Packing For Your Trip

What to Pack for vacation.

Deciding what to pack for your vacation is a personal choice....

The length of your cruise, expected weather, degree of formality, and your own taste should help you to generate a suitable packing strategy. We hope you'll use this list as a starting point, and not a rigid document.

As the old adage goes.... "When packing for a cruise, pack as you think you'll need it and then take half of it'll be right on the mark then".

Your Handy Packing List

Essentials (Packed in carry-on bag)

  • Passport or Certified Birth Certificate (and an extra copy of above)
  • Cruise Documents
  • Air Tickets
  • List of credit cards/tel numbers (in case of loss or theft)
  • Credit Cards
  • Wireless Telephone (will not work in foreign areas but in port and prior to departure it may become handy!)
  • Eyeglasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Medicines and prescriptions (in original containers)
  • Cash (Small bills, especially)
  • Travelers Checks (if desired)
  • Telephone Number of Cruise Agent (toll-free and direct)
  • Important Telephone Numbers
  • E-mail Addresses
  • Telephone Credit Card
  • Jewelry/Valuables (as few as possible)
  • Sun Screen
  • Headache medication
  • Motion medication (we suggest an over the counter called Bonine: It does not make you drowsy as Dramamine may!)
  • Medication for stomach disorders
  • Light first aid supplies
  • Set of casual clothing/underwear
  • Swim suit

Luggage (per person)

  • One Medium-Large Suitcase w/ tag
  • One Carry-on Bag (meets aircraft requirements)
  • One folding bag for laundry, purchases and extra room for homeward trip (can double as backpack/beach bag)
  • Baggage Strap (for hard-side luggage to preclude opening during handling)

Clothing (Based on 7-night Caribbean Cruise)

  • One-Two sets of formal clothing
  • One set of informal clothing
  • Additional ties/shirts for men
  • Casual clothing for casual nights in dining room
  • Comfortable shorts/slacks for daytime wear, depending on season/temp
  • Swim suit (2-3 if planning extensive water-related activities)
  • Cover-up for travel from pool/beach (remember, ships are air-conditioned)
  • T-shirts (plan to buy a few of these)
  • Gym clothes for running/workouts
  • Light Sweater (for air conditioning)
  • Hat (could also be purchased)
  • Underwear
  • Robe (optional)


  • Formal Shoes (appropriate for formal wear)
  • Nice casual shoes for ship wear
  • Sneakers/Running Shoes for ship/shore
  • Beach footwear (sandals/flip-flops)
  • Water Shoes (Optional)


  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo (your brand in small plastic bottle)
  • Deodorant
  • Body Powder
  • Hair Brush/Comb
  • Skin Lotion/body lotion/sunscreen
  • Makeup Case/Bag
  • Umbrella
  • Small duffel bag or backpack
  • Light Sewing Kit
  • Flash Light (small)

Optional Items

  • Short extension cord with multi-plug (for various uses)
  • Business Cards (who knows?)
  • Pen/Highlighter
  • Hair dryer
  • Batteries
  • Portable reading light
  • Alarm Clock
  • Plug-in Night Light
  • Beach bag
  • Water Bottle
  • Snorkeling Gear
  • Other sports gear
  • Binoculars
  • GPS (for the super-techies!)
  • Portable iron or steamer (Steamers are great and you can steam it right on the hanger!)
  • Book(s) for recreational reading
  • Guide books for ports of call
  • Radio communications devices
  • Photography Equipment / Lenses (if necessary) / Lens hoods
  • Outdoor film (ASA 100 or lower)
  • Indoor film (ASA 400 or higher)
  • Panoramic Camera (disposable)
  • Underwater Camera (disposable)
  • Flash Attachments
  • Filters (if necessary)
  • Extra Batteries
  • Digital Camera
  • Disks/Memory Modules
  • Cables (depends on camera)
  • Laptop for image storage/display (?)
  • Extra Batteries

Observations from a True Travel Fan!

Packing Tips For Cruises

Always ask your cruise agent about any specific idiosyncrasies for your particular ship. Some ships have special requirements that may affect your packing plan....

Although you can purchase many items on ship or in cruise ports, you'll often pay a heavy premium, and may not find exactly what you need. For example, film for your camera will cost significantly more once you leave home, and you may not find the size or speed you require.

Try to pack clothing that is re-usable on the cruise. For example, a men's blazer may be used on a formal night if packaged with the proper shirt/tie. The same blazer can be used with an open-neck shirt or a less-formal shirt and tie for an informal night. A formal skirt can be mixed with different blouses and/or jackets for varying effects.

