Cruise Lanyards

Cruise Lanyards – WHY & WHERE to buy these Cruise Essentials

Cruise Lanyards are an essential item to add to your packing list. We’ll tell you why you need these, what to look for, and where to buy the best lanyards for your cruise ship key cards.

Why do we need Cruise Lanyards?

A few reasons these are a “cruise essential” to add to your packing list.

The first time we cruised, we immediately noticed something similar about other passengers (other than the cold drinks and big smiles). They had lanyards for their key cards.

At first, I figured these were issued by the cruise ship. I checked my cabin hoping I’d find one waiting for me. No luck!

How else would this many people have lanyards? But, then I noticed that the sizes, styles, and complexity varied significantly. These weren’t standard issue. People brought these from off the ship. We’d felt like we missed a memo or something.

As a rookie, I didn’t immediately understand why you’d need a cruise lanyard. I soon found out.

Lanyard Post - Pinterest Images.001


I’d love to do the following study: “how many times per day do I use my cruise key card?”

Here are just a few examples of when you’ll need it.

Getting drinks at the bar
Opening your cabin door
Showing ID on and off ship
Gambling at the Casino
Getting drinks at the bar
Buying shore excursions
When seated at dinner
Getting drinks at the bar
Playing bingo & other games
At the arcade
Getting coffee
In the gift shops

Expect to pull your cruise ship ID out of your pocket more than 50 times per day!

You’ll be changing outfits constantly. Whether headed to the pool, dinner, or dancing, you’ll have on a new set of digs with a different set of pockets. Some outfits (hey, ladies) won’t even have pockets. You’ll be constantly fishing for your cruise key card. At a packed bar, you don’t want to be “that guy” holding up your fellow passenger’s next mojito.

Consistency is key! Cruise lanyards are the answer. You’ll always know where to find your ID. Some lanyards even offer retractable reels or detachable buckets for added speed and convenience.

Carnival Cruise Line Packing List

Save time and money

We lost a cruise key card on that first cruise. Getting a replacement didn’t cost any money, fortunately (some cruise lines charge a fee), but it did cost over an hour of precious cruise time. The customer service line was about 12 people deep. As I stood there listening to cranky cruisers arguing about gratuity, I vowed to never return. I could picture my husband smiling from the Lido Bar and made a note to punch him in the arm, which I later delivered even though completely my own fault.

Throughout the week, each of us left our cruise key cards in the room on several occasions. Sometimes we’d notice when halfway down the hallway. Other times, it wouldn’t hit us until headed to the bar for a drink. Instead of getting an ice-cold drink, we’d have to spend 20 minutes trekking down to the 5th deck to dig through our cabin to find the lost ID.

The cruise is only a week long. Don’t spend it looking for your key card.


Your cruise ship card is your ID, credit card, admission ticket, and passport wrapped in one. You do not want it falling in the wrong hands on your ship and definitely don’t want to lose it once off the ship.

You likely wouldn’t leave your passport in your jean-pockets while taking a dip in the ocean. Nor should you with your key card! Cruise lanyards are the hipper “fanny pack.” You’ll never be without your most valuable possession with it draped around your neck.

To store other valuables like cash and credit cards, get a cruise lanyard with a waterproof pouch (see below). This gives the added protection when taking a dip.

Cruise Key Card Usage

Wonderful Icebreaker

We always hope to make friends when we cruise. Last year we cruised from Australia and were excited to see a fellow passenger with a “Florida” lanyard around his neck. Also from the Sunshine State, we struck up a conversation and hung out all week long. We still keep in touch!

We’ve since seen other attention-grabbing cruise lanyards like these displaying home country or state and this elaborate style for someone that’s probably very interesting to talk to.

Great Souvenir

These make great keepsakes once the vacation is over. We buy a new set of cruise lanyards before every sailing so that we have a unique way to remember each. We’ve seen people print out their itinerary and place it in the plastic pouch, which is a great idea and we’ve been meaning to steal this idea.

Every set of keys we have has a lanyard attached to it. It always brings back great memories and makes us smile when starting the car and thinking about that amazing vacation.

What to look for in a Cruise Lanyard

Surprisingly, there’s a lot to consider when picking your perfect key card holder.

Which lanyard is right for you? That’s like asking, “which cruise should I do?” It’s going to vary by your personality and preferences. Before selecting your perfect one, here’s some added info you’ll want to consider.

Cruise ID Holder Waterproof Pouch

Waterproof Pouch

To keep your cruise key card attached to your lanyard, you have a few options. The most popular is with a pouch. This provides a few advantages. First, it’s very easy to slide your card in and out of the top of the pouch. Second, it lets you add additional “essentials” like credit cards and cash. And finally, it keeps these items nice and dry which helps when carrying paper like money or an excursion pass.

