How to Pack a Suitcase for a Week's Cruise

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Don't leave anything behind when packing for a cruise.
Don't leave anything behind when packing for a cruise. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

The thought of preparing for a week-long cruise can be overwhelming, and it may be tempting to overpack. There are many seas to cruise, and each one has its own packing requirements. A cruise to Alaska, for example, would have a very different packing list from a Caribbean cruise. Whatever your destination, you can learn to pack lightly. Bundle wrapping your clothing will save space and avoid wrinkles, and creating a packing list will help avoid forgetting any essentials.

Things You'll Need

  • Luggage
  • Packing list

Study the cruise itinerary. A cruise in the Caribbean or Mediterranean is likely to be warm. A cruise to Alaska or Norway will require extra clothing to protect against the cold.

Pack lightly to save money. If you need to fly anywhere to reach your cruise ship, you will have to pay extra for any checked luggage. Charges vary by airline, but generally there is a fee for two or more checked bags on international flights, and a fee for all checked baggage on domestic flights. Most cruise lines offer self-service laundries, which eliminates the need to pack an outfit for each day of the week. Limit yourself to one piece of day and night attire for every two days on the cruise.

Create a packing list. Separate the list into sections for a carry-on bag, toiletries bag and main suitcase. Plan what you will wear on each day of the cruise, and stick to one day outfit and one formal outfit for dinner. Creating a list for each day of the cruise will help you plan appropriate outfits, and prevent you from packing more clothes than you need. There are several ready-made packing lists online that can be tailored to your specific needs.

Pack a change of clothing in your carry-on bag so you will have an extra outfit if the airline delays your luggage, or your bags are not brought to your cabin before setting sail.

Pack liquids and sharp objects in a small bag in your checked luggage when flying to your cruise location. In carry-on bags, the Transportation Security Administration will permit liquids in 3.4 ounce bottles placed in a one-quart plastic bag. If you are driving to the cruise ship, keep sharp items separate within your bags to prevent damage to your clothing.

Use the bundle-wrapping method to pack. You will save space and your clothes will have fewer wrinkles. To bundle-wrap, place a pair of pants on a flat surface and another pair of pants or skirt on the surface facing the opposite direction. The two items should overlap slightly. Add a shirt on the center of the overlapping clothes facing out to the left and right. Your clothes should resemble a cross at this point. Place small, bulky items such as shoes or a makeup bag where the four items meet, and beginning with the shirts, fold each article of clothing over the core item.

Tips & Warnings

  • Any replacement item such as toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant or shaving cream may be expensive at the ship’s gift shop.

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