Cruise Packing Tips?

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#1
583 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
We're celebrating Packing Week [http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=1436 at Cruise Critic and at the end of the week want to highlight reader packing tips. So if you're willing to share...what are your best or most unique packing strategies you use when preparing for a cruise? We're looking for anything from what you bring with you to how you pack your suitcase. Can't wait to hear your ideas!
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Erica Silverstein
Senior Editor, Features
Cruise Critic
#2
PA
566 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
1. lay out all of the clothing you think you will need. take away half of the clothing and three quarters of the shoes. then pack.

2. non-clothing items are the most important, as they are the most difficult to do without. forget to bring an extra shirt? have one cleaned or buy one in port. forget to bring a camera battery charger? you may be out of luck.

3. pack a highlighter. they are super convenient for highlighting your cruise ship daily.

4. the only things you REALLY need are a credit card and a passport. all other things can be done without or purchased. so don't stress!

5. don't pack for the worst case scenario--you'll end up bringing too much.

6. the one exception to #5 above--ladies--bring feminine hygiene products even if you don't think you'll need them. TRUST ME. there's nothing worse than being in port in bermuda for three days with all of the ship's shops closed and needing something. TRUST ME.
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Teacher, writer, blogger, travel addict.

Read about my other travels on my (ad-free) blog:
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#3
Fredericksburg, va. USA
79,866 Posts
Joined May 2001
And, cross pack, if you're flying....put some of each person's clothing in each bag, so should one go astray, everyone will still have something!
#4
4,803 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Keeping in mind that I am a positively ANAL cruise planner, I'll give you my less-than-scientific approach.

I start with my itinerary, including the activities I have planned for each port of call.

For example: Day 1, Catamaran Snorkeling Excursion - I'll need a bathing suit, shorts/shirt, sandals, snorkel gear, underwater camera, back-pack, sunscreen, excursion tickets, sun hat. When I return to the ship, it will be formal night - dress, dress shoes, dress purse. I probably won't want to stay in formal clothes all night, so I'll need a fresh outfit for the evening.

I do this for each day of the cruise. It helps me to remember the specific items I'll need (waterproof camera, snorkel gear, etc.). It also helps me to avoid forgetting clothing articles (jewelry or shoes to wear with that formal dress, belt that goes with that skirt, etc.)

I assign appropriate clothes for each day. I adjust the list frequently. For example, I may see the activities list posted by recent passenger on my intended cruise and alter my clothing plan accordingly.

OH...Wednesday night is 70s night or Caribbean Night. Scrap the dinner outfit I'd intended and replace it with something that coordinates with the THEME.

I always toss in a couple extra t-shirts, just in case.

Taking it a step further, I also determine how much cash I anticipate needing at each port of call and put it into little bank envelopes, labeled with the port name. I include s many singles/small bills as I think I may need for tips. It keeps me from having to do those calculations each morning in an excited rush to disembark. I also list the items to bring ashore at each port. Ever end up on an excursion and realize you forgot your waterproof camera or the instructions about where to meet your tour guide?

I don't ignore the travel days! Oh no! If I did, I might forget to pack my passport, airline tickets, airplane snack foods, hotel reservations, cruise documents...

I always make sure I have at least 3-4 days worth of clothes in my CARRY-ON bag, just in case my luggage doesn't make it. I HOPE it will catch up to me at least sometime during the cruise. (No way to pack formal clothes in the carry-on without wrinkling, but I do manage everything else.)

Yeah...it's insane. I admit to my mental defect! For me, the process forces me to imagine each day - over and over - ostensibly for the purposes of not forgetting anything. Maybe it's equally about living my vacation vicariously in advance!!!

Hello...my name is printingchick, and I'm an extreme cruise addict!!!
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77 days at sea...and counting!
2003 - Carnival Sensation
2005 - Carnival Valor (western Caribbean)
2006 - Carnival Inspiration
2006 - Carnival Valor (eastern Caribbean)
2007 - Carnival Destiny
2008 - Carnival Imagination
2008 - Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas
2009 - Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
2010 - Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas
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2014 - Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas
2016 - Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas





#5
3,499 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Plastic prescription medicine bottles can be used for a myriad of purposes.

Q-tips
Bandaids, etc. for a mini first aid kit to carry in your bag.
Nail polish (if you have the right size bottle)
Earrings / bracelets / necklaces
Tweezers / nail clippers / nail scissors / small nail file or emery board
Thread / needles / safety pins
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#6
Ontario, CA (The one WITH the Palm Trees!)
20,656 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Limit the amount of shoes.
Coordinate your outfits to go with these shoes.
Mix and match your clothes. 6 tops and 3 bottoms can be 18 outfits. Add a jacket and now there is 36 outfits.
Everything must go with at least two other items.
Decide what is important to take and coodinate around that. Last cruise I wanted to wear a certain cardigan. Made sure all tops went with it.

