You’ve done your research. You’ve chosen your cruise line. And now you’ve got your eyes set for smooth sailing. All that’s left for you to do is pack.
Whether it’s your first cruise or you know your way around the high seas, packing properly can make or break your trip. To make sure you have the best cruise experience, let’s talk about when to plan, what you need, and how to steer your cruise packing list in the right direction.
Before you even start packing for your cruise vacation, you need to get the basics out of the way.
First things first. Making plans.
We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to cruises, and while some cruise essentials remain the same, your packing list is going to change if you’re setting sail for the Caribbean versus shipping off to the icy wonders of Alaska.
Baggage restrictions vary depending on the cruise line and even the cruise ship, so before you begin packing for a cruise and yelling ‘aye aye captain’ to everyone in your inner-circle, be sure to familiarise yourself with the specifics of what you’re allowed.
Next, you’ll want to be sure your luggage adheres to the requirements of your individual cruise, but you’ll also want to be mindful of any additional limitations.
Will you be disembarking from the cruise and continuing with a land-side adventure? Great. You’ll need a carry-on-sized bag so that you can have the freedom to move as you please and navigate any connecting flights with ease. Also, remember that you might not be able to store everything in a drawer or wardrobe, which is when packing cubes will come in handy.
Now that you know your requirements and restrictions, you’re ready to talk specifics of the high seas, starting with the non-negotiables.
Cruise commandment number uno: don’t forget your swimsuit or cover-up. Most cruise ships offer a pool (or several) to enjoy during your all-mighty sea days, so double check you’ve packed yours before setting sail.
If you want to maximise your packing space, bathing suits are the perfect multi-functional option. Use your bathing suits as a base for your shorts or skirts and you’ll be sorted for the day. Sundresses can also double as cover-ups for quick options, and when it comes to footwear, flip-flops are space-saving (and time-saving) for when you want to pop out of your cabin for a quick late-night snack (or three).
You’ll also want to bring a beach bag for those sweet, sweet shoreside times. Packed in it, you’ll need sunscreen and a sun hat to protect yourself from the sun’s potentially harmful UV rays. Even with the cool breeze, you’re way more likely to get sunburned thanks to the sun reflecting off those endless waters. A view for sure, but potentially damaging? Definitely.
There’s never a dull moment on a cruise. Trust us. They offer a large range of activities to make sea days exciting, and shore excursions more adventurous. Knowing this, be sure to bring your fair share of activewear. You never know what activity might tickle your fancy.
A bikini may be ideal for laying by the pool, but if you’re going snorkelling, you may want to bring a one-piece that you know will stay put. Another game-changer: a reusable water bottle. And of course, a sturdy pair of walking shoes for when your ship is docked in the cruise port and you're heading into town.
It’s not all bather-wearing and flip-flop footstepping. Most cruises host formal nights in the stateroom or have a more upscale dining room for evening meals. While you can dress however is comfortable during the day, these types of events often have some form of dress code.
Your cruise will make this information available to you before you board, so be sure to pack your favourite cocktail dress or tuxedo to feel your best on your holiday.
Because so much of your cruise experience is handled for you, it’s easy to forget that you’ll likely be travelling outside the country.
From your licence to your passport, it’s best to have all of your travel documents ready and organised. If you have travel insurance, we recommend printing it out in case you need it at a time where there’s no internet-access.
If you’re worried about boarding the cruise with valuables like your passport, no need—almost every cruise cabin will offer a small safe, as with any hotel room. If you’re unsure if this is available, just contact your cruise line in advance.
You’ve got all your electronics ready to go (cell phone, laptop and Kindle) and you’re just about feeling like the Captain.
But don’t make the mistake of forgetting you're chargers. We repeat, do not forget the chargers. Pack them well in advance so they don’t slip your mind. If you’ve got stop-offs outside of your home country, bring travel adapters for the land-side times too.
If you have a lot of electronics or you know your phone and camera are likely to need recharging regularly, we’ve got two tips.
Whether you’re headed somewhere warm and breezy or frosty cold, the temperatures when you’re out at sea can be very different from what you’re expecting on land.
If you’re out in the middle of the ocean and it’s sunny, the sun can bounce off of the water and make the temperature feel a lot warmer than it might be closer to land. But it goes both ways: when you’re moving along at such high speeds, even a slight breeze can feel magnified.
Pack some light layers like scarves, blazers, or other light jackets that can be multi-functional so that you’re prepared for anything.
Your cruise will likely provide toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, but if you have particular needs or preferences, bringing your own travel-sized toiletries will do the trick.
If you use a hairdryer or other styling tools, call the cruise in advance to double-check the voltage (as different countries use different voltages that can potentially ruin hair dryers or straighteners) or to check whether or not they can provide these tools for you.
Glowing and flowing, here you come.
Now pay attention, because we’re about to get into the nitty gritty details.
While the cruise line will likely provide a basic first aid kit, bringing your own supplies, such as aloe for sunburns or dramamine for seasickness, is a pro-level power-move that can seriously save the day.
A plug-in night light will also make your cruise cabin more comfortable to navigate at night, and magnetic hooks are a great way to make your cabin more functional without taking up too much extra space or causing damage. Wrinkle release spray will also save your finest threads on formal night.
Lastly, the old summer camp standby: lanyards. They’re great for keeping your keys and key cards organised so that you have everything you need within reach.
When it's time to hop aboard, you want to make sure you can hit the seas knowing everything is sorted. Following our packing tips, you’ll be able to set out onto the high seas with a healthy dose of confidence, and an even bigger appetite for travel (and the all-mighty breakfast buffet too).