Best Luggage for Cruising: A No-Nonsense Guide to the Best Cruise Luggage Travel Gear and Best Carry-on Bags

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Filed Under: Cruise 101, Luggage

Embarking on a cruise vacation can be an exciting and unforgettable adventure. With so much to see and do, packing the right luggage for your journey is crucial to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience. To help you navigate your way through the endless options of travel bags, this article will focus on the best luggage for cruising.

Selecting the perfect luggage for your cruise isn’t simply about aesthetics or brand names; it’s about finding functional, durable bags that can withstand a variety of travel environments and conditions.

From carry-ons to checked bags, we will explore different types of luggage suitable for cruising and provide essential tips for efficient cruise packing.

In the following sections, we will discuss various aspects of “cruise-approved luggage”, taking into consideration factors such as size, weight, ease of transport, and additional features.

Whether you’re traveling solo or with family, we’ll also share some insights for accommodating different travel needs and preferences.

We’ll also tell you the type of cruise luggage we use and the reasons why we use them based on our over 30 years of experience in cruising.

Image of the authors on a flight
Travel Can Be Tiring – A Decent Set Of Luggage Can Make It Much Less Stressful

Key Things You’ll Learn in our Best Cruise Luggage Guide

  • What luggage options are the most suitable for cruising
  • You’ll get some essential packing tips and organizational strategies for a stress-free packing experience
  • We’ll show you how to consider factors like size, weight, and maneuverability when selecting cruise luggage

What to Look for When Researching The Best Luggage For a Cruise

So you’re planning your cruise vacation and looking for the perfect luggage to take with you. What are the factors you should consider when choosing the best cruise luggage? Let’s dive into it.

First of all, think about the size of the luggage. You’ll want something that’s spacious enough to fit all your essentials but not too bulky that it poses difficulty in maneuvering around tight ship cabins or crowded airports.

Remember, you must be able to stow it in your stateroom easily, so balance the size with your packing requirements. 

Top Tip: Usually the best place to store your luggage in the cruise cabin, is under the bed!

Now let’s discuss the type of luggage.

You have two main options: hardside luggage and softside luggage.

Hardside luggage offers better protection for your belongings, and it’s more likely to withstand the handling at the ports.

On the other hand, softside luggage is often lighter and easier to squeeze into tight spaces.

Lightweight cruise luggage set on Airport Shuttle
Softside Luggage With A Set of Four Double Wheels Makes The Lightest and Most Maneuverable Combination

What’s your preference? Think about your own specific needs and the items you’ll pack.

It’s essential to choose the best cruise luggage that’s both durable and versatile. You want your luggage to last for several voyages, right?

Look for high-quality materials and construction, wheels that spin smoothly, and handles that feel sturdy. Additionally, opt for luggage with multiple compartments to keep your belongings organized.

Keep in mind the weight restrictions, especially if you are flying to your embarkation point. Airlines have strict luggage regulations, so ensure your cruise luggage meets those requirements while also accommodating the clothes, accessories, and other essentials for your trip.

Lastly, consider the overall design and style of the luggage. Choose something that suits your personality and taste – it’s your vacation, after all! A unique design can also make spotting your luggage on the carousel a breeze.

Finding the best luggage for your cruise will ensure a smoother, more enjoyable trip. Take your time, do your research, and get ready to set sail with confidence!

Best Carry-On Bags for Your Cruise Vacation

Choosing the right carry-on luggage for your cruise is essential. You want something that is easy to maneuver, fits within size restrictions, and meets your specific needs.

Here are some recommendations for the best carry-ons for cruising.

Samsonite Winfield 2

The Samsonite Winfield 2 is a popular choice for carry-on luggage. This hardside expandable luggage is made of durable polycarbonate, features spinner wheels for effortless movement, and has a built-in TSA-friendly combination lock.

On top of that, the zippered interior pockets help you stay organized and keep your belongings secure.

Rockland Rolling 22-Inch Duffle Bag

Another great carry-on option, (especially if you are looking for something that is a bit more budget-friendly) is the Rockland Rolling 22-Inch Duffle Bag.