Go over your beauty routine. See where steps can be cut out. Do not take full size items when possible, transfer to smaller containers.
Try to share items if possible.

Don't forget the Immodium!
#8
Ohio
767 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Roll your clothes versus folding!! You can get much more into a suitcase. If going to a warm weather climate, bring two swimsuits so you'll always have a dry suit to put on. Nothing worse that trying to get into a wet suit!!
#9
4,803 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Originally posted by frogquackers
How does one determine the theme nights?
Royal Caribbean often has a Caribbean Night at dinner (where most people wear tropical shirts). They also have a 70s party one night on a 7-day cruise and passengers who choose to can dress in retro clothing for dinner, as well as the party.
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77 days at sea...and counting!
2003 - Carnival Sensation
2005 - Carnival Valor (western Caribbean)
2006 - Carnival Inspiration
2006 - Carnival Valor (eastern Caribbean)
2007 - Carnival Destiny
2008 - Carnival Imagination
2008 - Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas
2009 - Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
2010 - Royal Caribbean Serenade of the Seas
2011 - Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas
2014 - Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas
2016 - Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas





#10
Southern California
2,292 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Originally posted by cb at sea
And, cross pack, if you're flying....put some of each person's clothing in each bag, so should one go astray, everyone will still have something!
This is the best suggestion. Having arrived on vacation in Hawaii a number oy years ago and to find my bag went to limbo, I thoroughly endorse this strategy.

http://luv2cruise.blogspot.com
#12
2,335 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
Do all the things mentioned, many of which I learned here on CC
but also take
1) plenty of plastic ziplock bags in assorted sizes. (lots of uses....I label one A.M and one P.M for things I use at those times of day/night so don't have to re-sort. I mark one a "shore bag" that has what's needed when going on excursion. Easy to grab and throw in carry bag I take)
2)a small flat keychain flashlight (handy to check in dark corners of closet or under bed)
3) a couple of battery tealight candles (good nightlight so you don't have to wake yourself up by turning on the bathroom light if you get up; also nice ambience)
4) at least one day's worth of various meds for headache, stomach, etc 5) took post-it notes last time and they were handier than I'd thought for leaving each other notes when we went separate ways
6) a small pair of scissors (folding or whatever will go through TSA)
7) extra memory card and batteries for camera
8) cable ties to secure suitcases for flights (TSA can cut off)
9) a battery alarm clock
10) a couple of feet of duct tape (never needed but would help if suitcase got a tear)

An excellent tip I saw on CC was to put a colorful sheet of paper (easy to see when opened) on top of the items in your suitcase with your name, cell phone number, hotel staying at night before cruise with its phone number, name of ship and phone numbers for ship contact so that if it gets separated from you, it might have a better chance of getting to you.
#13
Nemo, TX
1,387 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Tip # 1 Know yourself. You'll find that some people are happy with minimal luggage, and rotating 2 or 3 outfits. Some people look at a cruise as a time to dress up and enjoy doing so.

Cruising is so flexible, that you get to do what YOU want, but you have to know what you want first. So know yourself.

Tip #2 Zip lock bags. You'll find tons of uses for them, especially if you're going anywhere near water <-- yes that's a joke, but the baggies aren't.

Tip #3 Lists, not packing lists before hand, so much as keep a list of what you had to run out and buy, and what you didn't even look at so next cruise you'll know yourself better.

Tip #4 Lists, again not a regular packing list, but list which toiletries or medicines you're putting in which bag so you don't have to unpack everything, just set out what you use all the time, and store the bags out of the way and you can find that aspirin later when you know just what bag it's in.
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Nina, Ed & of course, the Bears
yes they really travel with us, and yes, my husband does have the patience of a saint

Suitcasebears2 @ gmail.com







2005 Princess - 2 night trial cruise
2008 Feb: Crystal - Mexican Riviera
2008 Nov: HAL - E. Caribbean
2009 June: HAL - Alaska
2010 March: Regent - Western Caribbean
2010 Nov: HAL - Western Caribbean
2011 Nov: HAL - Caribbean
2012 Nov: HAL - Caribbean
2013 May: RCCL - supposedly Caribbean but DH ended up in hospital in St. Maarten. It's a long story.
2014 March: Princess - Mexican Riviera
2014 Nov: RCCL - Caribbean


#14
370 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
We usually sail on cruises that have only two formal nights.

Instead of packing a gown/cocktail dress, I pack a long black skirt made of a velour/spandex blend. Then I can wad it up in the corner of my luggage, and the wrinkles fall out when I hang it up.

To go with it, I pack two formal tops...both wrinkle free.

