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Yes, I know there are 100s of forum threads on what to pack, what to bring, what to leave home, so on and so forth. Packing for myself is simple while traveling: Roll it and stuff it. However, all of my vacations are casual, completely casual...flip flops, shorts, Hawaiian shirts, tennis shoes. Now, on a cruise with formal nights, things change quite a bit. I rarely dress formally, but when I do, I do have 2 nice suits of which I would only bring 1. We are each going to bring 1 suitcase. Because of formal nights, we will put all of our formal things combined in a garment bag. That would put us at 4 suitcases. Now, we will also be bringing our own masks and snorkels for excursions. Because of neck issues, I will bring my own pillow as well. The snorkel gear and pillow will be in another suitcase/duffel (now 5 bags).

 

Now to my questions (we will not have space concerns with travel to/from the cruise):

  1. Am I crazy thinking we are going to have 5 suitcases for 3 people? If I roll and squeeze my suitcase, I still have my pillow and snorkel gear to manage. 
  2. How do others pack their formal wear to maybe eliminate the garment bag and get back to 4 suitcases? I am sure if I try to pack my suit in my suitcase it is going to wrinkle. Plus, it cost a bit of money and I don't want to ruin it. I am not a suit snob, but when I have to have one, I do tend to go overboard (pun intended).

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8 minutes ago, bigrednole said:

Yes, I know there are 100s of forum threads on what to pack, what to bring, what to leave home, so on and so forth. Packing for myself is simple while traveling: Roll it and stuff it. However, all of my vacations are casual, completely casual...flip flops, shorts, Hawaiian shirts, tennis shoes. Now, on a cruise with formal nights, things change quite a bit. I rarely dress formally, but when I do, I do have 2 nice suits of which I would only bring 1. We are each going to bring 1 suitcase. Because of formal nights, we will put all of our formal things combined in a garment bag. That would put us at 4 suitcases. Now, we will also be bringing our own masks and snorkels for excursions. Because of neck issues, I will bring my own pillow as well. The snorkel gear and pillow will be in another suitcase/duffel (now 5 bags).

 

Now to my questions (we will not have space concerns with travel to/from the cruise):

  1. Am I crazy thinking we are going to have 5 suitcases for 3 people? If I roll and squeeze my suitcase, I still have my pillow and snorkel gear to manage. 
  2. How do others pack their formal wear to maybe eliminate the garment bag and get back to 4 suitcases? I am sure if I try to pack my suit in my suitcase it is going to wrinkle. Plus, it cost a bit of money and I don't want to ruin it. I am not a suit snob, but when I have to have one, I do tend to go overboard (pun intended).

Easy fix #1: choose cruise lines without formal nights.

Easy fix #2: for snorkel, bring only the snorkel (hygiene) and/add the mask only if fit is a real issue.

Easy fix #3: make sure that "no formal nights" ship has self serve laundry and, regardless of long trip lengths, pack for 7 days max. 

Easy fix #5: again, choose a ship with the right amenities like choice of pillow types and better comp bath products.

Easy fix #5: (for men): get some nice deck shoes (sperry/sebago), which will work in all venues and ports and, for water activities/pool, one sturdy pair reef runners).

 

We do long cruises of 3-4 weeks plus. At most, we'll each have one 29" suitcase and one small (under seat) rollaboard for meds/valuables/docs/etc. 

Really - do the research and pick the right ships.

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I do appreciate your response and thank you for it. However, it was more of avoidance of what we are doing instead of how to manage what we have to do. 

 

#1 It would be nice to dress up for once and I think my wife and daughter are looking forward to it.

#2 To snorkel on CocoCay alone would be $100+ for 3 people. If I have snorkel gear already, why spend $100?

#3 We are on HOTS and they do not have ss laundry

#4 I am taking my pillow. One bad night on a "wrong" pillow and the rest of the vacation is over. 

#5 I have the necessary shoes and this won't be an issue.

 

 

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My view:  for a 7 day cruise for 3 people, one ought to be able to pack one suitcase for each person, including formal wear.  Avoid using a garment bag at all costs unless you are prepared to carry it onto the ship yourself.  

 

Each of you can have a carry-on that could contain your pillow and snorkel gear and any toiletries/medicines needed.  

 

Regarding shoes:  be careful the three of you don't take too many.  

 

Happy Planning!

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I see no reason to add that garment bag. You should be able to pack your suit in a suitcase without wrinkling (especially if it is still in a plastic dry cleaner bag). If it should get wrinkled, the ship can have it pressed for you by the next day at a reasonable cost. The ladies should select formal wear that doesn't wrinkle-something that is easy to do with modern fabrics

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One suit case each plus a dive bag with all the snorkel gear (get a big enough duffle and the pillow will fit too) is what we do. We don't ever haul formal wear.

