Attempting to pack for a cruise vacation is quite a task; especially for a first-time cruiser. There are many variables to consider. Not only do you have to plan for the activities onboard the ship; dining, shows, events, swimming, and so much more, but there are also days in port, excursions, and weather issues to consider. It isn’t enough to just try to pack as sparingly as possible. Careful planning and thought must be given as to how you will accomplish this.
Consider the limited space. You will have a small closet and a limited amount of drawer space. Bathrooms are small. There is little, if any, room to leave out products and accessories. A small travel cosmetic case that has a hanger when opened is ideal for this specific need.
You will want to bring casual, comfortable pieces of clothing for daytime wear on board and in port. You will also need swimsuits and cover-ups, sleep wear, and maybe even workout clothes if you intend on using the onboard fitness center. Think about any shore excursions you may have planned and pack additional needs such as ponchos, hiking boots, rain gear, insect repellent, light jackets, hats, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
There is a trick to being prepared for shipboard dining and evening wear. Give some thought to putting together a few basic pieces that you can mix and match to create several outfits out of fewer pieces. A great black skirt, or a simple black dress, and a pair of black pants combined with different tops, cover-ups, and accessories can make your packing a lot easier. Consider what you may want to wear for formal nights, and how many formal nights there may be on your specific cruise.
Then there are shoes. Ah, shoes. This is one of the most difficult issues. You may need walking shoes/tennis shoes for excursions, sandals and flip-flops (multiple pairs?), and dress shoes. It is suggested that you bring along as few pairs as possible.
One saving grace is that there is often a laundry room on board where passengers can wash and dry their clothes. This is especially important for longer cruise itineraries. Again, read about your particular ship and its’ amenities. Consider bringing along a roll of quarters for the washing machines.
Take note that many ships have 110-volt outlets in every cabin. You may also want to check the website of your specific cruise line to see what small appliances are already in your cabin. Most ships have installed hairdryers in cabin baths, and many have irons for passenger use in the laundry areas on board. Irons for personal use are not allowed in the cabins.
In addition, let it be noted here that it is also a good idea to bring $1 and $5 bills to have on hand for room service and other small tips, as room service gratuities are not usually accounted for with your regular ship gratuity schedule. Gratuities vary greatly by cruise line, and you should take care to check your cruise website for specific information.
Avoid packing too much. The last thing you want to do is to try to find a space for your multiple pieces of clothing, jewelry and beauty products. In fact, you don’t need to pack lots of things. Chances are you won’t wear all those gowns and heels. Relax and enjoy your trip. Don’t forget about all of the souvenirs and treasures that you’ll be bringing home.