This list is suitable for teens and adults for a warm weather cruise, and was compiled from many web sites offering packing suggestions, Fodor's How to Pack by Laurel Cardone, and personal experience. It serves as a guide, and you may wish to add or delete items, as everyone has their own favorite items that they bring along on a vacation. I hope that this will help both first time cruisers and seasoned cruisers with their cruise packing. Happy Cruising!
Table of Contents
I) How much luggage can I take?
If you don't live near a cruise port, you'll normally have to fly (or drive in some cases) to your destination. Before you start to pack, remember that you have to carry everything with you in the airport and around the cruise terminal, so luggage with wheels is a good idea. Try to limit yourself to 1 piece of Checked Luggage + 1 Carry-on Bag + 1 Personal Item. You can also take a garment bag for formal wear and put it in Checked Luggage. A waist pouch is a good idea, and you might want to invest in a money belt to wear under your clothes.
The Carry-on Bag can be a small bag/backpack or a carry-on suitcase with wheels. It should be comfortable to carry, hold the necessary items and be able to go under the seat in front of you or in overhead storage on the plane. Please pack the listed items, as flights can be delayed and you never know if you have to sleep somewhere else. Never leave your Carry-on Bag unattended. Additional carry-on items that are allowed include outer garments such as coats/wraps/hats; book or newspaper; bistro sized or smaller bag of consumable food and devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, etc. Read Airport Security (p. 4) before packing any carry-on items.
The Personal Item can be a purse, briefcase, laptop, small book-bag style backpack, small tote bag or shoulder bag.
ii) Are there any luggage size and weight restrictions?
Each airline has their own specifications, so check ahead or call your travel agent. For instance, American Airlines will accept 2 pieces of Checked Luggage and the dimensions CANNOT exceed 62"/157 cm nor weigh more than 70 lbs./32 kilograms. For the Carry-On Bag, the dimensions CANNOT exceed 45"/114 cm. nor weigh more than 40 lbs./18 kgs. The Personal Item CANNOT exceed 36". The size limitation of your luggage is calculated by adding the total outside dimensions of each bag, that is, length + width + height. In addition, portable phones, radios and electronic games CANNOT be used on board.
iii) How shall I label my luggage and keep it secure?
Your name & address should be on a piece of paper inside each bag and on luggage tags on the outside of each bag. Fill out your cruise tags and place them on your luggage. Any "old" airline/cruise tags should be removed. Your Carry-on Bag & Checked Luggage should have locks. Mark all luggage with some "bright" tape or wool pompoms for easier retrieval at the airport & the cruise terminal.
Please note that airlines reserve the right to ask that Carry-on Bags be checked. If you are asked to check your back, prior to checking the Carry-On Bag, ensure that certain items have been removed, such as prescription medications, the photocopied Travel Pak and anything else you may require. For this reason, it is important that the Carry-On Bag have a lock.
iv) What kind of identification will I need?
Check your cruise documents or call your travel agent because these regulations change all the time. For instance, a new regulation by Carnival states that in addition to your passport, guests who are 16 years or older must provide a Photo ID. Photo ID can be your driver's license, photo health card; employee photo ID, high school card, etc. Unfortunately, you will be denied boarding at embarkation without proper documentation & no refund will be provided. No exceptions will be made.
v) How do I organize all the paperwork?
When traveling, you'll want to keep important documents together and close at hand. You can purchase a personal documents kit or make your own Travel Pak. The Travel Pak will include your original documents, such as passports, airline tickets, cruise documents, etc. (see Travel Pak under Carry-On Items p. 7 for more info).
Prior to leaving home, make 2 photocopies of everything in the Travel Pak, plus a copy of your health card, photo ID, any prescription medications, and your packing lists. The 1st photocopied Travel Pak set is kept at home with someone; the 2nd photocopied Travel Pak set is kept in a large Ziploc in your Carry-on Bag. In this way, if the originals are somehow lost, there are 2 photocopied sets available. You should also record any credit card numbers on the photocopies in case of theft.
During your cruise you will receive a daily cruise newsletter. You may want to save and organize these in a plastic envelope pouch. Also, each time you use your Sail and Sign card on-board, you will get a receipt. The receipt should be matched with your bill in case you are charged for something you didn't purchase (It happens!). Keep all receipts for any purchases made on shore for Customs purposes.
vi) How much money should I take?
