December 10, 2011

December 10, 2011
How to Pack for a Cruise Vacation

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Saturday and I hope you had a safe and great week. It was another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

This is the time of year a lot of people consider taking a cruise to escape the cold of winter. But how do you pack for a cruise?

The average standard cabin on a cruise ship is less than 200 square feet, so pay careful attention to the square footage when booking and packing for your cruise. Learn how to maximize the smaller space with these expert packing tips.

Pick the right suitcase.

The good news is that cruise companies are increasingly designing cabins with room underneath beds to accommodate larger bags.

If there is not space to store a larger suitcase, pack your things in soft sided bags such as rolling duffels, backpacks, and totes that can be flattened after you unpack them.

Keep in mind that there are closets in most cabins, but it is unlikely that they will be stocked with enough hangers to accommodate all of your clothing. You may want to consider bringing several extra hangers with you if you plan to completely unpack your bags (not a bad idea if cruising for longer than two or three days). Pack extra hangers at the bottom of your suitcase, and plan to leave them behind on the ship.

In addition to your suitcase, bring a day bag for ports of call and to carry essentials to different activities around the ship. When boarding, treat your day bag as your carry on bag. The first day you check your luggage at the check in desk, and you are most likely going to be without your bags for about six to eight hours. So pack anything you are going to need for the day, like your bathing suit, sunscreen, and any medications you need to take.

Board wearing a resort casual outfit.

Since it can take some time for your luggage to arrive in your stateroom, pay attention to what you wear when embarking. Aim for resort casual because whatever you are wearing when you board may even need to take you into the evening, especially if there are delays delivering your baggage to your cabin. But the first night of dinner is always casual. People are still getting their luggage and most will not have unpacked.

When in doubt, just stick to classic styles in neutral colors or bright colors and patterns that transition easily from day to night. Consider wearing a pair of khaki or black pants with a a polo shirt. Save your extra casual clothes for later, but if you think you will want them on the first day (for instance, if you plan to hit the pool immediately after you board), just pack them in your tote or personal bag.

Check the dress code.

It used to be that you had to pack for all different occasions formal, semi-formal, evening but the dress code has been simplified. Now most cruise lines stick to a casual dress code most of the time. Even if they do have formal nights, if you do not want to participate, you can just eat at a different restaurant that night. You will not see many people wearing jeans or shorts in the dining room at night, but during the day, anything goes.

There are, however, several cruise lines that take formal nights seriously. Cunard and Crystal Cruises are both lines where people dress more formally. Princess and Carnival are two others where people get excited about getting all dolled up on formal nights. Even on some Disney cruises, there are dress up nights where parents will dress their little boys in tuxedos, and little girls in princess dresses it is a really fun and special ambiance.

Most cruise lines have detailed descriptions of dress codes on their websites. Keep in mind that nearly all cruise ships offer some sort of casual dining service and room service, so you can certainly avoid formal dinners if you want to.

It is always best to leave valuables at home, but if you do want to bring jewelry (perhaps to wear on formal nights), most ships have safes in each cabin. Stash your valuables there along with your passport.

I will conclude this blog tomorrow with more helpful hints. Hope you have a great Saturday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab