Cruise Packing 101
Sweaters and Jackets: Embrace the layered look. You will want a rain jacket and sweatshirt on a Caribbean or Hawaii cruise for those less-than-perfect island days. And Alaska cruisers have been known to need everything from bathing suits and short-sleeve tops to warm fleece jackets, hats and gloves; the same goes for cruising round the Horn of South America. Rather than pack clothes for multiple temperatures, bring cardigans or jackets to wear over lighter layers if it gets cold.
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Hats: Throw in a hat to protect against the sun or keep your ears warm during scenic glacier cruising, and remember your sunglasses, as well. Consider headbands, bandanas and scarves for practical and style concerns.
Shoes: Ladies especially should try not to pack a suitcase full of shoes. Try to bring styles that can serve multiple purposes (such as sneakers that go from gym to sightseeing or comfy sandals that work as well by the pool as they do at a casual dinner). Color coordinate your formalwear so you only have to pack one pair of dress shoes.
Day Packs: Small backpacks or totes can be quite useful for carrying cameras, books, sunscreen, water bottles and other items around the ship or in port.
Tech: Travelers and their gadgets seem to go hand in hand these days. You’ll likely bring your smartphone, but you might also want to bring a tablet, DSLR camera, GoPro, portable game player or book reader. Don’t forget to check about foreign country and onboard roaming charges before you turn your phone on mid-cruise; if you bring a laptop or plan on accessing Wi-Fi, inquire about potentially hefty Internet usage rates onboard before logging on. Since many cabins have limited electrical outlets, some folks bring extension cords and power strips, but always check limitations on these with your cruise line prior to packing.
Entertainment: Bring books, magazines and puzzle books for sea or beach days; you can’t always count on the ship’s library to have a comprehensive selection. Binoculars are a must for Alaska and other wildlife-heavy itineraries. If traveling with kids, consider inflatable water toys for the beach that can be deflated and packed easily. If you plan on going snorkeling in every port, you might consider bringing your own gear.
Beverages: Most cruise lines will let you bring soda and water onboard, saving you the expense of paying inflated onboard rates for nonalcoholic beverages. Make sure to check cruise line requirements. One warning about packing “liquor”: cruise lines have increasingly cracked down on the practice (they’d rather you buy drinks at their bars), so consider yourself warned. Your bottle might be confiscated on arrival depending on the cruise line’s individual policy. Bring along a Champagne corker if you have a penchant for bubbly in your stateroom but don’t want to drink the whole bottle in one fell swoop.
Toiletries and Necessities: The cruise ship should provide soap and shampoo at the very least (and often body lotion, conditioner and body wash), but if you’re picky, pack your own. The same goes for hair dryers. If you can’t deal with the low wattage of in-cabin dryers, bring your favorite with you. Make sure to bring any medicines with you and not pack in your suitcase.
Storage: Many experienced cruisers swear by over-the-door shoe bags for storing toiletries or keeping small items from getting lost in cramped cabin quarters. Many bring extra hangers on longer cruises to make sure every item that needs to be hung up can be. If you plan on doing a lot of shopping in port, consider taking a foldable duffel that can be packed into your luggage at first and then filled up with souvenirs (or dirty laundry) and checked on the way home.
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