This bag comes in lots of different color options and offers almost the same convenience of a spinner luggage with its wheels and retractable handle, while still maintaining the easy packing experience of a duffle bag.

And when your shoulder needs a break from carrying your bag around the cruise ship, simply extend the handle and roll your luggage with ease.

Remember The Best Cruise Carry-on Bag Has To Fit Through the X-Ray Equipment – Don’t Make it Too Big

When selecting the perfect carry-on bag for your cruise, remember to consider the cruise line’s size restrictions.

You wouldn’t want to get to the boarding area and have to check your luggage due to size limitations or that it won’t physically fit through the security X-Ray scanners.

No matter which carry-on luggage you ultimately choose, making sure it meets the requirements of your chosen cruise line is crucial.

If you’re someone who prefers traveling light, be strategic about what you wear and pack.

Make the most out of your carry-on luggage by wearing bulkier clothing items on the plane. It also helps to keep your shoes in a plastic bag to maintain cleanliness within your carry-on luggage.

Remember to pick a carry-on that’s just right for you. Keep in mind the size restrictions, ease of movement, and organization features. 

Long Queue of passengers waiting to go through security at Cruise Terminal
Remember The Size of Your Carry-on Luggage Has To Fit Through The X-Ray Scanners

Best Checked Bags for Cruising

Choosing the perfect checked bag for a cruise can be quite challenging. But don’t worry! We’ve got you covered.

Here are some of the top lightweight and expandable checked bags that make cruising a breeze.

Travelpro Maxlite 5 Expandable Spinner

When it comes to finding the ultimate checked bag, opt for one that’s lightweight, as this will make it easier to carry and stow away during your trip. Travelpro Maxlite 5 Expandable Spinner is a fantastic option that won’t weigh you down.

It’s also expandable, so you’ll have plenty of space for all your cruise essentials and those extra souvenirs. And, the best part? Its 360-degree spinner wheels make traversing the airport and cruise terminal a piece of cake!

We have actually just invested in a set of these as one of our “Solite Roller Cases” bit the dust on our last flight.

While the Solite bag was a great price when we bought it (only $80), it hasn’t proved durable enough.

Watch out for a full review of the Travel Pro set once we test it in action on our next cruise!

Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack

Next up in our top picks is the Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Backpack. While not a traditional suitcase, this backpack is impressive.

The detachable daypack is perfect for shore excursions, while the spacious main backpack holds all your garments and gear.

As a bonus, it’s lightweight and easy to carry around for all your cruise adventures!

Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage Set

Now, if you’re traveling with family or want a complete matching luggage set, consider investing in a quality luggage set that features expandable, lightweight suitcases with spinner wheels.

The Samsonite Winfield 2 Hardside Luggage Set offers durability, style, and ease of use. It comes with three suitcases in various sizes, all featuring 360-degree spinner wheels and expandable zippers, giving you versatility and convenience throughout your cruise.

So, next time you’re gearing up for an unforgettable cruise adventure, remember to pack your belongings in a reliable, lightweight, and expandable checked bag with spinner wheels.

Not only will it make your journey smoother, but it will also ensure that you can focus on what truly matters – making memories that will last a lifetime!

Efficient Tips for Cruise Packing

Preparing for a cruise can be exciting yet daunting, especially when it comes to packing. Fear not! We’ve got your back with some efficient cruise packing tips, so you can focus on enjoying your trip.

Think About The Weight of The Luggage And Storage Considerations

First things first – choose the right luggage pieces. Opt for lightweight and durable suitcases, as you’ll need space for various types of clothing like swimwear, daywear, and formal wear.

You might also want to consider luggage sets that easily nest inside each other, making it easier to store your luggage when you’re not using them.

Use Packing Cubes

Make your life easier by going for packing cubes. These nifty organizers come in various sizes and allow you to keep your clothes and accessories neatly sorted, and reduce the time you’d spend rummaging through your suitcase.

Plus, they help you maximize space in your luggage.

