The Elegant (but
lightweight) Pack List for a Cruise
By Joan Dann
Packing light is challenging for an elegant cruise. What you bring
on a cruise depends a great deal of the kind of ship it
is.........casual or elegant.........and your plans for
With today's newest and very stingent 50 pound weight limit for bags on
airlines, packing well for a vacation became just a bit harder. If you
are sailing a ship with all the elegant evenings, this takes special
forethought on your part. Even though they say that its two formal
evenings, three "informal" and two "casual"........you are sitting in
such elegant surroundings and eating a wonderful 5 course meal
(with incredible service)...........you will want to look your best
every evening ! Consider that this will be like a fabulous dinner party
every night ! One more great things about cruise ships is that you
unpack once. Once something is in your closet
onboard--you are set. But now that your suitcase can only contain 50
pounds, or you pay a surcharge, you must really think this through ahead
Here are some of my thoughts...........
Most ships provide robes, beach towels (both on deck and if you are
going ashore to the beach) and hair dryers...all depending on your level
of accomodation. Check on this for your particular cruise............and
if they are provided then leave these items at home.....that's half a
suitcase right there !
Ladies----If you are planning on "fine dining"-----Think thru 7
wonderful evenings of dinners and cocktails beforehand. Think Black
!! Black or cream flowy pants or skirts topped with several
different jackets, dressy dinner jackets, big satiny tops..........if
you pack separates you will have so much more milage. Bring several
evening handbags......a nice selection of jewelry........several
different pair of dressy shoes..........several bright colored Pashmina-type
shawls are PERFECT. This will give you lots of color over your basics
and different little accessories to mix and match. These little things
that do not take up much room but will make allllllllll the difference.
Remember...........half the beauty of cruising is that you have these
elegant evenings. On a recent cruise, I brought 2 jackets with me --one
Black flowy elegant one that worked well with black accessories and
flowy black pants for elegant evenings and one Coral one (for a punch of
color over basic bottoms) and wore my Navy Blue Blazer on the plane with
me. In addition to dinner, we had lunch in the nice dining room three
times, breakfast there twice and High Tea one afternoon. All worked over
basic bottoms. (I love to wear my Navy Double Breasted Blazer over cream
or white pants--I always feel so nautical !) For casual clothes, you
will want fun things............some wrap skirts..........bathing suit
(or two !) and coverups (bright sarongs are great), flip-flops & fitness
workout clothes (be sure to bring a pair of sneakers for the workout
room and to wear for shore trips). Cruises can be so romantic and you
will feel so pampered, be sure to bring along a soft and silky robe and
negligee as well. Now.....stand back. Carefully look at what you
have......and then possibly edit yet again. For the lightest
wardrobe........take only black basics, a cream or white pant, and
lots of accessories. The online shopping shows sell a great number
of those nice knit wardrobe sets that really look great and are really
elegant. Order a Black Jacket and Pant and long skirt. They roll up and
you can accessorize them like crazy ! Be sure you have some sort of
Jewelry Roll for jewelry. I do not wear all that much jewelry at home
but when you are dressing for dinner every night on a cruise, its the
bracelets and necklaces that I have collected in our travels that I
reach for. For shoes I bring one pair of little gold flats that are
elegant and a pair of Black "Slides" heels.......that work with
everything including being fine for elegant evenings in addition to the
flip-flops and sneakers. I also have a pair of black flat sandals with
little straps on them. They do not take up any room, are comfortable and
work with everything from casual to elegant.
Kids------Remember no shorts in the nice dining rooms ! I have found
that kids really love these nice evenings and dressing up. Be sure they
bring some nice pants, dress shoes, dresses, a Navy Blazer for boys as
the elegant dinners are really a great experience for them. Where else
can they have 5 courses of anything they want ?? Shrimp cocktails and
lobster always a hit. Teenage boy still hungry ?? What else would he
like ? Another lobster tail ? (Take lots of pictures-this can be great
family time !) I also feel that this has been a wonderful opportunity to
expose our kids to Fine Dining.
