12 Top Cruise Packing Tips And Tricks

12 Top Cruise Packing Tips And Tricks
Packing is one of the most challenging parts of preparing for a cruise vacation. It’s always hard to decide what to bring. Since the average cruise ship stateroom is generally less than 200 square feet in size, it’s essential not to over pack. At the same time, you’ll want to make sure to take everything you might need to enjoy your cruise vacation.

Here are twelve top packing tips to help you get ready for your next cruise:

1. Pick The Right Luggage. Cruise staterooms generally have little storage space, even when they are well designed. You’ll want to stow your empty suitcases under the bed or in the closet once you’ve unpacked so it’s out of the way. Carry-on luggage that’s about 9” deep slides easily under cruise stateroom beds. If you’re planning to take something bigger, bring a large duffle bag or soft-sided luggage that easily folds or collapses for storage.

2. Think About What You’ll Need. Review your cruise plans and make a cruise packing list of what you might require for your trip. These include over-the-counter medications, a camera, batteries, memory cards, sunscreen, insect repellant, seasickness medications, and a power strip for charging multiple electronic devices. Packing plenty of zip lock bags for damp clothes, ear plugs to eliminate noise, and a packable folding duffle bag to bring souvenirs home from your trip is also wise. Other items you might want to bring along are a lanyard for your cruise key card, tennis shoes (for ropes courses, rock climbing walls, and other onboard attractions that require closed-toe shoes), extra hangers, a small shoulder bag for carrying things with you around the ship, and your own blow dryer if you have long, thick hair. Blow dryers in cruise ship cabins can be rather weak.

3. Check The Weather. It’s difficult to predict the weather accurately, but it’s very helpful to know what Mother Nature may have in store when packing for your trip. Don’t pack based on what you wore on your last cruise, particularly if it’s not in the same geographic location or during the same time of year. Check the forecast on sites like weather.com and accuweather.com for each of your ports of call. These sites are generally fairly accurate when it comes to temperature forecasts, but they can often be misleading about rain predictions. It’s smart to pack a light rain jacket or a small folding umbrella just in case.

4. Bring The Right Clothes. Check your ship’s dress code well in advance to bring along the proper clothing. Detailed dress code descriptions are available on each cruise line’s website, or you can ask about what to wear on Cruise Critic’s message boards. In addition, make sure to research appropriate dress codes in the countries and ports you’re visiting. Make a list of the shore excursions and activities you’ll be doing on your cruise and the clothing you’ll need. It’s important to pack the right shoes for long days of sightseeing and the proper activewear for hiking, biking or water sports excursions. If you are visiting religious sites in Europe, the Middle East or other locations, you’ll want to pack clothing that covers your knees and shoulders. Today’s ships often have cool features like rock climbing walls, ropes courses, and zip lines – plus theme parties and other special events. If you’re planning to participate, check the dress requirements and pack the clothes and shoes you’ll need. In addition, remember bring the right clothes and accessories for your pre- and post-cruise activities.

5. Plan A Mix-And-Match Color Scheme. Stick with a specific color scheme so you can mix and match your clothing, wearing most multiple times throughout your cruise. Easy-pack accessories like jewelry and multicolored scarves can help you change up each outfit’s look.

6. Pack Checked Luggage Carefully. Start packing for your cruise about a week before your trip to avoid over packing. Lay everything out in advance and then cut the clothing you’re planning to bring in half. Roll your clothes or use packing cubes to save space. Never pack valuables or electronics in your checked bags. Turn jackets inside out, so they don’t get dirty from coming in contact with your shoes. Put a dryer sheet in your suitcase to keep your clothes smelling fresh. Some couples and families spread each person’s clothing throughout several suitcases to eliminate major problems if a bag is lost or stolen. It also helps to photograph your luggage before checking it, so you can show someone what it looks like in case it’s lost.

7. Use Apple AirTags. Apple AirTags are small devices that are useful for tracking items like luggage, backpacks, purses, wallets, and keys. Given the current travel chaos, it’s wise to purchase Apple AirTags and put them in your suitcases – even if you’re not planning on checking them. Flights can be overfilled with carry-on bags, and you may need to check your luggage unexpectedly. AirTags can also be helpful if your backpack, wallet, or purse is misplaced or stolen while traveling.

8. Keep Important Documents and Medications With You. Make sure to bring your passport, IDs, and cruise and travel documents with you when you travel. Do not place them in checked luggage. In addition, make several copies of your passport, IDs, and documents and keep at least one set with you separate from the originals in case items are stolen. Leave another copy with a family member or friend who could fax them to you if necessary. You’ll also want to keep your credit cards, medications, prescription glasses, electronics, and cameras with you. Count out all your medications well in advance to ensure you have enough for your entire cruise.

9. Pack Carry-On Bags Wisely. Experienced cruisers can often pack everything they need for their trip into a single carry-on bag, but that’s not the case for all vacationers. If you’re taking more than one bag, make sure your carry-on bag contains your necessities and anything that must not get lost. Your carry-on bag should contain any valuables, a bathing suit, shorts or pants, top, underwear, your first night's dinner outfit complete with shoes, reading material, sunscreen, and anything else that is critical to enjoying your cruise. That way, your important items will stay with you in case your luggage is lost or delayed and you can enjoy your free time after boarding the ship. Sometimes it can take hours for checked luggage to be delivered to cruise ship staterooms.

10. Remember To Bring Toiletries If You’re Picky. Most cruise lines have now limited their toiletries to pumps of shampoo, body wash, and possibly conditioner attached to the shower stall’s wall. There may be soap by the sink. If you’re someone who cares about your toiletry products, bring small travel sizes of your favorite products.

11. Consider Doing Laundry Onboard. Cruise ships generally offer laundry service onboard, and many have washers and dryers available for guest use as well. To pack light, consider taking advantage of these options. Check in advance to see what your ship provides. If you’re planning to use the ship's laundry service, do so on days when specials are offered. Check with Guest Services or your cabin steward for more information.

12. Wear Heavier Clothes On The Plane. If you’re bringing bulky jackets, jeans, or hiking boots on your cruise, wear them on the plane. That will give you more room in your carry-on or checked bags. If you’re driving to your cruise, don’t use that as an excuse to bring additional bags. Remember, cruise ship staterooms are small, and there’s little storage space for extra luggage.

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