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What I Learned


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I took my first cruise on the Triumph (Carnival) in June of this. From the moment we booked, I started researching everything I could possibly learn about cruises from the boards here at Cruise Critic. The people here are awesome and I learned so much!


By nature, I'm a very organized person and that carried over to this cruise. I wanted to make sure I had everything that I might could possibly need and if you research these boards enough, you will find all kinds of things people recommend in addition to things like clothes, shoes and toiletries. I call those things "the extras". Not knowing whether or not I might possibly need all these various things, I pretty much packed them all. I ended up with my extra large suitcase, a larger size rolling duffel, a large carry on and my purse. Because of gifts I bought on board and in the ports, I ended up buying another smaller carry on sized bag to tote that stuff in. It was quite the haul of stuff and very cumbersome!


What I learned: most of the "extras" you see on those lists really isn't very necessary or necessary at all.....at least for me. The other thing I learned: I don't need to take the amount of clothes I did. I took 3/4 of the clothes and shoes I brought, home and unworn.


Obviously, everyone has to make their own decision on what to take, but if you've never cruised, talk to people here and find out why they recommend a certain item. Then, make your decision if you feel that item is really necessary for you. I have another cruise scheduled for this December. I just cleaned put my cruise bin where I store all those "extras" and this time I'm taking probably 1/10 of what I did in June. I'm also not taking so many clothes and shoes and will make sure my toiletries are all travel sized, if available.


Someone posted to pack, then unpack half the clothes you planned to take and double the money you planned to take. Money wise, I did great. All the other stuff, not so great. I plan to change that for my December cruise!

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You are so right about the "extras". I have a 6 page long list of those someone posted on another board. When you see a list like this you really do need to pare that list down to the things that you would expect to need.


Glad you enjoyed your first cruise!

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Thanks cruiserking and Scrapnana. I really did enjoy my first cruise. Scrapnana...do you paper or digital scrapbook. I'm a digital scrapbook addict!


Moresun....yeah, I'm worried about overpacking again but am gonna try real hard not to. We shall see though...... :D


Sparky-elpaso....yes, I'm hooked. That's why I have another cruise in 88 days and I just got off my first one in June.


Paul92907....I wonder that too. Lucky for me, we drove to port so baggage fees were a non-issue. And now after typing that, maybe it wasn't a lucky thing. I would've packed less before I paid additional baggage fees!

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I never look at the lists that are provided on any site.

Years ago I wrote up my own lists as to exactly what goes into each suitcase. Therefore -- no extra clothes or shoes.

I also have a list that I have to update from time to time for prescriptions as my DH has to take 17 different medications a day. I have a couple I take. And I always count out at least a week's extra of pills -- just in case anything happens.

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Calkacky, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a first time cruiser that DIDN'T overpack. I know we did. At the time of our first cruise, we were both into line dancing. Along with all of the extra clothes we packed and didn't need, we took our cowboy boots, thinking we'd be doing the "boot scootin' boogie" with everyone, along with other line dances. Who knew that most everyone either wore tennis shoes or sandals? Like any vacation, it's a learning experience. If anyone ever comes up with durable, fashionable paper clothing that you could wear once and throw away, it'll revolutionize packing for a vacation.:)

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There are a couple of 'just in case' things that don't take up much room and I am happy to carry even if they are never used - things like a small first aid kit and sewing kit (like you get in some hotels).


As most of our cruises have been in northern waters, I have ended up with a jumper or two that went unworn because of an unexpected heatwave.


Other than that, I reckon that all I really need is my passport and credit card - everything else can be managed.

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Someone should generate a list of "must have" lists to save those people who need such stuff a lot of time. I would use such a list of what NOT to bring. I estimate that 99.7% of the stuff on those lists is totally useless stuff.


Seems like CC averages a new "must have" list every week and some of them have hundreds of posts on them.



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For my first 2 or 3 cruises, I was guilty of taking many more clothes than I could wear. Then I hit on packing one neutral colour of skirts, pants, shorts (black, navy, grey or brown) and marching tops to them. Now by adding a few scarves in brighter colours, I am co-ordinated, look different each day, and can pack 2 pairs of shoes( wear the clunkiest ones)and can pack in one lightweight bag no matter where I go.

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Looking back to my first cruise I packed too many clothes, but that wasn't the worst of it--they were the wrong clothes. Not having heard of Cruise Critic back in those days, I had no idea how dressy a ship can be at night especially formal nights in those days.


