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One-week Caribbean cruise: What to pack, what to leave home, what is essential?

One-week Caribbean cruise: What to pack, what to leave home, what is essential?

Old May 23, 17, 11:51 am
  #1  
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One-week Caribbean cruise: What to pack, what to leave home, what is essential?

So I am going on a one-week Royal Caribbean Cruise this summer of the Caribbean with my 70-something mother. At this point, I am pretty good at packing for a month in Europe with nothing but a carry-on, a personal item, and my handbag (I love flying Business Class, since I get three items, but that is beside the point).

The issue here is that I am no good at packing for a cruise. Half the time, I feel like I am underdressed for the "formal" nights, since some people seem to go all out -- evening gowns and the like. I tend to go with one simple little black cocktail dress for one night and a wrap dress for the other night, and jazz them up with accessories. NWIH am I bringing evening gowns on a cruise ship. Am I wrong? Last time, we had a reservation at one of the specialty restaurants for one of the formal nights in any event, so . . .

I also tend to bring one or two informal dresses for dinner the other nights, as well as nicer tops to go with white trousers (think country club attire) for informal nights. Mostly, it's a mix and match wardrobe for me (much as I do on all my other travels). I just don't want to overpack for a week. But the cruise mentality seems to be different. Am I doing this wrong?

I am thinking:

One pair white trousers
One pair comfy jeans
One pair dark wash jeans (airplane)
One pair white shorts
One informal dress
One wrap dress
One LBD
One swimsuit cover-up (doubles as tunic)
One lightweight top
One t-shirt (airplane)
Second t-shirt
One lightweight sweater
One cardigan (airplane)
Bathing suit (it's a long-sleeved one that looks like a cross between a bathing suit and a rash guard)
Hat

One pair black shoes to go with LBD and wrap dress
One pair sandals to go with other evening attire
Espadrilles
Nikes

One black evening bag
One bag to go with sandals
Crossbody for day

This is already so much more than what I do when I usually travel, that it feels like serious overpacking to me. What am I doing wrong here?
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Old May 23, 17, 12:19 pm
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I haven't done a formal night on a cruise since 2011 so I'm with you there. Wear the informal dress and LBD and ignore those who are wearing ball gowns - you do you! It will be fine.

Your ratio of tops to bottoms looks skewed to me. I see two tees but 4 bottoms? Oh, ok, there's a lightweight top and the coverup/tunic as well. Hmm. I usually bring 2-3 tops for every bottom.

I would not bring 2 prs jeans to the Caribbean. But that's just me. Have you ever visited the Viviennefiles website? She does great packing wardrobes, or 4X4 or whatever's clean etc - nice templates where you can see if what you have would work.

That doesn't actually look too bad for a week on a cruise. You could fit that into a 22" carry-on if you needed to....Plus a tote for personal stuff....

Last edited by Hoyaheel; May 23, 17 at 12:41 pm
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Old May 23, 17, 12:34 pm
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For a simple 7 night Caribbean cruise, especially on one of the more family oriented lines like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Princess, etc the trend is more and more casual. I rarely see anyone in anything more than a nice cocktail dress these days. A little black dress and a wrap dress should be more than fine.

To me your packing list sounds fairly good. Of course I'm a charter member of Overpackers Not So Anonymous who is trying to reform herself. The only thing I'd say you probably don't need is the sweater, especially as you are also bringing a cardigan. I might swap out one of the pairs of jeans for a pair of lighter weight pants, but that's because jeans feel heavy in the heat and humidity of the Caribbean IME. And I'd probably recommend bringing one or two more tops.
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Old May 23, 17, 12:54 pm
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Thanks! You guys are making me feel better (and giving me ideas on what to pack and what to leave at home). Last summer's cruise left me a bit with my jaw hanging open, as there seemed to be an entire group of Quinceañeras and their families, and they were dressed up on formal nights, as well as on the nights when they clearly had their private events. There were also some foreign (well, I guess on a cruise ship, everyone is foreign, so let's be less xenophobic or US-centric and say non-US, non-Western European) guests on the ship who were definitely dressing UP, not only on formal nights, and it had me confused as to what the actual dress code was.

Fortunately, we found that the food at the specialty restaurants was more to our liking than the food in the main dining room(s), so we ended up eating in those restaurants a lot, and the dress code there, such as it was, was much more "country club" than anything else. I suspect we are going to end up at the specialty restaurants a lot this time, too (already have reservations for two nights).

