First of all, break your cruise vacation into parts or activities to make planning your packing easier. An example for a Caribbean cruise may be:
1. Travel to the cruise port.
2. Embarkation day.
3. Morning exercise
4. Afternoon sunbathing and pool
5. Evening dining and entertainment
6. Shore excursions
7. Formal night
8. Disembarkation and travel home
Let’s break these down into the items required for packing for your cruise
1. How to pack for your travel to the cruise port
Whether you are driving or flying to the cruise port, there are a few items you should have. First and foremost – keep all medications with you as carry-ons. Even if you will not require them until the next day, it’s important that you have them with you. Remember, “Stuff Happens”. Luggage has been known to go astray and it could be days before you see it again. With long waits at the airport, you may wish to have some reading materials or other activities to help the time pass. Make sure that you identify what you can and can’t carry on to an airplane. No nail files or other sharp objects etc. These can be placed in your checked luggage. Make sure that you have your transfer voucher from the airport to the ship with you as well so you won’t be scrambling to find them at the last minute. Also have your cruise tickets readily available. You wouldn’t want to have to tear apart your luggage in the cruise terminal to find your tickets.
2. How to pack for Embarkation
Again, all meds should be carried on – not in checked luggage. Make sure that you have a change of clothes with you as carry-ons. This may seem strange. Cruise passengers may not receive their luggage until late in the day of embarkation. Your checked luggage is delivered right to your stateroom. With as many as three thousand passengers all having one or two bags, that’s a lot of luggage to deliver! ( On one cruise, we went on board around 1:00 and didn’t receive the last of our luggage until about 7:00 that evening.) So, if you have left a cold climate to arrive at the airport and then directly to the cruise ship, you may want to put on some lighter clothing when you get on board.
3. How to pack for morning exercise
Only you can suggest what you might like here. Perhaps work-out shoes and clothing, weight lifting gloves, etc. The trick here is to make it light. If you are a walker or jogger, you may wish to have some cool clothing for the track on deck. Some cruise ships have athletic activities like basketball, volleyball and golf. Some consideration for these activities is recommended as well.
4. How to pack for the cruise afternoons on board ship
Sunbathing is one of the main activities in the sun on board cruise ships. Ample deck chairs are available on various decks and around the pools. You will want your bathing suits and cover-ups or other tanning attire. Suntan lotion is a must – the last thing you want is a painful sunburn to hamper your fun-in-the-sun cruise! A sun hat is advisable as well. A general requirement for your cruise vacation is a couple of pairs of comfortable shoes. You will do a good deal of walking while on board ship so you won’t want to be breaking in any fancy new shoes here! There are some special activities available on some cruise ships – ice skating, rock climbing etc. Check out your specific cruise ship to see if there are activities that you would like to plan for. For the most part, cruising attire is casual during the day. That means COMFORTABLE! After all, you are on vacation!
5. How to pack for evening dining and entertainment
Evenings on board ship have an atmosphere of casual elegance. Dress casual should be the attire of choice. The main dining rooms on board most cruise ships exude elegance after dark (or at dusk depending on your seating time). Scrumptious culinary fare will tempt you at every seating so add comfortable to the dress casual. You will be thankful for clothing that is not too tight. (You can work off the calories when you get home!) Many cruise ships offer fantastic evening entertainment. Las Vegas-style shows, Broadway-style skits, karaoke, piano bars, discos, and dancing will all add to your cruise ship experience. And of course the Casinos! Excitement on the high seas! Keep these activities all in mind when planning your packing list.
6. How to pack for shore excursions
Shore excursions are sometimes forgotten about when planning your packing list. This could be tragic. Forgetting the camera and missing the once in a lifetime shot of swimming with the dolphins. What about the binoculars if you are going to be sightseeing from high places or along the coast? Good walking shoes are a must here as well because many shore excursions will include some or a lot of walking. Think shopping. What would you need to be wearing if you are going power-shopping for a few hours? Shore time also means beach time. Many excursions offer snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, para-sailing and many other types of water activities. Make sure you plan for these on your packing list.
7. How to pack for Formal Night
I know guys – the dreaded Formal Night! The agony and the ecstasy. Agony for men and ecstasy for women! Formal nights on the cruise ship truly are elegant. Ladies in long flowing gowns and men in their best tuxedos. All right, not all are dressed-to-the-nines like that. However, jackets and ties for men are the norm. Dresses and pantsuits are common for the ladies. Ladies, keep in mind that you are on a moving ship so be careful about high and spike heels. If you choose casual dining on formal nights, there are casual dining alternates for you.
8. How to pack for disembarkation and travel home
Your cruise is over and you have been called to disembark the ship. Some will be ready to leave and get to work for a rest while others will be reluctant to leave. Again, it’s always wise to keep your medications with you. And don’t forget to put all sharp items is checked luggage so there is no hassle at the airport. Short of that, it’s a matter of throwing everything into the bags and zipping them up.