This August, my husband and I took our first cruise, which included Croatia, Greece and Italy. We had a wonderful time, but because we had never been on a cruise or to the Mediterranean before, we didn’t really know how to pack. We soon learned that it is much more convenient and economical to bring some items with us rather than buying them on the boat or shore, where prices are higher and choice is lower. Now that we have done the trip, I can share some of my advice on how to pack for a cruise, so that you can have the great vacation you are looking for.
Of course, some of these items will be more or less important depending on the season in which you go. We went in August, one of the hottest months to travel there. Be sure to look into the temperatures for the month you are going in order to pack as well as possible.
Small Backpack or Messenger Bag: This is essential for carrying many of the items mentioned below. Some people bring a large bag that hangs on the shoulder, but if you are planning on doing anything active like hiking, climbing or even walking for long distances, I recommend a bag that you can wear on your back, in order to avoid shoulder pain. (And don’t depend on a large purse, or the man in the group won’t ever take his turn holding it!)
Personal Identification, etc.: Don’t forget your passports, airplane tickets and credit cards. Also call your credit card company before leaving, to notify it of your travel plans. You don’t want to be stuck with no available funds so far away from home! If this is your honeymoon, I recommend holding off on the name change until the vacation is over, so that your name matches your airplane ticket and passport. If you did change your name, take your marriage license along to settle any disagreements (hopefully).
Sun Protection: The following are very important for protecting your scalp, face and body.
Sunscreen: Everyone should bring this, no matter the skin type. For people like me who burn very easily, I recommend a spray to make reapplying easy, and also a non-oily lotion that works well on the face, to avoid skin irritation later in the trip. One bottle of spray and one bottle of regular sunscreen was enough for both my husband and myself. Hat: The hot sun can do a number on your scalp and also just beat heat down on your head. Keep cooler with a sun hat or Panama hat. If you forget to bring it, you can also buy one from a stand during your trip. Sunglasses: Pretty self-explanatory here.
Appropriate Clothes for the Shore: You would think that choosing clothes would be easy. Hot weather means tanks tops and shorts, right? Well, depending on where you go, not really. Research for your particular area, but this is what we found important for the Mediterranean.
Light pants: Many places in the Mediterranean, especially churches and restaurants, require more coverage than one might expect. This means no shorts. We brought some light linen cargo pants; they were almost as cool as shorts, and had convenient pockets for our passports and cards, which were safer to keep on our persons than in a separate bag. Skirts that hang below the knee: Skirts are not required, but feel cooler than pants. If you choose to bring a skirt, make it on the longer side. T-shirts: Tank tops are likewise considered inappropriate in many areas, so cotton t-shirts are good to bring. Lighter colors will absorb less sun than darker colors, so keep cool with white or pastel shirts.
Water Bottle: The cruise ship will sell you water on your way to the shore, but usually at a high price. I recommend bringing your own water bottles (one for each person traveling with you) and filling them up in your cabin before you go. If you forget your water bottle, you may want to wait to get on shore to buy a cheaper bottle of water than you will get on the ship.
Comfortable Walking Shoes: There will plenty of time on the cruise ship to wear your cute shoes, but don’t try it on the shore. If you will be doing a lot of walking, bring a pair of sneakers that you have worn at least a few times before. You will be much happier than the person who decided to hike through ancient ruins in flip-flops.
Medicines and similar supplies: Once you are on the boat, you are at the mercy of the cruise ship if you need medicines. I got a small cold on the ship and ended up having one choice for cold medicine; it was a brand I’d never heard of and three times the price of pills I could have bought at home. Think about your common traveling ailments and plan accordingly; here are a few items you might want to pack for a cruise:
Your prescription meds Motion sickness pills Stomach remedies (for problems such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea, etc.) Feminine hygiene products Allergy pills Cough drops Cold medicine
Dress Clothes: You may want to visit a nice restaurant or club on shore. Also, many ships have “formal nights,” in which men wear suits and ties and women wear nice dresses (pretty much the type of thing you would wear to an evening wedding). My husband and I didn’t know this- he only had a pair of khakis and button-down shirt, and I only had a casual day dress. We felt pretty uncomfortable at dinners sitting next to all the nicely dressed couples… so bring a nice outfit for each of you.
White Clothes: The ship may also have nights in which the passengers wear white clothes to dinner. I have no idea why ships do this, but you may want to pack a white shirt in case. Even if you think the idea is silly, you’ll appreciate having it when you are on the shore in the heat, since white clothing is cooler than dark clothing.
The Other Stuff: While you are packing all of the items above, don’t forget about the common sense items that are often left behind, like cameras, batteries, swimwear, phones, etc. Write a list beforehand so you don’t forget anything in the frenzy of last minute planning.
These tips, along with your own research of the places you are visiting, should help you pack well for your trip. If I have forgotten any that you think could help others pack for a cruise, please feel free to comment below. Most of all, enjoy yourself!