One of the things I get asked about a lot is how to pack for a cruise.
Now a little history for those who don’t know me. I used to be a horrible packer. I went to France for about 6 days when I was in high school and had to pack full size bottles of shampoo and conditioner because I was afraid I would run out. There were 4 girls sharing a room and we each did this plus we all had to bring our own hair dryers and curling irons. Probably full size hair dryers because a travel size couldn’t possibly work! I had clothes options for about a 20 day trip. My suitcase was so huge and heavy that I could barely move it. Now remember this is about 1984 and if I remember correctly wheels on suitcases had not been discovered. Or if they had they were horrible. I just remember packing that thing around,,, and don’t forget the purse and carry on!!!! Since we changed hotels every night this was a problem. I remember watching our very attractive tour guide and noticing that he was wearing the same things in different combinations and always looked fabulous. I was young and wondered how he could possibly wear the same thing twice but I was very jealous of his very small bag after about 3 days.
As it currently stands I am sometimes a great packer and sometimes I come home with a lot of stuff I never even considered wearing. I did manage to go to Cambodia and Thailand for about 10 days with just a backpack. You read that right. No checked luggage. I had a backpack and a purse on the plane. And if you are thinking I threw it all in my husband’s checked bag you would be wrong. He only took a backpack too! I never once felt like I didn’t have enough options or felt that I was missing anything. And I was very glad we did it when we had to change plans in several different countries. No worries about lost luggage or waiting on bags.
Anyway the one thing that I think I have down well is packing for a cruise. Cruises are pretty easy and unpacking once is definitely a benefit! So what exactly should you take on a cruise? Well of course this depends on how many days you will be cruising, what cruise line and ship and where. Most of this blog will be written assuming you will be going somewhere tropical.
- Recycle your clothes. By this I really mean re-wear some of your clothes. No it isn’t gross! If you haven’t cruised before then you may not know that you almost never wear the same outfit for the whole day. In the mornings I just throw on yoga pants and a t-shirt then run up to breakfast. Then you are going to change into something else for part of the day. Then you are going to change for dinner. If you only wear a shirt for 2 hours then yeah,, you can wear it again. NO ONE WILL NOTICE! The only time this is different is if you are in port all day on an excursion. So really look at what you are planning to do each day and see if you really need 2 or 3 separate outfits a day. You probably won’t. Your cruise may or may not have a formal night. You can ask your travel agent to find out. Even if they do have a formal night then it is usually optional. You can either not go to the dining room that night and just eat at the buffet or on lines like Norwegian they will just seat you near people that are dressed very similarly to you. Check with your agent or the cruise like to make sure of their dress policy before you go!
- Pack mostly things that will mix and match well- I usually go for neutral bottoms in solid colors and then spice it up a little with your tops and jewelry.
- Put most of those shoes back- Really,, you can do it! You really do not need a different pair of shoes for each outfit. I said neutral bottoms and neutral shoes work too. Make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes if you are going to be doing anything active or taking active excursions. Other than that pick one of two pairs of shoes that will go with everything, a pair of flip flops for the pool and a some heels or slightly nicer shoes for dinners. When packing your shoes just channel Duchess Kate and her nude pumps!
- Sundresses- If you like them this is the time to pull them out. You can wear them as cover ups, to lunch and even dress them up for dinner.
- Facebook- You can probably find a Facebook group for your ship or even your ship and specific destination. This is a very helpful place to ask about how people normally dress on the ship. Some are a lot more casual than others.
- Neutrals- I have already said neutral bottoms and shoes, extend that to your make up palette. There are a lot of great neutral palettes out there so that you won’t have to take every bit of makeup that you own! There isn’t a lot of space in those bathrooms so you will thank me if you reduce the amount of stuff you take!
- Accessorize- switch up your outfits by changing up the jewelry or other accessories. That stuff doesn’t take up much room!
- Burrrr! – It can be cool in the dining rooms and all over the inside of the ship so you make need to take a shawl, sweater or light jacket. This is a good way to change up one of those outfits you are going to wear more than once!
- Take 2- Bathing suits that is! You may be in your suit everyday so this way you will always have one that is dry. Nothing worse than putting on a cold wet suit first thing in the morning to go out to the pool!
If you are cruising to Alaska, New England or another cool weather cruise most of this applies to you also, except the sun dresses! Your best friend for these will be the extended forecast. Make sure you keep up with that because temperatures can vary a lot. When I went to Alaska it was unusually warm so I really could have done with fewer hoodies and less fleece. For Alaska you will most likely need a good rain jacket. You will need long pants or capris and a good jacket or two. I went in June and only got cold if we were outside when the ship was sailing and on our whale watching excursion. Make sure you consider the excursions you are taking when you are packing. If you are going out to a glacier make sure you take warmer clothes!
**Travel pro tip: When you get on the ship you will not have your luggage for awhile. It may get to you quickly or it could take a little longer than you would like. I suggest making sure you have a small carry on with anything you will think you need the first day. If you have been traveling in the morning you may want to freshen up or you may want your bathing suit so that you can hit the pool or hot tub. I usually make sure I have at least one change of clothes and a little make up in there. It is not a bad idea to pack a pair of yoga pants or shorts and a t shirt also in case you want to get comfy and rest in your cabin or go walk around the promenade deck.
I have recorded a short video with this that has some of my other packing tips. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments or contact me!