Men---Quite Easy ! (Of course !) Tuxedo -optional...........but very
nice for the formal evenings. (Certain ships it is not optional)
Dark Suits also work on some ships.You may consider bringing two tuxedo
shirts or two different sets of Tuxedo Stud Sets for variety. Navy or
basic blazer and dress pants...dress and sport shirts...several
neckties....dress shoes.....khaki pants....knit shirts.....basic
shoes...sneakers...flip-flops....bathing suit....golf clothes if golfing
ashore. Hawaiian type shirt for fun ! A short sleeve linen solid sport
shirt with a collar is lightweight and perfect for casual evenings.So
much depends on the kind of cruise ship you are sailing. (By the
way, Golf shoes as well as golf equipment can be rented.) For longer or
very elegant cruises, I highly recommend a White Dinner Jacket, as there
is simply nothing more dashing. (On a recent 21 day Seabourn
Mediterranean cruise, my clients had 6 Formal nights ! You need
something other than one black tuxedo for all of this !)
You can check two bags with the airlines and carry-on one more. With the
new weight rules of a 50 pound limit, people are finding that carrying
two of the mid-size suitcase is a better choice than one giant one. I
carry-on a garment bag (full of my dress clothes) and a very full large
purse. Bring some sort of granola bars or snacks, bottled water, your
meds, and reading material with you on the plane.....airport and runway
delays are all too common and food is no longer served onboard as it
once was. Also, I always carry-on my bathing suit and sarong and some of
my evening clothing in the hanging bag with me. If my luggage is lost, I
will still have something to wear to dinner and can go to the pool ! (I
do not find replacing a bathing suit at all easy ! There are
nightmare stories of luggage lost and people sailing with the clothes on
their back only.)
Other Good Basic tips.....
~Buy on collapsible, fold-up carryon bag. We have one at the bottom of
our suitcase constantly--never take it out----and cannot tell you how
many times its service has been enlisted for new purchases. My husband
and I each have one and both were used on our last cruise.
~ Pack a pad of Post-It notes to leave messages for your cabin steward
(you will get to know him !), family, and shipboard friends.
~ Have a supply of one-dollar bills handy for tipping airport skycaps
porters at the pier.
~ Don't pack photo film in checked luggage as new airport screening
equipment could ruin it. Put it in your carry-on instead. Bring plenty
of film and Batteries (even if you don't think you need batteries
~ One of my traveler friends told me about putting a rubber band around
wallets in your back pocket will inhibit pickpockets. Some "ports of
call" have large pick-pocket communities....unfortunately.
~ Toss a few empty plastic bags into your suitcase. You may need them
to pack dirty or damp clothes.
~Walkie-Talkies are great for families sailing. Great way to communicate
and stay in touch ! (Particularly important if you are traveling with
~ Tuck fabric softener sheets between garments as you pack to keep
fresh during travels.
~ Bring your own travel alarm clock most staterooms do not have them. Be
sure to wear a watch on a cruise as well. Your daily schedule will
become a well-worn piece of paper that is with you at all
times.....chock full of great lectures, classes, events, parties, floor
shows, Casino Events...etc.etc. Bring your own way to keep track of the
~A nightlight is great for inside cabins, particularly. They are DARK.
~ This idea is for anyone who lives in a colder climate and is traveling
winter to a warm weather cruise. When you put your summer wardrobe away
the winter, set aside the casual outfits, sandals, swimwear, and
you want to wear on your cruise and store them in the suitcase you plan
use. You'll be at least half packed and won't be hunting down an outfit
pair of shoes later. You will also free up some drawer and/or closet
at the same time. Hang your evening clothes in a separate area of your
closet and pack them when you're ready to leave for your trip.
~ Pre-address stick-on labels for postcards to the folks back home & you
won't have to carry along a bulky address book. Don't forget email
addresses !! All ships today are "connected" and you may want to fire
off a quick note to family and friends....maybe even forward photos to
them....from the ship.
~All those elegant and lovely Five-course meals at night need a
bottle of wine ! Did you know that you can carry on your own wine and
will simply have to pay a $10 or $15 corkage fee (plus tip) ? When you
consider that you already own many of these bottles and that the normal
price onboard starts at $40....you are ahead of the game by packing and
bringing your own. Simply divide them up.....wrapped in a plastic
grocery bag.....amidst soft clothing. I have done this often and have
not had one break yet. But check on this ahead of travelling....some
cruise lines no longer offer this option and many have made recent
~ Make two copies of your passport, driver's license, and credit cards
before leaving home-in addition to your Cruise Documents, and Trip
Travel Insurance. Leave one set of copies in a safe place on your ship.
If the ship's purser holds your passport (which is sometimes the case,
expedite clearing the ship in foreign ports), carry the passport copy
with you. Leave the other copies with a friend or family member at
~ Binoculars ---lightweight, small ones..........particularly for
Alaska, Hawaii, Europe !
~A compact umbrella. I now carry one that is tiny--6" long--in a
little carrying case.
~Your own insulated water bottle with carrying strap. Another great
item to have in your tote to carry ashore. I fill with some on that
non-stop ice cold water my Cabin Steward keeps constantly refreshing.
~A hanging Toiletries kit for the tiny bathroom. Limited counter
space is always a problem so making good use of vertical space is a good
idea. I cannot tell you how valuble this item is in those small
bathrooms ! It is found space.
~ Print cards with your name, address, phone number, & email
share with new friends. Having your cards handy sure beats hunting
for pens & scribbling on scraps of paper to swap addresses. Fun,
inexpensive, colorful cards can be ordered online from a company called
plenty of time to order and receive these !)
~ Leave any paperback novels you've finished for the crew library.
have more room in your suitcase and crewmembers will have fresh reading
material--they will really appreciate this !
~ Don't forget to pack and USE your sunscreen. Why take the chance of a
nasty sunburn ruining a great cruise vacation? Protect your skin from
and aging. Throw in something for Sunburn too. People have a way of
overdoing on vacation.
~ Check the balance of your on-board account before the end of
Straighten out any discrepancies immediately (check your balance a
couple of times during your cruise) and avoid a long line at the
Purser's Desk that last morning after your final bill arrives. Actually,
try to do the final late in the afternoon of the last night...try to
beat the rush ! Many ships now have the ability to do this on the tv
monitor in your stateroom. It is really quite easy and avoids those long
~ Don't you all look gorgeous in your formal attire? Have a family
taken to preserve the memory. There's no obligation to purchase any
you don't care for.
~Don't forget work out clothes. They say you can gain 2 pounds a day
on a cruise ship from all the fabulous food ! "You come on as a
passenger and leave as cargo." Bring your sneakers and get ready to
sweat a little at a class or in the exercise room. Relax afterwards in
their wonderful saunas and steam rooms. The onboard steam rooms are one
of my absolute favorite things to do.
~and my all time favorite..........(depending on what type of
trip, ship, elegance level etc etc)...........bring t-shirts you might
want to work out in.......sleep in..........tour in...that you will wear
and leave behind as they are dirty.......this will give
you room in your suitcase for your wonderful purchases made while
traveling....a little more room in a drawer at home for your new
purchases once you return. This is a VERY important tip if you are
trying to pack light. Let's say you are planning to sail the
Mediterranean this summer for 10 days. You are flying over 4 days early
to do some touring..........maybe flying into Paris but then sailing out
of Rome. Packing "disposable clothing" for those 4 days is really a
Have a wonderful trip ..........Bon Voyage !........there
is no better way to travel, in my opinion.
Joan Dann can be reached via her website at
www.Dann-Online.com and email
her at email@example.com.
She is President of Great Explorations ! Travel and a
Cruise Expert. She is
also Co-Owner of Dann Mens Clothing & Dann Formal Wear as well as other
upscale shops at
www.Dann-Online.com and has spent almost 30 years in the better