The mysterious formula for packing for a cruise can make a rocket scientist run off and build a shack on a deserted island.
Here are some great tips for packing for your seven-night cruise without needing a shipping container.
For gentlemen cruisers, a dark suit, two good shirts, a pair of slacks and dress shoes can take you through the seven nights without repeating an outfit.
If you are sailing the Caribbean, three pairs of shorts and three shirts work well with the mix-and-match method. Also, don't forget good walking shoes and a bathing suit.
These items will get you through the week. The only other items of course would be underwear and toiletries.
Be sure to pack medications and a change of underwear in carry-on luggage, as well as a shirt and slacks. This is in the event of lost luggage.
Passports and cruise documents should be on your person, not packed.
For women cruisers, bring three skirts and/or slacks with blouses or sweaters, which can be mixed and matched. Dresses are great, but you only normally get one night's wear out of a dress. If you really need to have that special dress, be sure it is a dress that packs well. Women normally like to have shoes for every outfit, but for a cruise, pick out a basic pair that can take you from country club casual to formal attire.
Daytime on a cruise, for women, is basically the same as for men: three pairs of shorts or capris; three tops, which can be mixed and matched with the shorts and capris; a bathing suit; a good pair of walking shoes; and sandals for the pool/spa area.
Women will probably have room for that sundress if you stick to the above guideline. Of course, we need our toiletries and make-up.
Most cruise lines provide shampoo and conditioner in your stateroom bath. As a precautionary measure, you might want to pack a travel size container of both. Most ships have hairdryers in the stateroom. If in doubt, ask a travel agent for information.
Check with your travel agent to see if the ship you have chosen has a self- service laundry. If it does, you might want to pack a small bottle of laundry detergent and some fabric softener sheets in case you need to wash clothing.
Sending laundry out to be cleaned can be expensive on a ship, and most things are returned starched and ironed, even underwear.
When you are selecting your wardrobe, reconsider those jeans that you were going to take. They are bulky and take a lot of room in the suitcase, plus jeans are unacceptable in the evening for dining.
Opt for lighter-weight casual slacks. A must for all cruises is a lightweight jacket; a rain repellent one is a plus. If you are sailing to Alaska, New England/Canada or Northern Europe you may want to have a fleece lined jacket as well. Also, in cruising to these areas, you might want to substitute slacks for shorts. Even in the Caribbean, women will want a light jacket or sweater for onboard, as it can be quite cool in the evenings.
Here is a hint to avoid wrinkles when packing: roll instead of fold. This promotes fewer wrinkles. Shirts and tops folded within each other minimize wrinkles. Pack socks and or hosiery inside shoes and put shoes in the plastic bags you get your newspaper in.
Put any liquids into zippered plastic bags. This will prevent spillage and ruined clothing.
Another tip is to use those vacuum-style plastic bags for bulky items of clothing. It will save space; imagine fewer suitcases to transfer.
Kate Fowkes is a travel consultant with Gadabout Travel in Melbourne. She can be reached at (321) 253-3674 or www.cruisetraveltours.com.
Gadabout Travel also has an office in Sebastian, (772) 589-0633.