We advise that you purchase an item that includes a pouch. You don’t necessarily have to use it, but it’s good to have that option. You can always remove the waterproof pouch and attach the card directly!

Retractable Reel

Oh you fancy. The retractable reel lanyard is like the Cunard of lanyards. Seriously, though, this feature is very popular and found on most of them we’ve seen.

The nifty reel lets you easily pull your ID out and it automatically retracts when you let go.

Lanyard Retractable Reel

Lobster Claw Cruise Badge Holder

Cruise ID Attachment

You don’t need a plastic pouch. If going without, we like to call this the “naked” strategy. If going naked, you’ll want to consider what attachment you’ll want to use with your card.

We advise using a “lobster claw” type attachment that lets you easily unhook your ID when needed. NOTE: some cruise lines (like Carnival) automatically punch a hole in the corner of your card. Others many not. If not done automatically, cruise staff will be happy to punch a hole in your card if taken to the customer service desk.

for even quicker release

Detachable Buckle

The detachable buckle is different than the lobster clasp referred to earlier. This feature is typically up a few inches from the key card. The buckle offers “quick release” functionality that’s even easier than with the clasp.

We love the buckle option. Bartenders don’t seem to mind when we hand them our card with buckle attached so that’s how we operate.

Detachable Clasp Cruise Lanyards

Cruise Lanyards

Style & Comfort

This is the fun part. Make sure to find a style that’s perfect for you both in terms of functionality and aesthetics. You might favor something simple or a fancier option. Maybe you want something super soft or as basic as possible. Perhaps you want your lanyard design to draw attention or maybe you want less eyeballs. There are plenty of options to choose from. Have fun with it!

All of these cruise lanyard features noted above are optional. It’s going to depend on your preferences which is right for you. Some want the very basic and cheapest lanyard to get the job done. Others want the “Cadillac” model that has all the bells and whistles.

Below, you’ll find the best cruise lanyards on Amazon to fit any of your needs.

Where to Buy Cruise Lanyards

Amazon (obvi) but be very wary to avoid the cheap junk!

We recommend buying a lanyard before cruise day. It’s possible to find one in the gift shop on your ship, but you’ll have just one or two overpriced options. Instead, buy it online and check this off your “vacation to do” list early.

CAUTION: Cheap Products & Bad Sellers

There’s a lot of junkie products on Amazon. We’ve tested a few items and sellers and have gotten ripped off so that you don’t have to. Avoid making the same mistake by selecting from a reputable provider!

When buying cruise lanyards online, you’ll have hundreds of options. We prefer Amazon due to the amazing selection and delivery speed. You’ll want to be careful, though. We’ve been disappointed by cheap and junkie items in the past and won’t make that mistake again.

Go with a reputable provider who will guarantee quality. You’ll find that to be true with all of these options below.

Cruise Lanyards on Amazon

Below you’ll find the best cruise lanyards on Amazon – all personally vetted!

#1 – Cheapest & Most Basic Lanyard

the “Inside Cabin” model

Cruise Lanyard on Amazon - Basic & Cheapest

Here you’ll find the cheapest option for those only concerned with functionality. This model, we like to call the “Inside Cabin” of lanyards.

Button for Cruise Lanyard on Amazon

August 1, 2019

“it did the job. Held up all cruise long. Worked as expected. Cheap enough to toss out after the vacation was done. I’d recommend for anyone with a cruise planned”
Mark R

#2 – Functional Cruise Lanyard with Style

the “Oceanview Cabin” model

Cruise Lanyards on Amazon: Waterproof Pouch

This is a solid option. You have the extremely comfortable and wide nylon lanyards with the basic, waterproof pouch functionality. You have the option of inserting your cruise key card into the pouch or to the lobster claw without pouch.

Button for Cruise Lanyard on Amazon

August 7, 2019

“I bought these lanyards for a cruise and it was cute. The straps were soft and I wasn’t afraid that it was going to get disconnected. I like the clip on hook to the clear plastic holder. It was great that it was waterproof also so I can wear it when I went swimming. Item arrived fast.”

#3 – Lanyard with Key Card Holder, Reel, Buckle, etc

the “Balcony Cabin” model

Cruise Lanyards on Amazon: Retractable Reel Waterproof Pouch

Here is our favorite of all the cruise lanyards we’ve tried. It has both quick release features (the clasp and the buckle) as well as the waterproof pouch, silky-soft nylon material and even the retractable reel. We’ve tried many products for our cruise ID and this is by far the best!