Formal nights are not necessarily extremely formal. Some passengers, who enjoying dressing up, will go full tilt with tuxedo's, long gowns, etc. On most seven-night cruises this is not necessary. The majority of men wear a suit or blazer with white shirt and conservative tie on formal nights. Many women wear cocktail dresses, fancy dresses, or suits. If you think of getting dressed for a nice wedding, you won't go wrong. Young boys can wear nice slacks with a shirt and a tie. The more expensive the ship, the more likely that formal wear will be worn.

Many ships have self-serve laundry and ironing facilities in addition to the available washing and/or dry cleaning. Some times it makes sense to do a load or two during the cruise rather than pack enough of everything for your entire trip.

It's quite possible to avoid getting dressed up during a cruise. How? Simply plan to eat your evening meal in the Lido restaurant during formal nights, or have room service that night. You can even have a snack and a nap at dinnertime, and enjoy the midnight buffet in casual attire. If you're interested in a totally casual cruise, ask your cruise agent how the line you've chosen handles casual evening meals. By the way, Lobster tails are commonly served on one of the formal nights. If that's important to you, ask your waiter which night the lobster will be served. The dining room experience adds a lot to your overall experience so its worth putting forth the effort to dress for a wonderful dining experience.

If you choose to travel with expensive jewelry, use the purser's safe when you're not wearing it. Although room safes are available on many ships, only valuables locked up in the purser's safe are covered under the ship's insurance (check you cruise contract, usually supplied with your cruise documents). Frankly, we'd recommend leaving your very expensive and/or priceless jewelry at home, or in your bank's safe deposit box.

If you're planning to buy t-shirts, hats, etc. on the ship or ports of call, why not wear them on your cruise? You'll cut down on the amount of clothing you'll bring, and you'll not need to plan for extra space on your trip home.

If you under-pack (unlikely), you can often purchase additional clothing during the cruise.

In the tropics, use light cotton clothing as often as possible. You'll be cooler and more comfortable.

Plan your carry-on load carefully. A larger carry-on bag (within airline carry-on requirements) is useful so that you can comfortably carry a change of clothing. Keep your carry-on bag safe when you're in the airport. Never leave it unattended. Carry all documents, medicines, essentials and valuables with you in your carry-on. If your main article of luggage is lost/misplaced, can you exist with what you're carrying?

Do not plan to find space for a hang-up bag on an aircraft. Better to carefully pack your clothing in a suitcase than to jam it into an overhead compartment....

More Packing Tips

Instead of bringing full-size toiletries, like a full bottle of shampoo, save or purchase smaller plastic bottles and bring only what you need. Try sealing plastic bottles in zip-lock bags for added protection. The cruise line in many cases can also can provide with minor things like shampoo, etc. if you forget something.

There are several reasons to bring your wireless telephone with you on the cruise. 1) If you run into delays, you can call your cruise agent, airline, limo service, etc. without standing in line for a telephone. 2) You can use your telephone on the ship before it departs, and while it is still close to land. 3) You can make calls on the day you return. A wireless phone is great for calling a cab or a ride from home, or making arrangements with friends who are already ashore. 4) Many ports have wireless service so that you can make calls directly without finding a phone booth. Wireless rates are usually much less than the ship's satellite rates. Some common cruising areas have surprisingly good coverage (The Bahamas, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Grand Cayman, to name a few). 5) You never know how a wireless phone will help you in transit should an emergency arise. It gives someone else the ability to call you, which is sometimes invaluable.

Since many ships have e-mail and internet capabilities, you may wish to bring along a list of important e-mail addresses and web site URL's. Although this can get expensive, you might find it worthwhile, particularly if you keep close track of an investment portfolio. If you feel like you will use the internet a package of minutes can be purchased for your cruise and this offers savings over the regular per minute rate.

If you really depend on a hair dryer, plan to bring your own. Even if the ship provides them, you may not find them to be powerful enough to handle your needs, particularly if you have long or heavy hair.

A pair of personal communications devices (as kids, we used to call these walkie-talkies) is useful in keeping track of your traveling companions on the ship. As ships become larger, it becomes more difficult to keep track of one another. This is a perfect tool for young teenagers...... (check your battery supply!)

A few emergency items are useful, particularly the flash light. It's nice to know that you have an extra light for your room, and it could come in
very handy should your ship develop some temporary generator malfunctions.

Most cruise lines do not permit you to carry alcohol on board due to customs regulations. Although this is a commonly broken rule, you should be aware that you'll probably be stopped if you try to blatantly carry on a case of beer (or a case of scotch, chardonnay or champagne, for that matter!)

So who's ready to go? I'm all packed!