A little over a month of living on the cruise ship, and I’m finally beginning to get into the swing of things here. Before getting hired to perform on the Oasis, I can’t say that I’d be someone that chooses cruising as a way of travel. I have to admit, it’s extremely convenient for those that are less adventurous or able to explore on their own. Everything you could need is at your fingertips, and so much extra you never thought you’d want.
Now that I’m living a lifestyle I never thought I would, cruising to different Caribbean ports each week, I’m slowly becoming an expert at where to go, what you need, and the most efficient way to go about it all.
With cruising, you really do have it all too easy; reliable, well-kept accommodations, good variety of luxury foods, and more activities and shows than you can fit in your day. Not to mention, being able to visit multiple places in one week, all without having to move your suitcase, change hotels, or taxi to airports and train stations.
For those that are newbies on cruises, like I was (still sort-of am), don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. If its’ your first cruise, you’re probably not sure what to pack. Not surprising because you’re vacationing in the middle of the ocean with different stops in a few countries, while also needing outfits for night time shows, and formal attire for specialty restaurants and events.
If you’re old enough to go on a cruise, I don’t need to remind you to pack socks and underwear, or the obvious items like t-shirt and shorts for the hot Caribbean weather. However, because cruising is unlike any other way of travel, I think you’ll find it helpful to have a little guidance on some of the essentials you should bring on a one-week Caribbean cruise.
Quick Wardrobe Guide:
First things first: Don’t make the mistake that swimsuits, short shorts and a tank tops are all that you’ll need on the cruise. Don’t be the girl that wears her swimsuit in the cafeteria to eat, bring a cover up of some sort. Don’t be the guy that walks around grabbing food with his stomach out. You’ll need more than just bring and heels, trust me, you will want shoes to walk around in if you’re going far.
Daytime clothes: For the ladies, my advice would be to wear casual skirts, shorts, or sundresses during the daytime on the ship. For the guys, shorts and a t-shirt will do, just don’t walk around shirtless if you’re inside. Remember that there’s tons of different activities to do during sea days that aren’t just laying by the pool. Shorts or a cover up of some-sort is a must-have for sea and port days. Remember there is a gym onboard and other activities that you may want workout clothes for. Daytime is always pretty casual. Don’t forget a pair of sneakers, you’ll want them depending on your shore excursions and for activities around the ship.
Evenings: Cruise ships assign dress codes that aren’t mandatory, but are highly preferred. These vary from casual, semi-formal, formal, theme nights, etc., that take effect in restaurants, bars, and other public areas from 6pm onwards. Seven night trips typically have two formal nights, and the rest being semi-formal and smart-casual. For the ladies, I’d recommend bringing two nicer dresses, and the rest being outfits that you’d go to happy hour in or for a girl’s night out. For the guys, you don’t necessarily need a tuxedo, more commonly, it’s suits or a sports jacket on formal nights. On semi-formal and casual evenings, jeans and a nice t-shirt or button up (short or long sleeve) would do. Just remember to respectful of the environment, but have your own style and obviously do what you’re comfortable with.
Now that we’ve briefly covered that, here’s my top 12 packing essentials that you may want to consider bringing with you when you board for your cruise to the Caribbean.
No. 1. Passport/ID: This is a must-have in order to get on board and be able to get off at different ports. Even if you are a U.S. Citizen and you’re getting onboard in Florida, you will need to have a passport to get onboard, since you’ll be docking in other countries. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised on how many people are unaware they need one.
No. 2. Cash: My recommendation would be to bring cash with you, or get cash out onboard. When you port in some of these countries, cash transactions are way safer, easier, and sometimes the only option. Also, if you’re tipping extra than the 18% gratuity already charged, be sure to tip in cash, that way your specific server or guide gets to keep that tip (rather than have it split amongst everyone that works in tipping available positions). Remember that on the ship, you will only be paying with your SeaPass card at all restaurants, bars, coffee shops, stores, etc.
No. 3. Go Pro (Floating Handle): This is of course a luxury, not a necessity, but personally I recommend it. Just think, you’re in the Caribbean, surrounded by water activities. This way you can capture the beauty of all your adventures, whether that’s the colorful underwater world in Cozumel while scuba diving, swimming with turtles on Water Island, or getting the wide-lens angle at airport beach to capture the moment.
No. 4. Reusable Water Bottle: I highly recommend bringing a reusable water bottle on board with you. Otherwise, will need to buy plastic water bottles at port which is a huge waste of money and destructive to the environment (Save the Waves, friends). Not to mention, if you’ve got the drink package, you’ll need some water to balance out the alcohol and intense Caribbean sun.
No. 5. Portable Charger: With all the pictures and videos, you’ll be taking, you’ll want to bring a portable charger with you. Unfortunately, we can’t solar charge our phones yet while at the beach, so better think ahead and be prepared, so you can capture all those moments.
No. 6. Day Bag/Backpack: Don’t forget to pack a small backpack or beach bag to take with you on your day excursions from the ship. Pack it in your suitcase when you’re traveling and bring it out with you to use every day. You’ll be glad you have a beach bag.
No. 7. Snorkel: If you have a snorkel or goggles of some sort, bring it with you. Especially on a Caribbean route, there is plenty of marine life that you can see everywhere you go. If you have your own snorkel, you can skip the cost of the tours and see all that you want on your own!
No. 8. Sunscreen/Aloe Vera: Don’t try to beat the heat, use sunscreen and have Aloe Vera just in case. With all the time, you’ll be spending on the pool deck and at port, you’ll want to cover up.
No. 9. Microfiber towel: This isn’t a necessity, but I highly recommend having your own microfiber towel. When you port, the ship will give you towels that you can use off the ship or anytime at the pool deck. However, it is a $25 charge if you forget to return it, someone takes it, it gets misplaced, etc. I recommend having a microfiber towel because its quick to dry, folds up small and cat fit in a tiny carry bag, no problem!
No. 10. Hand sanitizer and Face Wipes: Some people don’t realize the number of germs that are contained on the ship due to the amount of people from all around the world. Use hand sanitizer often to avoid getting sick and ruining your vacation. I also recommend face wipes for your face and body to keep it clean and healthy in the heat.
No. 11. Plastic Bags/Ziplock: Whenever you travel, you don’t realize how often you could use a plastic ziplock bag. Just put a few in your suitcase and you’ll be glad you did. Whether it’s for different currency that you need to keep track of, to close your snacks, put wet clothes in…just trust me, you’ll be glad you have a few.
No. 12. Something to hold your SeaPass Card (i.e., lanyard, carabiner clip, phone card case): Last but certainly not least, your SeaPass Card is one of the most valued item you will carry with you on the ship. You will use it often, for every purchase you make, to check in to shows, to sign waivers, to check out towels, you name it. I recommend either wearing a lanyard to hold your SeaPass card in, a phone case with a card holder on it, a carabiner clip, something. Don’t carry your wallet with you around the ship, you won’t need it and you don’t want it to get lost or stolen. You’ll need something else that holds your SeaPass card and your room key!
Keeping all of these things in mind, I hope you feel more ready to have a great cruise around the Caribbean. And remember ladies, you can never have enough swim suits…