Button for Cruise Lanyard on Amazon

January 11, 2018

“What a nice lanyard. Instead of the usual cord of plastic or woven Colton, this is a silky satin ribbon. Nice anchor design. It is versatile. It comes apart in a few ways to be used as you want or need. The reel in property is neat and practical. Will use it on my next cruise in2 weeks. It came in a pack of 2 so I will give the to my sister who is traveling with me.”
Mary Gould

#4 – Cruise Lanyards & Luggage Tag Set

the “Captain’s Suite Cabin” model

Cruise Lanyards on Amazon: with luggage tags

The lanyards included here are the same as in option #3, but with them you also get cruise luggage tags. These are another “essential” item that we highly recommend. With the package deal, you’ll save a few bucks!

Button for Cruise Lanyard on Amazon

February 10, 2020

“We’ve cruised many many times and we’ve done the cruise ship “paper” luggage tags on all our previous cruises. We thought there had to be a better way to avoid tags being torn, ripped, or lost. We found on Amazon an offer of 4 tags and 2 Id holders specially made for Carnival tags. We placed our order this past Sunday afternoon and received our tags this afternoon (Monday). As soon as we opened the package and held onto our tags we immediately knew theses tag holders are “primo.” These will no doubt prevent what we thought was inevitable on any future cruise we might take. The holders are resealable and are made of durable clear plastic. We are so excited we’re planning a cruise we’ll take in about 2 months.”
Luis Torres

#5 – Custom Cruise Lanyards

the “Cruise Director’s” choice

Custom Cruise Lanyards

This is our favorite option on Amazon! We love to make friends when we cruise. There’s no better way than with a custom lanyard advertising your home state or country. Literally every time we’ve cruised with this, we’ve had multiple people comment on them. It’s by far the easiest way to make shipmates. Find your home country or home state cruise lanyards by clicking those links.

Custom Lanyards on Amazon

June 1, 2020

Amazon Reviewer 5
“We’ve proudly showed off our Australian lanyard for the past couple cruises. Every day we’ll get at least one comment. While at the bar, the comment usually has to do with kangaroos or boomerangs. We love it! It’s a great way to make friends.”
Bethany Turns

#6 – The Non-Lanyard Key Card Holder

the “No-Neck” choice

This is a BRAND NEW product released for those that want even quicker access to their cruise ship ID cards. While the lanyards above are comfortable, they just aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Many out there would rather not have to remember one extra item to put and take off throughout the day. With this phone wallet, you cruise cards stay attached to your smartphone. And EVERYONE has an iPhone or Android phone on them at all times. This is the most convenient option and a brilliant new invention in the cruise world.

Aug 5, 2022

“We’ve used lanyards for years. They worked great.We saw this item and thought we’d give it a try. They are a game-changer. It’s incredibly easy and convenient to grab your cruise card throughout the day. We’ll never go back to lanyards.”
Zoey Henry

If you weren’t able to find the perfect item above, don’t fret! There are even more options. Here you’ll find the best cruise lanyards on Amazon. You’re guaranteed to find something there that will fit your cruising needs.

Cruise Lanyard FAQs

Below, you’ll find the most commonly asked questions we get about cruise ship card holders. We hope these help for first-timers or anyone else looking for answers!

Where do I buy a cruise lanyards?

You’ll find the most options for style, functionality and price for cruise lanyards on Amazon. Beware, however, of cheap products and one-off sellers with poor service. Above you’ll find four recommended options. All have been vetted and are highly recommended.

Does my cruise key card have a hole in the corner?

Some cruise lines (Carnival for example) automatically punch a hole in your key card. Typically the hole is punched in the corner away from the magnetic strip. On some ships, this isn’t done automatically but cruise staff will be happy to do so at the customer service desk.

Does my cruise ship provide a lanyard?

No. Most cruise ships do not provide a cruise lanyard, but recommend that you bring one with you. For example, Carnival Cruise Lines suggests in a pre-cruise email that you bring one of these items to hold your key card.

What size is my cruise ID?

Your cruise ID is the same size as a standard credit card or other issued identification. It measures 3 3/8 in length by 2 1/4 in width.

What cruise lanyards should I get for Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean has a standard cruise key card size matching any normal credit card. Most Royal Caribbean ships still require this card for stateroom access. Your cruise ship card holder should allow for easy access to open your cabin and allow quick release for bars, dining rooms, etc. The options noted above will work perfectly for all Royal Caribbean ships.

What cruise lanyards should I get for Carnival Cruise Line?

Carnival has a standard cruise key card size matching any normal credit card. Carnival ships require this card for stateroom access. Your cruise ship card holder should allow for easy access to open your cabin and allow quick release for bars, dining rooms, etc. The options noted above will work perfectly for all Carnival cruise ships.

We hope that this helped you choose your ideal Ship card holder. If you found it helpful, please share with your favorite cruise community!

For more cruise packing essentials, check out our post below!

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