What to pack for a Bahamas cruise

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Find out what to pack for a Bahamas cruise with our inside guide.

Welcome aboard sign in the Bahamas

Packing for the Bahamas

Who doesn’t love the Bahamas? White sandy beaches, tranquil waters and an explosion of taste, colour, culture and history. But as all seasoned travellers know, a stress-free holiday begins long before you leave your front door.

It starts with packing right. Checking weather conditions, understanding cruise ship amenities, and thinking through possible emergencies – it involves more than just stuffing a suitcase.

This guide breaks it all down, ensuring your Bahamas cruise is smooth sailing all the way.

In short, it’s your guide on what to pack for a Bahamas cruise.

Abigail King snorkelling in the Caribbean with a ship in the background

Understanding the Cruise Line and Ship      

First thing first, before you start drafting your packing list, take a look at what your cruise is promising. Caribbean cruise lines are largely credited for their luxurious amenities and onboard experiences. But some have stricter dress codes than others.

Finding the right cruise for you

When it comes to looking for a reputable cruise line, MSC Cruises are one of the world’s leading cruise lines. They operate across the world, including in the Caribbean, with a modern fleet and commitment to providing excellent experiences for their passengers.

In fact, when I talk to people about their ships, the one word that comes to mind is elegance. While I’ve yet to test them out personally, I’ve heard that they are refined, passionate, warm and respectful. Which sounds pretty good.

So, whether you’re looking for cheap cruises or don’t mind what the budget is, they’re a reputable brand to discover.  

Tip: Regardless of the line you choose, make sure to include multiple options for casual wear, at least one option for formal wear, and a set of rash guards for those sunny pool deck days.

Packing for Bahamas Average Weather Conditions     

The Bahamas is blessed with a tropical climate which promises warmth throughout the year. Yet average temperatures do vary across distinct seasons, and it’s worth optimising your cruise packing list in line with the characteristic weather of each. You can find more about weather forecasts in the Bahamas here.

Summer: Spanning from May to September, the Bahamian summer sees temperatures hitting highs of 31°C during the day and dropping to around 23° C at night. The weather is generally sunny with occasional showers, the perfect climate for shore excursions, wearing your bathing suit and sun hat for sun protection.  

Winter: Winter in the Bahamas, from late October to April, feels rather mild compared to the winter in the United Kingdom or the United States. Daytime temperatures hover around a comfortable 24°C, dropping to a cosy 17°C after sunset. It’s the best time to dine in the dining room of a cruise ship, wearing your lightweight cardigan or formal attire without feeling overheated.  

Rainy Season: Precipitation is scattered throughout the year. However, the rainy season, which runs from May to early October, receives the highest rainfall. Beach days during this time require a thoughtful packing list, including a change of clothes and water shoes to shield against sudden downpours.

Man in smart dress code in the Caribbean

Dress Code on Bahamas Cruises      

The secret to having a fabulous Caribbean cruise is to pack items that are both practical and stylish. Each day on the cruise comes with different activities, so it’s a good idea to be prepared for anything.

Everyday Outfits

During the daytime, when you’re off for a spot of sunbathing, a swimsuit should be your outfit of choice. Pair it with a sun hat for protection against the midday sun. Slip on a lightweight dress or cover-up, and you are ready to take on the beach club and seaside cafes.

Evening Wear

The thing about Bahamas cruises is that they come alive as the sun dips beyond the horizon. Evening wear on the cruise leans towards the ‘smart casual’ spectrum – think a lightweight cardigan or a breezy dress. This is the time when the dining rooms buzz and chatter fills the air; it would be a great idea to don your best outfits. It’s a good option to pack some evening dresses, and gentlemanly attire includes tailored trousers or chinos teamed with a shirt. 

Formal Wear

However, the real magic happens on formal nights. This is when discerning cruisers put on their most glamorous outfits and hit the dance floor or head to the ship’s gourmet restaurants. Women will do well packing a few formal dresses; for men, a sharp suit will never be out of place.  

In the famous words of Oscar Wilde, “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” So, go ahead and pack that flamboyant number you’ve been saving for a special occasion.

