While I have a bit of experience packing for backpacking and for week trips in the city, I have never been on a cruise and didn't know what to expect at first. I usually try my best to pack as light as possible, which I quickly understood can be a challenge when cruising. As per my usual, I did loads of research before the trip to know what I should pack, what mistakes to avoid, what to expect, etc. I really like the cruisecritic site for that. It has helped tremendously.
Now if you're not familiar with cruises, you should know that some cruise lines have a dress code at dinner and hold formal nights in the dinning room. Therefore, the planning and packing is a little different. Basically, in my case with Holland America, there were 2 formal nights, a smart casual dress code at dinner and we did 4 tropical port stops. We did 2 beach days, 1 sightseeing /walking day and 1 snorkeling day. So for me, I needed active wear, beachwear, formal wear, smart casual clothes, etc. Also the ships are quite cool because of the air-conditioning, which means I had to plan a few cardigans as well so that I wouldn't be cold. With all this being said I found myself in need to pack a bunch of stuff in a relatively small suitcase (medium size). To make sure I had everything, I also tweaked my usual packing list to include my cruising necessities. Here's what I packed :
Here is my full cruise packing list. I suggest clicking on the image to enlarge it and see the full version.
- The thermal cups were intended to be filled at the buffet with water or coffee so that I could bring them with me around the ship. That didn't end up happening, but I'll explain that soon.
- We always bring a dry bag whenever we go snorkeling or to the beach. The proximity of water to our electronics stresses me out (especially on boats) so it's always nice to have them secure in the bag.
- The extra towel I brought was for my hair. I always put my hair up in a towel after I shower and I need two towels for that. In most hotels (and on cruise ships) they only provide you with 1 towel per person. I didn't want to be inconsiderate and make another person's towel cold and wet with my hair so I brought an extra one. This one is on the thinner side meaning that it doesn't take that much space. Also I prefer a thinner towel for that purpose anyway.
- The over the door shoe organizer was to store small items in the bathroom. I've seen this tip on multiple websites and it's been a life saver. There isn't all that much counter space in the tiny bathroom of the cabin. Therefore, with two grown women in one cabin, it could easily have become a disaster zone. The over the door shoe organizer kept everything neat and easy to reach. I would recommend this tip to everyone!
- I made a cruise folder containing our travel information, cruise boarding passes, a packing list, deck maps, etc. I also brought a dry erase marker for the checklist.
I think I did pretty good on this. Considering everything I packed, I didn't overpack a whole lot. I guess planning does pay off in the end! I had planned most dinner outfits in advance, something I never do, but it was well worth it for the cruise.
- I didn't use the thermal cups because they reeked of plastic. I should have tested them out beforehand. I totally would've used them otherwise.
- I didn't wear 1 bikini top, 2 t-shirts, 2 tank tops, 1 pair of jean shorts and a fabric bra. I knew going in that there were probably too many of those in my suitcase to begin with. I decided to go a little over since I didn't know how hot it would be, how often I would get wet, etc. Also I wanted a little more options. Thankfully all these items pack quite small meaning it wasn't a huge waste of space.
- I didn't need my rain jacket, yay! We got lucky and had only about 5 minutes of rain in Grand Turk and that was it for the whole week!
- I didn't use my travel pillow because it was a 4 hour direct flight. I wouldn't bring it next time unless it was a long haul flight.
- I didn't use my crocs and my fancier flip-flops. I found that my other four pairs of shoes were more than enough.
- I didn't use the small camera, I ended up using my phone instead when I didn't want to bring my big camera.
- I brought way too much sunscreen, but looking on the bright side, I didn't burn which means better safe than sorry! That's also why I didn't use my after-sun lotion.
- I didn't wear three pieces of jewelry. I just never found a moment to wear those particular pieces.
So as you can see, I always come prepared when it comes to medication. I guess you could expect nothing else from a pharmacy student :p I also brought some prescription anti-histamine, but since it has all my info on it I left it out of the picture. Also, I have Zantac in the Tylenol bottle, not Tylenol. I couldn't find a small travel container of Zantac so I just put it in there.
Since cruises are quite a bit more formal than the type of travel I usually do, I brought a lot more makeup than I normally would. I found that both small palettes worked really well for my needs. In hindsight, I could've brought only one blush, and a few less makeup brushes and I would've been just fine. Oh well, live and learn!
Last but not least, toiletries! I brought a Sonia Kashuk bag to put my toiletries in right before I left. It was half off (score!) so I decided to give it a try. I haven't had this style of bag in the past, but I have found that I really enjoy how many pockets they have. It's really easy to find everything and the smaller pockets hold small items very nicely. This way, they aren't swimming around with the larger items. Note : I also brought a nail clipper, but it's back in the bathroom already.
Again, I'm pretty happy to see that I used most of what I had packed! Let's review what I didn't use :
- Blotting sheets : my skin simply wasn't that oily this week. I guess I couldn't have known that in advance.
- Nail file : I didn't need it this week. Always good to have one in case though.
- Bubble bath : I was planning on taking a bath during the week since we had one in the cabin. It didn't end up happening since I didn't find the bathroom all that inviting.
- Cuticle butter and nail polishes : I decided to only paint my toe nails during the cruise. I felt like I didn't want to spend time messing around with polish on my fingers and stuff. I only changed it once so I only used 1 nail polish.
- Makeup remover : I never did anything extreme enough with my eyes that the Bioderma couldn't take care of.
- Lipikar and Cicaplast : My skin was not itchy this week and I didn't get hurt so these weren't necessary.
- Face scrub : I'm lazy what can I say!
- Hair clip : One was enough.
That's it! That's all I brought with me on my cruise! I hope this detailed post has helped any of you who might be cruising soon! If you have any tips for my next cruise I'd love it if you could leave them in the comments! Let me know if you'd like to see more posts like this one in the future.