***To save even more space, one top will do and wear the same outfit twice.

The key is to pack something that does not wrinkle.
#15
Minnesota
368 Posts
Joined Oct 2009
Bring a plug-in that makes a 1 plug-in equal 3. Sorry can't remember the name Great when you need to more than the one plug-in on the desk!
In my carry on:
-A smart jewelry case...one side for necklaces, flip it over and the other side is for earrings, watches etc...padded, so nothing moves and has a switch lock so it doesn't accidently open.
-all electronic accessories...power cords, battery chargers, travel alarm
-all medications

Never pack anything in your checked luggage that might tempt someone to steal it...I know it doesn't happen often, but I'd rather be safe than sorry...so no cameras, electronic games, jewelry etc in checked luggage.

This isn't packing, but fly into your cruise port the day before...if your luggage does get lost it gives them a day to get it back to you.
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#16
Oak Park, CA
5,460 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
In addition to my list - I tend to start a little box and throw stuff into it as I think about it. I throw in extra batteries, rain ponchos, extension cord, large plastic drinking glass, whatever is not clothes that I want to take. I use baggies of all sizes depending on the items.

I have a baggie with miscellaneous first aid type stuff and a tupperware container that holds a variety of pills like aspirin, tylenol, sudafed, pain relief. The rule is better to have and not need then need and not have for these items.

Also, the week before we leave, I charge all the cameras, DVD player, anything electronic that we are taking. I double check that everything is working properly and that I have extra memory.
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#17
Ontario, Canada
2,242 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
1. Know what you can live without and what is essential. I love wearing a different outfit for dinner every night, so I bring them. It's my vacation and I'm going to do things that make me happy! It's great some people can do a 7 day cruise with clothes packed in a rolling carry on, it's just not for me.
2. Bring a medication first aid kit: Tylenol, Advil, anti-nausea meds, anti histamine, bandaids and antibiotic ointment. Bring bandaids and ointment with you when going to shore, along with hand sanitizer. If your 6 year old falls and scrapes a knee in Mexico, you'll be prepared!
3. We travel as a family by air to port, so I bring a carry on packed with the bare minimum we need to enjoy our cruise. This usually involves 2 changes of clothes, pants for the kids and bathing suits for everyone. If our luggage gets lost, we can still enjoy our trip. It's never happened, but I feel better knowing we will have a good time regardless of what happens to our luggage.
4. Bring laundry detergent, I love the little packs of Tide made just for traveling. I also love my stain stick, so if the kids spill blueberries on their good shirt at dinnerhat here is some hope of getting it clean.
5. When buying beauty products, save the samples for your trip. They easily last through a 7-10 day trip, don't cost anything and are already packaged in labeled containers. But whatever you do, don't put nail polish remover in a plastic make-up container. Last trip I got the bright idea of soaking cotton balls in nail polish remover so I could change my finger nail polish mid-cruise. When I opened the container, the acetone had almost eaten through the plastic
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#18
394 Posts
Joined Apr 2011
Originally posted by B&Z's Mom
1. Know what you can live without and what is essential. I love wearing a different outfit for dinner every night, so I bring them. It's my vacation and I'm going to do things that make me happy! It's great some people can do a 7 day cruise with clothes packed in a rolling carry on, it's just not for me.
2. Bring a medication first aid kit: Tylenol, Advil, anti-nausea meds, anti histamine, bandaids and antibiotic ointment. Bring bandaids and ointment with you when going to shore, along with hand sanitizer. If your 6 year old falls and scrapes a knee in Mexico, you'll be prepared!
3. We travel as a family by air to port, so I bring a carry on packed with the bare minimum we need to enjoy our cruise. This usually involves 2 changes of clothes, pants for the kids and bathing suits for everyone. If our luggage gets lost, we can still enjoy our trip. It's never happened, but I feel better knowing we will have a good time regardless of what happens to our luggage.
4. Bring laundry detergent, I love the little packs of Tide made just for traveling. I also love my stain stick, so if the kids spill blueberries on their good shirt at dinnerhat here is some hope of getting it clean.
5. When buying beauty products, save the samples for your trip. They easily last through a 7-10 day trip, don't cost anything and are already packaged in labeled containers. But whatever you do, don't put nail polish remover in a plastic make-up container. Last trip I got the bright idea of soaking cotton balls in nail polish remover so I could change my finger nail polish mid-cruise. When I opened the container, the acetone had almost eaten through the plastic
BBM

Wonderful suggestions!

Would add only the timeless tip of "bring half the amount of clothes you're considering and twice the amount of money you think you'll spend."
#19
Maine
1,335 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
I am a minimalist when it comes to packing. Have a wonderful LLbean rolling carry on and also, carry a large over the shoulder lightweight bag. So, flying (no baggage costs) and disembarking (no waiting around in a lounge). That said, I do agree with the comment made above about bring what makes you happy.
These are my top ten absolute "must takes", beyond the obvious:
1. Binoculars
2. Battery operated candle for the balcony and room at night
3. Nook (and charger) for reading
4. Knitting
5. Highlighter
6. Tide packs for hand washing
7. Ipod (and charger)
8. Water proof wallet (credit card, license and $20.00)for shore excursions and beach
9. My own snorkeling equipment
10.Blister first aid
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