Cruise packing tips.

I took my first cruise in 2001 and cruising quickly became my vacation of choice.  Cruising on the sea days and going ashore on the port days can be some of the most enjoyable experiences you’ll ever have.  Being prepared for them by packing appropriately can make them that much more enjoyable.  These are just a few of my packing tips to help you on your next cruising vacation.

On a typical seven-night cruise, you will generally have two formal nights with the rest of the nights being more dressy casual in the dining room.  I have learned to not overpack when it comes to clothes.  As of late, the formal nights have become not so formal.  Most women, including myself, tend to where long cocktail dresses and the men generally wear slacks and a sport coat.  There are still some that wear more formal dresses and tuxes, but that is not really the norm anymore.  My husband usually brings a couple of pairs of slacks that he can wear with several shirts.  I also do the same with capri pants.  Sundresses and flipflops don’t take much room so that is usually a staple in my cruising repertoire.  One thing I always make sure to have is a light sweater or shawl.  The dining room and theaters can be a bit chilly, and I hate to be cold.

I have also learned to not pack much in the way of casual day clothes.  This will depend on what your preference is for the activities you like to do during the day.  Generally, on sea days I spend most of the day at the pool in my swimsuit.  On port days, I usually pick excursions that take me snorkeling, climbing a waterfall, floating down a river, or relaxing on a beach.  As you can see, I spend most of the days in my swimsuit so casual day clothes don’t get used.  I usually pack 2 sets of day clothes besides what I embark and debark the ship wearing, and the rest of my clothes are swimsuits and evening wear.  If you are someone who plans on doing excursions like shopping or an island tour, you probably will want to be in clothes instead of a swimsuit.  If you also don’t plan on sitting by the pool on the ship much, instead choosing to play Bingo, do wine tasting, cooking classes, or the many other activities the ship has to offer, you may want to pack more day clothes.

Unless you are lucky enough to stay in a suite on the ship, you will be staying in one of the smaller cabins like I do and you will have to make the most of your space.  We usually try to get an oceanview cabin, but they still can be pretty dark.  I bring a night light to help lead the way for those middle-of-the-night bathroom trips.  Since there usually is only one outlet for the cabin, a power strip is a must-have for me.  The cabins do not have alarm clocks in them and while you are on vacation and may not want to have to wake up to an alarm, it is nice to be able to see what time it is when you get up for those bathroom trips.  The cabins generally have ample storage, but sometimes an over-the-door shoe rack can be helpful in keeping small things organized and not cluttered on the counter.  It is never fun having to put on a cold, wet swimsuit, so having a place to let it hang and dry out is a good thing.  I bring along suction cups with hooks to put on the shower walls making a very convenient place for drying them.  Another thing I like to have with me is a highlighter pen.  Each night before I go to bed I read through the schedule of events for the next day and highlight all the things I would like to do or see.  That way I can make quick reference to times and places of these events when we are looking for them the next day.  One last tip I will share, but it is certainly not the least, is to bring some kind of door sign to put on the outside of your cabin door.  This can be a magnet or a paper that you tape to the door.  We usually make our own with our name and the sail date and name of the ship, along with a picture of some sort.  This is not only just plain fun, but it makes it easy to spot your cabin door in the endless corridor of cabin doors that all look the same.  This was especially helpful to my kids.

A few things that I can not live without when going on a cruise, or any trip for that matter:

  • Lip balm with sunscreen.  I’ll admit it…. I’m an addict.  It’s the first thing I put on in the morning and the last thing I do before going to sleep.  The sun can be pretty harsh to the sensitive skin of the lips and you want to make sure you protect it.  I had a huge blister on my bottom lip for half my Jamaican honeymoon because I didn’t wear lip balm with sunscreen.  Not very romantic!
  • A camera.  I take pictures of everything, and lots of them.  Pictures are a great way to remember all your great experiences.  With the great technology of the digital camera, you can take as many as your memory cards will allow.  Since I spend a lot of time in the water I make sure my camera is waterproof.
  • A good book.  No matter what kind of vacation I’m on I always have a book with me.  It helps to pass the time waiting in airports and long plane rides.  I enjoy finding a chair on a sandy beach and immerse myself in the story while listening to the waves of the ocean roll in.  There’s not too many things better than that.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help to make your cruising vacation a more enjoyable one.  Let me know what tips are helpful to you or if you have some other tips that I can try on my next cruise.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andrew Petcher
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 21:30:47

    I have never been cruising but I am sure I will one day so thanks for the tips.


  2. Trisha
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 21:53:51

    I’m so glad you found them helpful! I hope you cruise sooner than later. It is a lot of fun seeing the world from the decks of a cruise ship. Come back and tell me about it when you do.


  3. Kim Barger
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 21:59:42

    Sure wish I had read this before I went on my cruise. 🙂 That nightlight and clock would have been wonderful to have….oh well there is always next time. You were right cruises are lots of fun! Thanks for the encouragement before I went.


  4. Kevin Fischer
    Jul 16, 2011 @ 11:48:07

    I love, love, love cruising! Have done Bahamas, Alaska, and in a couple weeks Western Caribbean.


    • Trisha
      Jul 19, 2011 @ 18:01:31

      Us too, Kevin. Cruising is pretty much our vacation of choice; although we do a lot of other stuff. I’ve had a very busy summer and haven’t had time to write about it, but hopefully when the kids get back to school and things settle a bit I’ll have time to. In fact, we are leaving in a couple of days for Lake Powell to do our own houseboating cruise. Have fun on your cruise. Can’t wait to hear about it.


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