Here is the first thing you should know about packing for a cruise. Packing in this context is not the same as packing to go on any other type of holiday. Get it right and your trip will be an enjoyable and successful one. But if you get it wrong you’ll forever be cursing yourself for not bringing what you needed and packing what you didn’t.
Clearly you’ll get better at it the more cruises you take. But if you have booked your first cruise already, it would be nice to get it right first time, wouldn’t it? That’s what this article is for – to help you figure out what you need and what you don’t. So let’s get started shall we?
Know Your Limits
A no fly cruise (cruise departing from the UK) will typically offer a much larger baggage allowance than a fly-cruise. All cruise lines differ in their maximum luggage allowance, but be aware of the limits on your flight if you are taking a fly-cruise. You might also want to consider your cabin size – a small cabin can get cramped if you have large suitcases taking up precious space.
Don’t fall for shorts and nothing but shorts
When you go on a beach holiday you probably pack in as many pairs of shorts as you can find. But don’t fall for this when you’re packing for a cruise. You won’t be able to wear them anywhere and everywhere, and you might find you’re stuck for things to wear if you pack too many pairs to the detriment of other clothing items.
Walking shorts are a bit different, but the really short shorts should be avoided en masse.
Find out what the dress code is
This can vary according to the particular cruise you are on. Cunard Line for example has traditionally been very formal, whereas Royal Caribbean is for the most part casual with 2 formal nights per week on average. Check the details of your own cruise once you have booked it (or beforehand, if you want to be sure of knowing exactly what is expected) and use them to help you.
Remember that all cruises should warrant fairly smart clothing at all times. You can dress casually – in fact you will probably do this for much of the time, but there is a big difference between dressing casually and looking scruffy. Make sure you always opt for the former. This applies when going ashore as well as making use of all the facilities on your cruise ship.
Think about your carry-on bag
You’ll be pleased to know you don’t have to struggle with the rest of your luggage when it comes to boarding your cruise ship. All you have to worry about is your carry-on bag, and that means you should have everything you need to get by from the moment you step on board.
Obviously this should include your passport and other travel documents. But you should pack a few clothes in this bag as well, just in case it takes a while to get your suitcase. Once you’re on board you might be excited to try some of the facilities you’ve got to look forward to. That’s why it’s a good idea to pack your swimwear in your carry-on otherwise you’ll have to wait for your suitcase to turn up.
A change of clothes – something light and comfy and easy to pack – is a good idea too. Any valuables such as a camera and phone should be kept in a separate, easy to access pocket. Think of the basics you would need to settle in and enjoy yourself if your suitcase didn’t turn up for a day or two and you’ll be fine.
Most cruises will require formal dress for some of the time. It is normally only for dinner reservations and then it may not apply every evening. Again, find out what applies to your specific cruise before you pack, so you are able to buy any outfits you may need in addition to what you already have. If your cruise is for a week or two you will only need one, possibly two, formal outfits. A longer cruise may require one or two more depending on the length of time you will be at sea.
With regard to packing your carry-on and your luggage, it is wise to think practically. For example make a pile of the absolute essential items you wouldn’t be able to travel without first, and then go from there. Find out what facilities and items will be provided in your state room as well, such as a shaver and a hairdryer. This can help you narrow down the items you need to pack for your trip.
Another area worth a mention is entertainment. No matter how many facilities are on board your ship, you will still want to take a few magazines or books with you to enjoy. This is where an e-reader comes in extremely useful, since you can carry hundreds of books in a very small space.
There’s no doubt a cruise holiday can be enormous fun, incredibly relaxing and very inspiring too. It can take you to foreign shores you may never have visited before. But you will enjoy it far more if you are able to pack for it and plan for it in advance.
A lot of these skills come with experience – the more cruises you sail on the easier it will be to pack for them. But if you follow the tips and advice given above you will be far more successful at getting it right the first time you try. Happy cruising!