Skip to Content

ULTIMATE 5 day cruise packing list

ULTIMATE 5 day cruise packing list

Looking for the ULTIMATE 5 day cruise packing list? In this guide we tell you exactly what to pack for a 5 day cruise no matter the destination. It includes what to wear on a 5 day cruise for dress codes, shore excursions and more.

Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Note: Although this is a universal 5 day cruise packing list, it is worth noting that there are always some regional difference due to weather, climate and cultural sensitivities. So why not also check out our destination specific cruise packing lists.

Our specific location packing lists for cruises include:

How many outfits should I pack for a 5 day cruise?

Carnival Cruise Ship, the Carnival Fantasy docked in Nassau the Bahamas
5 day cruise packing list

Before we get into our 5 day cruise packing list we will first think about how many outfits you should pack for a 5 day cruise. This includes what to wear in the main dining, on formal nights and more.

Although you should have plenty of space in your case if your cruise only lasts 5 days, we still recommend your try and avoid overpacking. That is because cruise cabins are notoriously small so you want to maximise your space.

To do this we recommend packing a cruise capsule wardrobe where you can use items multiple times in different outfits. So methods we use to create out capsule wardrobes, no matter the season,  is the sudoku packing method, which uses 9 key wardrobe pieces to make multiple outfits. This is a great way to reduce the amount of items you are packing but ensuring you have multiple outfits for a 5 day cruise. 

5 day cruises are easier, in my opinion, to pack a capsule wardrobe for than say a world cruise because they are often closed loop and don’t travel great distances therefore you won’t need to worry about packing for lots of different weather conditions. 

Another great packing method for cruises is the  54321 packing method.

The next thing that affects how many outfits you need for a cruise is how often you intend to use the main dining room and how many formal nights there are on your cruise. 

Cruise dining rooms usually have a smart casual dress code and you will find most people usually change for dinner. 

For most days on a cruise there isn’t a formal dress code. On these days I use day to night transition pieces such as a smart casual blouse or nice Maxi dress, that I can wear to dinner one night and then use during the day the next day. This helps reduce the amount of clothes you take with you. 

Now depending on the length of your cruise will determine how many formal nights there are. Formal nights are evenings when people dress to impress in the formal dining room. On more traditional cruise lines such as Cunard you may see tuxedos however on most lines these translates to cocktail dress and chinos with a jacket and tie for men. 

On a 5 night cruise you can expect there to be only 1 formal night so you don’t have to worry too much about packing lots of formal outfits. 

Note: if you are traveling on Norwegian cruise line which has freestyle dining there are no formal nights at all. 

Overall I would have an outfit for each day of your cruise, which could be mixed and match to make part of a smart casual evening outfit as well as one formal outfit using the sudoku method using just 9 items of clothes.

Going on a different length cruise – then check out our other packing lists:

Note: remember to pack your cruise carry on carefully. This needs to include everything you need until your luggage is returned to your stateroom including a change of clothes for dinner, swimwear and any medications and essential toiletries.

What to wear on a 5 Day Cruise

Woman on beach in shorts looking at a Norwegian Cruise SHip
Norwegian Cruise Dress Code / What to wear on a Norwegian Cruise (NCL)

Now we have looked at the things that will affect how many outfits you should take on a 5 day cruise, we will now give you an overview of the types of outfits we pack. This includes the number of formal outfits as well as what to wear on a four day cruise for excursions, pool time and more. 

Note: the outline below does not take into account the weather for your cruise but gives you an idea of what should make up each of the dress code scenarios you find on a cruise. If you want more specific guidance check out our regional specific cruise guides and our cruise line specific guides:

  • Norwegian Cruise Dress Code
  • Carnival Cruise Line Dress Code
  • Celebrity Cruises Dress Code
  • Disney Cruise Line Dress Code
  • MSC Cruises Dress Code
  • Princess Cruises Dress Code
  • Royal Caribbean Dress Code

Formal Outfits (1 outfits)

If you are traveling on a line, other than Norwegian Cruise line which has no formal dress codes, you can usually expect just 1 formal night on a 5 day cruise.

For women on formal nights cocktail dresses, maxi dress and jumpsuits are all appropriate. And you may even see ball gowns or evening dresses on some of the more formal cruise lines. However if this is not your style then a pant suit is also a great idea. 

For men we recommend chinos and jacket with a shirt and tie. A Tux is also suitable on most line for men, but is definitely not expected anymore. For more men’s cruise outfit inspiration check out this post.

Also remember, if you don’t want to use the main dining room on formal night, then you can leave a formal outfit off your packing list.

Also remember that public areas on cruise ships are notoriously chilly due to the air conditioning. Therefore it is worth having a pashmina, dressy cardigan or jacket with you for wearing at night on a cruise.

