Child in Cruise ship

10 Worst Cruise Packing Mistakes Families Make When Cruising with Kids

Planning a cruise with kids? Packing for a cruise is challenging when you’re also packing for kids. It’s easy to forget things and make packing mistakes that can ruin your family vacation. Below are some of the worst packing mistakes to avoid when cruising with kids.

Worst Cruise Packing Mistakes for Families with Kids

1. Not Bringing Kids OTC Medicine

Many families make the mistake of forgetting to bring over-the-counter medicine for their kids when going on a cruise. It’s important to bring kids’ fever reducers like Tylenol or Motrin, as well as kids’ antihistamines like Benadryl. The gift shop on the cruise might only have the adult dose, and they may not have the liquid or chewable versions, which are essential if your child cannot swallow a pill yet. 

Bringing kids’ anti-sickness medicine is also a good idea since they might only have the adult dose on the cruise ship. Personally, I always bring anti-seasickness meds for my kids that are chewable.

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Cruise Packing Mistakes for Families

2. Not Bringing Your Kids Favorite Snacks

Just because you’re going on a cruise where there is plenty of food doesn’t mean you don’t need to bring snacks for your kids. 

It’s important to have snacks handy for times when you’re not on the ship or near the buffet. For example, during check-in on embarkation day, there might be a long wait, and your kids could get hungry. Also, having snacks during shore excursions can be a lifesaver on full-day tours.

3. Forget to Bring Their Blankie

One of the biggest cruise packing mistakes is forgetting to bring your child’s security blanket or lovie. You should always remember to pack it so your child will be comfortable during the cruise. 

For example, my son has a security blanket, and I always make sure to bring it with us when we go on a cruise. It helps him sleep better! 

And the one thing I never do is leave his blankie in our checked-in luggage because it’s too risky (what if it gets lost?) I treat it as one of the most important travel items, like passports, and always keep it in our carry-on bag. 

On the last day before we leave our cabin, I make sure to double-check and triple-check our belongings so we don’t accidentally leave his blankie behind.

4. Not Bringing Your Child’s Water Bottle (Sippy Cups)

You should always bring your child’s water bottle or sippy cup. First, having a water bottle in the cabin will be handy in case your child gets thirsty. Also, you’ll need it when you go out exploring the port. 

If your child is still using sippy cups, make sure to bring extras. They can be hard to replace if lost since gift shops might not stock them. I like to bring a pack of disposable sippy cups.

Cruise Packing Mistakes for Families

5. Not Bringing a Variety of Toys

A big mistake that parents make when they go on a cruise is not bringing enough toys for their kids. Make sure you bring a good variety of toys to keep your child occupied. 

Bring the iPad, dinosaur toys, coloring books, and fun magnets (yes, the cabin walls are magnetic)—just make sure it’s an assortment of toys that your child will love. These toys don’t have to be big, smaller toys will do, so they don’t take up too much luggage space.

I also suggest bringing toys your child has never seen before. Wrap them up individually and surprise your child with them. Trust me, this tactic works with cranky kids!

Counting on buying toys at the cruise gift shop is unreliable since their toy selection is usually limited. Having enough toys can make the cruise vacation more relaxing and enjoyable.

6. Forget to Bring Beach Toys

Another big mistake that parents make when going on a cruise to beach destinations like the Caribbean, Mexico, or Bermuda is forgetting to pack beach toys. Depending on where you are, you might not be able to easily buy beach toys.

Forgetting them can lead to a disappointing situation where your child has to make do with makeshift toys—like using plastic cups as shovels and empty water bottles as buckets! Trust me, I learned this from experience! 

It’s best to be prepared and bring your own beach toys so that you can relax at the beach while your child enjoys playing in the sand. Personally, I prefer beach toys with collapsible buckets to save space in the luggage.

7. Forget to Bring Bathing Suits

A big mistake that families make is forgetting to bring pool essentials like bathing suits, water shoes, goggles, and a sunhat. Forgetting these things for kids is a lot worse than forgetting them for adults. 

If you forget your child’s goggles or bathing suits, you can’t just buy them at the gift shop because they might not have the correct size. Cruise ship gift shops generally have a limited selection of kids’ items and may or may not carry bathing suits that fit your child. It’s even worse with kid-size water shoes, sunhats, and goggles—they might not even sell these things! 

If you forget to bring replacements, it’s going to be hard to find them, which can easily put a damper on your cruise. I once forgot my son’s rashguard and couldn’t find one in his size. As a result, I spent a lot of time applying sunblock on him to make sure he didn’t get sunburned—all that could have been avoided if I had remembered to pack his rashguard!

8. Forget to Bring a Stroller

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when cruising with kids is forgetting to bring a stroller. If your kids are stroller age, make sure you bring one. 

But even if they are slightly older (5 or 6 years old) and typically don’t need a stroller, bringing an umbrella stroller is a good idea. It can be really useful when you’re out and about at the port, so you don’t have to carry them when they are tired. 

But if you are going on a Mediterranean cruise or one of the European cruises, then a stroller might not be the best idea because of the cobblestone streets! Do your research before you go. 

9. Not Bringing Kids Prescription Medication

One common mistake families make when going on a cruise is forgetting to bring their kids’ prescription medicine. For example, my son has a nut allergy, so he needs his EpiPen. I once forgot to bring it on a cruise, and it was very stressful because I couldn’t find the EpiPen Junior. Most pharmacies only carry the adult EpiPen, and the dosage was not right for my son!

10. Not Bringing Your Kids Passports

People often forget to bring their children’s passports, thinking they don’t need them for travel. However, many countries require passports for children, including infants. If you don’t have your child’s passport, bringing their birth certificate is a good idea, especially if you have a different last name. This will help provide proof that you are the parent. Check out: What’s the Best Age to Start Cruising? – in this article, I discuss what it’s like to cruise with a toddler, preschooler to teenager!

Free Cruise Port Day Bag Packing List

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Sign up once and you will get access to ALL exclusive content on this website. After unlocking the printable, just save the printable image and then print it. Use it as a checklist to pack your cruise port bag so you don’t forget anything! I hope you like it!

Packing List for Cruise Port Day Bag

Check out these free cruise printables

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