Yes, packing light for cruise travel and having everything you need is possible. We have done it successfully multiple times. One of the advantages of cruising is unpacking only once while exploring a variety of locations. However, you still have to lug your belongings to the airport, to the cruise terminal, and back home. For us, we also tack on days before and after our cruising adventure. Packing light makes for less hassle.
We recently embarked on a 16-day cruise around the top of Australia on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas. We arrived at the airport with a total of 22kg of luggage for two people, including camera gear with a tripod, two laptop computers, and backup discs. This is our second cruise this year; the first was 19-days through the Panama Canal on the Island Princess. (Don’t miss my list of tips for cruising.) Again, we travelled light.
Here is our essential list when we are packing light for cruise travel (with limited overlap to our list of essential things to bring when travelling around the world):
Packing Light for Cruise Travel
- Dinnerwear – The dining room dress code is one area of travel that is different on a cruise ship. With no shorts, tank tops, or swimwear allowed, and several days labelled either “smart casual” or “formal,” we need to be prepared.
- Women: I bring a “little black dress.” This is an essential piece of my wardrobe. To alter the look I bring a scarf, black cotton blazer, light coloured cardigan, and costume jewellery – each completely changing the look thus allowing the dress to be worn to multiple dinners without appearing as if I have worn the same thing.
- Dinnerwear for Men: Hubby brings two button-down shirts (one collarless), a solid tie, and a casual dinner jacket. All pieces are interchangeable, creating more looks than pieces of clothing.
- Three pairs of shoes: Everyday walking shoes, sandals for pool or beach, and semi-dressy/go-anywhere shoes for dinner.
- Swimwear (you can bring a cover up, or wear the bathrobe provided in your stateroom.)
- A breathable rain jacket or rain poncho.
- A first aid kit including sunscreen, insect repellent, vitamin C, and seasickness pills (I have never needed them while cruising, but having them gives me peace of mind). While I always travel with a fully stocked first-aid kit, it’s not necessary on a cruise as there is a general store and doctor (expensive) onboard.
- A camping clothesline and some laundry soap if cruising more than seven days.
- Electronics including camera (I shoot with an Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II), (and tripod), phone, laptop, Kindle, and/ or iPad. **Be sure to check with the cruise line as to the outlets and voltages on the ship and bring electrical converters as necessary.
- Documentation – passports, immunisation cards, insurance cards, tickets, and credit cards (things I never travel without).
- Clothing. I pick a colour scheme and have all my outfits become interchangeable.
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The detailed packing list:
Dressing for Dinners:
- Women: Little black dress, cotton blazer, brightly coloured scarf and possibly a pullover shirt to give a skirt and blouse effect.
- Men: casual jacket, collarless shirt or collared shirt and tie, nice pants (as stated in item #1)
For Everyday and at port:
- Five to six casual shirts that can layer including 2-3 tanks, 2-3 short sleeve shirts and one with long sleeves
- Four Pants: Men: 2 long, two short, Women: 1 long, one capris or skirt, two shorts
- One cardigan (women) or fleece (men) – modern ships are air conditioned
- One sun hat and sunglasses
- Three pairs of shoes (walking, pool, dress)
- Rain jacket or rain poncho
- Seven day supply of socks, underwear, and bras (women)
- Accessories: Jewellery (or buy it in port or on board. There are usually great deals to be had.), scarves, belt, and Fitbit.
- Our overstocked first aid kit contains the following: sunscreen, insect repellent, motion sickness tablets, paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Imodium, sore throat lozenges, Cipro, z-pack, band-aids, strapping tape, pawpaw ointment, hydrocortisone cream and Heal Me.
- Camera, street lens, extra battery, battery charger, camera raincoat, flash, tripod, extra SD cards.
- Laptop, plug, adapter, backup drive, USB stick, and smartphone with charging cable.
- Camping clothes line and small laundry detergent.
- Spare pair of glasses
- Cosmetics and toiletries.
- Documentation, pen, paper, and a highlighter (you will not regret bringing this on a cruise).
Here is what it looks like:
Can you do it? Will you be packing light for cruise travel? Or will you bring it all, just in case?
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