Friday, 28 September 2018

Packing lightly for a cruise

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Packing light for a cruise holiday vacation

When it comes to packing for a cruise, it's difficult to think how to pack lightly. With different dress codes to cater for, as well as days out and activities, you need lots of clothes. Alongside the very generous luggage limits (if there even is one!) and plenty of people to help carry your bags for you, it's very tempting to over pack. But if you can limit what you take on board there are many advantages - lots more space in your stateroom for a start!

Another big advantage is the flexibility to disembark when you choose. Generally on a cruise you will leave your suitcase outside your room on your last evening, and it will be waiting for you in the terminal at a specified time the next morning. We prefer to work to our own timetable and walk our luggage off ourselves in the morning when we leave, meaning that we need to be easily able to manage our own luggage.

Finally, for me the main reason that I like to pack lightly is because I find it far less stressful. You don't need to worry about what to wear if you only have a limited selection to choose from, and you are able to stow everything away tidily and not be tripping over things all the time.

So here are some tips for minimising your luggage if you are packing for a cruise:

It's tempting to take plenty of clothes, especially if you want to dress for dinner each night. I try to limit myself to one pair of formal shoes and one pair of smart yet comfy shoes that I can change into after dinner. I don't take a dress for each night, instead I recycle a couple of them - I generally only wear the dress for dinner so they don't get that dirty, and I'm sure no-one notices me wearing the same one again.

If you are on a longer cruise, or the cruise is part of an extended holiday, you may need to wash clothes while you are away. There will likely be a pull out washing line in the bathroom for drying. Many ships have self service laundry facilities on board, or if your budget stretches you can have your washing done for you. Once when we were on a two week cruise with Royal Caribbean there was a special offer for laundry at some point during the cruise which we took advantage of - such a treat to have the washing delivered back all clean and ironed!

You don't need to take towels - there will be plenty in your stateroom and for the pool. If you are cruising to a beach destination you are usually allowed to take the pool towels off the ship with you rather than having to take your own, although do check this with your cruise line. There will also be plenty of toiletries provided. For toiletries of your own that you want to take, decant them into smaller containers to save weight and space.

A good investment for travelling with electronics is a USB Charging Station (affiliate link). This allows you to charge many devices from just the one socket - really useful as there many not be many sockets in your stateroom and means that you can just take the cables and not the plugs. Check also which adaptor plugs you may need as they do vary - in our experience we've found both US and European (not UK) sockets in the room.

You don't need to take your own food, unless it's needed for medical reasons or you have super fussy children. There will always be snacks available somewhere on board, and you can also take food from the buffet restaurants and snack bars to keep in your room for later. There will also be room service, either free or at a low cost. My only exception would be a few chewy bars or similar (any food you take onboard will probably have to be factory sealed in original packaging) to take out with you on port days if you don't plan on buying food off the ship.

If you have children, you don't need much in the way of toys. Check the facilities on your ship - some have a toy library service and others will have open play sessions for children. There isn't much room for toys in the room anyway, so if you need something to keep the children busy in the room books and sticker books are best, or card games for older children.

A few extra tips for cruise packing:

Once you have boarded the ship, you may not receive your main suitcases until early evening. So you need to make sure that you have everything that you need in your carry on luggage. This includes things like essential medication and favourite stuffed toys, but also anything that you may need to entertain yourself on that first afternoon, like swimwear or books.

I always split our clothes and toiletries between suitcases. It's unlikely, but still possible, that your suitcase doesn't make it on the ship, and as the first day of a cruise is often a sea day it could be difficult to get hold of suitable replacement items.

You can read some more tips for light travel here - Packing light for family travel - some tips

Do you have any more tips to add? Please leave them in the comments!

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