When people are going on a vacation, there are relatively easy ways to decide what to pack. If you've been to this locale before, you could be a seasoned pro and know exactly what you need - otherwise, ask family or friends who have been there, look on the Internet or check the weather ahead of time. This will give an indication of what type of clothing you're going to wear - it also helps if you've planned excursions and similar things ahead of time.
This holds true when you take a traditional vacation - a plane journey, train ride or road trip to your destination, then turn around and come home. However, if you're on a cruise, things can be drastically different, throwing off your packing plans. You'll be inside for a lot of the trip, but you might want to hang out on the deck and then need to figure out what the temperature will be like on the water, and you could be going on land excursions here and there. And that's just concerning clothing - you'll also have to think about the accessories, entertainment and documents you're going to need or want.
This can be daunting, especially for those who have never taken to the high seas before. So, here's a primer: if you're travelling on a cruise, what should you plan to pack?
A power strip
Whether you're in an economy room or a first class suite, outlets are likely going to be few and far between while on a cruise ship. As such, much like when you're travelling almost anywhere else or spending time at an airport, bringing a power strip can do wonders. If you need your cell phone, e-reader, MP3 player, tablet, laptop, hairdryer, iron, camera and other accessories plugged in at the same time, this is really the only way you're going to be successful.
As seasoned cruise veterans know, ship lines tend to be stingy with clothing hangers. Shipmate App estimated that the average closet contains eight of them - which may not be enough if you're travelling with someone else and/or have a lot of things that need to be hung. Those in the know will pack a few extra hangers. This way, they have ample room to hang whatever they want, including wet clothing - bathing suits, extra towels and wet rain jackets. They don't take up a lot of room in suitcases, so even if you don't use them, you won't be sacrificing a lot of room.
This will vary for each trip and your personal preferences, of course. Chances are extremely good that you're going to need much more casual and informal clothing options. However, many, if not most, cruise ships feature at least one formal dinner in the main dining room. For instance, according to the Royal Caribbean website, even a short cruise of three nights will feature one formal dining experience. Plus, this opens up your options when dining on shore - if you find a fancy spot you want to try out, that's an option if you have the right attire as a backup.
If you're travelling on a cruise, especially in warm weather regions, you're probably going to spend a lot of time outdoors, whether that's in an on-board pool, your own balcony or the main deck, not even considering the hours you'll spend at ports of call. And because you're on the water, that means a harsher glare from the sun on the waves. Make sure you're properly protected - think about hats, bathing suit cover-ups, sunglasses and sunscreen.
While travelling, many people are very cognizant of packing the prescriptions they need each day. But you should take extra caution to pack the backups as well - think about medicine along the lines of pain relievers, headache pills and, perhaps most crucially, an anti-nausea aid. You can probably find these things on the ship, but you'll likely have to pay a lot for them. It's also important to note that you should store this in a carry-on, because there's a very good chance your luggage may take hours to finally make its way to your room.
Shoes take up a lot of room in suitcases, so it's easy to skimp and only bring the bare essentials. On a ship, this probably means fancy shoes for those formal dining opportunities and flip-flops for hanging around the ship, the pool or the beach when you anchor. However, it's also important to pack those that are good for walking so you're not miserable and in pain when exploring the ship or whatever port of call you sail into. Extra considerations should be made if you plan to spend time in an on-board gym or at a golf course when docked.