Now that you booked your vacation, and you’re ready to hit the high seas, you might wonder what to pack for your cruise. Whether your aim is to avoid bringing check-in bags or paying excess luggage fees by packing light, keeping a spot for your souvenirs or just making sure you take everything you need, here are our nine tips for packing for a cruise.
Tip 1: Pack your carry-on luggage with care
Pack a change of clothes, essential medicines and toiletries in the bags you will take on the plane and bring yourself onboard. In case your luggage gets lost on your flight, at least you’ll have some essentials with you to pass the first days well. It may take a while before your luggage gets shipped to one of the ports of call. Also, if your suitcases are being delivered to your cabin with delay, you’ll have a bathing suit, some casual clothes and a dress attire on hand and can enjoy all the onboard activities right away.
Tip 2: Know the dress code on your ship
While some folks dress on the ships’ “formal night” in gowns and tuxedos, most people dress more informally (suits for men and cocktail dresses for women). “Resort casual” is now the universal evening dress; with most men in slacks and dress shirts (without jackets) and women in anything from sundresses to skirts or pants with cute tops.
Tip 3: Don’t spend all your money on laundry
If you want to travel light (and do your laundry during your cruise), make sure to check if your ship offers self-service laundry machines. The ones that do have such facilities usually don’t offer them for free, and it can get expensive. Think you can save on laundry costs by bringing laundry detergent and washing your small clothing items in your cabin’s bathroom or packing a bottle of travel-sized Febreze freshener to get more use out of a one-day worn outfit.
Tip 4: Bring your favorite toiletries
Onboard, you’ll always find basic toiletries, such as soap, shower gel, and shampoo, however, you might want to keep space in your luggage for your favorite care products. The same goes for hair dryers. Most staterooms come with dryers, but if you’re picky, pack your own.
Tip 5: Dress appropriate for your destination
In short, some places your travel to are more formal than others. Expect to pack more “resort casual” wear if you’re cruising in Europe or Bermuda. Other cruise destinations, such as Hawaii, the Caribbean or French Polynesia, are more casual than the average. When packing your luggage, also think about your shore excursions. Flip-flops are fine for a beach day, but you’ll want more comfortable shoes for your days of sightseeing or active excursions like hiking. If you’re planning to visit religious sites, be sure to bring clothes that cover your shoulders and knees. Just put a shawl and a knee length skirt in your bag when you go from the boat, so you’re always prepared for an unplanned visit.
Tip 6: Save room for souvenirs
If you love to bring souvenirs home, take care to leave some room in your luggage. Whether you find a beautiful leather bag in Italy, a typical souvenir in Hawaii or picking up some duty-free products in the Caribbean, consider packing a foldable weekend bag. It won’t take up much space in your suitcase, and you can fill it up and check it for the flight home.
Tip 7: Mix and match (with accessories)
If you can bring clothes for multiple occasions, you won’t be hit with excess bag fees or find yourself fighting how to fit your clothes in the small closet of the cabin. Select bottoms and tops (of one color theme) that you can mix and match, and bring items that can be dressed up for your evening dinner and worn sportive the next day. Opt for layers to handle the different temperatures on your cruise, from the cool cruise ship to the warmth outside. Don’t forget to bring various accessories to change the look of your outfits such as jewelry, belts, and scarves, rather than bring two suits or cocktail dresses.
Tip 8: Don’t forget the basics
There are some items you might want to pack because they’re not provided or very expensive to buy on board. Especially first-time cruisers might benefit from this tip! Most cruise ship cabins don’t come with alarm clocks, so bring your own if your biological clock might suffer a jetlag. If you’re planning to use your cell phone as an alarm clock, put it than in airplane mode, to avoid paying expensive roaming fees in foreign waters. Other items you might want to include in your luggage are over-the-counter medicines, batteries, memory cards (for your camera), ear plugs, and a small power socket to charge all your electronic devices, as cruise cabins have most of the time very few electrical outlets. If you still have room left in your bag, add a few lightweight wire hangers, you might not find a sufficient quantity in your closet.
Tip 9: Keep documents with you
Make sure you always keep at hand your required photo IDs and cruise documents (boarding pass). In case your suitcase misses the boat, you can at least get onboard. Make sure you have the correct type of identification for your cruise destination. Cruisers have been put to a stop at the pier for not having the necessary original birth certificate or unmatching passport name with the one on the ship’s documents (which often happens on honeymoon cruises). If you need visas or immunizations, carry those documents with you, as well.