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Are you cruising in tropical climes or more temperate regions? Into that you must also consider the time of year you are cruising. Some cruises such as a transatlantic crossing will require a more varid wardrobe.
This ties in with destination and what kind of plans you have for your cruise. Do you intend to do lots of adventurous activities, in which case you will need to pack some athletic clothing and good walking shoes or trainers?
LENGTH OF CRUISE
It’s not only important where your cruise will take you but how long you will spend on the ship. This will determine how much you need to take with you. Most cruise lines do have a laundry service but these are usually expensive.
What clothing are you going to wear onboard the ship during the daytime/seas days:
- Comfortable clothes to lounge/sleep in
- Swimwear and sportswear
- Sneakers, sun hat, workout clothes
- Shorts and t-shirts
Depending on your itinerary you may need some extra items for when you venture on land:
- Suitable footwear for walking & hiking
- lightweight cotton clothes for warm climates
- Waterproof jacket if cruising in cooler climes
This will vary according to the cruise line & length of the cruise so check the rules before you pack:
- Smart shorts and trousers, button-down shirts & blazer
- Smart pair of shoes
- For formal occasions, cocktail dress, full suit and tie, or even black tie.
The Ultimate Cruise Packing List
Packing for a cruise can be daunting. Not only do you have to pack for the ship, but for beach days, city walks & airports as well. How do you pack for it all without bringing the proverbial kitchen sink? This list will make packing for a cruise as easy and stress-free as possible!
Sometimes loading luggage onto a ship can take a while, and although your cruise line will endeavour to deliver your luggage to your cabin as early as possible it may not reach you until later on the first evening. So it’s very handy to have a carry-on bag with a change of clothes/toiletries etc for that first evening. Also, ensure you pack any medicines and important items in your carry on.
Zomake Ultra Lightweight
Lightweight, durable and foldable – this backpack is a must have no matter how long your trip. It comes in a variety of colours.
Gonex Foldable Sports Duffel
This bag is made of strong waterproof material. It is surprisingly durable and lightweight .
Oarencol Anchor backpack
This Oarencol Unisex Classic backpack is made of waterproof resistant material. It is surprisingly durable and lightweight .
In case you’re separated from your checked bag or other items, you should always make sure that you have the following with you in your carry-on:
- House Keys
- Cash & Cards
- Copy of Itinerary & Passport
If you have not used packing cubes before we can highly recommend them. They are super useful. Packing cubes are relatively small containers made of fabric, often in a rectangular shape, used for packing clothing. They come in all shapes and sizes. They zip close and are small enough that you can fit several into a carry-on bag, suitcase, or backpack. We always pack one with an outfit for the first day or evening and carry in our carry on.
Bago 4 Set Packing Cubes
We personally use these packing cubes when we travel and they come in a variety of colours and sizes. The larger we used for shirts/trousers and the smaller for socks/underwear.
Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set
Eagle Creek are a well-regarded brand and one of the first to implement these new style ‘compression’ packing cubes. Super usefule and handy
Cruise Packing List – Clothes
As stated before what clothes you pack depends on your destination. Cruises run all over the world in various climates so it’s necessary to check on the weather where you are headed so that you can organise your cruise packing list accordingly. Most cruises run year-round in warm climates or during warmer months in certain places, so the clothing on this packing list is geared mostly towards warm and sunnier destinations.
Female Cruise Packing List
You often hear the word Capsule Wardrobe these days too which is basically a small wardrobe of interchangeable items that coordinate well. For most women this will consist of a pair of tailored trousers, denim jeans that look good with heels and flats, a neutral shirt, T-shirts for layering, a little black dress, a trench coat, high heels and a pair of boots. Not all of this will be suitable for a cruise (hopefully no need for a trench coat) but the concept works well when you are travelling so try and match styles/colours.
Depending on your cruise line and the length of your cruise there will often be one or more formal nights. This is your chance to dress up in your glitziest outfits for the evening. The option to dress up is usually optional these days but it is fun to participate so we recommend taking at least one nice outfit along with you. You can go full Cinderella at the ball or just wear something tasteful with some nice jewellery and a fancy clutch bag
If you’re taking a more active cruise where you’re going to be walking a lot, pack a pair of sneakers so you’re comfortable on your feet for a long period of time. If you want to hit the onboard gym or run the jogging track, you’re going to want to have a pair of shoes for working out!
Depending on the ports you visit and excursions you plan, you may want to bring along some water shoes. No one wants to hop back to the ship with cut and bleeding feet because they walked on some sharp rocks or even worse…stepped on a sea urchin. Ouch. Some even look like training shoes so can be worn on and off the beach.
Male Cruise Packing List
As mentioned above, the kind of clothing you should pack greatly depends on the type of cruise you’re taking and the general destination. Remember to pack lots of comfy clothes to hang out in, outfits to wear while touring cities, and athletic clothes to wear on treks during land excursions.
Tropical destinations are warm, so pack shorts that are comfortable, breathable and look good. Cotton Chinos shorts are classic and paired with a nice T are great for day wear and with a nice shirt great for evening wear if you want a classy casual look. A comfortable pair of athletic shorts are also a good idea for activites such as excercising in the onboard gym or using some of the ships sports facilities.