The clothes I had were entirely too casual for night life on the ship. Hubby didn't pack any slacks, but only shorts. We were so embarassed by our poor choices.


As for following other lists, it isn't just ship lists. Some folks carry so much in their purses every day they are prepared for every possible contingency. Me--I like to travel light. I once read a list here that would srve well for a six-month long world cruise. For a seven night cruise--not so much.


Every cruise I try to pair down more, but one has to have the right clothes for the event...just not enough clothes to last a month for a week long cruise.

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I wonder if any of you would care to post the suggestions you did and did not use? Especially OP!


I've been looking over the list with interest. We will be traveling for about a week prior to our cruise and haven't yet decided on our plan for that travel. Ideally, I'd like to get all our gear for both the travel and the cruise in a carry on and additional bag each at most. I know we can carry more on our flight since it is transatlantic, but we'll also have to tote it all wherever we go once in Europe. The one item I am most curious about is the over door shoe bag. It seems like a small enough concession if it will help us keep our cabin reasonably organized.

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I also like to travel light, but like to be prepared. After helping with daycare field trips to high school band competitions I have found was of compacting things to save space. Yes It is true that you probably won't need them, but it's better t o have and not need then to need and not have. I took a used gift card and wrapped some duct tape around it and some electrical tape - to which I have used to repair a torn suitcase and fix a sandal strap. I got a cheap set of screw drivers from the dollar store it was a 10 piece set in a plastic case I took out the smallest Phillips & straight which have been used to tighten eye glasses and pry up a sink stopper. Small sewing kit, tweezers a few safety pins,band-aids, highlighter, sharpie and a pen which all fit in a small zip lock baggie.I do have other "must haves" depending on where we are going and who i am responsible for.

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Things I've found I can leave at home:


-Anything more than three outfits for dinner (e.g., dresses)

-Nailpolish (a few colors) and remover. My dreams of sitting and redoing my nails rarely happens. Now I still just pack a bottle for touch ups.

-Snorkeling fins. I just pack my mask and mouthpiece

-Underwater camera. I never feel like taking it.

-Highligher. A pen works fine.

-Clothes pins. CAN come in handy, but not necessary.

-Hanging cheap plastic shoe rack to organize stuff. Did once-what a waste for two of us. If we had three in a room, I might reconsider.

-Extra hangers. You can ask your room steward, or we usually make due because pressed clothes come back on hangers.

-Anything more than one workout outift/more than two socks. I only make it to the gym two days.

-Instant coffee packets (can buy a good coffee if I need it) and gatorade packets (for hangover recovery...we never get THAT drunk).



Things I've never used, but still take:

-bug spray (tiny bottle)

-needle, travel sized thread and safety pins



Things I've found are worth taking:

-Power strip

-A few envelopes

-At least $20 in one dollar bills

-One cardi-style sweater that can dress up or down

-two bathing suits (if you have like the water/plan to take shore excursions/use the hot tubs or pool a lot)



Things I'm still on the fence about:

-inflatable cheap plastic rafts for beach days

-speakers for iPod. Never used in our inside cabins, but maybe with our balcony we'll spend more time in our room and want it?

-Door magnet....fun when with a group to help them remember our room. Not necessary when just the two of us.

-Bottle/can coozies

-Post its

-small scissors (for trimming loose threads, etc.)

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I wish I still had my original packing list before I went and deleted a bunch of items off it. Here's some of the things I'll be leaving at home:


Water shoes, a bunch of zip lock bags, a laundry bag, tide to go pen, bug repellant, binoculars, travel sized tide, duct tape, downy wrinkle release, clothes pins, the majority of the OTC meds and first aide kit stuff, extra batteries for my fan and clock, the over-the-door shoe holder, the extra bottle of sunscreen, air freshener, clorox wipes, water bottle, hangers, waterproof watch and snacks.


That is some of the stuff I can think of. Let me add to this, that I understand some people will think some of this is absolutely necessary and that is fine. This is just "extra" type stuff that I don't feel I need to have with me anymore.

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Don't feel bad everyone takes too much stuff the first time.Or in my case even the 3rd or 4th!!:D


In my case (and I haven't seen this addressed anywhere else) I forgot a second pair of non-prescription reading glasses. They were not available at any of the onboard stores (Navigator of the Seas, Dec. 2011) nor anywhere we looked in Caribbean ports. I'm packing 2 extra pair for my next cruise so I don't have to struggle to read menus or over-enlarge the print on my Kindle!

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