Tip: If this is your first time on a cruise, bear in mind that formal nights are not every night, so check your cruise itinerary before packing too many outfits.

Stack of rolled towels on a cruise ship as an essential item

Essential Items to Pack      

Being well-prepared is half the enjoyment of any holiday, and there are several items to pack that will enhance your experience on a Bahamas cruise.

Travel Documents

Without a doubt, travel documents are the first items you need to pack. Include your passport, IDs, cruise tickets, and travel insurance. Having both digital and physical copies of these crucial documents allows for swift replacements in the case of loss.  

Credit Card

The Bahamian Dollar is pegged to the US Dollar, making transactions seamless if you carry USD. However, having a credit card clears many unnecessary hurdles in one stroke. It simplifies onboard purchases, helps cover emergencies, and eases the handling of payments on shore excursions.

Yet, here’s a golden nugget from personal experience – before setting sail, inform your bank about your travel to avoid card blockage due to sudden overseas transactions.

Finally, a strategic blend of cash, for those tiny markets, and cards, for traceable transactions, is another top travel tip.

Power Strip or Power Bank

While most modern cruise liners meet passengers’ electrical demands, bringing your own power strip with you can help if you need to charge multiple devices.

Before packing your bag, though, confirm that your cruise line allows them as safety regulations can vary. Slim versions with inbuilt surge protection for your prized tech are top picks.

Moreover, some models now come with USB ports, ensuring your smartphone camera won’t miss a single sunrise over the clear Caribbean waters.

Waterproof Phone Case

These days, phones are fantastic for taking photos and saving memories. But the mix of beach, pool, and occasional tropical downpours can easily lead to disaster.

A waterproof phone case, therefore, becomes crucial. It shields your valuable device from water damage while maintaining full usability, perfect for spontaneous dip-in-the-ocean moments or quick snorkelling ventures.

Remember, a good case shouldn’t bulk up your phone  and should still allow easy access to the essential ports, buttons, and camera.

First Aid Kit  

This often-overlooked little hero deserves a prime spot in your luggage. A comprehensive first aid kit allows you to address minor maladies without giving up precious holiday time. Pack bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain killers, and prescription medications you may not find at your destination. A sea-sickness remedy is crucial for a cruise, and a proactive approach can head off unwanted discomfort at the pass.

Water Shoes

These hybrid footwear wonders are as multifaceted as you could wish for. They protect against slippery decks, hot sands, and sharp rocks whilst staying snugly on your feet in water. In fact, water shoes are especially useful while swimming or on the beach, adding a protective layer between you and the ocean floor.

Tote Bag

A sturdy yet lightweight tote bag is a game-changer. It easily transitions from a day bag for shore excursions to a beach bag or even a shopping companion in local Bahamian markets. Look for one with zippered compartments for enhanced security.

Portable Charger

This compact piece of tech has saved many a smartphone from the dreaded ‘battery low’ notice. A portable charger keeps you powered up during longer cruises to capture memories, make phone calls or simply enjoy your personal music preference on deck.

Rash Vest

If you hope for long hours spent snorkelling in colourful reefs or simply bathing in the Bahamian sun, then a rash guard is your skin’s best friend. It provides a physical barrier against sunburn, jellyfish, and abrasions. Plus, it covers up any wobbly bits you’d rather the world didn’t see.

Snorkel Gear

Snorkelling provides a window into the underwater wonder of the Bahamas. If you’re keen to avoid rental fees or issues with outdated equipment, your own snorkel gear is the best way to ensure a seamless experience. While most outfits let you rent the equipment, I promise you that once you try your own, you’ll never look back.

Water Bottle

Last but not least, staying hydrated is perhaps more important on a cruise holiday than anywhere else. Keeping a refillable water bottle on hand is a great way to encourage regular water intake. Make sure it’s sturdy, insulated, and drip-free.

Stylish man on a shore excursion in the Bahamas

Packing for Shore Excursions and Other Activities      

One aspect that sets apart a Bahamas cruise from any regular holiday is the choice of shore excursions that take you far beyond your ship. Make sure you are wearing and carrying the right gear.

