One of the questions we get a lot is: What should I pack for my cruise? Also: How much luggage can I take? Aside from clothing, what other items do I need to bring — chargers, electronics, first aid kits?
In this article I'll share some tips and advice on exactly what you need to take with you when going on a cruise — and what you can leave at home. Here's Cruiseable's basic packing list for a cruise.
How much luggage can you take?
Cruise ships don't place limits on how much luggage you can take. However, before your eyes light up, you need to consider what's practical and what items will just bog you down.
When planning what to take, you should consider the following:
- Weight restrictions. If you need to take a flight to arrive at your port of departure, you'll need to stay within the weight limits of the airline to avoid excess baggage charges.
- Dress codes. You may need to pack a wide range of clothes to meet the requirements of the line. Each line has a different approach and level of strictness, so make sure you check the information sent with your tickets on what is expected. Some have combinations of formal evenings, which means long, formal gowns for women and black tie for men, semi-formal evenings, which amounts to cocktail dresses for women and jackets with or without ties for men, and smart casual evenings, which means dressy dresses or trousers for women and long-sleeve or dress shirts and slacks for men. Many lines also have theme or party nights, which you may want to come prepared for, too.
- Weather conditions. It's advisable to bring clothes with layers to cope with the cooler evenings at sea as well as potentially hot days on excursions. Check the temperatures and expected conditions in your ports of call, using online weather sites or by adding them onto apps you can download for your smartphone or tablet. Prepare to bring suitable clothes, such as raincoats, umbrellas or hats.
- Self-disembarking. While cruise lines will usually take your bags from the port terminal to your stateroom and back during your trip, consider if you want to self-disembark at the end of your cruise. This is the earliest way to depart from a ship once it has been cleared by the port authorities, and it means you don't have to wait for an allocated departure, which may require many hours hanging around on board. If you want to do this, make sure you are going to be able to comfortably carry all of your bags through the ship, down the gangway and through the terminal. It may be some distance and involve escalators or stairs. Maneuverable bags with wheels are a must!
- Mix and match. Many savvy women cruisers reduce the number of clothes they bring by carefully planning items that can be mixed and matched around one or two key colors — for example, a pair each of black and white slacks that can be worn on excursions with a casual top but also at semi-formal evenings with a dressy top and more formal events nights with a jacket.
Always assume your bags will be delivered to your cabin only after the ship has left the port, and pack the following into a carry-on bag:
- I.D. documents, including your passport and another photo ID, such as a driver’s license.
- Cruise tickets.
- Credit card, or cash to cover on-board spending. You have to provide this when checking in. Some cruise lines do not take debit cards, so check in advance.
- Valuable equipment such as cameras, tablets and laptops.
- Documents such as travel insurance papers, emergency contact numbers and copies of visas and vaccination certificates.
- Things you may need before your bags arrive in your cabin, such as swimwear, if you want to swim or use the whirlpool.
- Prescription medications.
Non-clothes items to pack
In addition to clothing, there are a few essential items you should bring:
- Extension cord. Many cabins have a limited number of plugs. An extension cord will come in handy when you want to charge or use multiple items at one time.
- Chargers for your electrical items like a mobile phone, laptop or tablet.
- Earplugs and eye masks are often useful.
- Personalized first aid kit. Bring remedies that you might use for ailments such as seasickness, headaches and diarrhea, along with a pack of Band-aids.
- Guide books and maps or smartphones if you're planning to self-tour in some ports. (Of course, start with Cruiseable's travel and port guides.)
- Entertainment, such as your iPod, tablet, eBook reader, or — oh yeah — books!
- A small backpack to use when on excursions, to carry your camera, identification, water and something warm, if needed.
- Magnets. Many cruisers use these to pin daily programs and other materials on the walls, which are often all metal.
- Electrical plug adaptors. Cruise ships often have American two-prong plug sockets, using 110-120 volts, so bring adaptors if you hail from another country.
Things to leave at home
You could leave behind items that the cruise line is likely to provide, such as:
- Beach towels. These will either be provided in your stateroom or you can collect them by the pool and when departing for excursions.
- Hair dryer.
- Shampoo and body wash. Depending on the line, you will either be provided these in dispensers or individual bottles of brand-name products.
- Bathrobe, though some lines provide these only in their premium suites.
You should leave the following at home:
- Alcoholic beverages. Some cruise lines do not allow passengers to bring alcohol (liquor, wine, beer) on board and will hold it until the end of the trip. Others allow you to bring wine, which they'll hold and serve during your dinner, for a fee. Check with your travel agent.
- Candles, incense, flammable liquids and fireworks. No open flames are allowed in your cabin.
- Coffee makers, clothes irons and hot plates.
- Illegal drugs, firearms and weapons. Some countries, including United Arab Emirates, have restrictions on some prescription and even over-the-counter drugs like codeine. If you're visiting conservative countries like these, check for information on their governments' websites.
How about you? What's on your packing list? How do you pack lighter?
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