The amount of money you take depends entirely on your personal circumstances and what you plan on purchasing in port. Normally, some cash, traveler's cheques and a major credit card are recommended. In your Waist Pouch or Shoulder Purse, carry all cash and ID in a wallet. If traveling as a couple, split up your cash. Ships operate as a "cashless" society and you use your Sail & Sign card to pay for everything (See Embarkation p. 12 for more info). Traveler's cheques can be cashed at the Purser's Desk, and some ships have an ATM machine on-board. However, please note that there is a higher than normal transaction fee for the ATM machine on-board (approx. US$5 per transaction), and, of course, it may run out of money while at sea. So, don't rely solely on the ATM machine and have some cash or traveler's cheques on hand.
On shore, lots of small denomination US bills are good, as a lot of the street vendors in port accept cash only and may not have change for large bills. Other stores in port accept credit cards, cash and traveler's cheques. An ATM card is handy in airports, but may not be accepted in port.
vii) What do I do if my luggage gets lost?
If anything gets lost, you'll need to know what was in the lost luggage piece, so the copy of your packing list will come in handy here. To claim any lost luggage, you'll have to fill out a Lost Luggage Claim Form. If you really want to be prepared, pack a photo of your luggage with your Travel Pak.
Another suggestion for a couple traveling together (or for two friends wearing different sizes of clothing), is to split pack your clothing. Pack 1/2 your clothes in the guy's suitcase, and the guy packs 1/2 his clothes in the gal's suitcase. Remember to pack matching outfits in each suitcase. This is really thinking ahead in case one of the suitcases never arrives! At least this way, you'll have some clothes for both.
i) Carry-On Items - what you CAN'T pack in your Carry-On Bag
Due to heightened airport security, some items are now not permitted in your Carry-on Bag, waist pouch or purse. If they are found, they will be confiscated, so ensure they are placed in your Checked Luggage before proceeding to the airport. Please check with TSA for updates as this changes often.
NoNo items include:
personal care items containing hazardous materials (e.g. flammable perfume, aerosols) totaling no more than 70 ounces may be carried on board. Contents of each container may not exceed 16 fluid ounces. safety matches and/or a lighter may only be carried on your person; however, "strike-anywhere" matches, lighters with flammable liquid reservoirs and lighter fluid are forbidden
Baseball bats, golf clubs, ski poles, hockey sticks must also be in Checked Luggage. Umbrellas and walking canes are permitted once they are inspected to ensure they do not conceal any prohibited items. For any electronic equipment (laptops, palm pilots, walkmans, cell phones, digital cameras, etc.), make sure to turn the power on for the security check. It is a good idea to check with the airline before you leave home to ensure that no additional items have been added.
i) What type of clothing should I pack?
Packing for a cruise is quite easy. What you regularly wear to the beach, around a pool, walking around town, dining out or going to a New Year's Eve party, are the same things you'll need for a cruise. Count out your outfits, especially for evening to make sure you have enough to wear. Mix & match your clothing; if you bring a skirt, you can wear it more than once with a different top. You should also pack some off-season clothing, as it may not always be sunny and warm, plus, the inside areas on the ship are "very" air conditioned. If you need to buy some clothes, make a list! If you're planning on buying t-shirts, hats, etc. on the ship or ports of call, why not wear them on your cruise? You'll cut down on the amount of clothing you'll bring, and you won't need to plan for extra space on your trip home.
Cruises are pretty casual, however, there are some dress codes for formal nights, and what to wear when you're walking around the ship.
ii) What do I wear on departure day?
If you're traveling from a colder to warmer climate, you'll still have to dress for the weather when leaving home. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, and dress in layers. Wear long pants, a t-shirt, sweatshirt or sweater and a lightweight waterproof coat (such as an Adidas or Nike spring/fall wind breaker jacket); socks and running shoes (or other comfortable, worn-in shoes). Some type of lightweight coat is needed, as you never know what weather you'll get on-board or on any of the shore excursions. You can wear minimal jewelry, and a watch, but keep excess and expensive jewelry at home. Please remember that your Checked Luggage may or may not arrive before dinner time on the cruise ship, so be sure to either wear or pack in your Carry-On Bag the clothes you will wear for dinner the first night. The dress code will be casual (see p. 6 for Dining Room dress codes)
ii) What do I wear on board in the daytime?
During the day, anything goes! You can wear shorts, t-shirts, capri pants, jeans, cargo or khaki pants, running shoes, flip flops and sandals. The only dress code during the day is when going swimming [walking from your cabin to the pool and vice versa], you always have to wear something over your swimsuit (like an oversized t-shirt), and you have to wear something on your feet.
iv) What should I wear when going ashore?