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On 5/23/2020 at 3:43 PM, bigrednole said:

Yes, I know there are 100s of forum threads on what to pack, what to bring, what to leave home, so on and so forth. Packing for myself is simple while traveling: Roll it and stuff it. However, all of my vacations are casual, completely casual...flip flops, shorts, Hawaiian shirts, tennis shoes. Now, on a cruise with formal nights, things change quite a bit. I rarely dress formally, but when I do, I do have 2 nice suits of which I would only bring 1. We are each going to bring 1 suitcase. Because of formal nights, we will put all of our formal things combined in a garment bag. That would put us at 4 suitcases. Now, we will also be bringing our own masks and snorkels for excursions. Because of neck issues, I will bring my own pillow as well. The snorkel gear and pillow will be in another suitcase/duffel (now 5 bags).

 

Now to my questions (we will not have space concerns with travel to/from the cruise):

  1. Am I crazy thinking we are going to have 5 suitcases for 3 people? If I roll and squeeze my suitcase, I still have my pillow and snorkel gear to manage. 
  2. How do others pack their formal wear to maybe eliminate the garment bag and get back to 4 suitcases? I am sure if I try to pack my suit in my suitcase it is going to wrinkle. Plus, it cost a bit of money and I don't want to ruin it. I am not a suit snob, but when I have to have one, I do tend to go overboard (pun intended).

 

Easy fixes:

 

1.) No need to bring a pillow, those are provided by the cruise line.

2.) I just throw my snorkel gear in my carry on, no need to put it in the suitcase.

3.) Put everything for the formal nights on top of the regular clothes (the exception being shoes, which can be thrown into a plastic bag with your other shoes: flip flops, sneakers, etc. and packed in the bottom of your suitcase).  You'll only need 1 or 2 formal outfits (I usually just do one for both formal nights).  Any of the casual night outfits, I make sure that they're made of cotton so that they can be rolled up and thrown in the suitcase without being wrinkled.

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5 minutes ago, broadwaybaby123 said:

 

Easy fixes:

 

1.) No need to bring a pillow, those are provided by the cruise line.

 

Unfortunately, my pillow is more medical than anything. If my neck gets a kink, the cruise will be over for me. I doubt a chiropractor is on board.

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We take a lot of cruises, most of them are over 2 weeks.  We do try to keep the number of cases down to what we can manage on our own, but my advice is -- 

 

Take however many suitcases you need for the things you want to bring!!

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4 minutes ago, Lady Chew said:

Take however many suitcases you need for the things you want to bring!!

 

Then, when you home, you can ask yourself the age old question for travelers:  "why the heck did I take that"?😀

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Nowadays, few cruises require "formal wear"....just pack one "nicer" outfit and you'll be good.  No need for gown and tux.

 

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I am not really stressing it much anymore. There are 3 of us and we will have 4 suitcases. So-be-it. My pillow is a necessity as much as someone that has chronic prescriptions. As such, snorkel gear and pillow will go in 1 suitcase. Then we each get to fit whatever we need in our personal one. Simple. We will learn after this one what we can get away with on the next. We don't have flights to worry about, space in hotel, space in cabin, etc. So why ever worry about an extra suitcase. The rolling dufflebags fold very flat and take no space under a bed.

 

I am going to order a set of packing cubes and do a dry run since I have 6 months to go.

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5 hours ago, bigrednole said:

I am not really stressing it much anymore. There are 3 of us and we will have 4 suitcases. So-be-it. My pillow is a necessity as much as someone that has chronic prescriptions. As such, snorkel gear and pillow will go in 1 suitcase. Then we each get to fit whatever we need in our personal one. Simple. We will learn after this one what we can get away with on the next. We don't have flights to worry about, space in hotel, space in cabin, etc. So why ever worry about an extra suitcase. The rolling dufflebags fold very flat and take no space under a bed.

 

I am going to order a set of packing cubes and do a dry run since I have 6 months to go.

For formal night all you need is a collard shirt, nice pants and shoes. I have abandoned the sport jacket/ suit, too many people now come just neatly dressed. There still are people who dress up for formal night. Everything I bring on a cruise fits in one piece of luggage and or a backpack/ carryon.  I still don’t know how they did it, a couple on our 15 day Alaska cruise had everything they needed in two small duffle bags.

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6 hours ago, skrufy said:

For formal night all you need is a collard shirt, nice pants and shoes. I have abandoned the sport jacket/ suit, too many people now come just neatly dressed. There still are people who dress up for formal night. Everything I bring on a cruise fits in one piece of luggage and or a backpack/ carryon.  I still don’t know how they did it, a couple on our 15 day Alaska cruise had everything they needed in two small duffle bags.