Smart Casual Outfits (4 outfits)

I usually pack 3smart casual outfits, one for each evening other than the formal night.

All items in this category will be interchangeable as part of my cruise capsule wardrobe and I may partner a top from a dinner with different bottoms for a casual shore excursion look.

Casual Outfits 4 outfits + my embarkation day outfit)

Again, I pack a cruise capsule wardrobe where everything is interchangeable. For a 4 day cruise this will normally 4 outfits along with my embarkation day outfit.

For me this usually consists of 3-4 t shirts and 2 bottoms i.e. shorts, jeans or chinos depending on the weather and destination of the cruise.

Swimwear (2 pieces)

If you are going to a hot weather destination however you will want to pack at least 2 swimsuits with you so you can wear one and dry one. 

Whenever I get on a cruise ship I first like to head to the main dining room for lunch, and then I like to have either a dip in the pool or a soak in the hot tub. I do this whether I am a hot weather or cold weather cruise. 

Therefore one of the pieces of swimwear I will pack in my carry on and the other will be in my checked luggage.

Beach Cover

Useful for on the pool deck and if you are heading to beaches as part of your cruise itinerary.


Useful for in ports but also on sea days when the sun can be dazzling.


An essential whenever you are cruising as the air conditioning on ships can be fierce. For more travel essentials for women check out this post. 


One set is enough.

Underwear (5 sets plus spares)

I will also have underwear enough for the cruise and a few spares


Now I don’t like to bring too much jewelry with me on cruises as I don’t wear it on shore excursions.

However I do love to wear something on formal night.

If you are nervous about traveling with expensive jewelry we recommend leaving your expensive items in the safe when you aren’t wearing them on the ship. And alternatively there is lots of great costume jewelry on the market which is less stressful to travel with.

Whatever type of jewelry you decide to travel with be sure to check out our guide on how to pack jewelry for travel check out this post here. 

Shoes (3 Pairs) 

Shoes for me are the thing that can make or break packing light for a cruise.

I always try to limit shoes I pack to 2-3 pairs. For me there are a couple of essential pairs of shoes to pack for a 5 day cruise no matter the destination. These are: 

  • Sneakers – these work on cities, countryside and more tropical locations. If you are traveling to a hot weather location we recommend getting a light weight pair. Otherwise a white pair of sneakers are very versatile. 
  • Sandals – I like a pair that can be good for walking and that can also be used in the main dining room 

Note: sandals can be replaced with ankle boots for cold weather destinations and Christmas market river cruises.

But on top of these there are some optional shoes you may want pack depending on where you cruise is heading. These are:

  • Heels / Smart Shoes- if you want them for formal night. 
  • Flip Flops – useful if you plan to spend a lot of time on the pool deck but not good for European cities when walking. 
  • Water Shoes – useful if you are going on a Caribbean or cruise to the South Pacific where you will be snorkelling and where there can be hazards such as lion fish and coral. 

Coat (optional)

Only useful if you are not cruising to a tropical destination i.e. an Alaska Cruise or Europe in Winter.

What do I need to pack for a 5 day cruise (non clothing)?

Side of an MSC Cruise Ship in dock
5 day cruise packing list

So now you know roughly how many outfits you need and what to wear on a 5 day cruise we will now turn our attention to everything you need to pack for a cruise no matter the destination:

Passport/identification and essential documentation

A Passport and identification is always required regardless of the length of cruise and destination (ID can be used in some cases of closed loop cruises). 

It is important to remember that you need this to be in your embarkation day carry on as is required for boarding. As there are so many documents that you need to carry with you for cruise embarkation we think a passport holder is a travel essential.

This can also hold your other essential documentation such as visas and any vaccination documentation that you may need for your cruise and destination.

And don’t forget that you will also need:

Luggage Tags

Cruises will provide you with luggage tags to label your luggage with so it arrives at your stateroom. Be sure to print these off in advance as it will save you time in the terminal.


You will see many people using a lanyard to carry their cabin card including me. The reason is this is your cruise identification and payment method on board so it is super important to keep with you are all times. A lanyard is a good way to do this.

When looking for a cruise lanyard we think that the best ones are waterproof so can be used on shore excursions where you will be spending a lot of time in the water and can also be used to keep small amounts of cash and a government issued id. 

Click here to shop the best lanyards for cruise travel.


Top of my travel toiletries packing list is medication. Just remember to pack any meds you need in your carry on and be sure to have prescriptions with you. 

As well as prescription medication some other medications you may like to travel with include:

  • pain medications such as Advil, paracetamol, Tylenol and Ibuprofen 
  • Reflux Meds such as Gaviscon, Tums etc. 
  • Birth Control
  • Inhalers

Sea sickness medication or bands

I personally have never gotten sea sick on a cruise ship and I have cruised on some very rough seas. But that is not to say that no one will ever experience seasickness on a cruise.

If you are concerned about sea sickness be sure to pack some meds with you just in case. 

There are lots of different methods to combat sickness from tablets, wristbands, ginger and more so pick the method that you think will work best for you. 

Click here to shop sea sickness medication

Universal Travel Adaptor

Depending on where you are from and who you are sailing with, a universal travel adaptor may be an essential to make sure that all your electronics will work. 

Click here to shop universal travel adaptors. 


Most new ships will have USB charging ports next to the bed however this is by no means on all ships. Don’t get caught out and take a charger with you and a spare cable. 


What toiletries to pack for a cruise / cruise toiletries checklist
What toiletries to pack for a cruise / cruise toiletries checklist

Although most ships provide toiletries I will always pack some on my own as I think they are better quality than those you get on board most cruise ships. 

For more information on the best toiletries to bring on a cruise check out this post. But generally speaking I tend to always pack the following for cruises no matter the destination:

Shampoo and Conditioner 

Shampoo and conditioner that can help your hair cope with heat and seawater. 

Toothbrush and toothpaste

Although toiletries are usually provided you will need to bring your own tooth brush and toothpaste.


It is important to be sun safe whereever in the world you are cruising. This is usually available onboard but will cost you a premium if you wait and buy on board. 

If you plan on spending time in water we recommend buying sunscreen that is reef safe. Our current favorite brand is Sunbum. Click here to shop reef safe sunscreen.

Lip balm

The contrast between the nice weather on a warm weather cruise with the cruise ship air conditioning is the perfect recipe for getting dry lips. 

We always recommend packing lip balm that has an SPF so your lips are protected when on beach excursions etc. Again my favorite brand is Sun Bum. Click here to shop lip balm for cruise ships.

Make-Up (optional)

I personally always have make-up with me when I go on a cruise for dinners in the evening. However it is easy to overpack.  

For this reason I try to limit travel make-up. After perfecting my makeup bag packing over many trips my travel make up essentials tend to be:

But my favorite travel beauty product is the  Nars Multiple.

This is  one makeup stick that can be used beautifully on eyes, cheeks and lips which greatly reduces the amount you need to pack.

Period Products

For those expecting their period on their travels. A menstrual cup is a great option for reducing the amount of products you have to take as well as being good for the environment.

Travel Razor 

I always have a compact travel razor with me no matter the destination but it is especially important for me when I know I will be swimming or sunbathing. Click here to buy travel razors.

Brush and Hair Ties

A mix collection of hair ties are an essential especially if you have long hair. 

If you have more space you could add any of your other hair accessories too.


The best thing about cruises are the ports you get to visit. You definitely will want to capture your memories with a camera. 

If you are traveling on a cruise with lots of water excursions and plan on snorkelling it might be worth getting a GoPro to capture your underwater memories. Click here to shop underwater cameras.

What to pack for a 5 day cruise (Optional)

Gym wear

This is only needed if you plan to use the gym on board your cruise ship. If you don’t plan to then leave this behind. 


Can you bring a corkscrew on a cruise ship? Can you bring a wine opener on a cruise ship? corkscrew on white background
Can you bring a corkscrew on a cruise ship? Can you bring a wine opener on a cruise ship? 

Depending on the line you are on, you will be permitted to Bring on board a small amount of alcohol – usually just champagne or wine. 

If you are allowed to bring alcohol on board we recommend using your allowance as this will be cheaper than drinks on the ship. But be sure to check your cruise ship rules before travel so it meets current requirements. 

Note – wondering if you can bring a corkscrew on a cruise ship – check out this post for more information.

5 Day Cruise Packing List Checklist 

  • 1 Formal Outfit per person.
  • Pashmina 
  • 3 Smart Casual Outfits (can be made up of repeat pieces that make 3 looks). 
  • 3 Casual Outfits (can be made up of repeat pieces that make 3 looks). 
  • 2 items of Swimwear
  • Beachcover (optional)
  • Coat (optional)
  • Sneakers
  • Sandals – (or ankle boots in cold weather places)
  • Hiking boots (optional depending on the destination and itinerary).
  • Heels / Smarter Shoes – optional depending if you want to dress up for formal out
  • Passport and Identification
  • Documentation (including Covid 19 paperwork, test results and insurance to name but a few)
  • Medication 
  • Sea Sickness Remedies 
  • Lanyard
  • Luggage Tags
  • Toiletries 
  • Sun screen
  • Lip Balm with SPF
  • Make Up
  • Razor / Shaving Kit
  • Hair Brush and Hair Ties
  • Jewelry 
  • Camera
  • Charger
  • Universal Travel Adaptor 

Have you been on a 5 day cruise? What did you pack for a 5 day cruise let us know in the comments.