Cruise Ahead With Smart Packing
The biggest temptation with any cruise vacation is to
overpack. I've personally sat despairingly atop an overstuffed
suitcase battling to get it zipped closed. What I've learned from
personal experience and misery is that there's no one-size-fits-all
cruise. What you bring—and how you dress—often depends on what
cruise line you pick.
Customs are changing
many passengers, dressing up in the evenings is one of the big
attractions of a cruise. For others, it is a potential nightmare.
Nowadays, you don't have to fashion yourself after the cast of
Dynasty to enjoy a cruise. Dress codes on ships are becoming less
rigid as dining regulations have been relaxed to please the majority
of travelers who prefer the casual lifestyle. For example, Norwegian
Cruise Lines' (NCL) "Freestyle Cruising" policy calls for resort
casual attire, as does Windstar.
However, formal dress
standards are enforced on ultra-luxury cruise lines Crystal, Cunard,
Seabourn, and Silversea. On Cunard's QE2 trans-Atlantic
crossings, formal attire is expected on four evenings out of the
six. Even on cruise lines that opt for resort casual, passengers
will make bold statements with doled-up attire and accessories.
Attend formal night on a Carnival ship, and you'll see passengers
decked out in ball gowns and tuxedos alongside those wearing
t-shirts and spandex.
What to pack
|AnitaVacation's how to pack
As an ex-flight attendant I learned a few
tricks of the packing trade. Here are a few:
Don't place important papers, documents, expensive
jewelry, or medication in checked baggage; bring them in your
carry-on luggage. Also, bring photocopies of these items (and
written copy of prescriptions) in case you need to replace
Pack heavy items such as shoes and toiletry kits before
the more delicate ones.
Use shoe covers to pack shoes, and stuff socks, belts, and
other little items inside shoes to save space.
To reduce wrinkling, turn jackets inside out and fold them
in half in dry cleaning bags. The plastic bags minimize
wrinkles, which is why dry cleaners use them.
Pack the bottom of your suitcase with trousers, letting
the legs hang over the outside edge. Then pack the rest of
your travel gear, with lighter materials on top. Wrap trouser
legs over the pile—they'll keep their crease.
Mark your luggage with bright colored yarn or tags—they'll
be easier to spot and less likely to be picked up by
Bring an empty soft bag for
Depending upon what cruise
line you sail, attire can run the gamut from L.L. Bean to Saks. But
don't fret. Prior to your voyage, the cruise company will send you
information spelling out their dress policy.
Kathryn M. of
Camarillo, CA, wrote in asking what to pack for long cruises.
Because cruise cabins are notoriously small, the key for any cruise
of any length is to pack light, but smart. Here are some basic
packing tips that will keep you looking fresh throughout your cruise
and hopefully out of the Laundromat too:
For warm weather cruises, make sure you bring
quality swimwear, as you're likely to spend a lot of the time in or
around the pool. For women, sarongs, cover-ups, or sundresses are
very useful for dressing up a bathing suit, making it useful all
around the ship, including in dining venues where most cruise lines
refuse entry to passengers in swimsuits only.
If the ship
holds an event requiring "smart casual" wear, dress shorts, skirts,
or trousers—with a short-sleeved shirt or polo shirt—are safe bets.
The rest of the time you can dress as you like (within reason of
course). Other useful items include flat shoes with a good grip for
wet decks, sunglasses, and a sun hat.
If you are going on an
Alaska cruise or another adventure-type voyage, you'll need to bring
hiking boots and/or more rugged clothes for outdoor adventure
will have one or two formal evenings a week. Men are expected to
wear a dark suit or tuxedo, and women, a long or short evening dress
or dressy pantsuit. Men can often rent tuxedos, so they won't have
to pack a suit. For evenings that are less dressy, women can get
away with a rayon or silk top and trousers. Because of powerful air
conditioning onboard new ships, pack a sweater or jacket. I always
bring my pashmina wrap—it's very versatile and provides an extra
layer in the evening.
Remember to pack some loose-fitting
clothes. Most passengers find that they put on few pounds during a
I am a big
advocate of wearing outfits more than once. If it looks good and is
appropriate, who cares how many times I wear it? Cruise expert Linda
Coffman of Cruise Diva.com would agree. She says to
concentrate on dressing from the waist up and to wear the same
slacks, skirts, or shorts throughout the trip. "A simple scarf and
jewelry can change the look of a basic outfit." She adds, "New
reversible women's clothes offer lots of different looks with
minimum packing. You can find these clothes at Travel Smith,
Magellans, and Nordstroms."
Don't worry about running out of
clean clothes if you pack too light. Most vessels have self-service
Laundromats along with laundry service for a fee. And remember, if
you forget to pack something or don't want to do laundry, most ships
offer a good selection of clothes, swimwear, and accessories in
their onboard shops. What you can't get onboard, you can easily find
at any port-of-call you visit.
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