Cruising season is fast upon us, and I know that a bunch of you have already booked, including a few first timers! So I have decided to write a general guide on what to pack for a cruise. This guide is meant for the most popular cruise destinations from Australia: the South Pacific, South East Asia and New Zealand. These suggestions come from information supplied by cruise lines, my personal experiences and suggestions from seasoned cruisers. Cruise lines do vary with some policies, so I have kept the below as general as possible. If you are not sure on your cruise lines policies, events or inclusions please check with them directly or call us at Snowy River Travel on 02 6456 1010.
Carry-on bag/Day Pack
Your general luggage will be checked in and brought to your cabin, however depending on your boarding time and the organization of your ship, this may not be delivered until the evening, so it is important to pack a few essentials you may need in a carry-on bag. I usually use the bag that will double as a day pack for shore excursions for this purpose.
• ID/Passports and boarding pass
• Credit cards and Cash: It is also a good idea to bring some small denominations of cash in the currency of the places you are visiting and in the currency of the ship for tips and such. Coins are also useful for the laundry. Personally I prefer to pay my onboard account in cash as well to avoid credit card fees and held deposits. It is wise to withdraw this cash from your bank as ATM fees onboard are high. Casinos generally operate on cash.
• Medications: In addition to any prescription medication, I also pack some basics just in case. These include: Panadol, Gastro medication, antibacterial spray/cream, band aids, after sun/aloe, antihistamines. You may also wish to bring sea sickness medication.
• Electronics: Bring your phone/kindle/tablet in your carry on, and a camera for boarding selfies!
• Insurance: Don’t even think about boarding without having Travel Insurance.
• Snack: Some ships board quickly and efficiently. Some don’t. I learnt this one the hard way, don’t let hunger tarnish the start of your holiday! Just remember that you cannot bring fruit or vegetables onboard so keep it pre-packaged.
• Sun smart items: Sail away parties are generally held on deck in fine weather. Bring sunscreen and sunglasses as a minimum.
• Swimwear: If you want to jump straight into the pool.
• Lanyard: If you don’t want to buy one on board.
• Entertainment for the kids: If you have any!
• Drinks/allowed alcohol: Each cruise line has their own restrictions on Alcohol and drinks brought onboard. Some allow 1 Bottle of wine per person, others only allow 12 loose packed soft drink cans. Please check your allowance before boarding, otherwise items may be confiscated.
• Pen: For filling out forms ect. You never know when one can come in handy!
Each cruise line has its own baggage restrictions, however generally it is 2 bags of 32 kg each. You will not need this much luggage! All bags are scanned on arrival, so be aware not to pack any of the restricted items outlined by the cruise line. Don’t forget to attach your supplied luggage tag with your name and room number.
• Clothes: Dress code can vary between cruise lines however in general you will need the following:
o Casual: To wear during the day. This would include something to throw over swimwear and sensible, sun smart clothing for shore tours.
o Smart Casual: Most nights are generally smart casual for any of the restaurants?
o Formal/Cocktail: Nearly all cruises will have at least one formal night. The degree that you dress up may depend on the cruise line, however dressing up is not compulsory. I recommend it though as it is great fun! Some ships even offer tux hire. One tip though, ladies leave your super high heels at home unless you are VERY confident with your ability to walk in them on a moving ship.
o Warm clothes: Even when cruising in the tropics, the evenings (and the Air-conditioning) can be cool. One or two clothing pieces that are a little warmer should be enough (more if going to Tasmania or New Zealand).
o Shoes: Sandals and sneakers are fine for the day time. Slightly dressier shoes for dinner and formal nights. Don’t forget your dancing shoes and comfortable walking shoes for shore tours are a must!
o Costume/Theme nights: Most cruise lines have themed or costume nights. Some people go all out with elaborate costumes, or you can just pack a couple of key pieces. Each cruise line will have an outline of which events to expect on their websites to help you plan ahead. Go for it! Dressing up is fun!
o Swimwear: Most people recommend packing 2 sets so that you can wear the other while one set is drying.
• Laundry bag: Especially on a longer cruise. Some people swear by pop up laundry hampers, however I find a pillow case works well too.
• Sewing kit: I once found myself in a wardrobe emergency and in need of a sewing kit. I managed with a pack of safety pins purchased onboard for 3 times the price. Next time I will bring a small kit.
• Bug Spray: A strong DEET spray is a must for any of the tropical destinations.
• Toiletries: Most ships supply soap and shampoo, however I recommend bringing your own if you have a preference for such things. Bring a good moisturizer and lip balm as the air-conditioning can be drying.
• Sun Smart: Be sun smart! Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, clothing with coverage and a hat. Don’t forget after sun or aloe!
• Good Attitude: Many people forget to pack this one. A positive attitude goes a long way to having the best cruise ever!
Optional extras and suggestions from cruisers:
Thank you to everyone who suggested these!
• Laundry Powder: If you wish to do your own washing. Some ships do not offer self-service laundries and those who do have laundry powder to buy, but it is cheaper to bring your own.
• Power board: Some ships will not let you bring a power board, but others will. Some ships (i.e. P&O Aria and Eden) have very limited power points so this may be needed.
• Power Converter: Remember that even though you are cruising from Australia, the ship may not have Australian ports. Check with the cruise line before departure.
• Pegs/Carousel dryer: This one came up a lot when I asked. The carousel clothes drier is an extremely popular option for drying swimmers. Pegless line works well too.
• Highlighters and Bingo Dabbers: Highlighters are useful for planning out your day on the day planner. Bingo dabbers can be purchased onboard, however they retail for a lot more than if you bring them with.
• Glen 20/antibacterial spray: Some people swear by spraying Glen 20 throughout their cabin to help ward against germs.
• Water Bottle: Remember it must be empty or will not be allowed on board. To fill with water for excursions instead of buying expensive bottled water.
• Reef shoes/Snorkel/Fins/Pool Noodles: For those looking to snorkel or swim near reefs. Pool Noodles help out those who are not strong swimmers. Snorkels and Fins can usually be hired, however I prefer my own.
• Post it notes: For leaving messages for your travel companions. These help a lot with group coordination!
• Umbrella/Poncho: For rainy shore excursions.
• Styptic Pencil: This one was suggested by a gentleman; apparently comes in handy when trying to shave on a moving ship!
• Thermal Rashie: So you can snorkel in any condition.
• Shoe Organiser: One that hangs over a door for additional storage.
• Thermos: To have hot coffee/tea/chocolate late at night.
• Tea & Coffee: Some people prefer their own. I attest to this one on American cruise lines, they have no idea how to do good tea!
• Plastic bags: For damp clothes ect or packing items that may leak in your bag.
• Gifts: Some people like to bring along school supplies for the children on the islands or gifts for your room stewards.
• Night light: Interior rooms especially are extremely dark! Save your travel companions eyes by bringing a torch or night light to find your way to the bathroom.
• Watch: You will rarely carry your phone around, plus the time zones will not always update correctly.
What NOT to pack:
Each cruise line has a long list of banned items that make a fair bit of sense, such as weapons or corrosive materials. I have not added these here, these lists can be found on the websites of your cruise line.
• Towels: Both beach towels and bath towels are supplied on cruise ships. And YES the beach towels can be taken ashore!
• Alcohol: Unless specifically stated by the cruise line, don’t BYO! It will be confiscated.
• Candles: Fire Hazard.
• Irons: On some ships these will be available in the laundry, but do not bring one as it will be confiscated.
• Hair Dryers: They have them on board. You can bring them if you want, but you don’t need them.
• Heelys: Not allowed. Also no Bikes, scooters or skateboards.
• Work: You are on holiday remember! Plus the wi-fi will be expensive and slow.
Do you have anything that you wouldn’t cruise without? Let us know in the comments below!