Flying to departure ports for Caribbean cruises can involve tight flight connections. In addition, heavy air traffic and weather issues can result in canceled flights or significant air traffic delays. Given these potential complications, many cruise passengers are interested in taking only carry-on luggage on their Caribbean cruise to avoid potential flight and baggage issues. It’s often easier to pack lighter rather than dealing with the possibility of lost baggage or luggage that may never catch up over the course of the cruise.
It’s possible to pack everything needed for a 7-night Caribbean cruise into a 21-inch carry-on suitcase and a medium-sized tote bag. Check with all of your airlines to confirm their carry-on baggage size and weight requirements. Make 2-3 copies of your passport and important travel documents before leaving home. Keep one or two of them with you separate from the originals in case your documents are stolen. Leave another set of copies at home with someone who could get them to you if necessary.
Packing light for a Caribbean cruise can require careful planning, however. Cruise guests must bring along cocktail party-type wear for formal nights plus casual and touring clothes. Remember that many ships now have self-serve washer/dryers onboard, though. Daily laundry service is also readily available for a fee.
Most of the requests for a carry-on luggage packing list have come from women, so this article will focus on female cruise passengers. First, let me make some suggestions. Pack a tote bag or large backpack containing your cruise and travel documents, passport, credit cards, cash, medications, extra glasses, reading material, sunscreen, and anything else you need to reach easily while flying. If you’re bringing along heavier items like jeans, running shoes, jackets or blazers – simply wear them on your flights.
Think about what you’ll need for the shore excursions you’re planning to take and don't pack at the last minute. Choose two or three basic colors so you can mix and match your clothes. In addition, make sure to bring one or two pairs of comfortable shoes. Finally, try to arrive at your departure port at least one night prior to your cruise. That way, you'll have an extra day to make it to the ship in case of flight cancellations or delays.
Here’s a suggested carry-on only “pack light” list for a 7-night Caribbean cruise. Feel free to modify it as necessary and let me know about anything I might have forgotten so I can add it to the list.
PACK LIGHT CARIBBEAN CRUISE PACKING LIST FOR WOMEN – CARRY ON LUGGAGE ONLY
_ Bathing suit
_ Cover up
_ 2 pairs of shorts
_ 1 pair of jeans or slacks
_ 4-5 t-shirts or blouses
_ Exercise clothes
_ 5-6 Dresses (3-4 casual, 2 dressy/elegant)
_ Light shawl or cardigan sweater
_ Small wristlet purse for use onboard the ship
_ Cross-body bag or tote for touring
_ Chargers and/or batteries
_ Memory cards
_ Waterproof bag for camera in case of rain
_ Rain jacket
_ Sandals (casual and dressy)
_ Flip flops
_ Running shoes
_ Cell phone
_ Cell phone charger
_ Suntan lotion
_ Toothbrush and toothpaste
_ Driver’s license
_ Credit card and ATM card
_ Travel and cruise documents and itineraries
_ Travel insurance information and contact numbers
_ Medical insurance card and information
_ Travel clock
_ 3-4 ziplock plastic bags (quart and gallon)
_ Books or tablet
_ Insect repellant wipes
_ Small packable umbrella
_ Power strip if needed
_ Card reader (if backing up pictures to computer or tablet)
_ Computer (if needed)