Packing for a cruise takes a lot of thought and decision-making.
Before you start, consider your destination and cruise line policy. You have to think about beach wear, day wear and evening wear. What will the weather be like? What is the suggested day and evening wear for the cruise line you are sailing with?
For example, you wouldn’t pack the same day wear for an Alaskan cruise as you would for a Caribbean one. But your evening wear would be similar. Also consider the amount of storage space you’ll have in your room. In many cases, it’s very limited.
The best place to start is the cruise line website, which will spell out in detail what is considered appropriate and what’s not. Policies can differ from one cruise line to another.
Make a list. Know before you go when each piece of clothing will be worn so you don’t over pack. Wear your heaviest shoes, and pack your sandals, flip flops and one pair of dress shoes. Coordinate all your evening wear to go with your dress shoes to avoid bringing too many shoes.
It is much easier to pack light because, generally speaking, cruising has become a lot less formal. Plus, if you are flying to your destination port, you have to consider charges for checked bags and overweight luggage.
How many evenings are considered elegant? Will you be eating in the dining room or the more casual lido deck buffet? Are swimsuits allowed in areas other than the pool deck? These and many more questions are answered in detail on websites.
There are certain items you should always pack:
- Identification — a passport or government-issued ID and, if necessary, a ship boarding pass.
- Day pack or oversized bags for taking to excursions, the beach and shopping.
- Over-the-counter first-aid supplies, including cold and flu medication, diarrhea medication, anti-itch cream, allergy medicine and sea sickness tablets or prescription medication. On smaller ships, there isn’t always a doctor on board, and if there is, there’s usually a fee involved. Also, even if you are sailing in the United States, when you get to a port, you won’t know where to buy these products and hunting them down takes away from your shore excursion time.
- Prescriptions — Count to make sure you have enough for the trip, and transport them in their original containers.
- Toiletries — What is provided depends on the cruise line. And, like over-the-counter first-aid supplies, it’s easier to bring them along than try to buy something once you are on the cruise.
- Planning to swim? In addition to your swimwear, make sure and bring along an appropriate cover-up. Check if your cruise line provides beach towels. If it does, this will save you luggage room because you won’t have to bring your own.
- Outerwear — Rain jacket, sweater and sun hat for summer cruises as well as the Caribbean and Hawaii. A fleece jacket, gloves and hat for Alaska and fall sailings in Canada and Northern states.