How To Pack For a Cruise

No one brings steamer trunks on cruises anymore, instead we’re all faced with the airlines’ 50-pound weight limit on suitcases. When packing for a cruise you should look to limit what you bring as much as possible by packing things that can be worn more than once. But cruises also require special thought: You’ll want to make sure you bring essential things like toothbrushes and cotton swabs because you won’t be able to zip into a supermarket or discount drugstore. And you may need special things, such as formal wear. Here are some tips to help you out.

  1. Ask your cruise agent about any specific clothing needs for your particular ship. Some ships have special requirements that may affect your packing.
  2. Make a packing list. Although you can buy some necessities on the ship or in ports, you will often pay a heavy premium, and may not find exactly what you need.
  3. If traveling with a friend or spouse, divide your clothing equally among your suitcases. Then if you lose a bag you’ll each have something to wear.
  4. Pack lightly, especially for warm-weather cruises, but pack a sweater, shawl or light jacket for evenings.
  5. For warm-weather cruises, bring quality swimwear. Women should bring a sarong or other coverup, since most cruise lines require that you wear more than a swimsuit in the dining rooms.
  6. Bring a pair of rubber-soled shoes for slippery decks.
  7. Pack wrinkle resistant clothing.
  8. Find out if your cruise ship has self-service laundry facilities for passengers. If it does, you can pack fewer things.
  9. Even when formal wear is requested, it is not necessarily required. On cruises with formal nights, you can avoid getting dressed up by ordering have room service that night. Or nap during dinner and opt for the midnight midnight buffet.
  10. Formal nights are not necessarily extremely formal. Some passengers will go all out with tuxedos and ball gowns, but you don’t have to. Men can wear a suit or blazer with white shirt and tie on formal nights. Women can wear cocktail dresses, separates or or suits. It’s like getting dressed for a nice wedding.
  11. The key to packing smart is bringing mix-and-match clothing.
  12. Pack some inexpensive foul-weather gear, a slicker and a collapsible umbrella.
  13. Bring a tote bag; this will come in handy for shopping excursions and for bringing your lotions, towels and reading materials to the pool.
  14. Try to pack clothing that is re-usable on the cruise. For example, a black skirt skirt can be mixed with different tops or jackets depending on the occasion.
  15. Use the purser’s safe if you brought expensive jewelry–even if there’s a safe in your room–as sometimes only valuables in the purser’s safe are covered under the ship’s insurance.
  16. Carry all documents, medicines, essentials, and valuables with you in your carry-on.
  17. Carry on at least one change of clothes, just in case.
  18. Pack a power strip; most cabins have only one outlet and you’ll need to charge your camera, cell phone and MP3 player.
  19. Buy sample sizes of shampoo and other toiletries and pack them in Instead of bringing full-size bottles.
  20. Bring reading materials–you’ll likely spend a lot of time poolside–and an extra pair of reading glasses.
  21. Bring your cellphone. You can use it on the ship before it departs, and while it is still close to land. And you can make calls on the day you return. A cell phone is great for calling a cab or a ride from home, or making arrangements with friends who are already ashore.
  22. Pack ziploc bags in different sizes to store things like bathing suits, open bottles of lotion, or your camera.
  23. For Alaska and Northern Europe: Pack warmer clothing, but bring one lightweight outfit to wear should the weather be warm one afternoon.
  24. For Alaska: Pack rain gear, waterproof footwear, wool socks, a warm sweater, a wind-proof shell, warm gloves, and a cap.
  25. For the Mediterranean: Summer temperatures are like the Caribbean, while spring and fall call for warmer and more formal clothing. Winters can be quite cold.
  26. Creative Commons License photo credit: sun dazed
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