When it comes to packing clothes, don’t forget to pack versatile items that can be mixed and matched, creating new outfits without overpacking. Roll your clothes instead of folding them to save space and reduce wrinkles.

Our Top Travel Organizing Accessory
02/18/2024 09:53 pm GMT

Keep Travel Documents Handy and Secure

One thing that’s often overlooked is how to store travel documents. Keep them secure and accessible – think passports, tickets, and other identification.

You don’t want to be scrambling for your documents when you need them the most, so invest in a travel document holder or pouch that will not only keep them safe but also allow for easy access.

Prepare Your Carry-on Bag Carefully

On your cruise, you’ll need some essentials that shouldn’t be packed away in your checked luggage. Prepare a carry-on bag with crucial items such as medication, important documents, and a change of clothes.

This ensures you have everything you need on hand during embarkation and in case there’s a delay in receiving your checked luggage.

Think About Personalizing Your Luggage

Lastly, don’t forget to personalize your luggage! A distinguishable suitcase can save you time at the baggage carousel and help avoid mix-ups with other passengers’ luggage. Add a colorful luggage tag, a ribbon, or even some stickers to make your suitcase unique and easy to spot.

With these tips in mind, your cruise packing experience will be smooth sailing, and you’ll be prepared for an unforgettable journey. Just remember to pack smart and enjoy the adventure waiting for you!

Cruise-Approved Luggage Brands – Is There Such a Thing?

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Is there such a thing as cruise-approved luggage brands? Well not really. But Cruise lines and Airlines for that matter do supply their own staff with certain brands.

These staff will travel regularly so you can be sure that the Corporate procurement team has done some research into what luggage brand provides the best return on investment.

So let’s take a look at some of the brands that you will see being used by Cruise Line and Airline staff


First up, Samsonite is a reliable and well-known brand that offers a wide range of luggage options. Their Samsonite Omni PC Hardside collection is particularly popular among cruisers, as it provides the perfect combination of durability, lightweight construction, and style.

These suitcases can withstand the rigors of travel and still look good while doing so. Plus, they come in a variety of sizes to accommodate all your packing needs.

Another great feature of the Samsonite Omni series is its design. With sleek lines and a stylish finish, you’ll be turning heads as you glide through embarkation day.

The 360-degree spinner wheels make maneuvering through crowded terminals a breeze, while the built-in TSA-approved lock ensures your belongings remain safe and secure.

Delsey Paris

Known for its elegant and practical designs, Delsey Paris offers various luggage options, including the “Delsey Paris Cruise 3.0 Hardside” which is well-suited for cruise travel.

Its beautiful interior and lightweight construction make it a favorite among cruisers.


Their luggage has long been a favorite among flight crews and frequent travelers. Their Travel Pro Maxlite 5 series offers durability and practicality, making it a great choice for your cruise vacation.

Of course, these are just a few of the top luggage brands that cruisers can trust. Whichever brand and style you choose, make sure it’s well-suited for your travel needs and preferences. Happy cruising!

Family Travel Considerations When Deciding What Size Luggage to Bring

When choosing luggage for family cruise travel, there are various factors you need to keep in mind.

First, consider the type of luggage that will work best for your family.

Weekender bags and duffel bags are excellent options for shorter cruises or as a day bag during shore excursions. They are lightweight and versatile, making them easy to carry around while exploring new destinations.

Think about the number of family members and their ages, as this will influence your luggage needs.

Young children may require extra clothes or have favorite toys they want to pack, so a flexible and spacious suitcase is ideal.

Older children and teenagers may prefer their own bags to pack and carry their belongings independently. It’s essential to evaluate your family’s unique requirements to ensure everyone has suitable luggage.

To keep things organized and easy to find, it’s a good idea to use packing cubes or compression bags. These will help you maximize space and make unpacking a breeze. Moreover, with the family’s belongings compartmentalized, it’s more convenient to locate specific items without rummaging through the entire suitcase.

Organizing your luggage in this way also helps prevent overpacking, as you can quickly assess what’s necessary and what’s not.

