Cruise TipsPacking10 Tips for Packing Light on Your Cruise

10 Tips for Packing Light on Your Cruise

Packing for your upcoming cruise is an exciting time. When “Packing Time” arrives, you know vacation is near! Only a few more “sleeps” until vacation starts.

Our free cruise newsletter offers the latest cruise news and deals: Sign Up

Suitcase and luggage in cruise ship hallway in front of cabins
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

One thing that plagues many of us is overpacking. Packing too much is easy to do and tends to cause issues on your trip. Keep in mind that cruise cabins tend to run on the small side, so space is at a premium.

Luckily, it is absolutely possible to pack light for your cruise, without leaving out the important stuff. Grab a pen, take notes, and you’ll be well on your way to packing light on your next cruise.


1. Limit Your Luggage Size

luggage on a cruise with porters with cruise ship in background in PortMiami
Photo Credit: Cruise Fever

While it may sound simple, the first thing you should consider is the size/amount of luggage you intend to take. If you plan to take an entire set of luggage, you will most definitely overpack.

Limit yourself to a small rolling suitcase(or even a carry-on for the expert packers!). Utilize all of the hidden pockets and compartments that may be there. It’s easy to forget the front outer pocket on a rolling suitcase. This is the perfect spot for flip-flops!

Related: How much luggage can you bring onto a cruise ship?


2. Make a List…..and Stick to It!

Photo 150739892 © Citalliance |

Creating a packing list is vital. Not only will you remember everything you need, you are less likely to pack things you DON’T need.

Be sure to give yourself plenty of time and start your list weeks before your trip, if you are able to. This will allow you the time to make modifications and have time to pack things you may have forgotten.


3. Use Packing Cubes

At first, packing cubes seemed a bit like a “fad”. After first-hand use, I can attest that it is necessary and not even remotely a fleeting trend.

Packing cubes allow you to organize your clothing and other items more efficiently. Use the smaller cubes for underwear and the larger cubes for shoes or heavier clothing. Once you have everything in a cube, you can arrange them in your luggage. You will find that you have more space and your organization skills are on point.

Read more: 10 things you should never do in your cruise cabin


4. Pack Basics

Woman holding shoes with suitcase getting ready for a trip
Cruise packing doesn’t have to be stressful. Organization and planning is key. Photo Credit: 150258275 © Citalliance |

This tip is an oldie but a goodie. When packing, choose some basic pieces that can be worn more than once.

Ladies may want to pack a cute skirt and bring a couple of dressy tops to go with it.  This allows you to easily make two completely different outfits. Bring khaki shorts for during the day, along with several t-shirts to match.

Guys, you may want to pack a dark pair of dress pants and two polos to match. This will give you two different dinner outfits. Consider a couple of pairs of board shorts for during the day and t-shirts to wear throughout the week.


5. Watch the Weather

clothing packing suitcase for Alaska

Closely paying attention to the weather is essential when packing for a cruise. Be sure to keep an eye out for the forecast in each port you will be visiting.

If you are sailing to Alaska, your packing list will look very different to those sailing to the Caribbean. For an Alaskan cruise, you will need heavier coats, waterproof shoes, and general cold weather gear. Some cruises to Alaska do fall during times when it is warmer though, so pack accordingly.

Don’t pack your hooded coat and boots if you are sailing to warmer climates. More than likely, you will want to pack shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits.

Do your due diligence and research your cruise destinations. There’s no need to bring every season of clothing you own for every itinerary.

Read more: Cruise packing made easy in 10 simple steps


6. Consider Skipping Formal Nights

formal night on a cruise ship
Skipping formal night will free up some space in your luggage.

While this may be wildly unpopular with some, skipping formal night is one way to reduce the amount of luggage you take. Packing additional formal clothing will take up space that isn’t absolutely necessary.

If you prefer to eat at the Lido or other alternate dining for dinner anyway, there’s no need to pack extra formal clothes. Sometimes, people bring tuxedos and formal dresses that must be packed in a suit bag. Removing these items from your list can definitely save space.

Related: 18 worst things to pack on a cruise that will get you banned from the ship


7. Plan to Utilize the Laundry Service

If you don’t mind spending a little cash for laundry service (or if you receive free laundry as a past guest perk), you can easily cut down on the amount of luggage you take on your next cruise. In fact, you can cut your packing list in half!

Halfway through the cruise, send your clothing out for the laundry service, via your room steward. Usually by the next day, your clothes will be returned, clean and ready for wear. There’s no need to pack extra clothing if you intend on having your clothing washed onboard.

Related: Cruise ships with self-service laundry listed here


8. Coordinate Clothing Around A Few Pairs of Shoes

Taking ten pairs of shoes probably isn’t necessary for your next trip. Taking an excessive amount of shoes can completely use up your packing space.

Try picking out two or three pairs of shoes, then create your outfits around them. Choose a neutral pair of flip flops or sandals for during the day. Bring a pair or two of dressier shoes for dinner than can also be utilized with other outfits.

Related: Best shoes to pack and wear on a cruise


9. Go Digital!

Using ereaders and digital books on cruise like ipad

Reading is a favorite pastime for many on a cruise. Packing your favorite paperbacks was the norm for years, until technology granted us e-readers.

Consider packing a Kindle or Ipad for your next cruise. You can download your books to the e-reader, without having to lug several books in your suitcase. This will save space for souvenirs (or more shoes!).


10. Ditch the Snacks

Wanting to pack snacks is perfectly understandable, especially for children or picky eaters. If this isn’t necessary for your party, consider skipping it.

There will always be food available on the cruise ship. Many cruise ships offer ice cream throughout the day, as well as fresh fruit on the buffet. Not only will you save space by not packing snacks, you will save cash by not purchasing these ahead of time.

Be sure to start your packing list early. This will ensure that you pack adequately and efficiently. Packing light will give you more space for bringing back souvenirs for your family and any duty-free purchases you may make.

Read more:  15 things people always forget to pack on a cruise

Learn the cruise secrets most people don't know and cruise like a boss. Check out Intelligent Cruiser here for a better cruise vacation. (Sponsored)

Kristi Sellers
Kristi Sellers
Kristi took her first cruise when she was 12 years old and is currently planning her 20th. When she isn’t cruising, she loves to visit the Smoky Mountains. Kristi lives in Alabama with her husband and fur baby, Chico.
Cruise TipsPacking10 Tips for Packing Light on Your Cruise

Recent Popular Posts