My parents packed the same way. After falling into a last minute deal once, they purchased cruise luggage and clothes. It was always packed and ready to go if they got calls on great deals. Way back then they could get calls the night before or even morning of. But that no longer exists. 

 

I am not concerned with each of us having 1-suitcase. I am going to test packing when the packing cubes get here. I am usually a toss it in my dufflebag and go. I never had to worry about luggage space (technically I don't on a cruise either). With a hotel or resort, just carrying my pillow was easy. For a cruise I have to pack it. To put it into perspective, it took almost 2 years to replace my pillow. When I finally found one that worked, I bought 2. The one I use is fine, but the other was not usable. That is how crazy it is with me and a pillow. If I can play 3D Tetris well enough, there is a chance I can fit it all into 1. But if not, then pillow, snokel gear, and first aid kit will go in a dufflebag on their own. No big deal. My backpack will have computer, all docs/passports, and camera stuff.

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OP:  to save space, could you use a space saver bag for your pillow?   Some of them use a vacuum to suck out the excess air, and some you can roll to push out the air. 

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Posted (edited)
On 5/29/2020 at 6:37 AM, puppycanducruise said:

OP:  to save space, could you use a space saver bag for your pillow?   Some of them use a vacuum to suck out the excess air, and some you can roll to push out the air. 

Thank you. I thought about that, but I would need to find a vacuum at the hotel we are in the night before and on the cruise at the end. 

 

I ordered packing cubes, received them this morning, and did a quick trial to see what I could fit in them. Its crazy that the packing cubes cost 150% more than my duffel bags. I was surprised I was able to fit 8 shirts into the medium sized one. I am fairly certain I could fit all my shorts, swimsuits in the other medium sized one, socks and stuff in the small one, and the large one for 1 or 2 pair of slacks, 2 dress shirts, 2 ties for formal night. Without trying it, I think I may be able to squeeze the pillow, shoes, and medical kit into it as well. I am much less concerned about space now. I think we will still plan to bring 4 rolling duffel bags anyway. I don't really have to lug them around, it will give space for souvenirs, and 4 of them stacked on top of each other don't even go to 12" high. I am not sure of the bed clearance, but I am sure it is at least 3-4". With that being the case, each one slides under and out of the way for the week.

Edited by bigrednole

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30 minutes ago, bigrednole said:

..... 2 ties for formal night......

A real red flag that you're probably overpacking other stuff as well.

For example, at least for men (in the tropics): one pair of Sebago or Sperry deck shoes and one pair of sturdy reef runners covers every situation. A dress shirt (worn only a few hours with no exercise) can be worn at least twice and then was (self serve or ship's laundry)......

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1 hour ago, bigrednole said:

Thank you. I thought about that, but I would need to find a vacuum at the hotel we are in the night before and on the cruise at the end.

 I have read somewhere on Cruise Critic, that it may be possible to borrow a vacuum from your cabin steward.  What cruise line are you sailing with?  What ship?  Maybe you could ask on the forum for the  particular cruise line if anyone has done that.    I don't know why you couldn't borrow one at the hotel too.  Or,  when going from the hotel to the ship, put your pillow in a tote bag, and carry it aboard.  

Good luck.

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I have to admit that I am probably going to over pack on my first cruise. We are use to going to resorts, driving, taking everything we need, and not worrying about space. The difference with a cruise is that we only have what we have. I have decided on what is absolutely necessary and what is debatable. I could take absolutely no clothes other than what is on my back for Day 1, but the pillow is essential. Personally, I think at a minimum our mask and snorkels are essential. After that it is medicine and the like. And finally whatever clothes fit. I only have to lug the luggage around technically at debarkation for maybe 200 feet or so. I don't have an issue with it and it will be a lesson learned. 

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Several folks have mentioned that you do not absolutely need to have a suit. I sorta disagree. On a cruise, men who dress up on dress up night stand a little taller and suck in their gut a little more. AND, the women they are with appreciate what has happened that way. You are going with your wife and daughter - make them proud!

 

And, when this is all over, post here what happened (good or bad) and what you might or might not change.

 

Jim

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Thanks Jim. Definitely will. I don't dress up often... Weddings, funerals, job interviews. Wife and daughter want to be really formal one night and semi formal the other. Since we are not flying and the duffel bag folds down to 3", I am not worried about space. I didn't realize at the time, our cruise is 4 days after our anniversary, so it is an anniversary cruise. We won't be going out on our anniversary because of our schedules and getting ready to go. We pretty much made this our Summer vacation, anniversary, and only vacation this year. We have gone pretty much all out without a suite. 

