Going on a cruise is always exciting. The prospect of seeing several locations, iconic cityscapes, and experiencing various cultures all in one trip is what makes cruising one of the most popular holiday options for Australians. It’s convenient country-hopping, all rolled into one!
The only challenge you might encounter on a cruise happens right before it.
Yep… it’s PACKING.
Everyone has something to say about the stuff that goes in your luggage. “Pack light”, “bring this”, “have some room for that”, or “pack this instead of that” … the list goes on!
Honestly though, packing for a cruise is a pretty straightforward endeavour. Some of the major areas to consider are things like how long is your cruise, are you heading to a cooler destination or island sunshine, any stopovers or extensions to your holiday and the many onboard/onshore activities could dictate what you put inside your bag.
One piece of advice that you’ll rarely find is HOW to pack… or, basically, what NOT to pack.
So, read on! We have gathered a few of our best tips for you.
- Don’t overpack
The very first advice that you’ll receive about packing is not do overdo it. Will you wear all 7 dresses, 5 pairs of trousers, 14 shirts, 7 pairs of shorts and 3 bathing suits if you’re heading out on a weeklong cruise? What about a pair of shoes for every outfit? We think not, most days you will wear casual gear if going ashore and relaxing onboard, and if you’re sailing to the sun, you may even live in your swimsuit to be honest! And evening attire could be dress casual or a little fancier for those formal nights.
We think it’s wiser to pack light. One suitcase and a carry-on should be enough to get you by for a week. Set out what you think you need, halve it, pick a base colour to mix and match (usually black, brown or navy), then halve everything again. We try to go for 2-3 of everything, plus a “going-out” outfit that you can easily accessorise differently on those fancier evenings. Let us tell you, after the first time with an abundance of shoes and clothes, you will realise that you really can do with the bare necessities.
- Forget about basic grooming products
I know… I know. You’d probably tell me that your hair NEEDS a particular kind of shampoo and conditioner, hairgel, hairspray, curling iron, a special kind of hair dryer and all the other toiletries you are used to. Can we just say, the words “bare necessities” again?
In your efforts to pack light or save some space, you should really only bring the essentials - your boarding pass, toothbrush & toothpaste and you’re pretty much good to go! On the other hand, items like hairdryers, shampoo, conditioner and soap can be left at home because they are already provided in your cabin. Plus there is an onboard shop that carries most basics should you forget your toothbrush!
- Be wary of items not allowed by the cruise line
A little bit of research goes a long, long way towards the enjoyment of your cruise. Always ask your Cruise Solutions Specialist what you cannot bring on the ship. Each cruiseline is different, however generally speaking, it is similar to when you board an aircraft - any fire hazards, weapons, sharp objects, chemicals, etc. Be aware that a very handy power-board may not be allowed onboard – however, you can always ask for one to be brought to your stateroom for use throughout the cruise.
- Leave your uncomfortable shoes at home
While you may be excited to wear those new shoes, you might want to break them in a couple of weeks before your departure date. After all you want your tootsies in tip top condition - we suggest bringing sneakers or comfy trainers to go from the onboard fitness centre to exploring a destination or playing in the surf or pool. Also bring a pair of sandals/shoes for evenings, and a pair of flipflops or thongs for just lounging around the deck.
- Leave your expensive jewellery at home, too!
It’s easy to lose things, and there are shore excursions, the theatre to attend, embarking, disembarking, partying, strolling in the moonlight and more to misplace your heirloom piece given to you by Auntie June. We suggest that expensive jewellery and items you would not want to lose should be left at home, and there is always room to buy a new piece of local handcrafted “jewels” that can double as souvenirs!
- Packing cubes are your best friend.
You can save a lot of space if you invest in packing cubes. Because cubes stack and pack properly, you’ll have an easy time going about your luggage. You can even strategize how you go about packing. Dedicate one cube to one type of clothing, or, you can even pack one day’s worth of clothes in each! Convenient!
- Your carry-on
It’s always important to have your essentials with you, so you can change into your “cruise clothes” and head to the pool, buffet or go exploring as soon as you board. Your main luggage will take an hour or more to arrive, so best to let it arrive, and you can get a head start on your cruise!
- Packing for a formal night
There may be cruise and cruise events that would require formal wear, but do you really go black tie for these nights? Not necessarily. It’s always nice to dress up a touch when on a special night out – maybe you’ve booked at one of the speciality restaurants, or it’s your anniversary, or a celebration night. A little black dress accessorised just right can be a knock-out, as can smartly ironed pants, shirt and sport jacket. Remember, you will still be able to eat whether you front up in casual clothes, smart casual, fancy duds or a full-on tuxedo or sparkling floor length gown. We say, whatever you are comfortable in, go for it!
- Pack for the weather
Always check the weather forecast to get a feel for the kind of temperatures you are likely to experience while onboard. Obviously, any indoor areas will have lovely ambient temperatures with excellent air-conditioning. Outside is a different story – heading to the sun? Pack a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and the like. Are you heading for Alaska, Northern Europe or cooler climates? Layer it up from sweatshirts to jumpers, parkas and a warm wooly coat. Be prepared!
When you’re done packing, the best thing that you can do is SUBTRACT. Try to re-evaluate what you have packed, and if there are any areas you can economise? The key is to do the subtracting the day AFTER you finish packing. That way you can sleep on it and decide what really you need and what you have forgotten… Note to self: There is ALWAYS something you forget – as long as it is not your boarding pass, you are good to board!
We hope that with these tips you’re more equipped than ever to conquer packing for your next cruise!
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Written by Jackie Hamilton