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19 NOV 2022

Pack For Your Cruise Like a Pro 

by: Rob Keen | posted in: Project Expedition, Travel

By Cori Pulvirenti

Whether you are a first time cruiser or a veteran of the seas, the rules are the same when it comes to packing for your voyage. 

Packing for a trip on the open seas is all about balancing the limited space of a stateroom, with the essentials you'll need to ensure you are prepared for everything you will experience. To ensure your trip is smooth sailing and packed with exciting and fun-filled experiences, follow these guidelines and pack like a pro! 

  1. Check your luggage allowance and laundry amenities, and don’t overpack! 

The luggage allowance may be generous on most cruise ships, but the space in your stateroom certainly is not. It is important to remember that cruise cabins are generally much smaller than hotel rooms and space to store your luggage may be limited. Many ships also have self-service washing machines and tumble dryers, which can make it easier to pack less (if you want to do laundry on vacation!).. 

  1. Pack everything you need for the first day in a carry on bag. 

When you check in for your cruise, you will also check in your large luggage pieces to go through security before being delivered to your stateroom. With the volume of bags to be checked and delivered to each and every guest, your luggage may not arrive to you until the evening on the first day. In your carry on bag, be sure to pack everything you might need, including a change of clothes and essentials like sunscreen and sunglasses. 

  1. Split your clothes between your luggage and invest in a luggage tracker. 

If you’re flying into your port of embarkation and your luggage goes missing, there’s a chance that you may not get it back before your cruise departs. If you are bringing more than one large suitcase per person, or even per group, it is advisable to split your clothing essentials between them so that you still have some of your stuff if a bag goes missing. A luggage tracker is also a great way to keep your eyes on your bags not only during air travel but also during the screening and delivery process on the ship. 

  1. Bring items to organize your stateroom once you unpack

Given that you will be working with limited space within your stateroom, it is key that you optimize the space. A few hacks for this include magnetic hooks to stick to metal walls (common on cruise ships) for hanging jackets, small bags, wet bathing suits, etc. You can also invest in hanging toiletry bags and over-the-door organizers for shoes, small bags, and any other items you may need to store for easy access. 

  1. Get a cruise card lanyard 

Your cruise card (or fob) is your key to everything on board, so having easy access to it all the time is essential. You’ll use it to access your room, pay for drinks at the bar and also to check into venues on the ship. If you don’t have pockets or a bag in every outfit, you may find yourself constantly searching for it, or risk misplacing it. A lanyard is the easiest way to keep your cruise card easily accessible both on the cruise and as you get off the ship at a cruise port.

  1. Pack all the essentials for a great day off the ship! 

Many of the shore excursions that you can do off of cruise ships require that you have clothing/gear that you may not need on ship. With options ranging from beach/ocean activities to touring cities or taking part in an active adventure tour, you'll want to pack the items you need to ensure that you will be able to take part in it all! 

For your excursions off the ship, it is generally advised to bring comfortable walking shoes, a reusable water bottle, packable hats and jackets, lightweight backpack/small bag, portable electronics charger, and even a small cooling towel/fan for hot days. 

On beachy cruises, you’ll want a beach bag, water shoes or flip flops to change into, and perhaps your own snorkeling gear. A waterproof packing bag is helpful to keep a change of clothes, electronics, and your passports dry on those boating and snorkeling tours! 

For Alaskan cruises you may also want to consider binoculars, a DSLR camera, and good hiking boots for the numerous adventure tour options available to cruisers. 

Wherever you're stopping along the way, it is best to research the areas and activities offered in advance so you can be sure to bring along the right gear! Tools like Project Expedition’s Shore Excursions platform make this super easy to do! 

  1. Leave your bulky beach towels at home

Your cruise ship will provide you both regular towels to use in the bathroom and larger towels to use by the pool. You may also be permitted to bring the larger beach/pool towels  ashore with you so there is no need to pack your own for the trip or your excursions which will be a big space saver for you! If you don't want to carry around a large beach towel off the ship, a packable beach sheet is a good alternative. 

  1. Bring a basic wristwatch 

Today most people rely on their cellphone to check the time. While this is a reliable tool the battery life can be extremely limited, especially if you are using it for directions while in port. Carrying a cheap wristwatch with a fresh battery ensures you will always have the time when you are off the ship and need to make sure that you get back on board by a certain time. Just be sure to be aware of any differences between “ship times” and “port time”! 

  1. Bring cash for tips and port stops

While most things are paid for by card these days, it is recommended to bring cash, particularly small bills, for tipping porters/bartenders and purchasing small souvenirs and other items in port. Depending on your ship's itinerary, you might want to exchange for some foreign currency in advance (though you can also use an ATM once you arrive in port but additional fees may apply). If you do plan to use a credit card, it is advisable to bring one that does not charge foreign transaction fees, so you don’t spend more than you need to while abroad.

If you plan on doing a lot of shopping off the ship while in port, take a foldable duffel that can be packed into your larger luggage at first and then fill it up with souvenirs and duty free items for the way home. 

  1. Leave prohibited items at home 

From certain alcoholic beverages, to extension cables and clothing irons, there are a lot of things that you might not be able to bring on your cruise. If you bring any prohibited items, they’ll be confiscated and you may not get them back. Sneaking any of these items on a cruise ship could even lead to you being prohibited from boarding the ship, so it’s not worth the risk.