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I don’t know about you, but I find packing for cruises to be stressful. I’ve been on five cruises now and I feel like ripping my hair out every single time when it comes to packing. There are always so many activities on the ship and it seems as if every event requires a different outfit. One day, I wore my workout clothes in the morning, a casual dress for lunch, shorts and a shirt for after lunch, and a cocktail dress for dinner. For those of you that know me, I loathe stuff like this. I’m a simple gal – shorts and T-shirts are my go-to.

I recently went on a cruise with Holland America Line to the South Pacific Islands. We stopped in New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, and New Caledonia. In all honesty, that was the worst packing job I’ve ever done for a cruise. Packing for a South Pacific Island cruise requires some serious planning. I’m here to help you not drop the ball on this as I did. Here’s everything you need to pack for your South Pacific Island cruise.

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Important Documentation

Passport

I know it’s basic, but don’t forget your passport. Put it in your suitcase or purse the night before you leave. You’re not going anywhere if you don’t have your passport.

Visas

Do your research and apply for any visas that you need. We went on a cruise last year around Australia and New Zealand and we didn’t need visas for New Zealand at the time. We assumed the rules hadn’t changed from last year. On this cruise, all aboard time was 3:30 pm. We got to the terminal at 3:15 pm and were informed that we couldn’t embark because we didn’t have our visas for New Zealand. I know – total noob move. We frantically applied for our visas hoping that we would get approved in 15 minutes. Luckily, our application was approved at 3:28 pm. Talk about terrifying! If you have any questions regarding visas, give your cruise line a call.

Immunization Records

Don’t forget to bring a copy of any immunization records. When we were on our cruise, measles was running rampant in a few of the islands. We visited Tonga and there was a severe outbreak there. The next port was Savusavu in Fiji. We were not able to get off the ship here unless we had documentation indicating that we had been immunized for measles. Obviously, we had our vaccinations; we just didn’t bring any record of it because we’ve never been asked for it. The only way that you could get off of the ship at this port in Fiji was if you were born before 1957 or if you had documentation indicating that you had the vaccine. Fortunately, the captain worked out some sort of deal with the Fijian authorities and we were able to get off at the next few ports in Fiji.

a photo of the beach in dravuni island, fiji
We finally got to enjoy Dravuni Island in Fiji.

Additional Form of ID

Cruise lines will sometimes make you show proof of identification before they let you back on the ship from port. Bring a driver’s license or another kind of photo ID to carry around with you when you’re in port. Personally, I don’t feel comfortable taking my passport with me everywhere.

Medications

Dramamine

Being on a ship for a few weeks means that you need to stock up on medications unless you want to spend an arm and a leg for them on the ship. I highly recommend packing Dramamine for seasickness relief when the ship is rocky. The cruise line will sometimes provide you with some, but it’s always better to have your own.

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Pepto Bismol

Pack some Pepto Bismol to help with any stomach issues. Food on the ship is pretty safe, but you never know how some of the local food will sit with your stomach.

Hand Sanitizer

We went on a few tours during this cruise and some of the public bathrooms in town didn’t have soap. It’s always wise to travel with hand sanitizer in situations like this.

a photo of a natural aquarium in new caledonia
This is a natural aquarium in New Caledonia. We saw heaps of fish and an eel.

Cold Medicine

Germs spread like crazy on cruises. On our cruise, we heard so many people sniffling and coughing. I’m a total germophobe and being sick was not on my agenda. Also, the medicine on board is insanely overpriced. Pack some cold medicine just in case you come down with something.

Bug Spray

I was bitten by so many mosquitoes during this cruise as we were surrounded by forests and greenery at most of the ports. I know a few people who have traveled to the Pacific Islands when Dengue Fever was going around. I highly recommend bringing bug spray to protect yourself.

Sunscreen

The sun is very strong in the Pacific Islands. Therefore, you’re going to want to pack enough reef-safe sunscreen. Please protect the reefs! Also, pack some aloe vera gel in case you get a bad sunburn for instant cooling relief.

Motion Sickness Wristbands

I was pretty skeptical of these wristbands when I first purchased them. I put one on my wrist when I was feeling seasick and I felt better in a few minutes. These are very pricey to buy on board so I highly recommend purchasing them in advance.

Clothing & Accessories

Swimsuit

This is obviously a given. Bring a few swimsuits with you so you always have a dry one and don’t have to wear a wet one.

Swimsuit Cover-Up

It’s always good to bring a cover-up for lounging around the beach. Also, some of the islands you will visit are conservative and it’s best not to strut around in your swimsuit if you’re not swimming.

a photo of an island in tonga
An island in Tonga.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses are always a good idea to protect your eyes from the harsh sun.

Beach Hat

Beach hats are a great way to keep the sun out of your eyes and to protect your head. I’m obsessed with them and I have to buy a new one for every tropical vacation I go on.

