Everything You Need to Know about Packing for Your Next Cruise
When it comes to taking a cruise, the clothes you pack can make your experience enjoyable or annoying, if you've forgotten an important item such as a nice dinner outfit or a sweater for chilly days. Consider the average outdoor temperature in your cruise destination when making most of your clothing choices for your next aquatic adventure.
Tropical Daywear Around the Ship
Daywear is all about being casual and comfortable no matter what your plans on board the ship. If on a tropical cruise, shorts and lightweight tops such as T-shirts suffice, or a bathing suit with a wrap or cover-up. A maxi dress or sundress that doesn't wrinkle is a great option for all-around comfort; it's dressy enough to look good no matter what your plans during the day, yet still airy and comfy enough on deck, too. Comfortable sandals or slides with good traction are ideal, keeping in mind that you may do a lot of walking. If you plan on taking in a sporty activity such as playing basketball, tennis shoes and socks are great to have on hand, too.
Pack a sun hat and sunglasses, as the water reflects sunlight, resulting in more rays bouncing towards you as you spend time on deck. Sunscreen is also important if you plan to spend any time outdoors.
If you feel cold in air-conditioned environments, pack a wrap or light sweater to wear indoors.
Cold-Climate Daywear Options
If your cruise is visiting Alaska or another potentially chilly area, you'll need some warm attire to spend any time on deck or on shore. Pack a jacket or winter coat with a hood, a number of sweaters, and jeans, leggings or pants you consider comfortable. Pack sweaters, T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts so you can dress in layers, removing layers as needed once you get indoors. A winter hat and gloves also come in handy if you know it will be in the 40s or below during your trip. Remember, it may feel even cooler than the thermometer indicates on deck while the ship is moving, thanks to windchill.
Dealing with Evening Dress Codes
Many cruise lines impose different dress codes for evening events, depending upon the day. For instance, during most dinner events, "resort casual" attire may be acceptable, while one night likely calls for formal attire. Resort casual can mean a nice top and capris or a dress you might wear out to your favorite local restaurant. If your cruise hosts a formal event, choose an evening gown or a nice dress you'd wear to a fancy restaurant.
Note: Be sure to read the attire guidelines for your cruise, as these vary by cruise and by cruise line. Some have no formal-wear requirements at all, while some forbid jeans, shorts and flip flops in the nicer dining venues at night.
Packing for the Kiddos
Pack the same clothing for the kids that you would on any vacation, including daily play wear, swimwear, shorts (or jackets and hats for a cool-weather cruise), comfortable shoes and at least one nice outfit that each child would wear to a holiday dinner or on school photo day. A baseball cap or sunhat can protect each child from the sun's rays, along with an ample supply of water-resistant sunscreen, especially if they plan on swimming. Pack clothing that is easy to rinse off or even wash in the sink, in case of a ketchup disaster or similar affair.
If you're pregnant, check your cruise line's rules beforehand, as some do not permit pregnant travelers once the traveler is in the third trimester of pregnancy. Also ask your doctor if a cruise is a good idea for you, as a medical professional will have your best interests in mind based on your health history and your pregnancy thus far.
As for apparel, wear the same maternity apparel you would around town, selecting at least a few semi dressy or workplace casual outfits. Comfy shoes and a stretchy waistband on pants and shorts will keep you feeling your best.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.