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Suitcase being packed for a Caribbean cruise.

Caribbean Cruise Packing List

Our Caribbean cruise packing list has you covered, whether you dream of snorkeling Bonaire’s fish-filled reefs or sipping an umbrella drink on Half Moon Cay.

If you’re new to the Caribbean or cruising, filling that suitcase can be daunting. Here is what to pack for a 5- to 7-day Caribbean cruise, from obvious items like sunscreen and swimwear to a spare pair of eyeglasses.

Pack The Carry-On

  • Change of clothes and toiletries 
  • Travel documents and credit cards
  • Spare swimwear and dinner wear
  • Valuables 
  • Medications

Pack your carry-on thoughtfully. If the airline losses your luggage, you’ll have what you need. Never put valuables and travel docs into a bag you intend to check—you will need these items for boarding. 

Put spare swimwear and dinner wear into your carry-on, so you can start your vacation the moment you step on the ship, instead of waiting for your luggage to arrive to your stateroom.

Checked Luggage

  • At least two swimsuits, cover ups 
  • Shorts, tank tops, t-shirts, skirts, sundresses
  • Flip-flops, dressy shoes or sandals, walking shoes
  • Moisture-wicking activewear 
  • Suitable outfits for Dressy nights

The basics: Place articles in clear bags inside your luggage to minimize handling and pack shoes on top to expediate the process. Expect to spend a lot of time in swimwear. Bring a swimsuit and cover-up for lounging poolside on ship or on the beach and one active swimsuit suitable for water-based Caribbean shore excursions, like snorkeling the reefs surrounding Grand Turk. Pack sandals or flip flops, comfortable walking shoes and footwear for Dressy Nights.

Clothes: Vibrant colors and bold patterns are the style in the Caribbean. Now’s the time to bring your brightest! 

For the most part, the Caribbean has a hot and humid climate except for Aruba, which is more arid. Avoid cotton and opt for synthetic fabrics that dry quickly. Summers in the Caribbean are rainy, so pack a light jacket or poncho. 

If you plan to explore the Caribbean’s lush tropical rainforests on a Western Caribbean cruise, pack moisture-wicking hiking gear and bug repellent. 

Apparel for fine dining restaurants (collared shirts/slacks, dresses/skirts). Formal wear for Dressy Nights, pajamas, workout clothes if you plan to use our fitness center. Find out more about Caribbean weather in our article about the best time to cruise the Caribbean.

Accessories & Caribbean Musts

  • Jewelry 
  • Two pairs of sunglasses
  • Brimmed hat 
  • Toiletries 
  • Bug repellent
  • Refillable water bottle 
  • Sunscreen & aloe vera 
  • Portable fan 

What to skip. Anything irreplaceable, like heirloom jewelry or designer sunglasses. If losing said item on the beach would ruin your trip, leave it at home. Leave out flippers, wet suits and bulky snorkel equipment. 

Gear is usually provided on shore excursions or rented right on the beach, so save room in your luggage. Holland America Line has a full list of prohibited items.

Don’t forget.  Toiletries, such as deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes. Extra pair of prescription lenses or glasses. Sunscreen and aloe-vera, a lifesaver in the relentless Caribbean sun. Bug repellent. Refillable water bottle, so you can fill up as you explore. If you forget something, you will likely be able to find it in one of our onboard shops. 

Extras. You know what goes well with sugar sand and swaying palms? A beach read, a journal to scrawl in and a waterproof camera so you remember every sun-washed second.

What To Pack For A 10-Day Caribbean Cruise

  • More of the above
  • Additional outfits for Dressy Nights
  • Extra medication and prescription information

If you’re going on a longer voyage, pack more of everything and plan to do laundry onboard. Consider that there will be multiple Dressy nights. Make sure that you have all of the immunizations and visas you need for the ports you will visit. Also bring extra entertainment, such as books or travel games for days at sea. 

Not quite ready to pack, but dreaming of a cruise to the Caribbean? Get inspiration, tips, advice and more with our Caribbean travel articles.