How to Pack Smart for a 7-Day Cruise
*Updated October 2016*
I'm so excited to be embarking on another cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line in a few short days. Originally this post was written before leaving on my last cruise, almost two years ago now. After that trip, I quickly caught on to the fact that cruising has changed drastically over the years. When I cruised with my family in middle school and high school, everything was so elegant, formal, and elevated. My 2015 embarkation taught me that the sailing lifestyle is so much more laid back now and therefore what you pack in your suitcase can be too. From this point on, I've made some small edits to my previous advice to better suit cruising nowadays.
You guys, packing for a cruise is no simple feat. Chances are you'll feel obligated to bring everything you own since the variety of cruising activities are so vast! Since bringing your entire wardrobe isn't an option (and because I'm a seasoned sailor), I thought it'd be helpful to put together a post of tips and tricks I've discovered that make the task of cruise-packing a little simpler for us gals.
- Let's begin with shoes shall we? Here's what I think you could reasonably get by with. One to two pairs of heels or dress shoes for dinners. One to two pairs of sandals or flip flops for beach and pool time. One pair of tennis shoes (most ships have a gym and/or running track and tennies are best for hiking or ATV excursions as well). If you're practical this is absolutely reasonable….if you tend to like options, like me, and find a little bit of wiggle room in your suitcase you might end up with more than that - do as I say not as I do ;)
- Next let's talk bags. The nice thing about being on a ship for 7 days is that you really don't need to carry much with you. If you ever need something you can always just run down to your room and grab it! There are 3 types of bags that I'd suggest bringing along (depending on your excursions). The first bag is a clutch. Realistically all you need to carry around on the ship is your room key which doubles as a credit card, maybe a lip color, and a camera. I'll have my phone with me this time around, but if you're not a digital influencer you won't even want to have your phone with you because there's no wifi or reception ;) For excursions I highly recommend having a backpack with you to hold your sunscreen, water bottles, snacks, or what ever else you might need during your activity. The third and final bag would be some sort of beach or pool bag to put towels, a book, sunscreen, etc. in when you're on the pool deck or off the ship on a beach.
- On to your every day clothes. I won't tell you specific amounts of what to bring here, but these are some things you should plan for. Clothes/swimsuits/coverups for hanging by the pool, clothes for hanging in a lounge or casino, and pajamas of some sort - okay duh. In addition, most cruises have a few "themed parties" throughout the week. If that's something you're interested in be sure to check your itinerary before you leave to pack for these accordingly. Also, if you like to explore the ship later at night it can definitely get chilly up on the deck. Be sure to have one pair of jeans and versatile jacket or sweatshirt.
- Dinner outfits…my favorite! Here's what you should know. Your cruise will have a dress code for every evening at dinner. You can make what you want of these. On formal nights people used to go all out - think gowns and tuxes, but now a simple dress and heels will do for every night. Don't feel obligated to get fancy if you don't feel comfortable, but still think more elevated than jeans. I'm bringing a few maxis, a few slip dresses, and 2 rompers which I will pair with heels each night.
Other than the obvious things like swimsuits, intimates, and socks with your sneakers I think that about covers it for clothing.
Here are some other things to consider:
- Bring your own wine. The only alcoholic beverages you're allowed to bring on board with you are wine and champagne and it will likely be cheaper if you do. We picked up 2 bottles of Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe's and will then pay a corking fee of $15 when we get on the ship. So we're averaging $18 a bottle rather than $30+ that you'd spend for a bottle that they are selling on board.
- Downy wrinkle Releaser. I'll start by saying, this is not an ad. We swear by this stuff for traveling. Your room will not have an ironing board and especially for dinners you'll want to look presentable. With the wrinkle releaser you just spray it all over your wrinkled clothing and shake it out. Once it dries the wrinkles are gone. I actually use this stuff in everyday life as well, much easier than ironing - or maybe I'm just lazy. A hand-held steamer is a great option too.
- Pack a swimsuit in your carry-on. This is because there can be a delay in receiving your luggage once you get checked in and board the ship. It could even take right up to dinner that first night before your things get to your room. In this case you would want to have your suit with you so you can still change & enjoy the pool!
- Bring medicine, sunscreen, and aloe vera with you. And make sure you have enough of it! These are things that you will not want to purchase on the ship because they will be much more costly on board.
I so hope this post is helpful for you cruisers! I'm sure I will think of a million other helpful tips as soon as I hit publish (and if I do I'll come back and edit them in)! Otherwise, bon voyage!