Packing for kids is a lot like any cruise packing list, but any parent will tell you that kids come with their own demands and nuances that you don’t get when you’re just packing for. the adults.
There are also child-specific items you should bring, especially if you’re traveling with the youngest of sailors.
We’ve put together the ultimate packing list for kids to help you effortlessly pack pre-cruise and get ready for the cruise.
Here’s what to make sure you pack for your next family cruise vacation.
Getting to your cruise
Traveling with children, especially younger ones, requires extra attention, even before boarding the ship. Whether you’re flying in or driving straight to port, there are a few important items you need to pack:
- Stroller – A stroller is essential for young children; however, you may not want to bring your large double stroller from home, as it can be difficult to navigate the narrow hallways of a cruise ship or some port areas. Many people opt for a cheaper umbrella stroller, something light and easy to carry and maneuver.
- Car seat – Although you won’t need it on the boat, some people like to bring their own for excursions, especially not knowing what’s available in the port and the likelihood that taxis and buses will have them.
- Cruise Documents – Like adults, children need ID for their cruise, so don’t forget their departure passes as well as any ID, vaccination or test requirements of covid if necessary.
Many parents wonder what IDs are acceptable for children. For US citizens under the age of 16, Royal Caribbean accepts either an original, notarized or certified copy of a birth certificate. A consular report of birth abroad issued by DOS or a certificate of naturalization issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services are also acceptable. The cruise line will not accept baptismal papers or hospital birth certificates as identification.
Do your research, though, as some cruises require a passport, such as those departing to Alaska from Canada. In this case, a birth certificate will not suffice.
Although most cruises no longer require pre-cruise Covid-19 testing, there are a few itineraries, such as Bermuda, Australia and transatlantic/transpacific sailings, that still require it. It’s best to check the Royal Caribbean website for your specific navigation to see exactly what you need.
Once you’re on the ship, with all the paperwork out of the way, you should have everything you need until your luggage arrives in your cabin. As with adults, children should pack for all activities as well as essentials such as glasses and prescription medications.
Be sure to bring a change of clothes, diapers, and any other immediate needs for your young children. A bathing suit, sandals and a sun hat are all good to have. We can all get a little tired, especially if you’re traveling far, so don’t forget to add anything your kids might like, like their favorite stuffed animal or baby bottles, to help soothe an unhappy traveler.
It can be fun for kids to have their own backpack to carry a few special items, like a toy. Or if they are teenagers, many want to bring their own phones and tablets. This, together with spending money, should be packed in hand luggage.
The quantity to carry depends on the duration and type of cruise. There is no self-service laundry on board, but washing, ironing and dry cleaning services are offered (prices vary by item). The cruise line also offers wash and fold specials during sailings, through which customers can fill a bag for the flat fee of $34.99 per bag.
It’s best to bring clothes for the number of days plus a homecoming outfit. Two outfits a day is a good rule of thumb (day and night) for adults. You may want to expand this to at least one additional outfit, especially for younger children.
Be sure to include:
- Clothing for poolside fun, such as a bathing suit, sundress, t-shirts and shorts. Tip: Since many children spend a lot of time in the water, it’s a good idea to bring extra swimsuits (at least three). Nobody likes to put on a wet bathing suit.
- jeans and pants
- Sportswear, including running/walking shoes – especially for sporting activities
- Pants and a sweater for cooler places like the ice rink
- Don’t forget socks and underwear
- Sun hat / visor
- Storage cubes can be useful for organizing clothes in your suitcase or for your cabin.
Kids’ night out can run the gamut, depending on how formal your family is:
- Pants, jeans or leggings
- Best looking top, collared shirts
- dress up shoes
- Suit and tie
For cruises with colder itineraries, consider:
- Shirts and t-shirts for inner layers
- Warm layers, such as fleece sweaters
- Waterproof jacket
- Adapted closed shoes
- Boots for hiking/walking if required
- Gloves, hat and scarf
Specific baby items
Traveling with young children can definitely add more to your packing list. Beyond the suggested standard clothing, consider including:
- Layers – pack plenty of extra layers, including regular and swim
- Baby wipes and disinfectants
- Rash Cream
- Extra plastic bags for wet items
- Light coverage
- Baby food and formula
- Spout cups
Whether it’s a day at the beach, a bike ride, or snorkeling, there are a few things you should probably include for your days in port.
Like adults, children need comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing and other items to make the most of their day. Don’t assume you can buy extra layers when visiting ports.
For general water/beach outings, consider child-sized items such as:
- Mask, goggles and snorkel
- Water shoes (if needed)
- Life jackets and flotation devices
- Waterproof phone holder
- Anti-UV swimsuit (for those who prefer)
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Collapsible silicone toys are a fantastic space-saving option instead of traditional bulky toys
Comfort items / miscellaneous
After a long day of fun, it’s nice to take a break and relax in your cabin. Kids will feel better with some of their favorite comforting creatures at home. Cruise lines provide packs and plays; just be sure to request them as soon as possible, as they are in limited supply.
Other items to pack:
- A tablet with pre-downloaded movies/games, as TV is limited on board
- Bring a few toys, including their favorite stuffed animal
- coloring supplies
- A night light – especially if you are in an inside cabin
- Many parents prefer a bath for young children. A small inflatable bathtub that can be placed in the shower during a cruise
- You can also bring your child’s favorite snack, such as fish crackers or cheerios.
- You can only bring non-perishable food, so no fruits or vegetables.
- Refillable water bottle
- A deck of cards
- Children’s shampoo and conditioner
With your family and all of their belongings in a cruise cabin, it’s a good idea to think about a few organization and storage techniques. Magnetic hooks and an over-the-door organizer, as well as ziploc bags for convenient storage, are good options.
First aid and medicines
Although some items can be purchased on board, it’s a good idea to have a first aid kit ready for easy access during the cruise. The last thing you want to do is spend time running around the harbor looking for something. Do not assume that there will be sufficient supplies on the ship. It is best to collect them from the local pharmacy before the cruise; a pharmacist can help you determine what is best for you.
Here are some common medications/first aid items to carry:
- Pain and allergy products
- Medications for seasickness
- Afterburn care (aloe), lip balm (SPF) and insect repellent
- Anti-itch cream/ hydrocortisone
- First aid items such as dressings and antibacterial ointment
- Medicines for stomach pain
- Cold/flu medicine