Hopping on a cruise can be a great way to see the world. There’s something awesome to be said about waking up in a different location each day of your journey and to have new and exciting views to enjoy from on board without ever having to move a muscle. But while cruises may take away the burden of transportation on your relaxing break, a cruise holiday doesn’t differ from many others in the sense that you need to come prepared.
The captain has your route covered and the catering staff has your meals prepared, but if you’re going to set sail on a cruise holiday without packing smart, you could be in for a pretty frustrating time (not to mention a needlessly expensive one!). Like packing well for air travel, cruise life comes with its own set of tips and tricks that can help passengers get the most out of their well-earned break, and as long as you take each day of your trip into consideration, there’ll be no surprises when you get on board.
Whether you’re booked on a whirlwind weekend cruise or a longer stint out to sea, there are certain things that can make cruise life a breeze and keep things simple when you hit your ports of call along the way. If nothing else, taking a cruise should be an enjoyable and laidback experience, so before you head out on to your first ever voyage, don’t leave dry land without a few of these nifty packing hacks as seen on Pinterest!
First things first, make sure you have enough things in your hand luggage to keep you occupied until your main cases arrive. As when traveling by plane, it can be several hours before you're reunited with your main luggage after boarding your cruise ship, so if you need your laptop or can’t wait to sample the onboard pool asap, then you may want to pack all the stuff you’ll want to use right away.
Consider what it is you’ll need for the first half of the day while on board and pack accordingly. As well as keeping any important meds and travel documents handy, it might be reassuring to have things like your tablet, a book or music player handy to pass the time.
Much like hotel rooms, the rooms on a cruise ship don’t always provide much in the way of plug outlets, and when big families are traveling together, this tends to be a bit of a problem. To avoid daily fights about who gets to charge their phone first, you might want to keep the peace by taking a multi-power outlet on board with you.
If the traditional long power outlet proves too big for your suitcase, you could always consider the multi-outlet plug-in cubes instead. One cube will be able to charge 3 devices at once, so with at least 2 power outlets in your room, you can put an end to phone charging wars with the fam.
A great way to stay organized and on top of all the things you want to tick off on your cruise is to turn your cabin room door into a makeshift memo board! Stateroom doors on cruise ships are typically made from metal, so bring fridge magnets and plenty of ‘em!
Whether you’re cruising on business or for a family holiday, your stateroom door can be a great space for all your schedule and itinerary info. You could use the area to put up your event calendar during your stay or use it as a spot to hang your conference lanyard up at the end of the day – keeping the table clutter-free for work or your morning grooming station.
When it’s your first time on a cruise ship, it can be easy to forget about time zone changes, so if you’re going to be traveling by transpacific or transatlantic cruise, for example, it’s a good idea to pack a separate wristwatch to distinguish the “ship time” from the local time zone.
Boarding and departure times, as well as any activities and events on board, will be on ship time, so it’s a good idea to have a wristwatch separate from your phone clock to observe ship time. Most smartphones will automatically switch to the local time zone which can be confusing, so be sure to set a wristwatch too.
Cruising doesn’t always come cheap, and to cut the costs, most families traveling by cruise tend to opt for interior cabins on the ship without a view and therefore, without a window to bring in any natural light. Because of this, nighttime can mean a pitch black cabin room, which isn't such a big deal for adults but may be a little unsettling for small kids – which is why a night light can be your godsend.
Instead of keeping your room TV flickering all night or maxing out the battery on your phone light, it may be well worth getting a battery-powered night light. Many night lights on the market are in the shape of cute animals to help y=little ones feel even more at ease.
If you’re a fan of your caffeine hit on holiday then you might want to bring a travel mug with you for all those refills. Cruise ships have plenty of self-service tea and coffee machines on board, but if you require more than the traditional 5 ounces of coffee one of the styrofoam cups limit you to, then your own personal mug will come in handy.
