A cruise is a great option for your next family holiday, offering everyone the chance to enjoy a well-earned break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Many cruise companies even offer great packages on children’s cruises that are sure to keep the kids happy while the adults take some much-deserved time out.

Because we believe that cruising is such a viable choice for families of all ages, we’ve put together a list of the essential items that you should be packing for your next summer holiday cruise across the waves.

ID/Name Tags

We understand that children have a willingness to explore – even at sea – so take the worry out of losing contact by attaching a small ID tag to your child’s shoe or belt. Details including the child’s name, your telephone number and cabin number should be enough to prevent anyone in the group getting lost. This personal information is stored inside the ID tag so their name is not on show to strangers, but staff will know to look for it.

Mini First Aid Kit

We all like to think we won’t need a first aid kit on holiday, but the reality is accidents do happen. In the unlikely event that something goes wrong there’s always plenty of help available on the ship, but it’s a good idea to come prepared with a few essentials just in case. Plasters and antiseptic wipes always come in useful. You might even like to bring along a few stickers to award bravery in the event of cuts and scrapes.

We all know kids can be messy, but rather than packing lots of spare clothes, pop a travel laundry detergent in your wash bag too so you can hand wash a few things in your cabin’s bathroom sink. Most cabins will have a clothes line in the showers to air garments on.

Travel Journal

Encouraging children to write in a travel journal is the ideal way to ensure they’re left with a treasured memento from the trip. Be sure to pack a small selection of coloured pens and pencils and don’t be afraid to get creative. If you also pop a highlighter pen in their pencil case, they’ll have fun marking all the things you can do together on the daily printed list of shipboard activities and events.

Waterproof Disposable Camera

Little ones will love using a child-friendly camera to document the cruise and it’ll keep them entertained during activities and excursions. There are some excellent kid-proof digital cameras out there that are resistant to bumps and water, or you could just get a couple of disposable cameras to develop when you’re back on dry land. Who knows, you may even find that you have a budding photographer in the family!

Day Bag

Investing in a decent bag to take on excursions will pay you back in comfort and practicality. If you’re travelling on a large ship it’s also much more convenient to take a few things with you rather than keep going back your cabin. And if you child is old enough, they could carry some of their own things.

Pack a waterproof jacket or some sun lotion depending on the climate, a map, ship plan or guide book, some snacks and a refillable bottle of water. A jumper or light jacket is also a good idea for air-conditioned areas of the ship in case you get a little chilly.

Many cruise ships offer complimentary water, soda and hot drinks so it’s always handy to bring a couple of bottles along for refills. Keeping the family hydrated is crucial both on and off the ship – and carrying your own supply of water is sure to save you money once you hit port, too.

Motion/Travel Sickness Sweets

Even families that aren’t prone to travel sickness can benefit from packing a standby remedy, just in case. There are lots of tablets and chews available to pick up from your local pharmacy, with some coming in a range of child-approved flavours, too. For a more natural choice, ginger has long been known to aid in motion sickness. Plus booking a cabin mid-ship means there’s less motion, with the benefit of an interior cabin also being the most affordable type.

Pool accessories

If you’re planning on going for a quick dip during your cruise, be sure to pack some water shoes. They’re great for paddling and exploring rocky terrains and most feature non-slip soles for extra grip around the pool. A new inflatable won’t take up much room in your case and will provide hours of fun, too.

Universal Charger

We all have electrical items that we just can’t be without, even on holiday. Most ships have American-style sockets – be sure to check this with the liner when you book – but a universal charger will cover all bases and won’t take up much space in your suitcase either. If each member of your family has an electronic device that’ll need charging, check whether your cruise line allows multi socket adaptors.

Books, Toys and Playing Cards

All cruises inevitably involve some time sitting around, whether you’re relaxing by the pool or waiting to head on your next excursion. Even the most imaginative children have a tendency to get a little bored sometimes, so it’s a good idea to pack a few books and games for keeping kids entertained on a cruise.


If you have older kids or a large extended family, walkie talkies help you keep in touch on board. They’re particularly useful on large ships and mean you don’t have to log on to the ship’s WiFi or use your mobile data to track everyone down. Just don’t forget the charger or some spare batteries.

An alternative is to be traditional and take some post-it notes to stick on each other’s cabin doors or slide messages under the door to let them know where you’ll be. If you’re a tech-friendly family, take a look at our post on the top apps to download(insert link), which includes apps that allow you to communicate with each other when onboard too.

Now that you have your packing list sorted, all that’s left is to find a deal on your perfect family cruise.

* Terms & Conditions apply

We are acting as an agent on behalf of travel suppliers and your booking will be subject to the supplier’s terms and conditions. Prices may be subject to very limited availability and are correct as at the date and time of writing. Prices may go up or down from time to time. Prices quoted are for the dates, accommodation, board basis, departure points and number of persons sharing specified only and cannot be combined with any other offer. We reserve the right to amend any quotes given if there is a genuine error as soon as we become aware of it. We reserve the right to withdraw any offers without notice.