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Ultimate Cruise Packing Tips for Seniors

A cruise ship is your home away from home, so for cruising seniors, you’ll want to pack accordingly to make sure you have everything you need. Carnival goes above and beyond taking care of any last-minute needs or medical challenges on your trip, but you don’t want anything to get in the way of your fun, adventure or relaxation. You’ll find packing tips throughout this guide, and a helpful, basic packing checklist for seniors too. Use it to keep track of what you need to bring, so you’re free to enjoy the sights and sounds of your cruise vacation in total pleasure.

 senior couple and their family standing by the ship railing

Pack for Your Health

You’ll want to manage any medications and healthcare needs you may have when planning and packing for a cruise:

  • Have a general checkup a few weeks before traveling to make sure your doctor gives you the OK to cruise, to update your medicine and to obtain any back-up prescriptions you may need while on vacation.
  • Pack your doctor’s contact information and list of medications. Keep the information with you at all times while cruising, in case of emergencies.
  • Pack your medications and bring extra doses just in case. If any medications need special temperature control, make sure to ask about onboard accommodations.
  • Plan to bring your wheelchair, scooter or other mobility device with you, or you can rent one ahead of time from Carnival’s preferred vendor, Scootaround™.
  • Remember to bring an extra pair of sunglasses. You’ll need them for every cruise destination.
  • Bring sunscreen, but please note that you’ll need to use biodegradable sunscreen if you want to participate in any beach based shore excursions. For example, if you cruise to Australia to visit the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll need to wear biodegradable sunscreen if you want to swim or take part in reef shore excursions. The same goes for cruise destinations to any water-based shore excursions such as in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Florida, and so on. The reason? Non-biodegradable lotions that wash off into the water are very harmful to coral reefs around the world. 

Pack for Your Destination 

The specific destination you choose will dictate what you’ll need to pack in the way of clothing and footwear. Here are packing tips for popular locations:

  • When you cruise to Alaska, pack for shifting temperatures that range between the 40s and 50s in the spring to temperatures that could rise to the mid-60s in the summer through September. Temperatures do vary depending on which area of Alaska you cruise to, however, so it’s best to check the temperature norms in your particular destination ahead of time. Bring waterproof gear for sightseeing glaciers and marine life from the ship’s deck and your “cruise elegant” dinner attire for temperature controlled indoor dining on the ship.
  • When cruising to Europe, you’ll be sailing longer than you would with many other itineraries, so comfortable walking shoes for sightseeing are always a must. Lightweight pants and tops will keep you looking fashionable and feeling cool while visiting the world’s landmarks.
  • When cruising to tropical destinations, like the Caribbean, The Bahamas or Hawaii, pack as you would for a tropical trip on land. That means plenty of lightweight fabrics, such as cotton and linen. Ditch anything that can’t take the heat or humidity, like polyester and nylon blends. Go with bright and light rather than darker, heat absorbing fabrics.
  • If you’re a senior who’s going to take advantage of touring ports via accessible vans and motor coaches, you may want to bring a lightweight cover-up for air-conditioned vehicles. For example, if you’re sailing to Italy to visit historical Sicily’s Palermo and Monreale, you’ll be comfortably sitting in an air-conditioned coach.
  • Choice shore excursions can be ideal for seniors with slight mobility challenges. For example, when you cruise to the Cayman Islands and visit Stingray City Sandbar, you’ll board a unique boat that lets you descend into shallow water to enjoy the stingrays. For these types of excursions, you’ll need a swimsuit or clothing you don’t mind getting wet.

senior couple taking a kayak out

 Pack for Onboard Fun

Carnival cruise ships all have one thing in common: amazing onboard activities that engage the senses. Dress appropriately for your cruise so you can enjoy all there is to do both indoors and outdoors on your ship.

senior couple sitting on a hammock on the beach

 Your Basic Cruise Packing List 

Check off the following items when packing for your cruise. This list of the basics brings together tips for both men and women. Remember to pack just enough to stow away; you want to have room to stretch out and relax in your stateroom.

  • Clothing (double up for cruises longer than five nights):
  • Stretchy, comfy casual pants
  • Casual dress pants
  • Yoga pants
  • Workout top
  • Swimsuit(s)
  • Tunics and polos (for layering)
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket (for rain or wet activities)
  • Lightweight cover-up (for around the ship and in air-conditioned tour vehicles)
  • One lightweight sweater (for cool days and nights)
  • Cruise elegant dinner wear (for dressier dinners)


  • Walking shoes (for shore)
  • Non-slip boat shoes that provide good traction (for on board)
  • Flat or low-heel dress shoes
  • Running shoes/sneakers (and socks)


  • Medications plus extra dose
  • Extra prescriptions
  • Emergency contact and doctor’s info
  • Ear plugs (to block out noise)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • Sunscreen
  • Health and beauty products
  • Small backpack or tote (for shore)
  • Small evening bag for more formal dinners
  • Hat (cap, visor or head scarf) for beach and pool
  • Sunglasses (multiple pairs)
  • Reading glasses (multiple pairs)
  • Durable, plastic zippered baggies (to keep valuables/electronics dry)
  • Your mobility device (unless renting on board)
  • Required travel documents

A vacation aboard Carnival offers seniors fun, adventure and relaxation all bundled together in luxury and comfort. Carnival always offers cruise deals for seniors, so isn’t it time to treat yourself to that trip you’ve earned?

Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.