I packed for a weeklong cruise with just a carry-on and a backpack. Here are 10 items I'm glad I brought and 9 things I wish I had with me.

·4-min read
The author packed for a weeklong cruise onboard Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world.
The author packed for a weeklong cruise onboard Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world.Joey Hadden/Insider
  • I took my first cruise on Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas, the largest cruise ship ever.

  • For the seven-night Caribbean cruise, I brought only a carry-on suitcase and a backpack.

  • I liked packing light but had some regrets. I wished I had earplugs and a bar of laundry detergent.

I recently took a seven-night cruise to the Caribbean with just a carry-on suitcase and a backpack.

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Black carry-on suitcase and backpack on a wood floor with a white wall behind and a wooden dresser on the left
The author's bags packed for her cruise.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: I just went on my first cruise — here are 15 things that surprised me the most about this type of travel

It was my first time traveling by cruise ship and while packing light made the trip easier, I did forget a few critical items.

Inside the author's packed suitcase for a cruise
A peek inside the author's suitcase.Joey Hadden/Insider

One of the best things I packed was a magnet to help make my stateroom stand out amid a long hallway of identical blue doors ...

The author is glad she brought a magnet
A magnet on the author's door.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: Step aboard the world's largest cruise ship, which is so big it has 8 'neighborhoods' spread across 18 stories

... But I wished I downloaded some movies and shows to watch on my phone in my room since the cruise Wi-Fi wasn't strong enough for me to stream.

Netflix selections on a black iPhone with a white background
The author forgot to download movies.Joey Hadden/Insider

During my cruise, I enjoyed a few beach days. For long days in the sun, I was glad I packed sunscreen ...

The author is glad she brought organic sunscreen
The author's sunscreen.Joey Hadden/Insider

... However, I wished I had remembered to bring some aloe vera gel for the day I forgot to apply it and got burnt.

The author holds aloe vera gel
The author forgot aloe vera gel.Joey Hadden/Insider

Some beaches in the Caribbean, like Tulum, Mexico, don't allow sunscreen in the ocean to protect wildlife, my excursion guide said. So, I was glad I brought a rash guard to protect my torso from the sun ...

The author is glad she brought a rash guard
An arrow points to the author's rash guard hanging up to dry.Joey Hadden/Insider

Read more: I spent 7 nights in a 179-square-foot room on the world's largest cruise ship. Take a look inside my cabin.

... The ocean water was so clear that I wished I had brought a waterproof case for my phone to take pictures, too.

Clear waters at the beach in Tulum (L) and a waterproof phone case (R).
Clear waters at the beach in Tulum (L) and a waterproof phone case (R).Joey Hadden/Insider, Getty Images

Read more: I went to the Caribbean for the first time on the world's largest cruise ship and wish I had more time in these 2 ports

This sunhat also came in handy to block the sun ...

The author is glad she brought a sun hat
The author wears a sunhat at a port.Joey Hadden/Insider

... But I wished I brought an adjustable cap for windy days on the top decks when my sunhat wouldn't stay on my head.

The author reacts to wind on the top deck of the cruise ship (L) the back of the author's head with a cap on (R)
The author forgot to bring a cap for windier days.Joey Hadden/Insider

Even though the weather was hot during the day, this sweater came in handy for cool, windy nights and mornings ...

The author is glad she brought a sweater
The author wears a sweater early in the morning.Joey Hadden/Insider

... But I only packed one pair of pants and had to wear them every night. I should have packed a couple more.

The author on an outdoor deck on the ship, an arrow points to her pants
The author wears the only pair of pants she brought.Joey Hadden/Insider

I should have brought a windbreaker, too, to keep me warmer on the top decks in the morning and at night.

The author leans against a thin tree with more trees behind her
The author wears a windbreaker during a trip to Oregon in 2015.Joey Hadden/Insider

I wished I'd brought a bar of detergent to wash my clothes since I packed light and laundry services on the ship cost extra ...

A hand washes orange towels with a bar of soap
The author didn't bring detergent.Getty Images

... At least I brought the right shoes: sneakers for walking around ports and waterproof sandals for the pools and beaches.

The author is glad she brought two pairs of shoes
The author's walking shoes (L) and waterproof shoes (R).Joey Hadden/Insider

Thankfully, I also remembered to bring a waist pack to carry a few things when I didn't feel like lugging my backpack around.

The author is glad she brought a fanny pack
The author uses a smaller bag.Joey Hadden/Insider

I was also glad I brought a digital watch to keep on ship time, the time zone that cruise ships stick to even while docked at ports that are in different time zones ...

The author is glad she brought a watch
The author wears a digital watch.Joey Hadden/Insider

... But I wish I had downloaded guidebooks for the ports I visited to get a better idea of things to do.

Cruise port in Honduras: plants eco park hike
Roatan, Honduras, is one of the ports the author visited during her cruise.Joey Hadden/Insider

I wanted to try my best to avoid illness and was glad I packed vitamins ...

The author is glad she brought airborne immunity vitamins
The author brought vitamins.Joey Hadden/Insider

... and also medicine to combat motion sickness, which I experienced frequently.

The author is glad she brought Dramamine
The author remembered to pack Dramamine.Joey Hadden/Insider

More than anything, I wished I had earplugs to help me sleep during rough nights at sea, which sounded like thunder in my stateroom. It was especially loud since I was at the front of the ship, where seasoned cruisers said movement on ships feels the strongest. Next time, I'll come prepared.

Red earplugs by plastic container on light wood table
Earplugs were the author's most missed item.modustollens/Shuttershock

Read more: 10 things I wish I'd done differently on my first cruise, from choosing a better room to reserving shows in advance 

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