As to the humidity, I have to remember to bring lots of ponytail holders. I kept losing them last year. My hair is long (probably too long for my age, but whatever), and in the heat and humidity of the Caribbean, it just gets uncomfortable, so I pull it off may face and neck during the day, and the heck with how it looks.
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Old May 23, 17, 1:52 pm
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We don't cruise a ton (we like it as a way to get an overview of an area we haven't visited before - to see where we might like to spend more time on land) and I haven't been on a Caribbean cruise in forever - but we went SIN-HKG this past Nov/Dec and OMG the heat & humidity. I brought 2 new linen tees with me and the dye ran SO BADLY- I looked like a smurf one day! I washed in the hotel sink (I first wore in SIN - we were there 5 days pre-cruise - sightseeing and some work for me) and they bled less, but still...Anyway - my husband mocks me for bringing new stuff on trips. I've learned not to do it with shoes but thought I'd be ok with tees. Oops! So do try to at least wash everything once before the trip

Also - a hat is a great thing to bring! If you plan to be around water (pool, beach) and you use an e-reader, you might want a waterproof sleeve for it - I got one before a Caribbean sailing trip a couple years ago and it's been great for travel/waterside reading ever since.

You're not new to cruising so it doesn't seem like you need a ton of ideas - I think you'll be fine! I am the sort of person who likes her hair to be long enough to put up during travel - it's just easier! I can do a ponytail (not so much braids...) or a french twist - either messy with a barrette holding it, or nicer with a metal U clip - those are hard to find so I grab them when I see them - found some at a Daiso store in SIN, actually :-) I also wear headbands to keep sweat from getting in my eyes and/or on my glasses - and that's definitely a case of "to heck with how this looks" ;-) My 2 faves are a woven cotton one from Guatemala (very hippy chic ;-) and a black wicking fabric from Kohls.

I wear glasses and am always SUPER paranoid about losing them overboard, so I always travel with keepers. (we spend a lot of time on deck or on our balcony, just looking around).

Bug spray or wipes if you're the kind of person mosquitoes like. I am - my husband says he doesn't need to bring DEET, he just brings me ;-)
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Old May 23, 17, 3:12 pm
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Back 2 weeks ago from a Caribbean cruise on Norwegian
You're fine with the dresses you are bringing for dinners
I wouldn't bring Jeans for the cruise, Caribbean will be hot and humid - shorts or sundress are fine for days in port or on the ship
I brought 2 swimsuits , went to pool in spa 1-2 times days
Suggest you bring another light pants and shorts with 2 more tops
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Old May 23, 17, 6:54 pm
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Originally Posted by ysolde View Post
One pair white trousers
One pair comfy jeans
One pair dark wash jeans (airplane)
One pair white shorts
One informal dress
One wrap dress
One LBD
One swimsuit cover-up (doubles as tunic)
One lightweight top
One t-shirt (airplane)
Second t-shirt
One lightweight sweater
One cardigan (airplane)
Bathing suit (it's a long-sleeved one that looks like a cross between a bathing suit and a rash guard)
Hat

One pair black shoes to go with LBD and wrap dress
One pair sandals to go with other evening attire
Espadrilles
Nikes

One black evening bag
One bag to go with sandals
Crossbody for day
I am a hand-baggage only person but I manage to jam more into my one 20" rollaboard than you do, clearly I agree that this looks light on tops--I would have maybe 3 tank tops (since I wear a lot of sleeveless) and 3 t-shirts, matched with 3 bottoms total--one pair of light pants, one pair of shorts, one casual skirt or pair of capris. I also do a lot of sundresses so would throw in 2-3 of those too. They can be layered over or accessorized for nighttime.

I am on a weeklong trip in Singapore right now and packed six dresses, three tank tops, three t-shirts, a super-light sweater, a pair of shorts, two capris, two bathing suits, a beach cover-up, a pashmina, light tracksuit pants, two sleep shirts, four pairs of sandals , and my running shoes plus two sets of workout gear into my 20-inch rollaboard. I have a tiny Kiplinger cross-body purse, that's it. Wore light pants and a LS shirt on the plane plus a slightly heavier cardigan, with my Ecco super-light sneakers. I also carry a child-size REI daypack with my toiletry and "cords-and-incidentals" bags, the iPad, and a lot of magazines. It all works and fits in the overhead. I could have brought less stuff and done more laundry, but I just don't feel like doing that on this trip.
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Old May 25, 17, 2:22 am
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Originally Posted by ysolde View Post
As to the humidity, I have to remember to bring lots of ponytail holders. I kept losing them last year. My hair is long (probably too long for my age, but whatever), and in the heat and humidity of the Caribbean, it just gets uncomfortable, so I pull it off may face and neck during the day, and the heck with how it looks.
Personally I find an updo more comfortable than a ponytail in humid weather. Kipper introduced the ladies of FT to Flexi Clips a couple years ago and I find them extremely handy for a quick updo. I think I own about 8 or 9 of them now.

