Tips to Packing Light on a Cruise
What Do You Really Need?
- Know your cruise’s dress code for dining, including formal night.
- Cruise ships have laundry facilities. You can also hand wash and dry in your cabin.
- Remember a jacket or sweater for cool restaurants and theaters.
- Shoes take up a lot of luggage room.
- Books, computers, and other electronics also take up a lot of room.
- If you need something, there are shops on board.
Why Pack Light?
Whether to pack light or heavy is a personal choice. There are some advantages to packing light on a cruise, though.
First, the less you have packed, the less you have to carry. Waiting in lines to board your ship or to disembark can sometimes take a while. In addition, if you have flown to the destination, you will have to drag your luggage through the airport. Packing light is easier on your back.
Second, depending on your airline, you might save some money by having less. You will not have to pay to check your baggage. Also, if you do not have to check your luggage, then the airline cannot lose it. There will be less for you to lose while onboard, too.
Third, it takes much less time and effort to pack light. When your cruise is over, it will just take a few minutes to prepare for departure.
Fourth, most cruise cabins are relatively small. Large or multiple suitcases can restrict your space even more.
Finally, packing light leaves more room for souvenirs to bring home to remember your cruise.
Yes, some cruise lines have dress codes! Most cruise lines have dress codes just for dining, but some are even more restrictive. If you are planning a luxury cruise, make sure to check.
With the exception of Disney and Norwegian, to dine in the main dining halls or speciality restaurants, you must dress “cruise casual.” This basically means no shorts, no t-shirts, no open-toed shoes, and no caps. Disney and Norwegian only restrict swim wear and work out attire.
Almost all cruises have a formal night. Formal nights are taken seriously on almost all cruise lines. Formal attire consists of evening dresses for women and sports coats with a tie for men. Some people even wear tuxedos. Disney and Norwegian have formal nights, but it is a suggestion, not a requirement. Instead of formal night, Celebrity Cruise Line now has “evening chic.” From the Celebrity web site, “Evening Chic means that you can get glamorous and be sophisticated in your own way. If you would like to still wear a tuxedo or formal gown on Evening Chic nights, you absolutely should.”
Of coarse, if you are happy just hitting the buffet each evening, then this is not a problem. Short and t-shirts are fine there. You are missing out, though.
Just as local restaurants and shops can feel chilly to some even in the summer, you need to be prepared on a cruise ship. They keep it cool, too. Many people will need a sweater or a jacket for dining and shows.
These take up extra space. If you will use them, then it is worth it.
Cruise ships have laundry facilities. You can do your wash for a few dollars. The ship crew can do your laundry for a more hefty fee. Washing you clothes can make few items go a lot longer.
I also hand wash my running clothes each day in the cabin sink and hang them to dry.
What is Essential?
Toiletries, shoes, clothing, medications, and personal documents are really all the you need. That does not mean that it is all that you will want? Computers, cameras, i-phones, small electronics, books, costumes (for Disney’s Pirate Night!), and other things can take up a lot of room.
Recommendations for Packing Light on a Cruise
Pack only what you can get in the 1 quart, airline approved, toiletry bag. This includes make up. If you really need something. You can buy it onboard. Soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and hair driers will all be provided.
Shoes take up a lot of room. Wear a pair of comfortable shoes boarding and leaving. You can use these around the ship and on shore excursion. Pack a pair of dress shoes for dining. You might slip in a pair of flip-flops, too.
One pair of shorts and one pair of pants or a skirt are all that you need to pack. You will be wearing one pair when you board. One dress shirt and two or three casual shirts will suffice. Do not forget your swim suit! Three pairs each of underwear and socks will work fine. Remember, everything can be washed on board. If you run or work out, then you will need one outfit for that, too.
Don’t forget to bring a long sleeve shirt, sweater, or jacket for cool restaurants and theaters. Men might want to pack a tie or two for formal nights. They do not take up much space. Woman might consider packing scarves or other small accessories.
Do you really need these on a cruise? Your i-phone or i-pad can suffice for computer wants. Try to leave laptops, hair driers, curlers, clocks, games, etc. at home.
Also, does every member of your party need their own i-pad or computer? Sharing can save space, too. It might get the kids to take more interest in the ship, too.
Books are heavy to lug around and can take up a lot of space. Most cruise ships have libraries where you can find something to read. You could also download a book onto i-phone or i-pad.
Most i-phones shoot good photos now. I like my camera, though.
Documents and Medications
Of coarse, you must have photo ID and passports for everyone as well as airline and cruise ship documents.
If you forget your medications, there is a ship doctor. The ship may not have what you need in stock, though. So, try to make sure to pack them.
What I Pack
- quart toiletry bag: toothbrush, travel-size toothpaste, travel-size mouthwash, comb, razor, travel-size shaving cream, q-tips
- 1 pair of running shoes and 1 pair of flip-flops
- a dress shirt and 2 casual shirts
- 1 pair of shorts
- 3 pairs of underwear
- 3 pairs of socks
- 2 neck ties
- 1 pair of swim shorts
- 1 running shirt and running shorts
I will obviously be wearing pants, a shirt, socks, and shoes while boarding. Also, I will wear a jacket or wrap it around my waste. By packing like this, I can comfortably enjoy a cruise of a week or longer. This will all easily fit in a carry-on bag or backpack that even RyanAir will pass.
While packing light on a cruise is not for everyone, it is definitely doable. Just remember, you can wash anything, and if you need something, you can buy it. Happy travels!