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So, you have spent months researching and planning your upcoming cruise vacation, including what you will do at each port of call. You have packed all of the necessary accessories for your cruise, as well as your formal Princess attire! You might be all set for your days at sea, but don’t forget about all of those exciting ports of call.

Whether you have pre-booked a shore excursion or plan to take a self-guided tour of the island, be sure that you do not leave these necessary items behind in your cabin. Here is our list of the essential items to bring ashore with you at your next Caribbean port of call. Make sure to leave enough room in that beach tote!

12 Essential Items to Bring Ashore at Your Next Caribbean Port of Call

Essential Documents

Although taking your room key card probably seems obvious, you should be aware that some ports of call also require a passport or photo ID for identification. So, be sure to check your ship’s daily newsletter or ask staff regarding required documentation before heading down to the gangway. This will save you time and headaches. You will also want to make sure to bring any shore excursion tickets or vouchers purchased ahead of time to make sure you don’t miss out on that adventure you been anticipating for so long. If you purchased the trip through a independent tour operator or third party shore excursion company, make sure to have your email confirmation or proof of payment just in case.


Whether you are participating in a shore excursion that involves a water-related activity or perhaps have decided on a more relaxing beach break, you will want to be sure to grab a towel from the pool deck before heading ashore. Most purchased tours/activities do NOT include towels. If you plan to lounge around the beach, don’t let the wind stop you from enjoying the Caribbean sun. These decorative towel clips fasten to any lounge chair in a snap and won’t take up too much room in your beach bag.

Costa Maya Beach12 Essential Items to Bring Ashore at Your Next Caribbean Port of Call


Depending upon what type of activity you plan to participate in during your visit, you will want to make sure to pack the necessary toiletries in your day bag before heading ashore. Sunscreen is a no-brainer in the Caribbean sun, but bug spray will definitely come in handy if you plan to participate in any jungle/rainforest adventures. You may also want to bring along a small container of hand sanitizer. Yes, you can never have too much cleanliness when cruising! Band-aids and tylenol are other items you may want to consider as well.


You will want to ensure that you have small bills when going ashore at your next Caribbean port of call. Gratuities are included while onboard the ship, but you may want to tip tour operators, bus drivers, taxis, or anyone else who has provided you with exceptional service while visiting your destination. Although many vendors do accept credit cards, some still have international fees that apply to purchases, so having some extra cash on hand for souvenirs is also a good idea. Many of the merchants on the islands are willing to barter if you have cash, so you might even save some money.

Essential Items to Bring Ashore12 Essential Items to Bring Ashore at Your Next Caribbean Port of Call

Bottled Water

With the implementation of all-inclusive drink packages, many will have the luxury of unlimited bottled water, but all you really need is a refillable water bottle. Being in the Caribbean sun all day, you will want to stay hydrated. So whether you grab a few bottles of water from a bar onboard the ship or fill up your own reusable bottle with ice water, be sure to pack plenty of water when going ashore. We recommend a Yeti Travel Mug to keep your hot drinks hot and those cold drinks as cool as ice for hours at a time.


You are going to want some protection from the sun whether you are laying poolside or venturing around historic town centers. A good pair of polarized shades are the perfect travel accessory. A stylish pair of Ray Ban Aviators or Wayfarers is our pick. Whatever your preference, make sure to go with polarized lenses to provide less glare and better eye protection. You may also want to pack a hat for added sun protection when going ashore at your next Caribbean port of call.

Horseshoe Bay Beach Bermuda12 Essential Items to Bring Ashore at Your Next Caribbean Port of Call

Flip Flops

If you have a shore excursion booked that includes a beach break, you will probably want to start the day by wearing more comfortable walking shoes and stash a pair of flip flops in your day bag. To keep your packing light, we suggest a multi-purpose flip flop that can be worn day or night. The Lindsay Phillips flip flop collection is not just any shoe, these lightweight and comfortable sandals have mix and match straps (with additional straps sold separately), so you can accessorize to every outfit.

Beach Bag

You are going to need a durable yet stylish beach bag to store all these items, and nothing could be more appropriate for a cruise than a nautically themed one. This water resistant option comes in a select variety of colors and patterns and has zip closure pockets. You can even go the extra mile and get the bag embroidered. Other cruisers might opt for a more secure option like the CoolBag that will keep your personals safe with a combination lock zipper and cable handles that can be secured to a lounge chair while you are enjoying yourself. There are plenty of pockets inside and a waterproof cooler at the bottom that can be accessed from outside of the bag.

Essential Items to Bring Ashore12 Essential Items to Bring Ashore at Your Next Caribbean Port of Call


Do you want to capture amazing photos and videos on land and at sea? The newest edition of the popular go anywhere camera, the Go Pro Hero 5 is a waterproof movie studio in your pocket. 4K video, a 12 megapixel camera, integrated touch screen, and additional features that let you remotely control the device make this versatile camera a must for cruisers. If you are looking more specifically for higher quality photos, we recommend the Sony Alpha mirrorless camera. We have had this camera for almost a year now and love it.

Portable Power Pack

With all of the gadgets you might end up bringing ashore, you will want to ensure you have enough power for the entire day. Whether you need to re-charge your phone, camera, GoPro, or Kindle, this portable and lightweight power pack is a great solution. With 3 USB ports, you can keep your devices fully charged to capture lasting memories of all your adventures while ashore at your next Caribbean port of call. Of course, you will also need enough battery life to share all these photos and videos on social media.

Essential Items to Bring Ashore12 Essential Items to Bring Ashore at Your Next Caribbean Port of Call

Portable Fan

For the hot afternoons in the Caribbean sun, you might need a little help cooling off. This small, nifty device can attach to your iPhone to provide a little breeze in any environment. Just plug this portable fan into your phone, and it will work off the power supply. The flexible design allows you to hold the phone or place it down and aim in any direction. While not the strongest fan on the market, it is the perfect size to take on the go, fitting easily into your day bag while ashore.

An Open Mind

You are on vacation, so what better time to experience something new?  Whether you choose to immerse yourself in the history, culture, and cuisine unique to your port of call or decide to participate in an adventurous shore excursion, be sure to have fun! Even if things do not go exactly as planned, it could be worse– you could be back at home and working!

Top Things to Do in Havana, Cuba on a Cruise12 Essential Items to Bring Ashore at Your Next Caribbean Port of Call

And What to Leave Behind

Leave those unnecessary valuables behind in your cabin safe, especially jewelry. We have learned from experience as DB’s original wedding band is floating in the bottom of Coco Cay!


What other items do you find essential to bring ashore at ports of call? We would love to hear from you, so drop us an anchor below. Remember, packing is an art, not a science, so any and all packing tips are more than appreciated!

12 Essential Items to Bring Ashore at Your Next Caribbean Port of Call

About the Author

DB & The Princess

Welcome Aboard!We are Don and Heidi, the husband and wife travel team behind We took our first cruise vacation together 10 years ago and have been hooked ever since.Follow along as we share our travel tips, cruise reviews, information on ports of call, and the latest cruise news to help you plan the ultimate cruise vacation. Are you ready to embark on your journey to “sea the world, one port at a time”? Read More...

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