To save yourself from making repeat trips to the machine and likely spilling some on the way, enjoy your cruise the way it was meant to be enjoyed – relaxed on deck with a bucket of tea or coffee without needing to move an inch. (Until you need the bathroom that is).
Many passengers are content with living out of their suitcase, especially on short trips, but if you’re booked for a lengthy stay at sea then anyway to make your room more efficient is bound to be a plus. It can also make unpacking and packing your clothes away much less tedious if you can spot where everything is - which is why a hanging storage organizer is your best bud on a cruise.
These collapsible fabric organizers can be folded away to the size of a small t-shirt in your luggage and can be assembled in next to no time to give you a little extra space in your cabin closet. Having a few extra cubby holes for towels and other belongings can make all the difference between a cozy, inviting room and a floordrobe!
If you’re traveling with a big family and may need to share bathroom space with more than 2 people, the more than ample space on the bathroom countertop suddenly doesn;t cut it anymore, and before you know it, you’re having to balance your fav shampoo and conditioner on the toilet seat just to have somewhere to put your stuff!
To save yourself and fellow guests from taking their toiletries in one at a time – heed our advice and buy the godsend of all warring families and sibling-shared bathrooms – a bathroom storage organizer. These can be picked up super cheap on Amazon and have multiple pockets for products, hairbrushes, towelettes and more. Trust us with this one – a week’s worth of hell avoided!
We may have almost gone completely digital nowadays but having a spare set of pens will always come in handy on your travels, especially when you're at sea for days. First of all, you may have some embarkation and debarkation forms to fill in and it always helps to have your own personal pen to avoid sharing with about 10 other passengers.
Mostly though, taking a few cheap but reliable pens on your cruise will always be of some benefit. If the notes app stops working on your phone or you find yourself wanting to doodle to pass the time (or entertain the kids if you forget their crayons!), then having a few pens handy is always a plus.
Just like the inside of an aircraft cabin, cruise ships can be a chilly place to be sometimes and whether or not you’re sailing around the Caribbean, it can get pretty windy up on deck, so you’ll be glad you packed that cozy jacket with you in your carry on luggage.
Since your main suitcases and luggage can take several hours to reach your stateroom, it’s a good idea to dress in layers the day you board. Even in the tropics, you’ll be thankful of having a cardigan or even thin scarf to wrap around you for a little extra comfort.
Not everyone gets seasick onboard, but if this is gonna be your first time on a cruise, it’s better to be safe than sorry where travel sickness is concerned. Even if you’re the type of traveler who isn’t phased by long car journeys or air travel, the ocean waves might affect you differently – and you don’t want to find that out too late!
To be on the safe side, be sure to take a mix of motion sickness medication with you. Since you may not know what works best for you, take some traditional travel sickness tablets and ginger pills as well as acupressure motion sickness wristbands.
If you’re scheduled to make stops ashore during your trip, it’s nice to feel like you can explore without being weighed down by heavy beach totes and backpacks. If you can bear to travel a little lighter on days out, keep things minimal with a dry pack. This is a waterproof bag to keep essentials like your room key card, phone and any cash dry and secure once you’re out and about.
Waterproof totes can have their uses for long days out, but for the odd excursion to the beach or out snorkeling, minimalist packing is the way to go. You can pick up these small phone sized dry packs for around $15 online. They float and you can wear them like a lanyard for extra peace of mind and hands-free beach roaming!
One of the most enjoyable parts of traveling by cruise ship is the great pool facilities and water parks on deck. Traveling with kids means you get to see a lot more of the latter, but the only drag about hitting the pool regularly is that your bathing suit can take forever to dry out.
To get back to swimming some lengths or relaxing in the hot tub again, take some clothes pegs with you to hang your swimsuits to dry in your bathroom. Alternatively, if you’re staying in a balcony cabin, you could also bring some stronger hair claw grips and attach your wet swimsuits to the back of your deck chair to dry in the breeze.
