This article is part of the Travel & Cruising topic. Below are more articles in this topic.
Whenever I read articles about going on cruises, there's one thing everyone leaves out! Since I've spoken on many cruises, I've had lots of opportunities to pack and prepare, and I don't want you to forget this one thing:
Packing is important for your cruise and for your peace of mind.
First of all, unlike airlines, most cruises don't limit luggage at all, so you can bring everything! (Nice, isn't it?) In fact if you plan to do some shopping, bring along an empty suitcase. Other people who are really going casual bring clothes they don't want any more, and discard them along the way, which leaves them room in their bags for things they buy along the way. Of course you can avoid time with Customs by having your items mailed back home to you.
What should you pack? Enough medication for the trip, and toilet articles. It really pays to make a list so you don't forget anything. Yes, these items are usually available on the ship and shore, but they will cost you a pretty penny. One time I assumed they'd have a hairdryer, and they didn't, nor did they sell them on the ship.
So go ahead and pack in some ibuprofen, imodium, and Pepto Bismol and see your doctor and get the patch if you're prone to seasickness. The big ships have great stabilizers and you probably won't need them, but better safe than sorry. Dramamine also works, they tell me.
Speaking of hairdryers, check with your individual cruise line to see what appliances you can bring. It's often listed in your welcome packet that comes with your ticket. Most no longer permit irons, but they do allow curling irons and hair dryers, and don't assume a hairdryer will be provided. Most allow radios, CD players, etc., just asking that in communal areas you use your headset. (Isn't that nice?)
Beverages? You'd like to save some money, but there are limitations. Usually one bottle of something celebratory (like champagne), but not just a bottle of liquor; and only a certain amount of soda pop, etc. to be determined by the cruise at the time of embarkation. Anything you buy on ship or shore will be "held" until the end of the cruise. Sorry.
You might want to pack your own bottled water for land excursions. They sell it, and it's also available on land, but again, it's expensive.
Now the big thing - clothes. Are you afraid of Formal Night? I think it's such a shame some people won't consider a cruise because they think they're formal. Someone told me the other day she didn't want to go on a cruise because she didn't want to dress up. Let me put your mind at ease about this. If you love to dress, that's what formal night is for, and you can go all out. Anything goes.
If you don't, there are always options at any of the other food areas on the ship and there will be many. You are never far from food on a cruise, which brings up another reason some people won't cruise. There's no excuse for gaining weight on a cruise, because there is plenty of healthy food available, and plenty of opportunity for exercise. Many people use the upper decks for walking and running, and many ships have weight and exercise rooms.
But back to Formal Night. You can forego the dining room that night and choose the casual cafeteria, where it's the atmosphere not the food that's "casual" - the last one I visited had a standing rib roast like they have at fancy hotel buffets. Or there may be a 24-hour pizza bar. There's also room service, for heaven's sake. You don't even have to get out of your nighty!
And it isn't just the food. Let's face it; some people's idea of a good time is not being "confined" at a dinner table for any length of time.
Bring more than one bathing suit. Your vacation is all about comfort, and trying to pull on a wet, cold, clammy suit from the day before isn't fun. They usually don't dry overnight, I'll tell you that much.
You might also consider buying bathing suits just for the cruise. When I went on two cruises back-to-back (when speaking), I found the chemicals in the hot tub leached the colour from my favourite bathing suit and also destroyed the elastic. Okay, I was in the hot tub a lot, but that's one thing I enjoy about cruising! It was a fair trade as far as I was concerned, I mean you want the chemicals in there, but just know that can happen.
There are apparel restrictions in the dining rooms at breakfast and lunch, so read your pamphlet. Generally you can't go in just in a bathing suit and barefoot, so get some thongs and a nice cover-up you can just throw on, so you don't have to waste time going back to your room to change.
Now, as to footwear. The decks are slippery when wet, and they are ALWAYS wet. Get something with traction. Also you may be walking a lot on shore excursions and you don't want to get a blister, so bring shoes you've already broken in that you know are comfortable. Pack some of those blister bandages, too; it's worth it. One cruise I wore a new pair of heels that rubbed my heels raw just going up to dinner and then walking around the deck afterwards. I was able to get by with bandages and sandals from then on. (I don't understand people who think cruises are "sedentary" because you walk a good bit just getting from place-to-place on the ships. They're huge!)
Now, what have we left out? Photographs! Portraits on a cruise are a big deal, and you want to have appropriate clothes for everyone. Some couples use the opportunity to get a Christmas photo for instance, and you could bring along Christmassy outfits. I know what an ordeal it is to get the family together for a photo, and here you will have the opportunity, so be sure to plan ahead and get the clothes right. There's nothing worse than what I saw in one Christmas card photo last year - the man dressed in a really nice dark suit with a Christmas red tie, and the woman in a clashing burgundy sweat suit.
You might just want to have fun and get a real cruise-time souvenir, wearing your Hawaiian shirts and leis, or Mexican dresses, or Caribbean braids, but even then you'll want to coordinate, and to keep aside those outfits until photography night, which, as I recall, is just about every night. The cruise wants to sell the photos, and you don't want to miss the opportunity. (They may come around to your table at dinner time as well, so keep that in mind.)
The cruises have excellent photographers and they'll do your bidding. They have a variety of attractive background and it's a great opportunity you don't want to miss, so plan ahead and pack right.
Article by Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach