Top Items You Must Pack in Your Carry On For a Cruise

Top Items You Must Pack in Your Carry On For a Cruise

So you’ve booked you’re stateroom, you’ve got a cruise coming up, so exciting!  But what do you pack?  Depending on how long is the voyage, many people will have a larger suitcase, a carry on, and a purse and/or backpack.  Staterooms on cruises are smaller than most hotels so it’s important to pack smart.  Packing a carry-on to bring on a cruise is different than packing a carry-on for an airplane.  For example, there’s no restrictions on liquids.  So it’s not an issue to bring things like your water bottle, sun-screen or toiletries. If I’ve flown into the city of wherever I’m going to cruise, I’ve definitely taken a few minutes to move things around from my larger suitcase to my carry-on, because I wasn’t allowed to bring on the plane (ie sunscreen) but could very well need on Embarkation Day.

Assuming you have both a larger suitcase and a carry-on, here’s a list of things you’ll want to keep in your carry-on and DO NOT leave behind in your larger suitcase.  Why does it matter?  Because good news:  when you’re at port, one of the first things you do is hand over most of your luggage to the porters, who will deliver directly to your stateroom.  Yay!  Less to lug around.  Bad news:  You might not see your luggage for hours.  So it’s really important to pack the things you might need while you’re waiting for the rest of your stuff.  Here’s a comprehensive list of what you’re going to:

Travel Documentation

✓ Passport – Make sure that your passport is up to date.

✓ Visa – If you need a visa for your cruise, make sure that you apply for it 3 to 6 months before your cruise.

✓ Driver’s License – If you plan on driving in certain destinations when the ship is docked, you may want to get yourself an international driver’s license.

✓ Auto Insurance Card – In case you want to rent a car on days when the ship is docked at the port.

✓ Cash – Always bring cash, especially for the little towns who don’t exactly take credit card.

Pro Tip: For safety, always keep a physical (print out) and virtual copy (screenshots on your phone) of your travel documents and identification. You can download any of these apps to scan your documents. You can also send them to yourself as an email attachment.

Important Documents

✓ Tickets – The night before your cruise, make sure that you have your tickets secured inside your carry-on bag.

✓ Travel Insurance – If you’re unsure whether you should get travel insurance, check out why you absolutely should.

✓ Medical Insurance – It’s important to note that your travel insurance and medical insurance are quite different. Before your cruise, check with your provider what your policy covers.

✓ Medical History – If you have any special or chronic conditions, make sure to let the cruise manager / director know about it prior to your trip. Also, prepare a detailed copy of your medical history, including instructions (e.g. where your medication is located, what medication you take, allergies, etc.) should an emergency occur.

✓ Emergency Contacts – Include phone numbers, emails, and mobile messenger profiles.

Pro Tip:You can make individual travel document kits – especially if you’re traveling in a big group – using ziplock bags. Label each one before storing them inside your tote or backpack.


✓ Mobile Phone – For most people this is a no-brainer but hey, you’ve got a lot to remember.  use this as a checklist and make sure your phone is where it should be. Load your smartphone with offline maps of your excursions so you don’t have any excuse for not exploring!

✓ Camera + Charger – A waterproof camera if you can budget for it is recommended! Don’t forget to pack extra batteries and memory cards.

✓ Table/Ipad/Kindle- Before the cruise, download some movies / series from Netflix for offline viewing. Don’t forget to download while still on WiFi!  WiFi on cruises is sometimes…not the best.  Download at home so you have some content to watch without interruption from slow connection speeds. Don’t forget to download some e-books to read while you’re on the ship (or for less techy, head to the library to check out books made of actual paper!).

✓ Chargers – Use velcro cable ties or twist ties to keep your cables organized. You can also label each for quick access.

✓ Cruise approved Power strip bar- Since your cruise ship stateroom will likely have only 2 electric plugs, a power strip can be very practical. However, it is against cruise line policies to bring a surge-protected power strip (and will confiscate), so you need to be very careful to only buy one this “cruise approved”.  Look for USB chargers, especially if most of your devices are charged with a USB cord.  This also lessons the adaptors you need to bring on your trip.

✓ Portable Charger –  So you can keep charging your devices offboard!

✓ Waterproof Watch – Opt for a cheap, waterproof watch and remember to set it on your ship’s time.  This the time you’ll need to keep track of while you’ll on or off the ship.

✓ Headphones – If you feel extra nice to who you are traveling with, bring a headphone splitter so you can share one device.

Must Haves

✓ Wallet – Keep some pocket money in your wallet for you to use in case of an emergency (meaning if you get hungry and need some snacks, or for a real emergency).

✓ Sunglasses and/or reading glasses  – Keep them in their own storage, so they don’t get scratched

✓ Prescription Medication – Keep them in their original containers. Less questions will be asked when going through security.

✓ First Aid Kit – This is especially helpful when traveling with kids.

✓ Toiletries – pack travel size (and TSA Approved) toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste, moisturizer, contact lens solution, etc. Also helpful:  need sunblock, aloe gel, lip balm and hand sanitizer.

✓ Change of Clothes – You don’t have to bring an entire outfit.  Pack clothes made from lighter, wrinkle-free fabrics like jersey or linen. I always recommend to bring a bathing suit and flip flops, in case you want to hit the pool before your luggage arrives (or arrives late).

✓ Outerwear – Depending on the season you’re traveling, you might want to bring a light cardigan or jacket with you. You can tie bulkier items like outerwear around your waist (or wear on the plane when it gets cold), so it doesn’t take up space in you carry-on.

✓ Kids Entertainment Kit – If you’re going to be stuck at the airport for a period of time or have nothing on your schedule yet after boarding, pack a backpack with books, art materials, puzzles and their favorite toys to keep them entertained.

Extra Stuff to Pack with Kids

✓ Diapers & wipes – obviously if you have kids in diapers, this is a no-brainer.  Pack enough for the  trip and then some, just in case.

✓ Sippy cups – You pack your water bottle, make sure to pack theirs too!

✓ Kids Snacks – I still bring some of my kids favorite tried and true snacks, even when on a cruise and we’re surrounded by food.  It never hurts to have some of their favorite pre-packaged granola bars, fruit snacks, trail mix and the like.  Especially for when you’re off the cruise ship and at port.  I will admit that when you’re on the ship when we’re by the pool  their “snack” is more often than not the soft serve ice cream dispenser.  But since we’re on vacation it doesn’t really count, right???



✓ Wine and/or Soda? – Some cruise lines allow you to bring one or two bottles of wine, and up to a certain amount of cans of soda in your carry-on.  If you are trying to stay in budget this is a great way to do so!  I do not think there is anything wrong with bringing a can of soda to the dining room if you just one Diet Coke with dinner, vs paying up the nose for the drink package.  Now a lot of people do opt for the drink package and that’s fine.  But for others if you want to save yourself some money to spend on other things like gratuity or excursions, check out your cruise line’s policy on bringing drinks onboard the ship. 

Bonus – What you CAN’T bring on a cruise

There are a couple of things that many new cruisers don’t realize are absolute no-no’s on a cruise. Don’t bring these.

1. Iron or steamer – This is a fire hazard and you can’t bring this on your cruise, not in your carry on and not in your luggage.

2. Household power strip bar – Since there are not a lot of electric outlets in the cruise cabin, many cruisers have heard that it’s a great idea to bring a power bar. It is, but you must only bring one that is cruise-approved.

So there’s our list!  Is there anything we’re missing, or what do you make sure put in your carry-on that is your must have?  Leave a message in the comments below because I would love to hear all about it.  And if you’d like some help planning your next vacation click here because I would love help make your vacation dreams a reality!

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What’s Included In Your Royal Caribbean Cruise Fare on Navigator of the Seas?

What’s Included In Your Royal Caribbean Cruise Fare on Navigator of the Seas?

If you are going on a Royal Caribbean cruise onboard Navigator of the seas, you might be wondering what parts of the cruise experience are included in the cruise fare that you paid.  After all, there is a lot of components to any cruise vacation and it’s good to know what’s included and what isn’t.

We think Royal Caribbean does include a lot of activities, food, entertainment and things to do in your cruise fare.  A cruise remains a really good vacation value, especially when you factor in meals and entertainment.  Over the years, Royal Caribbean has realized some of its guests prefer to add onto the core experience, and began offering more options to tack onto their vacation.  As a result, it may be a bit overwhelming for someone new to Royal Caribbean to know exactly what is included and what carries an additional cost.

If you have been hoping to find out what is included with your Royal Caribbean fare and what is extra, specifically for Navigator of the Seas this breakdown should help clear it all up.


Let’s start with something simple, where are you staying on your cruise.  Your cruise fare gets you a stateroom exclusively for you.  This means you have a room and private bathroom to use throughout the cruise.

Depending on which type of stateroom you book the exact size, amenities and layout of the room will vary.  But at the very least, you should know that your cruise fare assures you of a room just for you (and any friends or family you invited to stay with you).


Guests sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas (and most Royal Caribbean’s ships) have two choices when it comes to gratuities to the dining room wait staff and stateroom attendants that provide services to them.  They may elect to pre-pay gratuities prior to the cruise, or have gratuities automatically charged on a daily basis to the SeaPass account.

As of January 2, 2018, guests will pay a $14.50 per guest per day service charge on a daily basis for guests in Junior Suites and below, or $17.50 USD per person, per day for guests in Grand Suites and above, applied to each guest’s SeaPass account on a daily basis, unless pre-paid prior to the start of your cruise.

Purchases and services rendered onboard a Royal Caribbean ship will have gratuities added at the time of purchase.  If you buy a drink, get a massage at the spa, eat at a specialty restaurant, etc, you will be charged an 18% gratuity automatically.  Your receipt will display the cost breakdown.  ***NOTE*** Do not skimp on tipping the staff!  They work extremely hard and this is where they make most of their income.   Gratuities are a part of cruising and your staff will show how hard they work for you by making so many moment of your trip that much more special with their amazing service, done with a smile.

Drink packages and specialty dining packages will be charged an automatic gratuity upon purchase of the package, which means no additional gratuity is required when taking advantage of the package benefits (i.e. ordering a drink at the bar with a drink package).  Some people forget this and add essentially a tip on top of a tip.  Not required! (although if you want to do so, go for it)

In addition to the gratuities listed earlier, there are opportunities to give crew members an additional tip for excellent service.  Even crew members who receive an automatic gratuity can receive additional gratuities if you feel it is warranted.  I find the PPG (Pre-paid gratuities) to be fair, and often I will pre-pay so I have one less thing to deal with at the end of my trip.

Meals & Snacks

Main Dining Room, Navigator of the Seas

All Royal Caribbean cruise fares include most meals and snacks onboard your ship, and any private destination you visit (such as Labadee or CocoCay).  This means there will be ample opportunity to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in-between without additional cost.

While on Navigator of the Seas, your cruise fare includes:

  • Main dining room – With sweeping, multi-level ambiance, world-class cuisine, and extraordinary personal service, the main dining room serves exceptional, multi-course meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day.
  • Windjammer buffet – Enjoy an assortment of global cuisines and American favorites at this casual dining destination with spectacular views and a comfortable atmosphere that welcomes guests for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Cafe Promenade – Located in the multi-level Royal Promenade at the heart of the ship – and the best spot for people watching – Cafe Promenade serves coffee, snacks pastries and sandwiches around the clock.  Open 24 hours a day, it’s perfect for satisfying your late night cravings.
  • El Loco Fresh – Stop into El Loco FreshSM to satisfy your craving for fresh-made Mexican favorites, like burritos, tacos and salsas. ]
  • There are 2 soft serve ice cream machines. One is located against a wall in the Windjammer and the other one is located on Deck 11 against a wall in the pool area.

Simply put, it is quite easy to have plenty to eat at any of the complimentary dining locations onboard.

You may find a few for-fee items on the main dining room menu, such as a filet or lobster.  Steak and lobster might be offered on other evenings of the cruise for no fee, but this is an option for those that want those dishes at other times.

Windjammer on Navigator of the Seas

Navigator of the Seas does offer in addition alternative specialty restaurants, where you can opt to pay extra for food/meal.  Most specialty restaurants have a simple cover charge that includes most of the food on the menu, although there are a couple of specialty restaurants that forgo the cover charge and simply charge you for what you order.

Here is a list of the specialty restaurants specifically for Navigator of the Seas:

  • Johnny Rockets Express – Step back in time to the 1950s, when jukeboxes were at every table and diner menus were packed with all-American favorites like burgers, fries, and shakes.
  • Chops Grille – Enjoy juicy steaks, fresh seafood, hearty side dishes, and sumptuous desserts in the elegant, classic Chicago atmosphere of Royal Caribbean’s popular signature steakhouse.
  • Izumi (a la carte) – Traditional Asian cuisine is artfully prepared and presented at Izumi. You’ll be wowed by the fresh ingredients, delicate flavors, and gorgeous plating of Izumi’s sushi, sashimi, ishi-yaki plates, and more.
  • Jamie’s Italian – Chef Jamie Oliver’s passion for Italian cooking and the Italian way of life drives a menu of rustic favorites, bursting with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
  • Hooked Seafood – For the freshest seafood and raw bar favorites, head to Hooked SeafoodSM — it’s a real taste of New England in a casual setting.
  • Playmakers – At Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade, it’s all about winning — whether you’re watching your home team on screen, making your own legendary plays at the arcade, or refueling on your game-day favorites.
  • Chef’s Table – Dinner at Chef’s Table is both experiential and educational, as the Chef de Cuisine specially prepares and presents each course, while explaining its cooking techniques, ingredients and flavors. Then a sommelier pairs every course with wine chosen to enhance your enjoyment of the dish.
  • Starbucks – Being at sea doesn’t mean you have to give up your daily half-caff Coconut Milk Macchiato. Your Salted Caramel Mocha Frappucino® is here, too. And achieve Teavana® whenever the mood emerges. From drinks to pastry, you can enjoy your Starbucks®; favorites on select ships. A la carte pricing.
  • Ben & Jerry’s – Treat yourself to a cone of Vermont’s Finest Ice Cream, or indulge in a smoothie, sundae, or shake for a special treat.

Specialty restaurants offer cuisine options not otherwise available onboard your ship, as well as an opportunity to indulge in meals that you may prefer to enjoy at your own pace.  In addition, the ambiance is usually enhanced at these locations and the prices charged are usually not exorbitant.  As stated earlier, you should look at specialty restaurants as a way to enhance or splurge on your cruise, as dining at the complimentary venues is quite satisfying.

Chops Grille onboard Navigator of the Seas


Navigator of the Seas provides all its guests (and this is standard for all of Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships) a few different drinks throughout the day that are included in your cruise fare.  These drinks are available at any time, and include:

  • tap water
  • milk
  • tea
  • coffee (regular and decaf)
  • lemonade
  • iced tea
  • flavored waters
  • juices (at breakfast and not fresh squeezed)
  • Hot chocolate (via instant packets)

These drinks are available throughout your cruise at a number of locations, so there will always be somewhere to get something to drink for free. And if you are wondering, it is very safe to drink the tap water onboard, as it is of high quality.

I’m more of a Diet Coke gal myself – what’s your favorite drink while cruising?

Alternatively, if you want alcohol, soda, juices, virgin cocktails and pretty much anything else not listed above, you can purchase them individually for an additional cost during the cruise.

  • soda
  • beer
  • wine
  • liquor
  • cocktails
  • premium coffee and tea, such as Starbucks
  • bottled water (still or sparkling)
  • fresh squeezed juice

For all of these drinks, you may purchase each drink individually or purchase a Royal Caribbean beverage package that will give you either a set allotment of beverages or unlimited access onboard to them.

Royal Caribbean does allow its guests to bring up to two brttles of wine per stateroom with them onboard a ship.  It must be brought onboard on embarkation day, and it is subject to a corkage fee if opened in a public venue.  Guests may also bring non-alcoholic beverages as carry-on items on boarding day. Non-alcoholic beverages may not exceed 12 standard (17 oz.) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom. Milk and distilled water brought on for infant, medical, or dietary use are permitted.

Room service

Room service is available any time of the day or night – simply order from the room service menu located in your stateroom/suite (service charge of $7.95* applies). An 18% gratuity is additional and will automatically be added to your check.  Grand Suites and above do receive complimentary room service, however the 18% gratuity still applies.

Child programming and care

Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean program offers children between the ages of 3 and 17 years old, complimentary supervised programming during the day and part of the evening. From when Adventure Ocean opens until 10pm, there is no additional cost to use Adventure Ocean. From 10pm to 2am, Royal Caribbean offers an after hour ($7 per hour) option that has an hourly cost for parents that want to let kids stay a bit later.

While in Adventure Ocean, kids take part  in activities lead by the Adventure Ocean staff. There’s a lot for kids to do here and the programs specialize for each age group. It’s a mix of learning, play time and socializing.

Children between the ages of six months and 36 months old can participate in the Royal Babies and Royal Tots program. Most Royal Caribbean ships offer a nursery, where parents can drop children off throughout the day and evening. Use of the nursery comes at an hourly charge.

In addition to the Nursery, there is often a open play area set up during the day for parents to bring their young children to and play that has no additional cost. This is unsupervised play time, but does provide an opportunity every day for parents with toddlers to have space to crawl, play, and have some fun.

Activities and Shows

A vast majority of cruise activities are included with your cruise fare.  Your daily Cruise Compass will list a schedule of activities offered onboard, and most have no charge for them. These are the sort of activities you might expect to find on a cruise ship (as well as some that may surprise you).  Cooking demonstrations, pool games, movies, trivia, dance classes, and scavenger hunts are regularly offered on Royal Caribbean and have no additional charge.  On Navigator of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has amplified their pool deck, there’s the always popular FlowRider, outdoor movie nights, multiple water slides, culinary classes, wine tasting, ice skating and laser tag, and more!

There are some activities offered that have an additional fee, such as some fitness classes, bingo, casino tournaments (and pretty much anything in the casino), drink seminars, spa services and more.  In addition, Navigator of the Seas also offers To Dry For Blow Dry Bar, cupcake classes, and the all new Royal Escape Room!


The performances in the Royal Theater, are included in your cruise fare.  Likewise, ice shows, comedy shows, magic shows, live music, audience participation shows and more are included as well.  Even the Broadway shows on Royal Caribbean ships are included in your cruise fare.

There will be shows each evening, along with additional performances during the day on sea days.  Live music is a staple of Royal Caribbean’s entertainment and is offered throughout the day at multiple locations.

Signature activities and Games

Royal Caribbean has built a reputation for itself with some of the signature activities offered onboard.  Watch any Royal Caribbean cruise commercial, and inevitably you will see people tackling the FlowRider, rock climbing wall and more.

Here is a breakdown of Navigator of the Seas top activities and any additional costs.

  •  Flowrider surf simulator
    • No cost to use (first come, first served), although private and group lessons are available to book for an additional fee.
  • Rock climbing wall
    • No cost to use (first come, first served), although private and group lessons are available to book for an additional fee.
  • Mini golf
    • No cost to use
  • Waterslides (Riptide, The Perfect Storm and The Blaster)
    • No cost to use
  • Aqua parks (Amplified Pool Deck)
    • No cost to use
  • Sports Court/SeaPlex
    • Multi-purpose venues that offer basketball, tennis, volleyball, dodge ball, soccer and more.
    • No cost to use.
  • Ice Skating


    • No cost to use (tip:  get in line early to get your pass to ice skate, they go fast)
  • Laser Tag:  Battle for Planet Z
    • no cost to use
  • Royal Escape Room – The Observatorium
    • Reservations required, 12 and older, additional fee
  • Scuba Certification
    • Get certified while onboard, fee applies

Fitness and Spa

Every Royal Caribbean ship has a fitness center that offers cardio machines, weight lifting machines, weights and more for no additional cost.  There are also some (but not all) fitness classes included in your cruise fare, such as stretch and abs workouts.

Each Royal Caribbean ship has a jogging track, which is available to use throughout the day and at no additional cost.

The sports courts also offer complimentary use of the facilities, with organized games often held throughout the sailing.

The fitness center will offer fitness classes for an additional fee, such as spinning, yoga, Pilates and more. The fitness center also offers personalized training and other services for an additional fee.

The spa is nearly available exclusively at an additional cost.  Spa treatments, salon services and day passes all come with an additional cost.

Navigator of the Seas does have a a complimentary single sex sauna that can be found in the changing rooms of the fitness center on deck 11 of the ship.

Tours of the spa are available at any time during your cruise and have no additional cost or obligation.  In fact, these tours are a great way to learn about what the spa offers.

Pool and sun decks

Access to Royal Caribbean’s pools are included in your cruise fare, including the lounge chairs, hot tubs, water slides, aqua parks and more. The Solarium area has no additional cost, but is limited to adults only.

Some areas of the pool deck are reserved for suite guests only.  If you are a suite guest (Grand Suite and above), you will have complimentary access to these areas.   On Navigator of the Seas, there is a limited VIP lounge chair set-up near the pool Bar area between Deck 12, Foward (No chairs reservation, however).

Miscellaneous services

If not mentioned in the post, here are a few more services that are not included in the cruise fare

  • Gambling (Including Bingo)
  • Art Auction
  • Any purchases made in the gift shops onboard
  • Shore excursions
  • Photographs
  • Video Arcade
  • Medical Services
  • Internet Access
  • Transfers (Unless guest has purchased our air/sea package)
  • Laundry and Dry Cleaning Services
  • Ship to Shore Telephone calls

There’s truly so much to do on the ship that your biggest issue will be not having enough time to do everything!  And we haven’t even discussed Navigator’s ports of call, Nassau and Perfect Day at Coco Cay.  That will be for another blog post.  What is your favorite part about being on a cruise ship?  Comment below and let us know!

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