Plus, they're a lot classier than a scrunchie.
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Old May 25, 17, 7:26 am
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Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
Personally I find an updo more comfortable than a ponytail in humid weather. Kipper introduced the ladies of FT to Flexi Clips a couple years ago and I find them extremely handy for a quick updo. I think I own about 8 or 9 of them now.

Plus, they're a lot classier than a scrunchie.
Thank you! Though for the record, I don't wear scrunchies anywhere but in the bathroom. There's some designer who sells ponytail holders at Bergdorf and I (suckers R us), buy them. However, those Flexi Clips are lovely, so I may need to order a couple. I just need to figure out what my size is.
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Old May 25, 17, 9:45 am
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I have never been able to use that kind of a hair ornament/barrette. I guess I'm all thumbs or something

When I do a ponytail (not usually for work) I just use a silicone hairband in a color close to my hair. If I put my hair up *at* work, I'm using a pen or pencil (typically just at my computer, though)
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Old May 25, 17, 11:09 am
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Originally Posted by Hoyaheel View Post
I have never been able to use that kind of a hair ornament/barrette. I guess I'm all thumbs or something

When I do a ponytail (not usually for work) I just use a silicone hairband in a color close to my hair. If I put my hair up *at* work, I'm using a pen or pencil (typically just at my computer, though)
I find it's easiest to put up my hair when it's wet. Not dripping wet, but beyond damp. I'm not one for styling products (the last mousse I bought died of old age ) and hairspray makes me wheeze, so I rely on the hair drying in position to make it stay up.

I think there's a video on the Flexi Clips that I watched that was helpful when i first got them.
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Old May 25, 17, 11:11 am
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Originally Posted by ysolde View Post
Thank you! Though for the record, I don't wear scrunchies anywhere but in the bathroom. There's some designer who sells ponytail holders at Bergdorf and I (suckers R us), buy them. However, those Flexi Clips are lovely, so I may need to order a couple. I just need to figure out what my size is.
I work from home. I wear scrunchies a lot, but not in public.
(wait, does the gym count?)
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Old May 25, 17, 12:50 pm
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I do a lot of unmentionable (well, not -for-public-viewing) things to my hair in the privacy of my office or when I'm working from home, but mine usually involve a plastic clip instead of a scrunchy. Or a pen. While I did wear scrunchies in the 80s/90s, I don't find the elastic lasts very long and that bugs me. When I put my hair up, I don't want bits falling down in my eyes or on my neck.....

I have a new comb/band combo I bought a few weeks ago and haven't figured out how to use that yet either......I'll have to go see what it's called and look for youtube videos....
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Old May 25, 17, 4:24 pm
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Originally Posted by Hoyaheel View Post
I have a new comb/band combo I bought a few weeks ago and haven't figured out how to use that yet either......I'll have to go see what it's called and look for youtube videos....
Hair Accordion by chance?

Those can be tricky to use. The grosgrain ones were fine, the chiffon a disaster.
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Old May 28, 17, 6:01 am
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I have only been on 1 cruise, but am in the Caribbean annually for vacation. I love linen pants for evening. Somewhat dressy, easy to pack, and cool. But, you need layers since at sea it's a good 10 degrees cooler than on land..so I would not ditch the jeans entirely. I would bring a 2nd pair of shorts, or maybe capris that can work in day and night.

I would ditch the rollaboard (hearsay, I know). With the room size, don't want your empty suitcase taking up any more space than absolutely necessary. Rolling collapsible duffle or a duffle with a collapsible luggage cart are your friends. And don't forget the Dramamine, nausea and cold meds. They are expensive on ship, hard to find or terribly expensive in the tropics.

Also, every bit of waste water in the ship is liable to dumped in the open ocean. Go lightly on sulfates, pablums and chemicals (washed down sinks, shower drains or ship pool) to avoid even more damage to our precious reef system.

PS..thanks for the link for hair clips. Do they work securing an updo on thin (but abundant) shoulder length hair? (I often wear a twist updo with a jawclip...not professional, but it works).

Last edited by navi_jen; May 28, 17 at 6:17 am
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