Depending on what type of activity you sign up for, dress appropriately for the activity. If you're going snorkeling, wear your bathing suit, with a t-shirt and shorts overtop and some sandals. Bring a waterproof beach bag to put your clothes in during your water time. Bring a towel (provided in your room), water bottle, suntan lotion, sunglasses, hat and perhaps an underwater camera. You'll also need your Sail & Sign card & Photo ID to get on and off the ship, and you may want to bring your wallet with some small bills if you wish to "tip" your snorkeling host once the excursion is over (optional). If you're going shopping or sightseeing, wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a small backpack to carry all your purchases. Check with the Shore Excursions Desk if unsure of what to wear to a certain port or shore excursion.
v) What do I wear on board in the evening?
Dining Room Dress Code:
You CAN'T wear shorts, t-shirts, cut-offs, tank tops, jeans or have bare feet. For most nights, the dress code will be casual. This is what you'd wear to your favorite "casual" restaurant, such as sun dresses, a casual dress, casual pants such as khakis or cargo pants (but not jeans), skirt and top, or a pants outfit. For guys, polo shirts, button-up shirts and casual pants (not jeans) are fine. Look in the cruise newsletter to find out what the dress code for dinner is each night.
There are normally two formal nights on 7 or 8-night cruises. For formal nights, especially the Gala Captain's Dinner, gals can wear a long dress and guys can wear a tuxedo or dark suit. Normally, the Captain's Dinner is dressier than the second formal night. If you're not wearing the appropriate dress for the dining room for formal night, you will not be admitted and you'll have to eat at the Lido deck. (Basically, guys have to wear a jacket and gals have to be in something dressy). However, gals, you don't need a long gown, anything dressy is suitable. For the second formal night you can wear something you'd wear to a fancy restaurant. Gals can wear another fancy dress or dress pants/skirt and nice top (not t-shirt); and guys can just wear a different shirt and tie with their suit. There are many photo opportunities on formal nights, so you'll want to look your best to get your picture taken. There is also a hairdressing salon on board.
Normally, if it's formal night, passengers stay dressed in their formal wear throughout the evening. Normally, what you wear for dinner is what you'll be wearing for the rest of the evening. If you're planning on heading to the disco later on, just wear your halter top, one-shouldered top or other "disco" top to dinner, with a jacket or sweater overtop. The jacket or sweater will ensure that you are appropriately dressed for the dining room. After dinner, just return your jacket or sweater to your cabin.
vi) Tips on packing & the Packing Lists:
The packing list is very important in case any bags are lost. Jot notes on the lists, such as black skirt g.b., meaning you packed your black skirt in the garment bag. Pack items between tissue paper to prevent creasing. Put shoes in grocery bags to keep clothes clean. Use the inside of shoes to pack socks; roll up underwear to pack in small spaces. Or, buy some mesh bags and put all the socks in one bag and all underwear in another. Items that may leak, such as suntan lotion, pack in a Ziploc.
When re-packing, try to pack items in the same bag it was packed in when you came on board. Instead of waiting until the last night to pack, try to pack your dirty clothes in your suitcase on a daily basis. Remember how hard it was to pack it all in? If you ball up dirty clothes, it may not all fit. Take out the dirty item and fold it as if it was clean. If you want to keep the dirty and clean clothes separate, put the dirty clothes in a laundry bag. Pack breakables (such as bottles) in your Carry-On Bag.
PACKING IT ALL IN: CARRY-ON ITEMS
For gals, if you're taking the purse you normally use, go through your purse and wallet and remove items that you won't need. Do you really need to bring a copy of your phone bill with you? Leave these at home and discard any old receipts or ATM bank machine transactions.
The Travel Pak could be a large Ziploc, or anything else that can keep these items together
Passport (For Canadians & foreign guests, taken at cruise terminal)
PACKING IT ALL IN: CARRY-ON ITEMS
YOUR CARRY-ON BAG
Could also put
these items in a separate camera bag:
PACKING IT ALL IN: CARRY-ON ITEMS
Place all toiletries in a cosmetic or shaving kit bag & attach a shower hook. It can then hang from the towel bar in your cabin bathroom. Bathrooms on board are small.
Prescriptions in original containers (including birth control pills, if required)
**NEVER PACK PRESCRIPTIONS IN YOUR CHECKED LUGGAGE!**
Tylenol; Advil (in original containers)
PACKING IT ALL IN: CHECKED LUGGAGE
PACKING IT ALL IN: CHECKED LUGGAGE
GAL'S PACKING LIST
sweater or dress jacket to wear over evening dress or other tops (can get cool
in dining room and lounges)
PACKING IT ALL IN: CHECKED LUGGAGE
PACKING IT ALL IN: CHECKED LUGGAGE
GUYS PACKING LIST
PACKING IT ALL IN: CHECKED BAGGAGE
GALS AND GUYS MISCELLANEOUS PACKING LIST
.....Anything else that you can think of!
You’re Here! Arriving at the Cruise Terminal:
Check your cruise documents for the embarkation times at the various ports, for instance, embarkation in Miami can start as early as 1:30 p.m. At the pier, curb side porters will take your Checked Luggage, and in a few hours, it will be delivered in front of your cabin (please note that your Checked Luggage may or may not arrive before dinner time). Keep your Carry-On Bag, Camera Case and Waist Pouch or Shoulder Bag with you. Tip the porters US$0.50 or $1 per bag, then join a line waiting to get in the terminal.
Inside the cruise terminal, if you haven’t filled out your cruise documents, you’ll have to do it now. Then you’ll go to a check-in counter, where all cruise documents, as well as your passports, will be taken. For the Sail and Sign card, you normally need to charge this against a credit card or have a cash deposit (Carnival cruise lines has a minimum US$200 cash deposit per person, so check your cruise documents for other cruise lines). All cruise ships operate as a “cashless society”, and the Sail and Sign card is your cabin key and “charge card” during your cruise. After this is done, you may go to another waiting area where you wait to be called by color/number to board the ship. Once you’re called, you board the ship, and have your first photo taken. Smile!
As you enter the ship, head to your cabin and drop off your Carry-On Bag, put your valuables in the safe & wash-up a bit. Check out the cruise newsletter to find out what’s happening on-board. At this time you may meet your Cabin Stewart.
It’s a good idea to make certain reservations right away, so as soon as they open, sign-up for shore excursions at the Shore Excursion desk, make spa or hair appointments at the Spa, & make any dinner reservations at the supper club (optional). Once you’re ready to go, carry your Sail and Sign card, cruise newsletter, mini-map and go exploring or head to the Lido deck for some lunch. This is where your waist pouch will come in handy!
As per Maritime regulations, before sailing, everyone must participate in a Lifeboat Drill. You will proceed to your “Muster Station” (location is normally listed on the back of your cabin door), so ensure there is a life jacket for each person in the cabin. Once the Lifeboat Drill is over, bring your life jackets back to your cabin, grab your camera, Sign & Sail card, and head outside to get a great view as you leave the port and enjoy a tropical drink.
Customs & Immigration, The Last Night & Leaving the Ship:
Sometime during the cruise, there will be a time for Canadians & foreign passengers to report to Customs & Immigration. This is where you’ll fill out your Customs Declaration Forms to declare merchandise you’ve purchased and are bringing back into the country. [The country in this case is the USA, you will have to go through Customs again, so keep receipts handy]. This is normally done on-board where each person must attend, and is normally when you have your passport returned.
Normally, the last night of your cruise is where you “tip” your dining room service team and room steward. The suggested tip varies for cruise lines *Carnival s is US $9.50 per person per day). This is paid in cash and placed in an envelope. Some cruise lines automatically charge the tipping to your cabin, so check with each cruise line on how this will work on your cruise.
On the last night of the cruise, you will be asked to place your luggage outside your cabin door by a certain time, normally before midnight. It is a good idea to gather up all your belongings and pack them the day before or the afternoon of the last night. The dress code on the last night of the cruise is always casual, so when you get back to your room, just pack the items you were wearing, and keep a change of clothes for the next day, and anything else you will need. Ensure your luggage is locked and still has luggage tags attached to it. Rip off any old airline tags. Please note that once the Checked Luggage is taken, there is no way of getting it back until the next day in the cruise terminal.
This is when your Carry-On Bag will come in handy. Keep it in the room with you to carry your personal items off the ship the following morning. Just use your Packing List and pack everything in again, plus any additional breakable souvenirs (or bottles). Keep your proof of citizenship (passport) out with you as you will need it to get through customs at the airport.
In the morning, room service and any charges to your Sail and Sign card are discontinued. Breakfast will be earlier than normal, so head down to the Lido deck for your last breakfast of the cruise. No-one can disembark until the port authorities clear the ship and everyone who should have, reports to the Immigration Officer. Also, the cruise line won’t let anyone off until everyone settles their on board accounts. Normally, you get off the ship by color tags and you are designated to sit in certain locations until you are called to leave the ship. The wait is sometimes very long, so bring a magazine or book or something else to do.
And, don’t forget, when you return home, write a review to share with others and post on Happy sailing!