(This article was recently posted in Travel Plus)
Packing for a cruise is not as easy as it once was. Mostly because of airline restrictions on bags, gone are the days of bringing multiple suitcases coming or going weighing more than 50 pounds, unless of course, you are traveling from a homeport without the need to fly to embark the ship. So, for now, let’s look at packing tips requiring airfare before and after a sailing.
BAG QUANTITY AND WEIGHT
Before considering anything else, it’s most crucial to check with your airline to see what limits apply to you in regards to how many suitcases you can take, at least for free if at all, and what weight restrictions are in place for each. Some airlines are more lenient on first bag fees than others, and loyalty levels will get you the furthest with extra free luggage and even weight limits closer to 75 pounds.
Also, consider buying a small looping bag scale to ensure you’re always within the numbers. There’s nothing worse than discovering you’re over at the airport. If you do happen to have the chance to bring more than one bag, consider packing an empty duffel for any non-fragile souvenirs to bring with you on your return too.
As far as outfits are concerned, you’ll want to consider the dress codes of your specific cruise line next. Fewer expect formal wear than in the past, but some still expect it. If you’d rather not bring suits and cocktail dresses, most brands offer casual dining options on the very few evenings when formal is the designation.
If you are keen to bring the greatest variety of outfits as possible to be well prepared for any event, you can wear the same base formal clothing, for instance, while changing up the accessories such as ties, scarves and jewelry the next time.
For daily casual options, my wife recommends a mix-and-match wardrobe in which all tops work with all bottoms. As far as weight distribution is concerned, also be mindful of packing heavier items such as shoes in a carry-on versus a checked bag.
It’s fairly easy to pack enough clothes for a weeklong cruise in a single suitcase. Once voyages get longer, however, laundry starts to become necessary. When cruises exceed seven days, consider still packing only a week’s worth of clothes and then plan to either self-launder or pay for full-service cleaning. Some cruise lines occasionally offer a special flat rate for stuffing a single laundry bag with clothes, which is a much better value than a la carte pricing.
A helpful thing to bring that does not take up any more room or weight are plastic bags — trash or resealable ones.
For any laundry that is left upon your return home, trash bags are ideal to keep them separate from any remaining clean clothes. Also, resealable bags are great to take anything that might leak such as sunscreen as well as for to bring home any wet items such as swimwear that did not have a chance to dry before flying again.
Additionally, they can be a great way to protect delicate electronics from moisture on shoreside beach outings or in inclement weather.
If ever you have any fragile items, it’s always best to pack them in a carry-on, but if you have something such as a bottle of wine, liquid restrictions require that they are checked. The best-case scenario would be to ship such items home, but if you must have them with you, keep them as far away from the edges and sides of the suitcase as possible and pad them to the center with plenty of shock-absorbing clothes. Just be sure to also put them first in a sealable plastic bag to avoid unintended merlot colored T-shirts upon arrival.