gown, but a little black dress or cocktail dresses could perfectly fit the bill. A certain dining room (like Remy’s on Disney Cruise Line) may have a dress code, so be sure to double check your cruise line’s website before you start packing. Throw in some nice versatile dress shoes to dress up any outfit easily.
It is also a good idea to see if your cruise has a Facebook group. Most of the time, you can search your cruise ship and date of sail on Facebook and join a group of other sailors. Here, you may find earlier itineraries from similar sailings, info on formal nights or other costume parties, and even make some friends before your sailing.
Day Wear on Your Cruise
You will want to spend a lot of time exploring the ship during your at sea days or in the evenings after port excursions. Check the weather forecast for all of your ports before you start packing! We have found that “Dark Sky” is a great app with pretty accurate forecasts.
If you want to avoid bringing too much luggage, know that laundry rooms are on board the ships. I usually throw a few laundry pods and dryers sheets in a plastic zip bag in my suitcase. You can often purchase laundry soap using your key card with a linked credit card with a pin number.
My favorite casual wear or resort wear for sailings include:
- tank tops
- few pairs of shorts
- light sweaters for evenings and cool dining rooms
- flip flops
- bathing suit
- cover up
- rain jacket
- sun hats
- tennis shoes
- casual sandals
- dressy shoes
- active wear for working out
- long pants or capris
- earrings, necklaces
- hair accessories
- tote bag or beach bag to take to the pools and hot tubs
Packing for Port Excursions
Consider packing a day pack for your port excursions. Your most valuable items should be kept close to your body. Wear your most comfortable clothing and comfortable shoes.
Here are the best things to include in your port excursion small bag:
- sunscreen for warm weather
- water bottle
- local currency cash
- pair of sunglasses
- cell phones’ charger
- scarf for covering shoulders for churches and some historic sites
- paper fan or battery operated fan if traveling during summer months
- camera with extra memory cards (if needed)
Another great tip if you are traveling with children is to consider ordering room service the night before for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit and cookies. I pack plastic zip bags and throw these items in my port excursion bag to prevent “hangry” meltdowns. This can be the perfect choice when you are in new territory and not sure when you can find the next snack.
Of course, an essential item of packing includes a toiletry bag. Be sure to pack your:
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- contacts, solution
- face wash
- hair accessories
- brushes and combs
- hair products
- flat irons, curling irons (most ships will provide a placement pad for these hot items)
- make up
- hair products
Most cruise line staterooms will come equipped with a hair dryer. Irons and ironing boards must be requested from the stateroom host or may be provided in laundry rooms. If this your first cruise, one good tip is one of the best times to run laundry is in the early mornings or late evenings. Of course, laundry rooms will be busier on at sea days.
Additional Items to Include on Your Mediterranean Cruise Packing List
As you are packing, some additional items to include may be:
- face masks (check your cruise itinerary and guidelines)
- power strip
- voltage converter/adapter (check with your ship)
- pop up laundry hamper or laundry bag
- lanyard for your key card
- additional card like a supermarket loyalty card to put in the light switch, if you do not want to have keep your room key in it
- themed nights outfits
- aloe vera lotion
- eye masks
- motion sickness meds or Sea Bands
- lip balm
- eye drops
- guidebooks or download audio guides on your phone
I hope this ultimate cruise packing list is helpful to you as you plan your next adventure! Have a great time at sea and be sure to sign up for my ultimate family packing list down below.
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