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Best Luggage to Use for a Cruise

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Most cruise cabins are small in size and don’t have a ton of storage space. For that reason it is smart to consider how much luggage you will bring, especially if you are sharing your stateroom with others. Here is some advice for the best luggage for a cruise.

Luggage to Use on a Cruise - Best luggage for a cruise, how many bags to bring, what to pack

Best Luggage to Bring on a Cruise

The length of your cruise and the type of cruise you are taking will determine what type of luggage you need to bring. The best luggage for an Alaska cruise through the Inside Passage might be different from bags you will bring for a week in the Caribbean, if only because of their contents. A formal cruise may mean you will bring a garment bag to protect your tuxedo or gown, while a fun in the sun trip calls for swimsuits and easy tote bags to carry your towel and sunscreen.

How many bags can you take on a cruise? Most cruise lines don’t specify luggage requirements per person but recommend that you bring no more than 2 bags each, and keep their weight under 50 pounds. That’s quite a lot of luggage, especially for a cruise of a week or less.

The best size luggage for a 7 day cruise is probably a 22-24″ rolling suitcase combined with some sort of carry on bag. Read on for plenty of tips and ideas to pack perfectly for your cruise.



The best luggage for a cruise is that which is large enough to contain what you need, but not so big and bulky that it is cumbersome in your cabin. Also keep in mind that you will need to bring the bags to and from the cruise ship, so don’t overpack and have problems at the airport or with transport like taxis, trains and buses.

Lightweight yet sturdy luggage is always a good idea. Some prefer hard sided suitcases as they better protect the contents from bumps and knocks. Others swear by soft sided luggage as it can be lighter weight and expand to fit more. Perhaps you prefer to travel light and only bring a carry on sized bag to avoid airline baggage fees.

What size suitcase to take on a cruise? Rules vary depending on the cruise line but I would stick to dimensions less than 16 x 24 inches for checked bags and your typical small sized bags for carry on.

If you are looking to purchase new luggage, another thing to consider is avoiding black bags. This will make it much easier to spot your bag on a luggage carousel and help prevent someone from grabbing your suitcase instead of their own. If you prefer a black bag you should definitely attach a brightly colored ribbon or other obvious marker to distinguish your bag from another. Just keep in mind that a ribbon or other tag can go missing in baggage handling.

Here are some options for the best luggage for a cruise:

  • Travelpro Maxlite 22″ is an excellent choice if you prefer to pack on the lighter side or perhaps bring two smaller bags. This luggage has inline wheels which tend to be longer lasting than spinner wheels. It comes in a variety of colors. I like this gray as it is understated like black but is not typical black. The bag is slightly larger than the typical carry on dimensions.
  • With 360 degree spinner wheels and a strong polycarbonate shell, the Samsonite PC Omni 24″ is a popular lightweight but roomy suitcase. It comes in a fabulous range of colors.
  • The Travelpro Maxlite Pro is a two piece set consisting of a small underseat carry on and expandable 25″ spinner bag. You should be able to carry all the necessities for a 7-14 day cruise with this combo. It comes in red, black or blue.

Usually you can store empty suitcases under the bed. Check with your cruise line to find out exact measurements of this space if you think your bags might be too large. Folks often not only store their suitcases under the bed but use them as extra drawers for clothes and items that will not be used often.

When you arrive on your cruise, your checked baggage will eventually be delivered to your room. However, you will likely want to bring a carry on bag as well for several reasons.

  1. your luggage could be lost – you will wish you packed a change of clothes and toiletries
  2. your luggage could be delayed several hours – you may want a swimsuit or dinner clothes
  3. you might have valuables you want to keep with you like electronics or jewelry
  4. you will want to have your passport and other documents with you

Therefore it is smart to chose a good cruise carry on bag in addition to your checked luggage. What makes a great cruise carry on bag? The one you use for flights should be fine. I would recommend something lightweight that you can wheel as well as carry in case you need to tote it up stairs. You might have it with you for several hours before you can check into your cabin.

If you love traveling light or your cruise is very short, you might want to bring only a carry on. What are the typical carry on dimensions? Most major airlines give 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches as the carry on dimensions for their flights. However if you will be traveling budget or commuter airlines like Jetblue and Southwest or European Airlines like Transavia, Vueling or EasyJet the carry on dimensions can be much smaller. Be sure to check in advance with your airline.

Here are some of the best carry on bags for your cruise:

  • eBags TLS Motherlode 21″ is a soft sided carry on duffel that is expandable. Stuff it full when you don’t need to worry about airline restrictions. Otherwise it will fit fine. It comes in a variety of colors from periwinkle to red to lime green. Owners like the brightly colored interior and several zippered pockets.
  • This expandable 20″ spinner bag by Kenneth Cole Reaction has snazzy styling with a chevron pattern. The bag fits carry on requirements but can expand up to 10.5″ if needed. It also comes in an underseat size and larger 28″ luggage. Navy is always chic.
  • The hard shelled eBags Fortis 22″ is made of durable Bayer Makrolon Polycarbonate, and has sturdy spinner wheels. The carry on sized bag also has a built in combination lock. It comes in several colors, I like the mirrored silver. Check prices and read reviews here.

Be sure to also check our post about things you should not bring on a cruise, including prohibited items.

Garment Bags to Bring on your Cruise

Are you on a cruise with formal dinners? Then you will be bringing at least one fancy dress or suit. Pack them in a garment bag to prevent wrinkles. You can carry your simple garment bag on with you or choose a rolling garment bag.

These garment bags are great for travel:

Toiletry Bags for Cruise

As you may know, cruise ship staterooms are not the most spacious places. There is plenty of room but if you are sharing the space and have a ton of stuff it can get cluttered and crowded.

Help keep your bathroom organized with a hanging toiletry bag. You can put in on a door handle or towel bar for easy access without needing extra shelf space.

Here are a few toiletry bags you might like:

Backpacks + Totes: Best Bags for Cruise Excursions

For cruises with lots of shore excursions you will want a roomy bag that can hold daily necessities like water, snacks, camera, and an extra sweater and do double duty as a shopping tote for any souvenirs you might purchase.

This handy backpack folds up into a tiny pouch that will fit in your luggage when not in use. 

Backpacks + Totes: Best Bags for Cruise Excursions

Other popular daypacks include:

  • Travelers love the Timbuk2 Blink Pack. It is roomy enough to fit lots of necessities for excursions and has simple styling and sturdy construction.
  • The Fjallraven Kanken is a popular daypack in Europe and the USA for many years now. It has retro style and comes in lots of fun colors. I like the version made from 100% recycled materials. It also comes in a regular and mini size.
  • Will you be doing lots of watersports on your cruise like kayaking, snorkeling, rafting or hiking in rainy conditions? You might want to check out this waterproof drybag daypack by Mystic Wise.

Tote bags are also popular. You can use them around the ship to carry your Kindle and sunscreen to the pool deck or while in port to carry your belongings. If you will be using it to walk around cities and towns it may be smart to look for a tote that can be securely closed, unless you will only be using it to carry items like your water and a towel.

Here are some options for fun cruise tote bags:

A fun tote bag with a beach, ocean or vacation theme could be a good purchase for your upcoming cruise. Check out these cute designs by independent artists:

Cruise Luggage Tags

If you check your luggage before boarding the ship you will need to have special tags attached to your bags that have your stateroom information. Sure you can use the flimsy tags that the ships provide, but what if they become detached from your luggage and your bag gets lost? Yes that’s right, you’ll be wearing your bathrobe to the dining room for the whole cruise! Jokes aside, frequent cruisers invest in cruise friendly luggage tags like these.

Anti Theft Purse

Most cruises visit locations that are quite safe, but you still may want the extra security of an anti-theft bag for excursions. These purses have cut resistant fabric construction, lockable zippers and other features to keep your belongings safe.

Some popular anti-theft bags include these below:

Check out this article to read more about the different styles of anti-theft bags.

Evening Bags for a Cruise

Although you won’t stray too far from your cabin while onboard the ship, you still may want to bring an evening bag to dinner for makeup touch ups or to carry your phone or camera. Here are a few small bags that will go with any elegant outfit and will still fit a few things.

Personally I usually choose evening bags and clutches in metallic shades as they match with a variety of dresses. No need to bring multiple clutches if one matches all your outfits. If I plan to travel with the clutch I might also look for a bag that does not have delicate beading or protruding details that might be damaged in my suitcase.

I hope this list of luggage for a cruise helps you in deciding what to bring along on your maritime adventures. Check out our other articles on 10 things you should bring on a cruise that you may not have considered and 10 things you should NOT bring on a cruise. Also take a look at our Cruising category for packing lists and other travel tips.

love, GG






Luggage to Use on a Cruise - Best luggage for a cruise, how many bags to bring, what to pack

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