Smart Cruise Packing Tips | How To Pack Light For Cruise

Cruising with lugging bags and luggage is a big challenge. Especially if you’re planning for a 21-day cruise. However, few fashionistas still pack dozens of outfits for 3 day cruises. 

I’ve got some amazing packing tips from my mom, which help me manage all the stuff in my luggage and eliminate the hoarding syndrome.

Even though the cruise line has certain luggage limits that allow you to bring only a limited number of bags, you should check these limits before packing. However, handling and caring for heavy luggage is such a tiresome task that everybody hates it. 

If you hate heavy luggage and want to pack super light for your next cruise voyage, this article is for you. 

Smart Cruise Packing Tips

1- Organize The Way Of Packing 

packing cubes

Let’s start with the right way of packing, whenever you’re packing for a cruise or traveling aboard for a week. The first thing that gives peace of mind is to organize the items in separate compartments of your bag, so later you can easily access those items. 

The best way to organize the luggage is by packing cubes; this is a real game changer. 

On my first few cruises, I roughly packed things in my luggage, so I had to bring an extra bag. But when I started using packing cubes, things became more simple, and now I only bring one big luggage and one carry bag. 

I’m using this set of five packing cubes. The smaller two are reserved to pack toiletries, bikinis, swimwear, and undergarments. At the same time, large ones are for packing clothes and water shoes. You can further use these packing cubes to meet your needs. 

2- Pack Your Outfit Wisely 

Pack Your Outfit Wisely 

The next thing that matters a lot is packing your outfit. Clothes and wear take up substantial space in your luggage, so packing extra outfits and fluff can make your luggage bulky. 

So, before going on any cruise, you must plan your outfits first. Check the number of formal nights, cruise port excursions, events, and other activities, and then pack accordingly. 

I pack a few maxi dresses, sundresses, off-shoulders, and formal attires for special cruise events. You don’t need to pack extra to amp up the spaces in your luggage. If you’re sailing to the Caribbean, your packing is even lighter and simpler. 

But for the Alaska cruise, you definitely go with an additional bag because you need extra jackets, top-ups, caps, and layers. 

List Of Common Outfits 

Based on my cruising career and experience, I’ve found that you must include these common cruise outfits in your luggage. 

  • 3 Sundress or Maxi dress
  • 3 shirts, off-shoulder or t-shirts
  • 2 shorts 
  • 1 jeans 
  • 1 – 2 top-ups 
  • 1 wrap dress
  • 1 Cocktail dress (for formal night)
  • 1 Evening gown (for formal events)
  • 2 sleepwear 
  • Undergarments 
  • 1 pair of Heels or chic shoes
  • 2 bathing suites
  • Clutch or evening bag 
  • Water shoes
  • 1 Pair of flip-flops and sandals
  • 1 Pair of running shoes 

3- Pack Outfits According to Your Cruise’s Dress Code

dress code

If you’re traveling on a Norwegian cruise, skip this section, as there’s no dress code aboard. You’re welcome to wear whatever you like.

However, few cruise lines have a dress code for formal parties and main dining rooms. So, you need to check the specific dress code of your cruise line before packing any formal dress for it. 

Also, check the number of formal or elegant nights on a cruise. If you’re sailing on a seven-day cruise, there is probably one formal or chic night. 

4- Shoes Take A Lot Of Spaces

Shoes Take A Lot Of Spaces

Shoes or footwear are a must-have. I usually pack 3 to 4 pairs of footwear, but you can adjust it according to your needs. However, shoes always take up a huge space in your luggage, so don’t transfer your entire shoe rack in the bag. 

Flip-flops and water shoes are a must-have, and you must pack a pair of elegant sandals if you plan to attend formal events. I always bring my jogging shoes because I love to walk on the cruise’s dedicated jogging track.

5- Don’t Pack The Towels

don't pack towels

Packing towels is a big blander, so be aware of it. There is already a towel in your cruise stateroom for each individual, so packing an extra towel is a space waste. 

Also, if you’re going to swim, you can grab an extra towel from a nearby towel station.

Similarly, the onboard spa will provide you with a dedicated towel, so you don’t need to bring one on the cruise.

6- Don’t Pack Extra Electronics 

Regarding electronics, you don’t need to pack hair dryers, irons, and straightens; these are not allowed onboard, so don’t put these extras in your luggage. 

I recommend using a separate hand-carry bag for laptops or any such fragile electronics. Security checks are sometimes brutal and can damage your laptops. Keeping your laptop or computer at home while on vacation is also a good idea.

7- Toiletries To Skip 

Cruise lines provide basic toiletries like soups, shampoos, conditioners, shower gel, etc. You should check the toiletries the cruise line provides and then pack accordingly. 

I usually don’t pack my shampoo; it can make you fear leaking. So, instead, use the shampoo provided in your stateroom. I’ve recently been traveling with Carnival Horizon, which provides high-quality toiletries. 

There might not be enough information regarding toiletries on the official website, so I suggest you call customer service and ask them to send the PDF of the amenities provided in your stateroom. Or simply if you’re joining the FaceBook groups to get the most relevant information. 

8- Should You Add A First-Aid Kit

If sailing with your kids or pregnant partner, you should consider packing the First Aid box. But if you’re a solo traveler, just pack a few essential sea-sickness medications, bandages, and a Tincher. 

A medication box is not essential, though, as it takes up enough space in your luggage. So, avoid packing the entire Aid kit if you want to go smart. 

Packaging some of the medications in your toiletries box is also a good idea. If you’re using packing cubes, then it’s so simple: just pack your first-aid items and toiletries in a smaller cube. 

9- Use Multi-Purpose & Lightweight Cloth

Regarding cruise outfits, I will always be vigilant and pack versatile outfits. So, if you’re packing versatile maxi dresses, you don’t need to pack extra dinner dresses; you can dress up maxi in the dining hall and also for formal nights. So you don’t need to pack an extra formal suit in the baggage. 

Also, consider packing lightweight clothes to save space in luggage. Regarding formal dresses, you can pack only one ruffle dress or cocktail dress. You can skip the formal night if showing off or dressing formally is not your thing. 

Another thing that works for me is convertible pants that zip off quickly and turn into shorts. So, if your port excursion involves hiking, consider these pants.

You can also save up some space using veritable comfortable walking shoes. Pack the shoes that can be worn for shore excursions and casual dinners.

10- Don’t Buy Large Souvenirs

I’ve seen many cruise fellows who are crazy souvenir collectors, often purchasing large frames and bulky souvenirs. Later, they find themselves in a bind because there’s simply no extra space in their luggage for these oversized souvenirs.

So, if you really want to do smart packing and avoid lugging luggage, you should avoid purchasing heavy souvenirs.

Small, lightweight items are okay. But if you’re interested in buying an oversized item, I suggest you order additional baggage to secure it. 

Final Words

Packing smartly for your cruise depends on your planning and mindset. For convenience, I suggest grabbing a piece of paper and jotting down the essential items to pack for your cruise. In this way, you can avoid cluttering and packing extra items. 

I know dragging bulky baggage on cruise ports is a tiresome and draining experience. That’s why always pack light, pack only essential items, and use packing cubes to save space. 

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