How to pack light for a cruise

When it comes to experiencing complete relaxation, not much compares to a cruise. These trips give you the chance to experience some of the world’s most idyllic locations in comfort and luxury.   

Choosing a cruise over simply visiting your desired location can mean balancing relaxation and the experience of a different culture without the need to tire yourself out walking or driving long distances. Between the option to go all inclusive, the variety of locations, and the selection of on-board activities and entertainment, it’s no surprise that cruises are a popular holidaying alternative for so many people.   

As with any type of holiday, one consideration is what you’ll take with you on your cruise. In this post, we offer advice on what to pack - and importantly what not to pack - when you head off on these adventures.

What to pack for a 14-day cruise

Over the course of a 14-day cruise, you could reach a point where your options for clothing run thin, especially if the cruise ship you’re staying on doesn’t have any laundry facilities. But with some careful planning, you can make sure you cover all bases.  


You should be prepared for all weather you might encounter over the course of your cruise, whether you’re heading to soak up some Caribbean sun or visiting colder destinations, such as Iceland, Norway or Alaska during winter.

For men -

Chinos are often a great option for these trips because they’re so versatile and can be dressed up or down. You should also bring at least one pair of smart trousers, a smart shirt and a blazer for formal evenings.  

Rather than bringing several pairs of shoes, consider a pair of loafers, as they can be suitable for both formal evenings and casual afternoons. In terms of tops, pack a few pairs of lightweight short-sleeved shirts and polo shirts. By using these as alternatives to t-shirts, you’ll have more options for mixing and matching with your formal wear.

For women - 

Try to pack items of clothing that can be used to work with different styles. This will help you to achieve a range of different looks without taking up too much room in your suitcase. For instance, a casual maxi dress could be used for a formal meal by simply adding a smart necklace and a pair of block heel shoes.   

You’ll probably want to bring at least two pairs of shoes so you can look the part in both formal and casual situations. This could be as easy as taking a pair of smart shoes and a more relaxed pair of sandals. Light, loose-fitting blouses and shirts can be perfect for cruises as they tend to be comfortable and can look stylish. If you’re going on a cruise in a warmer climate but are concerned about it raining or becoming cold, you could bring a light waterproof coat or cardigan with you.

A fashionable older couple enjoying their cruise.

Other essentials

You should put travel documentation as a top priority for any holiday, as you may not be able to travel without it. This includes your passport, booking information and medical insurance. To avoid losing any of these items, consider keeping them safe in a plastic wallet.     

After this, you should consider what you would normally need in a typical day. If you’re on medication, you’ll need to bring it, ensuring there’s enough for the entire time you’re away. Toiletries also come into this, such as toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen and hairspray. Fortunately, unlike airplanes, cruises don’t limit the amount of fluids you’re allowed to bring on board, so it’s one less thing to worry about when you’re deciding on what to bring.

Anything else you might think of packing is likely to be based on personal preference. This could be a camera to take pictures of the sights you’ll see, a mobile phone for keeping in touch with your family, or the currency of the destinations you’ll be stopping at to bring back a souvenir.

What not to pack for a cruise

While being prepared for every eventuality may seem like a good idea, there are some things that there's just no need to bring on a cruise. Free up space in your bags by leaving the following items behind.

More clothes than you need - 

Showing a variety of styles to your shipmates might be something you’re interested in doing, but if you’re planning on bringing a completely different outfit for each day, you’re likely to run out of room fast. As mentioned previously, consider using clothing that will work with other items you’re bringing on board.

Creature comforts - 

Avoid taking too many creature comforts and household items in your luggage. If you’re midway through your favourite book, it could be tempting to bring it with you, especially as a cruise is the ideal opportunity to read. You shouldn’t be put off from doing this, but if it’s taking up space and adding unnecessary weight, you could consider bringing an e-reader instead.

Household appliances - 

Appliances such as irons and hair dryers may make you feel more at home and put your mind at ease, but as your cruise ship is likely to offer these appliances, there may not be a need to bring them with you. Check with your cruise company to see what they provide.   

Bear in mind that bringing certain electrical items may be against the rules anyway. Also, if you’re concerned about creasing your clothes and the cruise doesn’t have irons on board, you could bring a wrinkle release spray.

Food and drink - 

Bringing a kettle or coffee machine on board to save you money on refreshments will take up extra space and, more often than not, it’s against the rules anyway.   

You might also be tempted to bring homemade food in your luggage, but it’s also likely to be against the rules unless it’s sealed and prepackaged. Alcohol is often confiscated during boarding checks and returned at the end of the cruise. However, oddly enough, wine is sometimes an exception. Check the rules to ensure you know what you are and aren’t allowed.

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