What to pack for a cruise?
It all depends where you go and what season and length of cruise you have chosen. Obviously if there is a particular climate that you will be going to – either hot or cold or even both, you do need appropriate gear, clothes and shoes for the area, but remember to choose clothes that allow you to dress in layers- this way you win over every weather condition. If you are planning on going to tours, you need to get comfy shoes and a small umbrella or a rain poncho and if you are one for water sports – bring your snorkeling or dive gear, unless you want to use the ones offered onboard.
There are usually one, two or more formal nights planned during the cruise and while attending any special venues or activities in formalwear is no longer enforced by most cruise lines, it would be wise to inquire ahead of time and bring a couple of nice dresses or smart casual clothes. If you don’t feel like carrying a formal gown, tuxedo or a suit, these are available for rent onboard. They do come handy if you happen to loose your luggage as well:-)
Do bring your medication and never carry it in the luggage you check in- it has to be in your carry-on, pockets or a purse- you really don’t want to risk loosing it.
Bring your book, camera, phone and headphones- cruising will give you the opportunity to relax, capture nice moments or chat online with your friends.
If you travel with a baby, bring enough diapers and baby food- these are not available onboard and if you have special needs, contact the cruise line directly ahead of time for special arrangements. While no pets are allowed onboard most cruise lines, special care dogs are permitted.
Don’t overpack. Especially if you are flying- research what the airline restrictions are. Get space bags and try to pack compactly. Don’t forget to leave some room for all the souvenirs and extra shopping you will do onboard and in the ports of call.
Don’t bring guns, weapons, drugs, alcohol or any other restricted items- they will be confiscated and you possibly arrested (check the website of the cruise line to familiarize yourself with what is considered a restricted item). If you want to bring water, many cruise lines will take it away and return to you upon departure- lots of people try to smuggle alcohol in baby-bottles, shampoo containers and what not- security will have none of it. Don’t be tempted to buy any of the above in a port-of-call and bring onboard either- it never works and you may be kicked out of the ship and/or arrested by the local authorities to be prosecuted in the respective country or detained and consequently deported back home at your own expense. You really do not want to find yourself in a jail cell in a 3rd world country…
Do not bring unnecessary items like an iron (these are strictly forbidden), a hair-dryer (available in each room), TVs and mini-fridges (also available), bikes (no room for then and can not be secured in any room on a moving ship, unless they are foldable and you can store safely in the closet or under the bed), too much cash. Some items may appear suspicious when screened by Security and as a result your luggage kept until you show up and the bag in question opened in front of a few people. So, be careful with items you may be embarrassed about or if you are not, just be prepared to show and prove they are not dangerous.
Do bring: high heels (if you want to dress to impress:-), sneakers (if you like to work out or want to be comfy onboard and ashore), your favorite pillow (if you need a special pillow- the choice onboard is limited), your hair tools- curling iron, brushes, etc, your own toiletries if you are allergic to some cosmetics, a razor and file/nail-clippers, sunscreen (even if you are going to the North Pole), and if you are sensitive to motion- seasick devices (bracelets or back of the ear stickers, note pills are available onboard), Melatonin (if you are suffering from jet lag), several means of payment- may be a couple of credit/debit cards, some cash (but not too much, there are ATMs onboard that can even dispense foreign currency, as well as ashore), may be a cashier’s or travelers’ checks.
Last but not least, do bring your biggest SMILE- after all you will be having an excellent time, you want to board the ship with the right attitude!
Finally, when leaving, please take everything with you! I have had some of the best laughs going through Lost and Found items- amongst my favorites are : a glass eye, a prosthetic leg, dentures (hundreds of them), a child and a sex toy…:-)