Monday 13 January 2014

The Practical Girl's Guide to Packing for a Cruise


There is nothing like jet setting away to a tropical climate during the winter season; in fact, sunny vacationing is this noob's survival strategy to a long icy season.  The last few years, I have replaced my much-loved all inclusive resorts with cruising.  There is nothing like taking to the open seas on a floating wonderland, where the entertainment is first class and the crew are committed like no other to making sure that you're enjoying yourself.  Couple that with the opportunity to visit multiple  sunny locations in one  trip, and you have yourself a perfect cure to the winter-blues.   I can remember back to my first cruise, having only ever done all inclusive resorts, being very confused on what to pack.  Now, with a few cruises under my belt,  I'm equipped with a list of a few necessary items that every practical girl should pack for the cruising vacation.

1. Use full sized luggage, not just a carry on

...while still packing for the size of a carry on.  This is a bit of a departure from my belief that you can (and should) travel everywhere and anywhere with just a carry on.  If you are anything like this noob and enjoy a post-work gin and tonic (or two), you know how expensive alcohol is, especially living in Ontario.  The prices for alcohol, both on the cruise ship itself and on the tropical destinations you visit, are drastically cheaper than buying at home. I use this as an opportunity to stock up for my work-week habit, or buy for upcoming gifts.  Knowing that you cannot pack alcohol, or liquids of that amount in general, on a carry on makes a checked luggage worth the minor hassle.  I use the Heys Velocity Spinner in 21 inches, and feel that it is the perfect size.

2. Read you Cruise's itinerary, and pack accordingly.

No two cruises are ever the same, each with their own unique itinerary and dress codes.  Many cruise ships have planned 'formal nights', where guests are invited to dress to impress and enjoy an elegant night, while other cruise ships are exclusively causal.  It is important to read your particular cruise's itinerary and pack accordingly so to join in on the fun.  Some cruise lines go so far to enforce strict dress codes for some of their dinning options, so keep an eye out if you plan on visiting a particular restaurant.  It is important to note that while most cruise lines advertise their formal nights as optional, most of the passengers on the ship chose to participate.

3. Always, always, always pack motion sickness medications.

No matter what, you should always have some medications geared towards curing motion sickness, even if you are generally not prone to it.  I have always been fine with motion sickness, however the swaying of the cruise ship was a different story.  Luckily for me, my travel companions were well equipped with different motion sickness medications, so I was fine but learned my lesson.  That incident was a one-time isolated event, but it is always better to be prepared - nothing ruins any trip like not feeling your best.  There are many options available to you, including Gravol, Dramamine or a motion sickness patch under the branded name of Transderm Scōp.  

**TIP  - in a pinch, ask the dinning room for a green apple, or some ginger from the sushi bar.  Both are natural remedies for sea sickness and are readily available on the cruise ship.

4. A lighted mirror, or a travel light for your cabin

No matter where your cabin location on a cruise ship I have found the lighting to be a problem, particularly if you have a cabin on the inside of the ship, without any natural light.  Even cabins with an ocean facing balcony have limited lighting once night time falls.  A small, travel sized lighted vanity mirror is a simple solution, taking up almost no space in luggage and preventing the dreaded 'clown-face' when emerging from your dark cabin into the well lit dining areas.  

5. Pack a sweater

Even though you're sailing from one tropical destination from another, the cruise ship itself is very cold.  Even during the day, I find myself reaching for a light sweater, or a scarf if I am wandering about the ship.   This may be the one biggest shock that I had experienced from packing for all-inclusive resorts to cruises.  During the day at a resort, you could get away with spending your time in only a cover up and a bathing suit.  On a cruise ship, not only would you be a bit chilly, but strutting around the ship in only minimal clothing will raise more eyebrows than turn heads.  

6. Leave in Conditioner, or any detangler

I like to spend the days at sea lounging by the pool on one of the many sun decks on a cruise ship.  However, traveling on open water in the middle of the ocean can get quite windy.  I still remember vividly, my first cruise relishing in the cool breeze and warm sun by the pool all day, only to panic at night when I couldn't comb through the nest of tangles my poolside lounging had left behind.  Do yourself a favour and bring a detangler, and avoid hours of painfully combing through windblown tangles.  I use the Milkshake leave in conditioner.  Not only does it smell like a delicious sugary treat, it creates enough slip in the hair to easily comb through stubborn knots.  

And so concludes the few items I wish I had known to pack before boarding my first cruise ship.  Let me know what your cruise vacation necessities are.  Otherwise, happy cruising!



  1. Amazing post! Thanks for sharing. This is such a helpful post for a female traveler just like me.

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