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What to pack for a cruise

What to pack for a cruise

At the moment I’m pretty flipping excited because on Sunday I’ll be joining Celebrity Cruises for my second cruise with them!

{You can see my blog posts from my Celebrity Cruise here}

I’ll be starting in Venice and over the course of a week we’ll be stopping in Dubrovnik and Mykonos and finishing in Istanbul. Apart from Venice these are all new places for me so I can’t wait to explore.

As it’s my second cruise I now know what I should be packing. The first time I was really unsure about what to pack for the evenings but I soon discovered the ship felt like a little town. There are bars and restaurants and even nightclubs so pack as though you would for regular nights out. Sometimes you might stay up all night but some nights you’ll be tired and will pop out for a quick bite before going back to your room.

Tips for packing for a cruise

How much to pack?

I never recommend over-packing but if you’re ever going to take a large case on holiday, now is the time.

One of the reasons people love cruises is because you get to see a lot of the world without having to move hotel rooms and keep packing and unpacking your case. Having your laundry done onboard is also expensive so you don’t really want to be washing or re-wearing too many items.

But don’t go nuts with your packing. Unless you have an enormous suite on your cruise, your cabin is likely to be much smaller than an average hotel room so keep this in mind. You don’t want to feel like you’re sleeping in the middle of a TopShop sale. You also need to get your bags on the plane without paying extra fees!

Check out the dress code

I don’t know what all cruises are like but Celebrity Cruises are fairly formal in the evenings. Each evening is like going out on the town. You can choose from different restaurants and go to different bars for your pre-dinner drinks and then for your after-dinner drinks so dress like you would for a night out. Of course, there are informal places to eat and drink too but you wouldn’t want to be wearing jeans and trainers for dinner.

There are usually a couple of formal evenings where suits are expected for men and gowns for women. If you aren’t the dress-type, you’d definitely get away with nice trousers and a smart top as there is always somewhere suitable.

If you are embarking on a luxury cruise, there might be a variety of events that take place during your time on board. Take some time to find out about this beforehand, as this will also give you a better idea of any formal outfits you might need.

I’m a firm believer you can dress up any outfit with a nice pair of heels, a bright lippy and some nice jewellery.

What to wear on a cruise | Evening formal

You can’t go wrong with an LBD

What to wear for day trips?

On most days you’ll probably get off the boat and explore the destination. These days are often tiring because you’ll want to see as much as you possibly can in just one day. It will involve lots of walking and time outdoors so you really need to be comfortable.

Pack comfy, casual lightweight clothes and shoes. You won’t need walking boots or heels for the day times. Personally, I’m comfortable walking all day in flip flops so Havianas are my daytime footwear of choice.

You’ll also need a small day bag. I want to emphasise the small here. I saw people on my last cruise going on day trips with backpacks. What on earth could they have in there?

You’ll need your camera, possibly your phone, purse, water, sunglasses, card to get back on the boat, sun cream, maybe a snack and that’s pretty much it. Keep your bag light so it doesn’t weigh you down or make you a target for thieves.

What to wear on a cruise | Day time

Cute dresses are easy to pack and easy to wear. If there’s a chance it might be cold, opt for darker colours and wear with tights and a cardigan

Days at sea

You’ll probably have a couple of days at sea during your cruise and these days are all about relaxing. I’m planning to spend these days snoozing by the pool or in the spa so I’ll need little more than a bikini, a sunhat and a cover-up dress.

Other things you might forget to pack

Power strip for plugs

I know I travel with a lot of gadgets but on my last cruise I didn’t have enough plug sockets in my room to charge everything at night. This time I’ll be taking a multi-adaptor with four USB points which makes it much easier to get everything charged in one go.

Hand moisturiser

For health and safety reasons you need to use antibacterial gel every time you get on the ship after you disembarked for the day. I have really dry skin anyway so my hands got particularly dry after a few days.

Gym Kit

Celebrity Cruises have a great gym so I’m planning to use it during our days at sea. It’s easy to put on weight during a cruise because there is so much gorgeous food on offer.

Warm cardigan or jacket

One of my favourite things during my last cruise was walking around the deck at night time and watching the stars. There was also a lovely restaurant on the top deck with a great outdoor seating area. This is beautiful and relaxing place to sit but it will be cold at nighttime, particularly while you’re at sea because there will always be a breeze.

Packing for a cruise | The Travel Hack

Cruise packing list

Here are the things on my cruise packing list

  • Miniature toiletries – Don’t forget these because they’re expensive onboard
  • Hair straighteners, styling spray, dry shampoo and brushes
  • Makeup – Make sure your moisturizer has SPF30+
  • Sun cream
  • Sun hat
  • Small day bag
  • Sun glasses
  • Underwear
  • Comfortable and casual clothing for the day (dresses, shorts, jeans and t-shirts)
  • 1 x warm cardigan in case of cool weather
  • Smart casual outfits for the evening
  • 1 x formal outfit
  • 2 x Bikinis
  • 1 x Swimsuit for proper swimming (the type that won’t fall off during front crawl!)
  • 1 x Comfortable flip flops
  • 1 x Flats for evening wear
  • 1 x Low heels for evening wear
  • Gym kit
  • International plug adaptor with extra USB points
  • Kindle – Loaded with new books
  • Camera
  • Phone
  • Laptop
  • Chargers
  • Joby tripod – I have one for my camera and one for my phone

Is there anything else I’ve missed?

Read more: What women should pack for Dubai


Thursday 3rd of March 2016

Such a fab post! I'm going on a Norwegian Cruise this summer and I have little-to-no idea how I'm going to pack, as I'm not sure how exposed the Fjords will be, how much time will be spent exploring, etc. Luckily, I adore packing and researching 'what to pack' is a literal favourite pass-time of mine, so I'm sure whatever I end up packing will work. This blogpost is a great starting point! I'll be sure to write a blog post about what I was glad I packed and what I was sad I didn't pack on my return.

Christie Newton

Thursday 10th of December 2015

Perfect recommendations! I like your way of packing and carefully picking your clothes. I also try not to over pack, to choose the stuff that I mostly like and know I am gonna put on for sure. Thanks for the checklist. I never packed for a cruise, so it's good to read some suggestions and ideas. Best regards

Maria del mar

Thursday 7th of May 2015

hello there! Just discovered you and I am loving your website. Your theme is right up my alley. J'aime! Great trips,given that I leave tomorrow on a cruise and I have to pack tonight! My list is done but I may just reconsider 2-3 items after reading your post. bisous from Paris, Maria del mar

anne marie

Thursday 19th of March 2015

You are a FANTASTIC blogger! Love your writing. I'm taking the Equinox Med cruise in June. Thanks for your work. I'm on Facebook if you have any insider perspectives. X

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Friday 9th of January 2015

[…] you’ve read any of my other packing posts, such as What to pack for a cruise, you’ll see that I like to travel with lots of small, lightweight dresses. These dresses are now […]