How to Pack for a CruiseHow to Pack for a Cruise

Cruising can be a wonderful vacation. And ships don’t charge for excess baggage. But you still want to be selective in packing, because airlines do charge for extra luggage and you will probably be taking a plane to get to the ship. You will also find limited storage space for clothes in your cabin, and it’s only polite to share it with your travel partner.

Here are our top tips for packing for your next cruise:


Depending on your destination, you may need to bring your Passport in addition to your ID. Make sure you have enough of your prescriptions to last you through the entire trip – packing a day or two of extra as a buffer. Keep these in an accessible pouch within your suitcase. Take a copy of your tickets and itinerary with your reservation numbers. If you booked your trip with a credit card, some locations may need to see your credit card when you show up for your trip. Always bring good tennis shoes and sandals with good traction – you will do more walking than you think you will! Bring your camera and an extra memory card just in case. If you burn easily, make sure you bring aloe vera in addition to sunscreen. Also, pack some Dramamine in case you become seasick.


Most cruises are pretty casual these days so you will need resort clothing or casual attire to pack for your cruise. Consider the climate of the area you will be going to as well. If going to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, you will need some warm clothes like a hat, jacket, socks and gloves. But if you are cruising the Caribbean, prepare for the humidity.

Shorts or slacks are fine for both men and women during the day. T-shirts, sport shirts, blouses and halter tops are all fine. But if you go to the dining room for dinner, more formal attire is required, especially for the Captain’s Dinner. Dressy business clothing is fine for men and women, but at the Captain’s Dinner, break out your best suit, cocktail dress or evening gown. Dressy slacks or skirts for women are suggested for women in the evening. If you or your travel companion prefer to skip dressing up formally, you can always take advantage of the dinner buffets. Many people like the flexibility of eating when they want to, making the buffet their preference.

Going Ashore

When you go ashore on excursions, you may want to dress more modestly than onboard. Slacks and casual tops are fine for prowling the shops, seeing the sights in town and meeting the natives. Bring a small backpack to fit your camera, cellphone, money, and light snacks and water bottle. Often passengers have no access to their staterooms for a couple of hours at a time.

Check with your cruise line

Your cruise line probably has some guidelines for what to pack. If you are one of those people who spend a lot of time in a swimsuit, you can pack even less. Some neutral colored slacks and shorts can be paired with different tops for variety. Don’t discount the possibility of washing out a favorite top in the sink or sending it to the laundry onboard.

You will want to pack a small bag with your favorite things for the time when you are first allowed onboard. Some smart travelers have their swimsuits in their bag, grab a towel from the deckhand and head for the pool or hot tub. The ondeck buffet will also be ready; if you are hungry, you can dive in.

You may prefer to have your vacation reading ready on your ereader or in paperback. There are plenty of chairs where you can read, play with your iPod, iPad or other electronic device. The casino may be open if you board in a country that allows gambling; otherwise, you will have to wait until the ship reaches the legal limit in the ocean.

There will be plenty of music, food, entertainment and new people to meet, so if you are well prepared, waiting for your stateroom will be no problem. Bon voyage!

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