Here are the essentials:

·      Change of clothes: On an adventure-packed day, having a set of fresh clothes in your carry-on bag transforms a sticky situation instantly. These can range from a lightweight dress to a dry pair of shorts and tees, depending on personal preference and your itinerary’s demands.  

·      Footwear: Pack footwear that is stylish yet won’t blight your holiday with painful blisters. A pair of water-resistant sneakers is a great choice, offering comfort during long walks and protection during aquatic excursions. They take up not too much space and can be an excellent alternative to formal shoes in the evening.

·      Beachwear: Remember, a day out under the sun requires the right beachwear. An ultra-soft, lightweight, absorbent beach wrap not only functions as a makeshift towel but also makes for an effortless transition from beach to café. Supplement this with a comfortable swimsuit to enjoy the Caribbean waters or lounge on a beach chair sipping a Bahama Mama.

·      Light jacket: Despite its tropical climate, early mornings and late evenings in the Bahamas can be slightly chilly, especially in late spring and early December. A light jacket is not only a versatile addition to your cruise outfits but also a reliable companion during those breezy nights on the upper deck.

·      Sun Safety Items: Given its tropical latitude, the Bahamas gets substantially more sunshine than we’re used to in the dreary UK. Investing in a UV-protected sun hat and a pair of quality sunglasses will enable you to enjoy the weather without the worry of sun damage, leaving you more time to savour the idyllic Bahamian views.

Cruise packing tips

Lastly, here are some packing tips that can help take the stress out of getting ready:

1.     Dress for the season: Keep an eye on the weather forecast before your cruise. Avoid the hurricane season between June and late October and aim for the drier winter months. Be prepared to experience temperature swings from mild (around 20°C) to comparatively hot (up to 32°C).

2.     Be Sneaker Savvy: For the first-time cruiser, it’s tempting to pack footwear for every occasion, but consider pulling back. Instead, opt for a versatile pair of sneakers and a single pair of evening shoes.

3.     Customise your packing list: Take some time to work out your essentials – prescription eyewear, medication, favourite book or travel pillow, to name a few. It’s these small comforts that can really enhance your cruise experience.

4.     Keep your luggage light and practical: Overpacking is a common pitfall, leaving you wrangling your suitcase like a gnat against an elephant. Instead, pack shirts that can transition well from day to evening wear and which coordinate easily with your other items. For instance, neutral tones pair well and allow for mixing and matching to extend your wardrobe options. The ideal plan is to prioritise functionality over quantity.

Your Ultimate Caribbean Cruise Packing List

Don’t forget to check out our ultimate packing list over here.

Travel Documents and Money

·      Passport

·      IDs

·      Cruise tickets

·      Credit cards/cash

·      Travel insurance

·      Copy of all important documents


·      Daytime outfits (shorts, tees, dresses)

·      Bathing suits

·      Rash guards

·      Formal attire for dining room or formal nights

·      Lightweight cardigan or jacket

·      Sleepwear

·      A change of clothes for emergency

·      Underwear

·      Beach cover-up

·      Lightweight dress or little black dress


·      Comfortable walking shoes or sneakers

·      Flip-flops

·      Water shoes

·      Formal shoes


·      Sun hat for sun protection

·      Sunglasses

·      Tote bag for beach days or shore excursions

·      Packing cubes to organise luggage

·      Water bottle

·      Waterproof phone case


·      Cell phone

·      Portable charger

·      Power strip for cabin outlets

·      Headphones

Hygiene and Health

·      Personal hygiene products

·      Toiletries

·      First aid kit (including motion sickness medications)

·      Prescription medications

·      Lip balm

·      Hand sanitiser

·      Bug spray for shore excursions


·      Sunscreen

·      Camera or smartphone for photos

·      Snorkelling gear

·      Lightweight towel for beach days

·      Waterproof bag for protecting items on shore excursions

·      Luggage tags

·      Warm clothing for early morning or late evening outdoor activities.

Abigail King in the Bahamas

More Cruise Travel Tips for the Bahamas

·      31 solo cruise travel tips to overcome all your fears

·      The best cruise packing hacks that most people miss

·      The packing list that has you covered for all occasions

·      Non-touristy things to do in Nassau

·      The secret behind Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas