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Packing for a cruise can seem like a daunting task. You want to make sure you take everything you need while not over-packing. It's a formula that cruisers all over the world attempt to master every year. But don't worry, after having been on 18 cruises, I'm going to share my formula with you so that you don't have to agonize over it.
The first item you want to make sure you have is…
I would only recommend luggage I adore and one comes in the form of the Away Bigger Carry On. Mom and I no longer each take our own separate carry-ons. We have consolidated into one smooth ride! The included charger is an added bonus and they guarantee their luggage for life! You can't beat that!
For checked-luggage, I typically carry American Tourister luggage. The last bag I purchased was in 2014 and the baggage handlers haven't been able to destroy it yet! I'd say that's quality luggage!
Next, I recommend you get packing cubes. They are essential to organizing and fitting everything in your luggage. I'm really not sure how I traveled without them! You'll be able to search for whatever you need without having to completely destroy your bag to find it. 🙂
This is super important. You must have your documents in order to board. You'd hate to get all the way to the cruise port only to be missing the very thing you need to start your vacation! I'm stressing just thinking about it for you! DON'T DO IT! Here's my recommendation:
- If your identification is not something you carry around with you every day (i.e. driver's license), throw them in your suitcase as soon as you decide to start your packing process.
- Print any necessary boarding documents at least one week before your trip and put them with something you plan to take. I print my documents as soon as I'm able and drop them in my carry-on.
- Check that you have your documents:
- After you have finalized your packing
- Before you leave the house for your trip
- If driving: before you pull out. If flying: before you check your bags.
Only you know what your personal essentials are, but I'll list a few:
Entertainment is more important now than ever. Before the time of portable entertainment, we'd all enjoy being unplugged. But now that we can take our entertainment with us, it's important that you remember to take everything you need to enjoy your portables. Be sure you have the following if it is part of your down-time routine:
- Phone – download all the apps and music you'll need
- Tablet – download all your books and movies
- Charging Station
- Charging cables
- Camera – if you're not using your phone
- Selfie stick – for the perfect selfie!
- Waterproof case for your phone
Before every cruise, Mom and I go sneaker shopping. Why? Because we want comfortable shoes to wear as we explore all the ports our ship will visit. There's nothing more comfortable than a fresh pair of sneakers! For us, that's Reebok walkers. Whatever is comfortable for all-day wear for you is what you should pack.
You'll also want at least one pair of flip-flops or sandals. I live in flip-flops on the ship and have them in every color, but you could probably do with just one black pair to match everything.
You'll need a pair of dress shoes for formal night if you plan to participate. You can't go wrong with a pair of black shoes to match whatever you're wearing, but if you want to coordinate, be sure that you can take one pair that will match both if you have more than one formal night.
You'll also need water shoes if you plan to do any snorkeling or other watersports while in port.
You may want to bring a little bling for your formal wear. I'm very conservative when it comes to jewelry, but even I take it up a notch on formal night. This includes:
I don't recommend taking your most expensive pieces with you. You'll do just fine with a few pieces of costume jewelry. And this is not because there are pirates at sea but because you wouldn't want to lose something so valuable on a cruise. While they have a lost and found and people have had success in retrieving lost or left-behind items, you don't want the stress of going through that process. You're on vacation! The whole point is to de-stress!
You'll also need a hat. It's really sunny most days in the Caribbean and you'll want something to protect you while out and about in port and also while catching rays at the beach or by the pool. I have discoid lupus, so it's really important that I wear hats while in the sun. I wear these cotton hats and I love them because they also have a UPF 50+ rating.
You'll want to carry a tote bag or backpack. I generally have a bag that I use to carry water and snacks off the ship. You can use the bag to put all your souvenirs in instead of having multiple shopping bags. You can bring this with you or make that your first purchase if you wanted one from the ship or a port of call.
And don't forget your sunglasses!
Choosing what to wear is often the hardest part. In the Caribbean, temperatures are generally in the high 80's to mid 90's in the summer and moderately cooler in the winter. Check the weather for the ports you'll visit to see what the average temperature is.
In general, I recommend one outfit per day for port days and a couple of lounging outfits. After a day out in the Caribbean heat, you may want to come back and shower.
Here's what you'll need:
- Underwear (I pack 2 per day, but you should pack no less than 1 per day + 50%)
- Tops (tank tops, t-shirts)
- Bottoms (long pants, shorts, and skirts)
- Bathing suits and coverups
- Women: Sundress, cocktail dress, formal dress
- Men: Collared shirt, button-up shirt, suit jacket
- Sweater or light jacket (It can get cool at night and on the ship)
- Poncho (in case of rain)
NOTE: DO NOT take any camouflage print clothing. This is illegal in some Caribbean countries.
Other things you should pack are:
- Money (cash and credit cards)
- Refillable water bottle
- Fanny pack or small purse
- Card games
To help you remember everything, I'm including this free printable packing list.
Did I miss anything? What do you normally pack for your Caribbean cruise?