Essential packing list for cruising with kids

Packing to go away on holiday with young kids can be daunting.  There are countless essential items to remember and so many possible scenarios/nappy explosions to prepare for!   The days of throwing a few essentials into a carry on bag are well and truly over when babies come along.  I have shared a few packing lists in the past including essential packing list for a holiday with baby or young child, packing list for flying with baby and essential kit for travelling with kids.  

As explained in my what to pack for a cruise by an experienced cruiser, packing to go on a cruise needs a little more consideration as you have evening dress codes to adhere to plus varying temperatures.


Over the October half term holidays we cruised with P&O Cruises from Southampton for 11 nights around the Canaries and Mediterranean.  When packing for my young boys, I was aware that they would need warm clothes for the first and last couple of days when in UK waters, summer clothes for during our days in port, smart evening clothes and lots of toys and books to entertain them during meal times and when in our cabin.

Fortunately, when cruising with P&O Cruises from Southampton you are able to carry onboard ‘as many pieces of luggage as you can comfortably fit into your cabin, as long as each item weighs no more than 23 kilograms for safety and handling purposes.’

With no luggage restrictions to worry about I packed enough for my boys to cruise for a month!  My husband was not impressed when we packed up the car and realised that there was no space for our pushchair.  This resulted in a mad dash to buy one from Mothercare after dropping our bags off at the Southampton cruise ship terminal!

Below I share our essential packing list for cruising with kids.  The items below are just the ‘extras’ you need to pack for a cruise, in addition to the regular holiday packing list which you can find here.

Essential packing list for cruising with kids

If cruising from Southampton: Warm clothes – Sweater, coat and trousers for spending time on deck during sail away parties, etc.  I searched the internet for nautical themed clothes for my boys to wear during our cruise. I loved these bright red and blue jeans from Next (see below) which looked great with striped nautical tops.

JoJo Maman Bébé always have stylish good quality bright red and blue nautical style clothes for both boys and girls.  They sent my boys a couple of gorgeous navy blue and red jumpers, which unfortunately arrived a little too late to take on our cruise but they have worn them many times since.


Essential packing list for cruising with kids

Wet suit – We cruised onboard P&O Cruises Ventura which has a swimming pool with retractable roof and therefore can be used in all weathers.  My boys however still found it a little chilly on deck and made good use of these wetsuits sent to us to review by Splash About.  The wetsuits also came in useful during our days ashore at local beaches and during our visit to the Water Kingdom in Tenerife.

For my eldest I purposefully chose a wetsuit jacket and shorts combo to make it easier for him to nip to the toilet and take the jacket off if he got too hot.  For youngest I chose an all in one shortie wetsuit which was easy to put on and kept him snug and warm.  Both wetsuits are made of the same 3mm thick neoprene and are naturally windproof, rain proof, UFP 50+ UV protective and waterproof.  My boys played in the pool and on the beach for much longer than they would have been able to without them and I can see they are going to accompanying us on every holiday from now on!

Essential packing guide for cruising with kids


Regular summer clothes – During sea days, days in port and time spent in kids club kids there is no dress code and kids can wear regular summer clothes, shorts, t-shirts etc.  When attending kids club parents are asked to pack a bag with a change of clothing, favourite teddy etc, as you would if your child was attending nursery.

Evening wear – During our 11 night cruise there were 3 formal evenings.  On formal evenings men are expected to wear black tie and women cocktail dresses however, for young children this dress code rule is obviously more relaxed.

My boys wore light blue suits from Monsoon for the Captain’s welcome on board cocktail party.   We saw several other boys wearing light coloured suits and waist jackets and lots of young girls wearing pretty party dresses.

Essential packing list for cruising with kids

Essential packing list for cruising with kids

I packed an evening outfit for both boys for each night of the cruise which didn’t get worn as they both attended kids club every night!  My top tip therefore is to only pack evening wear if you intend to keep your children with you during evening meals.  If they will be dining at the 5pm buffet kids tea it is unnecessary to change them from their regular daytime clothes.

Bag of favourite toys, books, teddies and snacks – I never leave the house without a bag of tricks and our cruise was no exception!  We had two bags, one filled with items to keep our boys entertained in the cabin and during meal times and a second one filled with pool and beach toys.  Unlike other family holidays we have been on, we were never offered coloring sheets, sticker books or crayons during our cruise and so I can thoroughly recommend packing these as a bare minimum if you wish to enjoy your meals in peace!

Our essential packing list for holidays with baby or young child including sun creams, mosquito repellant etc can be found here.

Pin it for later – 

Essential packing guide for cruising with kids


Disclosure – We were sent several of these items in return for this honest review.  All opinions are, as always, our own. 

Copyright – Screenshots of clothes taken from relevant websites.  Cruise images copyright Travel Loving Family.  


19 thoughts on “Essential packing list for cruising with kids

    1. Lisa Post author

      They didn’t look smart for very long!! The shirts were soon untucked;) Yes you should definitely keep a cruise in mind for a family holiday. Cruises cater exceptionally well for kids of all ages

    1. Lisa Post author

      Ha yes, it took a little pushing and shoving but we managed to cram it all in Rachel! Apart from a few boxes of biscuits and two small bags the kids were given from kids clubs we didn’t have any extra stuff. The new push chair fortunately fit at my boys feet;)

  1. Claire

    This is really useful thank you for sharing. We are cruising soon and i had no idea what to pack for my kids for the formal nights

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: