active family travel,  Travel

Port Essentials – What Do You Need to Take With You?

Port essentials are just what they say – essential. Without them, your time exploring any port could be a challenge. Disembarking the ship is fun and a great chance to explore a new island or city. But, if you forget these items when returning to the ship you could ruin that dream cruise.

Some of these port essentials are for convenience, some are for a better overall experience, and some… Well, without a couple of these you won’t even get back on the ship! So let’s talk about the essentials that you absolutely cannot disembark without when you cruise.

Port Essentials Vital for Getting on and off Ship

If you’ve never planned a cruise before, you might not realize what’s involved on board. Cruising is a different sort of vacation. Even though cruises are pretty much all-inclusive, there are things you need to bring to ensure that your cruise goes well. When you are on board it is a self contained environment at sea.

You’ll be living on and enjoying the entertainment of the ship, but there are still excursions. And there are always ports of call. So you have to view cruising as an entire vacation and you need to be organized too. There are a few port essentials you need every time you leave the boat. Here’s a quick list to help you make the most of every port visit. There’s a free printable at the end too should you be travelling soon. Please print it out and take with you.

Cruise ID

If you want to cruise at all, you’ll need your cruise ID. Your cruise ID gets you on to the ship and enjoying everything it has to offer. It is also the key to your stateroom. On board it will be linked to a credit card as well so treat it as if it is a credit card, as important as cash. Take care of it. The Cruise ID is one of the most important things you need to carry everywhere. You need it for getting on and off the ship. Without it, you’re, sunk. (couldn’t resist)


Much like your cruise ID gets you on to the ship, your passport gets you out on the excursions. Cruising is a mini travel adventure, and many of them take you to other countries around the world. You’ll need your passport to venture out on the excursions offered by the cruise line. You need it when you go into any port. They will check them at security when you return to the ship. EVERYONE in your family needs to have their passports with them at that time.

Cell Phone

Just like any other trip, bringing cell phones allows you and your family to make calls in case of emergency or to find each other if you split up. That’s incredibly important while out on excursions.


This is one of my big cruise essentials. You’ll be out and about in the sun A LOT. You might also be swimming. Sun screen is key if you don’t want your trip to consist of you looking like a boiled lobster and feeling awful later.


Most parts of your cruise will be rolled into your rate. I stress “most”, because not all will. There are some extras. Cash is one of the most important port essentials. You will be shopping in port. Trust me on this. They cruise right into mini souvenir shopping districts often. That’s not covered by cruise ID. Plus I like having cash often in these situations so I can barter effectively. Impossible to argue that you only have $10 if you whip out a credit card to pay. You’ll want cash to do a little shopping on your excursions. After all, we all love our souvenirs!

A Bag

And speaking of souvenirs, they’re hard to carry if you don’t have a bag or small travel backpack of some sort. Be sure you pack a nice, big bag for carrying all your trip swag! Your purse can go with you but honestly if you have a travel bag it will work so much better. Plus who wants a Coach bag to get all sandy or wet.


If you are disembarking to go hang out at a beach, or a waterpark remember to bring towels. Towels can be port essentials depending on your excursion. So plan accordingly. Cruise ship towels are fine. If you have one of your own from home, then take it instead. Nothing like a nice, absorbent towel.


This should go without saying but I am saying it anyways. Port essentials include your medicines. If you are traveling with medication you need for anything on a daily basis, please always make sure you carry enough for a day or two with you. In an emergency you could be stuck waiting for medication. Not a position you want to be in. Your kids take medication or epi-pens? Keep these with you in a secure pocket of your purse, bag or backpack.


Port Essentials for Smooth Sailing

Cruising is one of my favourite ways to get away as a family. My family and I do this as often as possible. If you’re planning a cruise, be sure to download and print this port essentials checklist to ensure that you get on and off the ship with ease and enjoy everything it has to offer. The more prepared you are, the more fun your trip will be!

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Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Monica

    This is a really great list of what to bring with you when you’re on a port excursion. I have actually never been in a cruise but it is on my list! Have pinned your post so when I do go on a cruise I can print it out. Thanks so much.