There’s no getting around it, cruise ships are noisy places. If it’s not the sound of the ship’s engines keeping you up at night, it could be the nightclub below deck or the teething baby in the next room from yours. Even if you’re lucky to book your cabin in a quiet area of the ship, it’s possible that you may encounter sounds of other passengers in the hallway and short of sound-proofing cabin walls, some noise is inevitable.
If you happen to be a light sleeper, therefore, don’t get on board without some decent earplugs. Passengers are packed in pretty tight to keep costs down so in an average priced cabin, you’re normally always 10 feet within another passenger. Pack earplugs just in case!
You’ve probably heard about the awesomeness that are packing cubes all over Pinterest and Youtube DIYs - and the hype is well deserved. Packing cubes essentially let you split your luggage contents into manageable chunks and thanks to the mesh see-through panels, you can see everything at a glance without having to rummage through layers of clothes and toiletries.
Old school packing used to mean throwing a whole heap of clothes behind you just to find your deeply buried toothbrush. Sound familiar? With packing bags coming in all shapes and sizes – ranging from small lingerie bags up to medium sizes for clothes and shoes – no rummaging required.
Cruises usually have some kind of theme party going on where passengers are invited to dress in costume for the night (and on Disney cruises, this is pretty much a regular sight!). But if you plan on attending a costume party on a whim, you may end up paying a steep on-board price to look the part.
To avoid paying a pretty penny in the cruise gift shop for your costumes, why not save a heap of cash and consider making your own? Creating your own costume party clothing can be a great way to get your kids even psyched up for the holiday, and save money aside for the framed piccy they’ll inevitably want with their Disney heroes or heroines!
Bathing suits and Hawaiian shorts fold up like a treat without looking badly creased once you unpack them, but how do you prevent formal clothing from heading to crease and crinkle city once you open your suitcase? Simple. All you really need is a standard sized belt and you’re good to go.
To keep crisp shirts and blazer collars in good condition upon your arrival, keep a rolled up belt inside the collar to help hold its shape. A long as the belt’s long enough to stay coiled up tight in the collar, it’ll help you look business conference ready and less as you slept in it the whole way.
Cruise ship staterooms normally provide guests with a small number of clothes hangers on the clothes rail during their stay, but you never know when you might need more. What about all that on board shopping you might be tempted by? Or about 5 summer dresses that take priority over casual tops and jeans?
Pack a few of your own and make sure they’re the thin wire type of hanger too. Traditional wooden hangers might be more delicate on your best clothes, but since one of them equals about 3 of the wire hangers in storage space, it’s worth the sacrifice.
For all our best efforts to keep them tightly sealed and upright, packing toiletries for a trip can sometimes result in a shampoo and toothpaste explosion once we meet our luggage again a few hours later. But there’s actually a very simple and cost-effective hack to ensuring your liquids and creams won’t get anywhere in your suitcase – good old saran wrap.
Simply take a small piece of saran wrap and place the film inside the screw cap of any product that could have the potential to get messy. Once you screw it on tight, your shampoo bottles will have twice the protected seal so hopefully – your best cocktail dress makes it out alive!
Taking your favorite items of jewelry when you travel usually means finding them in a tangled web once you arrive and who wants to be spending a half hour separating about 20 necklace chains form each other when the cocktail bar’s a-waiting downstairs? Never again.
If you take any bracelets and necklaces with you on your cruise, keep them separate and tangle-free by threading them through a straw first and clasping them shut. You could also consider taking smaller jewelry bits like earrings and other body studs in a pill box organizer. Put all that detangling time to better use at the bar and pool – combined!
Once you pull your suitcase or luggage bag out of storage for vacation, it can tend to smell a tad stale and fusty inside and if you’re not careful, your clothes can end up smelling equally stale and funky too – especially once they’ve been rattling around in the ship’s cargo hold for several hours.
To help eliminate any dors in your suitcase and keep your clothes feeling and smelling noticeably fresher, consider packing some dryer sheets in with your luggage. Your case may have been tucked away for the past few months, but it needn’t have to smell like it.