In terms of durability and weight, choose luggage with sturdy materials and lightweight construction.

Cruise ship cabins often have limited storage space, so opt for suitcases that can easily be stowed away or fit under beds.

Also, bear in mind that you may need to navigate steep staircases or walk long distances on the ship, so pick luggage with smooth-rolling wheels and comfortable handles.

Remember, a family cruise is about creating long-lasting memories, and the right luggage choice can make your trip hassle-free. So, consider all these factors and choose luggage that suits your family’s needs, ensuring you have an unforgettable cruising experience.

Specialty Bags for Cruise Travel

Let’s chat about some specialty bags that will make your journey smoother.

While on a cruise, you’ll likely need a variety of bags for different occasions and activities. Here, you’ll find a breakdown of some must-have luggage options for your next trip.

The Beach Bag or Tote Bag

First up is the beach bag. You’ll be spending lots of time lounging poolside or exploring sandy shores.

Look for a bag that is both stylish and functional, with plenty of room for your towel, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a good book (or Kindle).

Waterproof materials are a bonus, as they will help keep your beach essentials dry.

A duffel or tote bag can be handy for when you need a versatile, easy-to-carry option.

These bags work perfectly for day trips or excursions on and off the ship, as they are lightweight, easy to pack, and can fit all your essentials without feeling bulky.

Make sure to choose one with secure zippers and durable material to keep your belongings safe.

Garment Bags

Now, let’s talk garment bags.

Imagine this: you’re all dressed up for a formal night on the cruise ship, an elegant evening awaits, and you need your outfit to be wrinkle-free.

This is where a high-quality garment bag comes in handy, protecting your clothes during your journey and ensuring you look fabulous even after traveling.

I personally use a Samsonite Garment Bag when traveling with my Scottish Kilt for formal nights. I have actually owned that bag for over 20 years – that’s how durable these bags are. It’s awesome!

Alan wearing his kilt for formal night alongside Morag on Vision of the Seas
Traveling With a Kilt for Formal Night Can Be Challenging

The model I have has long been discontinued, but if I was buying a new one today, I would buy the Samsonite Ascella 3.0 as it has wheels. My own garment bag doesn’t and it can get very heavy with my kilt outfit.

In fact, on a recent cruise on Vision of the Seas, I carried an extra kilt over for one of our American friends. The bag was so heavy I ended up with a bruised shoulder. Maybe I should treat myself to an upgrade LOL

Rolling Duffel Bags

We touched on these earlier when discussing carry-on options.

Rolling Duffel bags can be perfect for maneuvering through crowded terminals and easily storing in your cabin.

Opt for a lightweight design with smooth wheels and plenty of compartments for organization. A telescopic handle is also essential so you can roll in style and comfort.


Last but not least, a trusty backpack is another must-have item for your cruise adventure.

Whether you’re exploring the ship, strolling through a port of call, or embarking on a thrilling excursion, a well-designed backpack ensures you can easily carry all your necessities with you.

Look for padded straps and secure compartments to keep your belongings comfortable and safe during your adventures. 

Depending on your thirst for adventure, a Waterproof Backpack might be something to consider as well.

Another very handy travel bag is an insulated cooler backpack – this can be very handy for an excursion to the beach, or if you have a long travel journey heading to the cruise terminal.

And there you have it – a collection of specialty bags to consider for your next cruise vacation. These options should keep your belongings organized, secure, and stylish. Bon voyage, and enjoy your trip!

Final Thoughts About The Best Luggage For Cruising

Morag and Alan enjoying a drink at a local bar near Dover Cruise Terminal
A Well-Deserved Drink After A Day’s Travel To The Cruise Port

Firstly, when thinking about the best luggage for cruising always consider the size of your luggage. In most cases, one suitcase per person should be sufficient for a 7-night cruise.

Keep in mind, cruise lines generally encourage passengers to bring no more than 2 suitcases, each weighing less than 50 pounds (Although they never check the weight). Opting for lightweight and durable luggage would be wise.