The Tuxedo Question
Whilst on most cruise lines these days it is not mandatory to wear a tuxedo on formal nights anymore we think it is still nice to dress up if you can. If you don’t want to go the ‘whole hog’ with bow tie and cumberbund then dressing that little bit smarter than casual is usually the norm. Our advice? If you wouldn’t wear it to a job interview, don’t wear it to formal night unless you want to feel out of place. If you really want to stay casual then that is fine but bear in mind you might be restricted to eating in the Buffett that evening. Again it does depend on the cruise line in question. There are many variations to the dinner suit but you can’t go far wrong with the classic black/white ensemble as below.
Underwear & Socks
Boxers or briefs? Whatever your preference, be sure to bring enough underwear for the whole trip! If you’re headed for a tropical destination be sure to bring breathable socks to avoid sweaty feet. If somewhere cold then opt for ticker socks to keep those toes toasty warm.
CRUISE PACKING LIST – ESSENTIAL ITEMS
Now that you’ve got your clothes for the cruise sorted out, here are some other essential items that should be packed into your bag as well.
Keep yourself protected against harmful UV rays with some strong sunscreen. A high SPF is recommended, especially because the sun reflects off of the water, leading to the potential for some nasty burns. If you are swimming in tropical waters then it is an idea to purchase some reef-friendly sunscreen. This product by Thinksport has a perfect score on EWG, and doesn’t contain any biologically toxic chemicals. It is water-resistant for up 80 minutes and is absorbed easily by your skin.
Many cruises in tropical climates come with a side of pesky mosquitoes. Not so much an issue when you are at sea but on those land-based excursions they can be a nuisance, as we found out to our cost on a trip to a Mayan Temple once. We recommend any product with DEET although you should only use near-natural clothing fibres such as cotton or linen. We personally use this Lifesystem brand which has kept us bite free in the tropics of Malaysia and the Caribbean.
Some cruises may provide you with complimentary toiletries. There is often shower gel and condition in the shower. However, this isn’t the case on all ships so best to take some along with you.
At any rate, it’s nice to have your own products with you when far away from home. Here’s a list of toiletries I recommend bringing along with you.
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Toothbrush & Toothpaste
- Body Lotion
- Nail file/clippers
- Wet wipes
On a personal note, I always try to take something that I can use to exfoliate the skin on my face. Something gentle. The warm weather (which opens the pores) together with the use of sun creams and after sun lotions can really clog them up and cause outbreaks. A gentle exfoliator will really help prevent this. I had to buy some on the ship once which was super expensive so I alway take with me now.
Remember the days when you used to travel and had to take 20 CD’s in a pouch with you so you could listen to your own music? Or had to stock up on rolls and rolls of camera film to capture those holiday moment? I realise I am showing my age here but things have certainly come a log way since those days. We have phones with megapixel cameras that can also play thousands of music tracks a the touch of a button as well as allowing you to pick and read a librarys worth of books. While this is amazing and saves so much space there are some other “gadgets” that you might want to consider taking along to enhance your experience.
You know how it is. You wake in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom. You don’t want to turn the light on for fear of disturbing your sleeping partner so you gingerly make your way in the dark to the bathroom. You always forget that coffee table until it smacks you in the shin. These handy, motion-sensitive night lights are a great solution. Not so bright to wake everyone but more than enough to see where you re going.
We know some people prefer traditional paperback books but when you are travelling a Kindle is a no brainer. Potentially thousands of books at your fingertips. A Kindle also trumps a tablet or an iPad as there is no glare from the screen meaning you can read comfortably even in bright sunlight. The newer versions even have a backlight making it easier to read in dim light too.
You’re definitely going to want some music on the plane ride over or while relaxing while on the ship. We can personally vouch for these excellent Sony (below) which are extremely comfortable with excellent sound. These are a little on the pricier side but there are some good cheaper alternatives if you shop around.
Portable Power Bank
Keep your electronics fully juiced when not near an outlet with a power bank. Just don’t forget to charge it! We personally use this one from Anker. It’s a little bit on the heavy side but it can power up to two devices at once. I charged my iPad Mini from around 30% to 100% in little over an hour. Size matters when it comes to power banks and the power bank you choose will depend on the item or items you want to charge. A typical modern smartphone like an Apple iPhone 12 0r Samsung Galaxy S21 have batterys that range from around 2800mAh to 4000 mAh so you would need a power bank to match or even better exceed this level.
Multi-Port USB Charger
As cruise ships become more modern you will find that some do have USB charging ports within the cabin already. That said it’s always a good idea to bring you own multi-port charger so that you can charge multiple devices at once. Be sure to get one with an interchangable plug so it can be used in both the US and Europe.
Other Optional Items
Keep track of what you’re doing and the amazing things you’ve seen by writing them down in a notebook or journal. I have fond memories written down from previous cruises. Little memories I had forgotten.
Keep yourself entertained during downtime with a deck of cards or a fun travel game. Especially handy if you have a lot of seas days such as a transatlantic cruise. They are small and easy to include in your cruise packing list.
If you plan on kayaking, snorkelling or even just sitting on the beach during your cruise, it’s a good idea to invest in a dry bag to keep your valuables safe and free from water. A dry bag comes in handy no matter what water activity you’re doing and is sure to keep your things nice and dry.
Besides any prescriptions, you may take on a regular basis and over the counter painkillers like Tylenol or Advil. You can usually purchase these onboard but the prices are usually very steep.
Hopefully, this cruise packing list has helped you decide what to bring for any kind of cruising adventure.