Open suitcase with packed clothes and accessories on bed - what to pack for a Caribbean cruise
Family travel, Travel tips & gear

What to pack for a Caribbean cruise

I do love a packing list. And when it came to organising what to pack for our Caribbean cruise, I realised I needed to start planning early.

If you’re considering a holiday in the Caribbean you’ll already know that the best time to go is in the UK’s winter. This avoids the hurricane season; making for smoother seas and better weather to enjoy this stunning destination.

Going from the UK’s wintery chill to temperatures of up to 27°C requires plenty of forward planning; buying any extra summer clothes you might need in the end of season sales and taking advantage of offers on sun cream and sun glasses when they are in abundant supply.

I started planning what to pack and wear on our December to January Caribbean cruise in August. OK, part of my enthusiasm was the excitement about this special holiday, but it also made me feel super organised.

If you're planning a winter sun cruise here's our guide to what to pack for a Caribbean cruise including clothes, hand luggage essentials and packing tips #packing #list #checklist #travel #tips #cruise #cruising #Caribbean #travelblog #tinboxtraveller #essentials #handluggage

If you have a similar holiday coming up, here’s my packing list based on a 15 night cruise in the Eastern Caribbean:

*This post contains affiliate links*

Daywear for a Caribbean cruise

I’m packing outfits that will be light for the Caribbean climate and practical for the days we have planned onboard and in port. We intend to do plenty of exploring on foot, some organised excursions, a bit of relaxing at the beach and time by the pool onboard.

I am packing nine outfits that can be refreshed and recycled over the two weeks. This includes:

  • A long cotton skirt
  • A pair of shorts
  • Five t-shirts/vests
  • Two short dresses – Fat Face is a favourite brand of mine
  • A long dress
  • Two swimming costumes* – I love how well Zoggs swimsuits fit
  • A beach shirt or dress
  • Gym kit
  • Trainers
  • Flip flops
  • Sandals
  • Pumps

Evening wear

We are cruising with P&O, so there is an expectation that you dress smartly for dinner, even on informal nights. I have seven smart-casual outfits packed:

  • Linen trousers
  • Jumpsuit*
  • Maxi dress*
  • Two skirts 
  • Five smart tops
  • Low black heels
  • Two chunky necklaces

I’ve planned my outfits so the tops and bottoms are coordinating colours and are interchangeable. This gives me outfits for informal evenings that I will recycle during the two weeks.

My aim is to take four pairs of day shoes and only one pair of formal shoes on the cruise – they use up a lot of luggage weight allowance.

Shoes for a winter sun cruise

Formal nights 

We have four formal nights own our P&O cruise including New Years Eve, so I am packing two cocktail dresses with shrugs and a pair of low heel black shoes*, mentioned above, that will match both outfits. 

I also have a black clutch bag that will work with all my evening wear. I got this from TK Maxx a few years ago and it goes with everything!

Packing tips for your cruise

A few years ago we discovered packing cubes* and have never looked back! These ingenious zip-up bags with a mesh top help you to maximise space in your case and organise your clothes so they are easy to locate when you arrive.

Pack a bag per person for short trips or separate your day wear, evening wear, underwear and swimming costumes for a cruise. All you need to do when you arrive is pop each bag in a draw or hang up your formal wear.

Here’s what my clothes for this 15 day Caribbean cruise looked like laid out on our king sized bed at home.

Clothes for a 15 night Caribbean clothes laid out on bed

And here’s what they looked like when organise into packing cubes.

Packing cubes containing clothes for a 15 day Caribbean cruise

Packing cubes in suitcase

Essential paperwork to pack

Of course, we won’t be going anywhere if I don’t pack the essential paperwork for our cruise. This includes:

  • Passports
  • Insurance
  • Drivers licence if you have booked a jeep or driving excursion
  • Itinerary and tickets 
  • Local currency.

Wallet with passports, tickets and travellers checks

We don’t need visas for the destinations during our Caribbean cruise but it’s important to check your itinerary to see if you will as part of your cruise.

