Packing for a cruise requires a little more consideration than usual, especially if you're a cruising novice. Mind you, most cruise liners no longer insist on special dress codes for dinners and events. The overwhelming majority, in fact, have become casual affairs which makes packing for a cruise much easier.
Unless you've booked a glamorous cruise experience, you won't need to pack overly elegant evening wear and dressy shoes.
But what should you be packing instead?
Before we spill all the beans, here are a few important things you should know:
1. Once upon a time, cruising used to be a glam event reserved for the wealthiest individuals. Luckily, times have changed! However, this translates to smaller cabins and limited storage space.
Compact packing is a must!Travel packing cubes
and compression cubes
, especially, will help you pack more stuff in smaller spaces
2. If you've booked an interior cabin with no window, don't forget to pack a nightlight and a small, battery-powered fan. Cabins can get fairly dry and musty, and the fan will help you keep that air nice and fresh
3. Modern ship's walls are made of metal, so pack some magnetic hooks
to create more hanging space. Grab a 4-pack at Bunnings
Here are your must-haves when packing for a cruise!
1. Comfortable clothing that suits your chosen destinationRather than pack for your cruise ship, you need to consider packing for your destination. It figures, right? An expedition cruise to Antarctica will undoubtedly require a totally different wardrobe to one heading to the Caribbean.
Stick to comfortable and casual tops and bottoms that are easy to mix and match. Three bottoms and three tops should ideally create nine unique looks – and that's a whole week's wardrobe packed!
2. Wrinkle-release spray
Products like Downy
relax delicate fabrics that have been rolled and compressed into packing cubes. They also have a delightful scent that will freshen up clothing that's been held captive in suitcases for days.
3. Swimwear & sarongs
Given most people prefer cruising in warmer destinations, you will likely need to pack swimwear. We recommend packing two bathing suits and two cover-up dresses that aren't see-through. This way, you can also wear them on excursions to shore. Sarongs, on the other hand, can also be worn over swimwear while also acting as evening shawls. They are also perfect for covering your shoulders and/or hair when visiting foreign religious buildings where modesty is required.
4. Sun protection (hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen)
You know how you'd normally not stress about forgetting to pack a few small items because they're easy to buy at your destination? Well, cruise boutiques are atrociously overpriced for the most commonly forgotten items like, you guessed it, sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun hats. Pack your own!
5. Sea sickness tablets
Crucially important if you know you get seasick or think you might. Most sea sickness sufferers tend to develop strong sea legs after 24 hours at sea, yet that first day can be brutal without a remedy.
6. Compact day bag for on-shore excursions
No matter where your cruise takes you, you're likely to want to get off the ship and explore your destination at some point. For this, you'll want a safety-conscious daypack that takes up little space in your suitcase but holds all you'll need for a day's exploration.
Check out our Aspen
cross-body RFID anti-theft bag, ideal for a spot of sightseeing in town, or a backpack like the Calais
for longer excursions in nature where you might want to pack your own water bottle.
7. A genially packed carry-on
Cruise check-ins are notoriously time-consuming. Usually, the cruise company asks you to be at port a few hours before departure, despite the fact that your cabin might not be ready until just before
departure. A perfectly packed carry-on will ensure you can make the most of all the ship's amenities even before your cabin is ready. Make sure your carry-on has all your needed documents (safely carried in a Chase Passport Sleeve
), a change of clothing, swimwear, and your needed electronics with charging cables and travel adapters.
8. Comfortable walking shoes
Most people who take a cruise in a tropical destination will automatically pack a few pairs of flip-flops, and that's it. But, for shore excursions in countries that might not be blessed with perfect footpaths, comfortable walking shoes are a must!
9. Glam accessories!
Women have a much easier time 'dressing up' their clothing than men. A few strategically chosen accessories (think belts, necklaces, earrings, etc.) and one can easily turn a daytime dress into a semi-formal evening gown! Men will definitely need to pack dressy jackets and trousers if the cruise dress code mentions formal attire.
10. Personal entertainment
Cruises are a LOT of fun and, nowadays, offer a bevy of super cool onboard entertainment. Yet the crowds, the music, and the abundant sunshine will soon enough entice you to spend a few quiet hours in your cabin. For this reason, pack or download a few books, podcasts, or episodes of your favorite Netflix show. Unwinding in your cabin is much more enjoyable when you have something enjoyable to do! PS. Don't forget noise-canceling headphones for your (and your neighbor's) comfort.
What you shouldn't pack on a cruise
Now that you know what will be useful to pack on a cruise, here are a few items you definitely shouldn't bring along.
Any plug-in appliances
From hair straighteners to mini-Nespresso machines, kettles, power chords, hair dryers, and travel irons: you'd be surprised at what some people try to smuggle onboard a cruise liner. All these things are fire hazards in small spaces and are strictly forbidden aboard cruise liners.
Don't waste your precious packing space on beach towels. Most cruise liners will allow you to carry one of theirs off-shore for the day. Normally, you'll just have to sign for them and will be charged if you don't bring them back.
Incense or candles
This is a huge no-no. Not only can the smell be overpowering to your neighbors, but open flames, like on a candle, are also a terrible fire hazard.
Most cruise liners allow you to bring some alcohol on board, but usually, that comes out to one or two bottles of wine per person. If you do want to save a little cash and bring your own alcohol, make sure it is within allowable limits!
Before you head off to pack for your much-awaited cruise, there are a few more do's and don'ts you might want to consider. Here are our top tips for cruising first-timers.
Are you an experienced cruiser and wish to share your genius packing tips with our readers? Tell us in the comments about the items that you think should be packed for a cruise.