Skip to content

Packing Tips for Cruise Novices

Packing Tips for Cruise Novices

Staying on a cruise ship is not quite like staying at a hotel or resort bungalow. If you’re heading out for your very first cruise this winter, here are some packing essentials you might not expect:

Multipurpose Wardrobe. You already know that airlines charge more for overweight and checked bags, so the lighter your luggage, the less you’ll spend in luggage fees. But for cruise travelers, there’s a second reason to pack light: most cruise cabins have less storage space than you may be used to from hotel stays. If you bring 2 or 3 changes of clothes for each day of the trip, plus 10 different types of footwear, you will not have room to stow it all. For a cruise, bring on your extreme packing skills with mix and match clothing, and footwear that works for several occasions and activities.

Laundry Tools. Because of the mix and match wardrobe rule, you’ll be wearing most pieces of clothing at least twice. Rather than pay for laundering and dry cleaning at shipboard prices, bring small containers of laundry detergent for handwashing, stain treatment for spot cleaning (and because a spill that stays on your favorite shorts until you get home will be almost impossible to get out), and a fabric freshener spray to freshen up garments you can’t easily wash, and to get rid of smoke and other odors.

Clock or Watch. If you normally depend on your cell phone as a timepiece and alarm clock, remember that service may be limited, depending on where you cruise. An alarm clock or a watch with alarm functions makes sure you always know what time it is and that you get up in time for an early exercise class or that port excursion you are looking forward to.

Extra Luggage. You’re almost certain to do some shopping on the cruise, especially if you are visiting several different ports. Rather than having to buy an extra suitcase at shipboard or port prices, pack a collapsible bag in your suitcase, so you can pull it out at the end of the voyage to hold all your gifts and goodies.

Power Strip. Most cabins have only one or at most 2 outlets, and half of the plugs are European 220 volt, so American devices can’t use them. Between phones, cameras, tablets, ebook readers, and gaming devices, you will need a power strip if you want to charge everything that needs charging at the end of the day. Just be sure to plug it into the right voltage for your devices!

Noise Protection. Cabin walls are thinner than hotel room walls, so a cruise ship can seem very noisy, especially when you are trying to sleep. Ear plugs can help you sleep in, or nap without being bothered by the noise. Another option is a travel white noise machine, which is helpful if someone in the cabin can’t use earplugs, such as a child.

Over the Door Organizer. A hanging pocket organizer folds easily into your suitcase. When you get to your cabin, just hang it over the bathroom door, and you’ll have a perfect place to keep cosmetics, grooming accessories, and small articles of clothing handy, without cluttering up your tiny bathroom or taking up too much precious drawer space.

First Aid Kit. You will not want to pay shipboard prices to take care of minor medical emergencies such as a headache, upset stomach, or a cut or scrape from today’s adventure. Pack your own kit that includes band-aids, first aid cream, sunburn relief, and your favorite over-the-counter medications for a headache, cold, allergy attack, digestive upset, or any other minor problems you commonly experience. And remember to pack extras of any essential prescription as well.

Now you’re ready to deal with the minor inconveniences of cruising, so grab your luggage and your tickets, and have a wonderful cruise!

Don Fuchs December 20, 2016