Six Packing Tips from Veteran Cruisers

Inspiration Travel



Whether heading south to the Caribbean or north to Alaska, many travelers go into their first cruise with a little uncertainty. That’s because cruise ships are so unique. They’re a world apart from everyday life. They seem to come with their own set of rules, behaviors, and choices.

Savvy, experienced cruisers have learned how to navigate these choices successfully, so we’ve turned to a few of them to advise less-experienced cruise travelers. Here are some of their top tips about packing for your cruise:

1. Plan your carry-on. When you first board your ship, it may take some time for your luggage to be delivered to your cabin. Be sure to include a change of clothing for dinner and a swimsuit in your carry-on bag—just in case. This allows you to enjoy whatever on-board activity you prefer without waiting around for luggage delivery.

2. Pack a foldable, empty duffel bag or extra carry-on to bring home any souvenirs or clothing you buy on your trip. It can be cheaper to fly home with an extra bag (or free carry-on) than to pay overage fees for overweight, overstuffed suitcases.

3. To save space, roll your clothes rather than fold them. Veteran travelers know this is the best way to get more into a suitcase.

4. For warm-weather cruises—if you intend to use the ship’s pool, hot tubs, or visit a beach—always bring two swimsuits. When hanging inside your shower, a wet swimsuit won’t always dry entirely overnight. No one wants to put on a damp swimsuit.

5. Keep your important documents with you. Always keep your passport, cruise documents, any other ID and all necessary medications in your carry-on. That way, if your luggage gets delayed, you can still board the ship. Also make sure the name on your passport matches the ship’s manifest.

6. Know the dress code. Most of our cruises take place on the Holland America Line, and these ships have formal and smart casual evenings. For men, formal dress means a dark suit and tie (or tuxedo, if you wish). Smart casual refers to a collared shirt and slacks. For women, smart casual means casual dresses or trousers and blouse. Most 7-day cruises will have two formal nights in the dining room during the cruise, though the casual buffet is always available for those who do not wish to “dress up.”

Veteran cruisers: What are your favorite packing tips?