How to Pack for a Cruise
When packing for a cruise, the biggest mistake most people make is packing too much. Many of us already have learned this lesson packing for prior vacations. Does the image of sitting perched atop an overstuffed suitcase while trying to get it zipped up look familiar?
Packing your cruise wardrobe requires personal preferences carefully blended with knowledge of your cruise line requirements and recommendations. To make things a little bit easier, we have a few suggestions noted below:
Dress up or comfortable casual?
While many people enjoy dressing up for a cruise's evening festivities, others simply dread the idea. However, dress codes have loosened up considerably over the past few years and you do not have to look like you just step out of the latest issue of Gentleman's Quarterly or Vogue to enjoy a cruise these days.
Several cruise lines these days are promoting comfortable casual wear, while several luxury cruise lines enforce strict dress standards. For example Cunard's Queen Mary 2 Trans-Atlantic crossings requires formal wear for 3 of the 6 evenings spent at sea.
On many cruise ships these days you will see a mix of styles with everything from ball gowns, tuxedos and diamonds to short pants, t-shirts and spandex. With such an assortment of options, deciding what to pack can be a bit confusing. However, most cruise lines will send you information prior to your trip detailing their dress policy. More importantly, remember that whatever you choose to bring, do not overdo it as cruise cabins tend to be very small so pack smart!
Remember to consider the type of cruise you are taking when determining what to pack. If you are going on an outdoor adventure cruise you will probably want to bring some rugged clothing to include hiking shoes for shore excursions. If you are taking an Alaskan cruise, you will want to pack differently than for a warm weather cruise.
If taking a cruise somewhere like Alaska you will want to be sure to dress in layers as the weather can shift from cold to hot rather quickly. If taking a Caribbean cruise you will want to bring quality swimwear as you will likely be spending a lot of time in and around the pool. For men, a pair of shorts and t-shirt will come in handy as most cruise lines require more than a swimsuit in the dining rooms. For women, cover-ups, sarongs and sundresses are useful.
For events, dress shorts and a short sleeve or polo shirt
are great and for the ladies a skirt works well. Most of the rest of the time you can plan on wearing whatever makes you feel the most comfortable. Remember to pack some loose clothing as often times people report putting on a pound or two on a cruise!
Accessories include comfortable flat shoes, flip flops or sandals, sunglasses and some sort of hat offering protection from the sun.
Most cruises offer one or two formal evenings a week and men are expected to wear a dark suit and tie or even a tuxedo. Woman will be expected to wear an evening dress or a dressy pantsuit.
Be sure to remember to pack a formal jacket, dressy sweater or nice wrap for those colder tours. It is advisable to do the same even for warm weather tours as many of the cruises, particularly on newer ships, have powerful air conditioning requiring some sort of outer garment in the evenings.
How to pack
Here are a few very basic tips to assist you with knowing how to pack for a cruise.
Use your carry-on luggage to pack your tickets, documents, camera, computer, medication and any other important items.
Also bring a change of clothing and a swimsuit in your carry-on luggage as sometimes it takes a few hours to get your checked luggage delivered to your stateroom and you do not want to miss out on anything while awaiting those bags.
Wear your heaviest and bulkiest clothing so save room in your luggage for other items and to cut down on the burden you must carry.
Pack heavy items such as shoes in the bottom of your suitcase and on top of those items pack your trousers with the legs hanging outside of the suitcase. Then pack your other items into the bag and finish by carefully folding your pants legs over everything to avoid unnecessary wrinkles and creases in your trousers.
Turn your outer garments inside out and put them in dry cleaning bags to minimize wrinkles.
Bring an empty soft sided bag for souvenirs you might purchase on your trip.
Be sure to find out if your cruise line has a weight limit. Even if they do not, remember you have to haul your bags to and from your house to the cruise ship.
Mark you luggage with a bright strap or colored yarn to make it easier to find and less likely to be taken by mistake by someone else.
If you are traveling with a companion, be sure to mix your items in your checked luggage, that way if there are any delays or your baggage gets lost both of you will have something to wear.
Packing for a cruise can be a bit of a task, but if you pay attention to the suggestions listed above, you can pack some of your cares away
Bon voyage and be sure to enjoy yourself!
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