You might also want to have a day bag for your onshore adventures.

We haven’t used it ourselves, but one of our friends swears by the Bobby Backpack by XDDesign; they tell me it’s lightweight, stylish, and comes in various colors like gray, mint green, coral, and yellow.

Remember, you don’t want to lug around heavy suitcases do you? So, think about convenience when picking your bags.

For example, choose luggage with spinner wheels (4 x double set wheels are best) and well-designed handles. This makes maneuvering through busy terminals and ports a breeze.

Also, don’t forget those little extras that can make a big difference on your cruise. 

Packing accessories, such as fanny packs or evening purses for the ladies, can add extra convenience and a touch of style to your cruise wardrobe.

And who doesn’t like to look and feel good while on vacation?

Finally, don’t lose your luggage! Buy a set of secure cruise luggage tag holders and invest in Apple Airtags or Android Luggage Tracking devices.

In short, when you’re picking out luggage for your next cruise, focus on finding the right balance between size, durability, functionality, and style.

Lightweight, easy-to-carry bags that suit your personal taste can make your cruise experience smooth sailing.

I hope that helps you find the best luggage for cruising! Here’s to a stress-free vacation!

Frequently Asked Questions About The Best Luggage For Cruising

What type of luggage is suitable to take on a cruise?

When selecting luggage for a cruise, focus on durability, lightweight material, and size. Your bags should be big enough to accommodate your belongings but not too bulky or heavy to handle.

Wheeled luggage, especially ones that can also be worn as a backpack, is a great option for versatility and easy navigation through lines and terminals.

How much luggage can you bring on a cruise?

There are no strict limits on the number of bags you can bring on a cruise, so you may bring several suitcases if you wish. However, it’s essential to be mindful of storage space in your cabin and consider the ease of transport.

It’s always better to pack smartly and efficiently.

Which luggage features are most useful for cruises?

Spinner wheel luggage with multiple compartments. This makes the luggage easy to maneuver and helps keep your belongings organized, especially during longer trips.

Additionally, choose luggage with sturdy wheels and extendable handles for smooth maneuverability. Choosing a bag that can be securely locked is another important feature.

How to choose luggage for different cruise types?

For short cruises, consider bringing a lightweight carry-on or a medium-sized checked bag. For a 7-day cruise or longer, or any cruise with formal nights, a larger suitcase may be necessary to accommodate dressier clothing and accessories.

Adventure cruises or active itineraries might require specialty luggage like waterproof bags or backpacks.

What luggage materials work best for cruising?

For cruise travel, durable materials like nylon, polyester, or polycarbonate are ideal. These materials offer resistance to tears and scratches, are lightweight, and can help protect your belongings.

Soft-sided bags may offer more flexibility in storage, while hard-sided bags provide better protection for fragile items.

Carry-on vs checked luggage: what’s ideal for a cruise?

Both carry-on and checked luggage have their advantages during a cruise.

Carry-on bags ensure you have essential items with you during the boarding process and eliminate the risk of lost or delayed luggage.

On the other hand, checked bags can accommodate larger items and reduce the weight you need to carry in terminals and during embarkation.

It’s wise to use both, packing your valuables and necessities in your carry-on and leaving clothing and toiletries in your checked luggage.

Are Packing Cubes A Good Idea?

Travel packing cubes are a convenient and efficient way to organize and compress your clothes and belongings while traveling.

They come in various sizes and can be used to separate different types of clothing, such as tops, bottoms, and undergarments.

Compression bags for travel also help to create more space in your luggage by compacting your items, allowing you to pack more efficiently.

Not only do packing cubes make it easier to keep your belongings organized and easily accessible, but they also help to prevent overpacking, as the limited space within the cubes forces you to be more selective with the items you bring.

Overall, investing in packing cubes for your next trip can be a good idea for streamlining your packing process and making the most out of your luggage space. 

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Alan took his first cruise in 1991 and has been cruising ever since. When he is not writing articles for you'll find him either on a cruise ship (he's the guy in the kilt), or on the golf course!

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