Cocktail Dress

There will be a few gala nights on the cruise where you dress up all fancy. A lot of women wear prom dress type outfits. I don’t think you need to look that fancy. A simple cocktail dress will do. Most of the restaurants on board are relaxed about their dress code. However, some specialty restaurants have a strict dress code. Your cocktail dress will come in handy here.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Nuku’alofa, Tonga: Cruise Port Guide

Long Dresses

Long dresses are perfect for casual lunches and dinner on board. You seriously can’t go wrong with a long dress. If you don’t want to buy a cocktail dress for the gala nights and specialty restaurants, a long dress will do just fine.

Other Clothing

Bring any other items of clothing that you want to wear around the ship during the day. There’s not really a dress code for events going on during the day. It’s pretty casual in the mornings and afternoons. I usually wear shorts and a T-shirt during the day. You should bring three pairs of shorts, a few short-sleeve T-shirts and a couple of long-sleeve T-shirts. This will give you a nice variety of daytime outfits. Obviously, you don’t want to forget the basics like underwear and socks.

a photo of seashells in fiji
We were walking along the beach in Fiji and stumbled upon these seashells.

Rain Jacket

It rained a few days during our cruise and we were so thankful that we brought our rain jackets. It was also cold so our jackets protected us from that too. Rain jackets are also useful for when you’re feeling chilly on the ship. It can be pretty cold in public areas of the ship.

Shoes

Bring a pair of comfy tennis shoes for exploring. Also, bring a pair of heels for when you want to dress up. Lastly, bring a pair of thongs and sandals for when you want to be casual.

Jewelry

I never travel with expensive jewelry. You can leave your diamonds at home. I don’t think anyone is going to be focusing on what you’re wearing anyway; we’re all just giving googly eyes to the food. I always bring a pair of simple earrings and a lowkey necklace with me on my cruises. It matches with everything I own and spruces up an outfit.

Miscellaneous

Snorkel Gear

If you’re into snorkeling, you’re going to want to bring your own snorkel equipment. We found it almost impossible to find snorkel equipment for rent on our Pacific Islands cruise. Some ports may have some for hire, but it’s cheaper and more hygienic to bring your own.

Refillable Water Bottle

Cruises lines charge an outrageous amount for bottled water. Save your money and the environment by bringing a refillable water bottle. There are plenty of water stations around the ship.

Daypack

You’ll need a daypack to carry around all of your belongings that you want to take with you for a day of exploring.

a photo of the beach in new caledonia
One of the many beautiful beaches in New Caledonia.

Adapter

Make sure you bring an adapter with you so you can use charge your phone or use whatever other electronics you bring with you.

Travel Insurance

You never know when accidents can happen. It’s always good to protect yourself against illnesses, theft and more. RoamRight has great customer service and benefits.

Entertainment

Sea days can sometimes get boring. Bring books, board games, or puzzles with you to keep yourself entertained. Some ships have a library, but the selections are limited.

What You Don’t Need to Bring

I’m a huge proponent of minimalist packing. I hate traveling with items that I don’t need or are already provided to me. Don’t worry about bringing beach towels and beach bags. The ship will provide you with them. There’s no need to waste luggage space on these two items. The room stewards will also replace your used beach towels at the end of every day so you have a fresh set for the next day. But, you will be charged for them if you misplace them.

Also, don’t bother bringing a hairdryer, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, and a shower cap. The cruise line will provide all of these for you. The shampoo may be tough on your hair so you bring your own if you’re worried about that.

Further, don’t bother bringing a bunch of booze on board. Most cruise lines only allow one bottle of wine per person.

I know some of you may be interested in bringing a drone on board to capture the gorgeous scenery. Not all cruise lines allow them. Call the cruise line in advance to see whether they are allowed or not. If they’re not allowed, your drone will be confiscated.

I hope all you first time and seasoned cruisers found this post helpful and that you won’t be pulling your hair out like I was when it comes to packing for your South Pacific Island cruise.

Is there something I forgot to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.

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About Author

Disha is a travel and lifestyle blogger who has visited 85+ countries with South Africa and the Maldives being her favorites. She gets butterflies sharing her travel and life experiences through words. She loves freedom, sunflowers, and long walks on the beach with her husband. She's obsessed with helping others live a life they don't have to escape from. Lastly, she makes travel more accessible and attainable for others.

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14 Comments

  1. Thanks for the fantastic packing guide. I’ve never been on a cruise before so I’d have no idea where to start when it came to packing! I’m going to save your tips to refer to when I eventually get round to trying out a cruise!

    Hannah | https://getlost.blog/

  2. I’m so jealous you went on this cruise. I was looking into this cruise a while ago and just couldn’t make it work. Maybe one day I’ll get to experience the South Pacific Islands. This packing guide is very thorough. Who knew you needed to carry around vaccinations. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for reading, Nicole! The itinerary for this cruise is perfect. I hope you get to go! You will enjoy it so much.

  3. Love this guide! I haven’t been on a cruise yet so this is new to me. Saving it regardless as I never know when I might need to pack for one 🙂

    Also, I’m intrigued! How did they process a visa so soon?

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Sarah! I honestly have no idea how they were able to process the visa so fast either. I think lots of Americans were under the assumption that they didn’t need a visa for New Zealand so the cruise line had a representative working with the New Zealand authorities to expedite the process.

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