Sailing from Southampton? Check out my cruise checklist.

What to pack in your hand luggage 

We have a 11.40am flight from Gatwick, which will land us in the Caribbean at about 4pm local time. That means packing our hand luggage with everything we could need for the early evening before our bags are delivered to our cabin.

I’ll be packing some lighter clothes to change into before the plane lands, a swimsuit, some basic toiletries, spare contact lenses and my glasses. 

If you are travelling with medication then put this in your hand luggage too.

On top of that I’ll have my passport, travel documents, camera, Kindle*, phone and charger.

Tech for your Caribbean cruise

Which brings me on to the tech we are planning on taking on our cruise. 

Mr Tin Box has treated me to a new Kindle, as the screen on my old one got damaged while we were moving furniture to redecorate a few months ago. We’ve also bought a new camera for this trip – the FujiFilm X-T 30* which I can’t wait to try.

As well as the Kindle and camera we are bringing our GoPro* and will be attaching it to some new snorkel masks* we have bought so see what underwater pictures we can get when we take a dip in the warm Caribbean Sea – even if we will look hilarious.

I’ll be double checking that we have all the charging cables for our tech and packing a power bank* to keep our tech charged during excursions.

We are cruising with P&O, so don’t need plug adaptors, but you will do for other cruise lines.

Toiletries for a winter sun holiday

I am packing a few specific toiletries for our Caribbean cruise including high factor face cream and sun cream. Take a look at some more toiletries for winter sun holidays.

Something I won’t be packing is shower gel or soap as this is supplied as P&O supply White Company products.


If you're planning a winter sun cruise here's our guide to what to pack for a Caribbean cruise including clothes, hand luggage essentials and packing tips #packing #list #checklist #travel #tips #cruise #cruising #Caribbean #travelblog #tinboxtraveller #essentials #handluggage

Other handy things to pack for a Caribbean cruise

Sunglasses

Mine got a battering over the summer in the UK, so I may have to do some last minute shopping at the airport.

Beach shoes

These lightweight, quick drying shoes are handy if you are visiting beaches with corse sand or intend to do water sports like kayaking.

Resuable water bottles

Something we’ve always packed for cruises is a reusable water bottle that we can fill up in our cabin and take on excursions. This saves buying water and wasting plastic. 

Check out more ways you can be environmentally conscious on your cruise.

Cordial

When we’re cruising with the kids’, and even when we are not, I buy the small Robinsons Squash’d concentrated cordial to add a bit of flavour to water in our cabin.

Collapsible laundry basket

Rather than use a suitcase to stow all our used clothes I have a collapsable laundry basket which will keep our cabin tidy and be ideal for transporting clothes to the onboard laundry.

Hair styling 

My GHDs will be coming with us. There is a hairdryer in our cabin so I’ll be leaving this at home.

Dry bag

We’ll use a dry bag for keeping any valuables with us while at the beach. We have a few but something like this is ideal:

If you are interested in more holiday packing lists take a look at my ultimate guide to checklists for family holidays.

What to pack for coming home

It’s not really something you want to think about too soon, but on your return to the UK, make sure you have a jumper, jacket and sensible footwear in your hand luggage. Winter in the UK will hit you like a wall as soon as you get off that plane!

So, that’s my list of what to pack for a Caribbean cruise. Can you recommend any essentials for holidays in the Caribbean? What have I missed?

Read more tips for planning a Caribbean family holiday.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links marked with a *. If you click on one of these and make a purchase I may earn some commission. This does not affect the price you pay.

Planning a Caribbean cruise? Why not save this post about what to pack for a Caribbean cruise for later.

If you're planning a winter sun cruise here's our guide to what to pack for a Caribbean cruise including clothes, hand luggage essentials and packing tips #packing #list #checklist #travel #tips #cruise #cruising #Caribbean #travelblog #tinboxtraveller #essentials #handluggage