With the cruising industry soon returning to full capacity, the excitement of taking to the high seas can’t be greater. The cruise line advertisements are out in full force. From Royal Caribbean, to Disney, to Celebrity, and MSC, they’re all once again calling travelers of all walks of life. Yes, a cruise vacation is the greatest way to explore the world in a week, or even two! With all the excitement reaching its boiling point, the questions are numerous. What time should guests arrive at the terminal? When will staterooms be ready? What is the best way to get to a certain port city? These questions are all valid. The one big question that must be answered ahead of the others is that regarding packing for a cruise. Packing for a cruise vacation is unlike any other vacation experience. There is a wealth of information to commit to memory. To make packing for a cruise easy as pie, here are the top 5 essentials.

5. Formal wear: This question has a two part answer. Every cruise line features a unique onboard formal experience. Cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, MSC, and Cunard have formal nights. A sports jacket, tie, dress pants, or even a tuxedo are required to be worn. Women should pack formal outfits that best compliment the men. Men should pack comfortable dress shoes, while women are welcome to pack more than 100 pairs of shoes. Norwegian Cruise Line, a freestyle cruise line, doesn’t have a formal night. A buttoned shirt or polo shirt works best for the men, while women can wear something simple-yet comfortable. When it comes to formal nights, comfort is the name of the game.

4. Sleeping wear: This is a tricky question! However, it’s not so tricky. Everyone has their own sleeping habits. From wearing sleeping pants, to sleeping shorts, to night shirts, to well-nothing at all, sleeping is a department on to itself. Guests should take into consideration the fact that there will be sea days, and being surrounded by nothing but blue ocean all around. Simply, there is nothing like feeling the ocean breeze. Guests should pack however they wish to experience the warm weather at sea. Further, while at ports-of-call, humidity should be expected. So, dressing comfortably for bed is key. The same goes for lounging outside on the verandah (balcony)! Regarding sleeping wear, it is vital for cruisers to be dressed appropriately while in port. During high season, multiple ships can be tied up across from one another. So, if guests don’t mind checking each out and complementing each other while in port, that’s their prerogative.

3. Street clothes: This is a question that can be answered in a multitude of ways. On all cruises, guests should pack an acceptable amount of street clothes for everyday occasions. For sailing day, guests should be dressed for the weather. While waiting for luggage to be delivered to their stateroom, having a spare set of street clothes in their carry-on bags is among the essentials. Street clothes include a pair of comfortable casual shorts, t-shirt, jeans, socks, and sneakers. Among the essentials are junky clothing to be packed for shore excursions. Guests SHOULD NOT wear good clothing while on a nature hike, ATV adventure, or ziplining excursion. Many shore excursions are “rain or shine”. Upon returning to the ship, guests can give their dirty street clothes to their stateroom attendants for proper disposal. 6 to 8 pairs of undergarments, 6-8 pairs of socks, and at least 6 t-shirts will suffice. For longer cruises, guests should pack 5 extra pairs of each article of street clothing. Cruise ships also provide dry cleaning and laundry services, if needed.

2. Swimwear: Oh, is this a f-u-n question to answer! Of course, all cruise ships feature a wide array of pools, swim up bars, water slides, and onboard waterparks. Each and every cruise vessel outdoes another. Each and every cruise vessel features a unique twist on swimming pools. Despite all the onboard pool deck features and poolside activities, there’s a wide array of swimwear guests are known for wearing. Yes, thongs have been seen being worn! There are also adult/swingers cruises and clothing optional cruises. There’s a market for everything! For adult/swingers and clothing optional cruises, swimwear is out of the question. Well, is it? When is swimwear never among the essentials? When not on pool deck, coverups are required. Guests are required to be dressed appropriately in all onboard public areas. Public areas include casinos, dining rooms, buffet areas, onboard shops, and lounges. For all cruises, two sets of swimwear will suffice.

1. Comfortable footwear: On every cruise vacation, guests do plenty of walking. That’s for sure! It’s on every cruiser’s daily routine to do plenty of walking or jogging to burn off the buffet calories. Guests should not leave home without packing a comfortable pair of footwear. Whether onboard or on shore, wearing the proper footwear makes a big difference. No one should have to bear the excruciating pain and discomfort from wearing the wrong footwear. No formal night should be experienced without comfortable footwear. No day on the pool deck should be experienced without comfortable footwear. Further, all shore excursions cannot be experienced without wearing comfortable footwear. As said before, comfort is the name of the game.

Aside from the packing essentials, there is one matter that guests need to be made well-aware of. It’s not just knowing what to pack, but what should not be packed. What should guests keep off their packing lists? Items that are considered a threat to the safety of fellow guests and crew are strictly prohibited. Dangerous items include bows and arrows, martial arts gear (i.e. num-chuks), scissors (over 4 inches in length), and cork screws. Guests are allowed to pack two bottles of wine or champagne, or one of each. Note: The bottles must have screw caps, hence cork screws being considered weapons. Hairdryers, clothing irons, and curling irons are also prohibited. Stateroom attendants will be happy to provide these items upon request.

Step by step, day by day, month by month, the cruising industry is returning to action. By early Spring 2022, all ships industry-wide will be back in service. With this being said, more and more people are looking forward to returning to the high seas. Along with the increasing capacity comes the increasing volume of luggage. What good are twelve thousand pieces of luggage without knowing what should and should not be packed? For all cruises, themed charter or not, guests should follow the packing tips as shared above. Guests should pack the proper quantity of street clothes for all occasions onboard. From formal wear, to sleeping gear, to swimwear, packing for a cruise vacation is not as complicated as most travel experts say. Remembering the essentials should never be a challenge. As long as a routine is followed, cruising should be as second nature as 1-2-3.

About Author

David Kriso has been a travel writer since August 2011. He is a contributing writer for both of his hometown's newspapers, The Gazette, and The Observer. His articles focus on cruise and railroad travel. David is also published online at ProwsEdge.com, a cruise magazine based in Vancouver, Canada and at Amtrak's story site, Whistlestop.Amtrak.com. David also writes for the publication Examiner.com. On Examiner.com, he writes about cruise and rail travel. David is a long-time train traveler, avid cruiser, and a Disney traveler since age 4.

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