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On 5/31/2020 at 1:38 PM, puppycanducruise said:

 I have read somewhere on Cruise Critic, that it may be possible to borrow a vacuum from your cabin steward.  What cruise line are you sailing with?  What ship?  Maybe you could ask on the forum for the  particular cruise line if anyone has done that.    I don't know why you couldn't borrow one at the hotel too.  Or,  when going from the hotel to the ship, put your pillow in a tote bag, and carry it aboard.  

Good luck.

 

Have you considered a small camping air mattress inflater?  Usually they will also deflate and are pretty small and compact.  There may also be some models that are totally battery operated.  Make sure the model you choose has the appropriate adapter you will need.  Find one and you're totally independent!

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On 5/31/2020 at 11:44 AM, bigrednole said:

Thank you. I thought about that, but I would need to find a vacuum at the hotel we are in the night before and on the cruise at the end. 

 

I ordered packing cubes, received them this morning, and did a quick trial to see what I could fit in them. Its crazy that the packing cubes cost 150% more than my duffel bags. I was surprised I was able to fit 8 shirts into the medium sized one. I am fairly certain I could fit all my shorts, swimsuits in the other medium sized one, socks and stuff in the small one, and the large one for 1 or 2 pair of slacks, 2 dress shirts, 2 ties for formal night. Without trying it, I think I may be able to squeeze the pillow, shoes, and medical kit into it as well. I am much less concerned about space now. I think we will still plan to bring 4 rolling duffel bags anyway. I don't really have to lug them around, it will give space for souvenirs, and 4 of them stacked on top of each other don't even go to 12" high. I am not sure of the bed clearance, but I am sure it is at least 3-4". With that being the case, each one slides under and out of the way for the week.

I use a Space Saver bag that can be rolled to remove the air. Got it at Walmart. I use it every time I travel. Same bag going on 7 years. It is truly wonderful. There are many of us with sever cervical issues that must use a certain pillow. The bag I use gets my pill to about 1/4 of its original size. No need for a vacuum at all.

 

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You have obviously thought this through, I’ll just add a few comments. I suspect you seldom wear two dress shirts or two ties at once. One of each is plenty. The shirt is easily washed in the sink as needed, if the tie gets stained, buy a new one In gaudy Island colors and celebrate your voyage. In general, 3-4 days of clothes are plenty for a 2-3 week trip. Ten minutes at night to do a laundry in the sink, an easy routine to get into.

In lieu of, or in addition to, packing cubes, use 2.5 gallon ziploc freezer bags. They take less room, when rolled up and zipped all the air is out, the clothes inside take ever so little room. And surprisingly the clothes don’t get wrinkled much.

I have mostly stopped wearing a jacket at dinner, packing one might mean I would need to go from a 23” to a 26-27” suitcase. When I do take one, I don’t pack it, I wear it on the plane, in the taxi, etc. Doable with a light weight tropical suit.

The ships we’ve been on have 4-5-6” or so clearance under the beds. Enough to easily accommodate an opened hard shell suitcase. Maybe even a closed one, but I leave mine open and use it as backup but readily accessible storage to supplement the provided drawers. 
One detail of your plan bothers me. Rolling duffel bags. Probably not something you will check with the porter at the pier. So you are hauling four duffles up the escalators and ramps and into the small elevators filled with dozens of others doing the same thing... I suggest hard shell (expanding) bags that can be checked. Stress-free beginnings to the cruise can be a real positive intro to a grand adventure. Luggage hassles and other nuisances can be a real downer.

My mother first traveled internationally in 1948, at the age of 27. She was a small town farm girl, doing a transatlantic voyage with my brother and me to meet up with my Dad then working in Northern Greece. She logged many road, sea and air miles and many countries over the next 50+ years. Her enduring packing advice: pack what you think you need. Then unpack, take it all out, leave half behind, instead take twice as much money. If you need something, buy it. If you don’t need it, be grateful that you are not lugging it along.

 

Stan

 

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On 5/31/2020 at 11:44 AM, bigrednole said:

Thank you. I thought about that, but I would need to find a vacuum at the hotel we are in the night before and on the cruise at the end. 

 

Container Store has vacuum seal bags that do not require a vacuum cleaner to seal! You compress the pillow/contents as you load it, pressing the air out. Initially it seems like a wrestling match, but after a time or two, you get the hang of it! Like you, my pillow is a must for me to survive vacation and this suppresses a regular pillow to a flat package about 3-4 inches tall. I swear by this.

 

 

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