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  • Writer's pictureJulie Prusak

Decoding the Voyage: The Definitive Guide to Packing for First-time Luxury Cruisers

So you've decided to embark on a luxury cruise for your next vacation? That’s a journey filled with exciting ventures from iconic landmarks to exhilarating oceans and splendid dining experiences! But the crucial question remains - what do you pack for a luxury cruise? Consider this definitive guide your trusty compass, pointing you in the right direction with tips and tricks on packing like a seasoned luxury cruiser.

Anchoring your Essentials

The main charm of a cruise vacation is its ability to take you on a whirlwind adventure across the globe, all while basking in the luxury of a floating resort that serves as your temporary abode. You get to explore captivating destinations without the hassle of relocating luggage regularly. Unpack once and enjoy multiple destinations. However, packing for various possible destinations can be quite a puzzle! Let’s start with your ocean-bound survival kit, crucial for any cruise.


Consider investing in a waterproof zippered folder to keep all your travel paperwork dry and check-in ready. Here's a checklist of what it should include:


·      Printed Essential Documents: Luggage tags, cruise ticket, check-in confirmation

·      Travel Extras: Proof of travel insurance, COVID vaccines/test results

·      Identification: Passport (with photocopies), visas

·      Journey Details: Flight tickets, pre- and post-cruise hotel bookings

·      Other Provided Documentation: Items such as daily programs and your final statement from the cruise line


Ensure that this folder stays close to you until you've settled comfortably into your stateroom!

Prepping for Health and Hygiene

The ship's medical center is prepared to handle most on-board health emergencies. However, it’s always smart to pack your personal medical essentials:


·      Prescribed Medications (in original containers and with copies of prescriptions)

·      Sea-sickness Pills

·      Band-aids

·      N95 Face Masks

·      COVID tests

·      Over-the-counter Pain relief medication

·      Reef-safe Sunscreen

·      Insect repellent

·      Period supplies

·      Contraception

·      Packs of Tissues


Also, keep your toiletries and beautifying essentials packed and ready. Remember to put larger liquid items and any sharp tools in your checked luggage. Throw in:


·      Essential Dental Items: Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss

·      Haircare: Comb and hairbrush, styling products. Each cruise ship cabin is equipped with a hair dryer, however, if you need more specific hair tools, that’s up to you to bring them. Note that some hair tools may be on your cruise line’s list of prohibited items. Check the website before you pack.

·      Shaving kit (don’t forget the charger if you’re using an electric razor)

·      Makeup

·      Skincare

·      Nail care


Don't fret if you forget something, most on-board shops are stocked with popular brands of toiletries.

Luxury cruise lines provide shampoo, conditioner, soap, body lotion, and a small vanity kit containing cotton swabs and cotton balls, and a shower cap. All these toiletries get replenished daily when the stewards clean your stateroom or upon request. Towels of all sizes, face cloths, robes and slippers are also provided and replaced whenever you wish — no need to bring your own.

Dressing for the Voyage

When it comes to packing clothes, remember the key areas of your cruise experience: relaxation, exploration, and celebration. Pack versatile clothing that checks all these boxes:


·      Multipurpose: Pants, t-shirts, underwear, socks, shorts

·      Poolside Gear: Bathing suits for your poolside lounging and tropical adventures

·      Semi-formal Attire: Clothes for evenings, activities, or meals at specialty restaurants

·      Weather-proof Clothing: Rain gear and warm clothes for unexpected weather. A packable, waterproof jacket is always a good idea!

·      Gym Clothes: Outfits for the gym or for walking miles on excursions       


Footwear plays a crucial role in shaping your experience. Include:


·      Flip flops or water shoes or sandals

·      Comfortable sneakers

·      Loafers or dress-up shoes

·      Waterproof hiking boots


Vacation is not the time to break in new shoes. Think comfort over style.


While ball gowns and tuxedos used to be the norm on many luxury cruise lines for one or more Formal Nights per cruise, dress codes at sea have been relaxed to reflect the modern lifestyle of guests. On Formal Optional nights, most guests opt-out and wear cocktail attire. Still, if you enjoy dressing up, do it! The crew will appreciate your efforts and so will most fellow passengers.

Additional Belongings to Cruise Along

When it comes to accessories and smaller items to consider, here are essentials you may not have thought of:


·      Polarized sunglasses to shield against the oceanic glare

·      Books or an e-reader for a serene read by the poolside or on the plane

·      An eco-friendly water bottle and an insulated mug for on-the-go hydration

·      Binoculars for a closer view of majestic vistas or lively wildlife

·      A universal adaptor for your electronics

·      A backpack for your port adventures

·      A travel steamer or wrinkle-release spray for keeping clothes fresh

Custom Items for Specific Destinations

While this list should cover a broad range of cruises, go the extra nautical mile and pack specifically for your destination.


·      Alaska: layer up with woolen essentials, heavy jackets, and a baseball cap.

·      Antarctica/Arctic: pack thermal base layers, snow pants, and heavy-duty sea sickness medication. Waterproof and warm touchscreen gloves so you can take photos while staying warm.

·      Caribbean/Mediterranean: protect yourself from the sun with hats, UV-protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreens.

Dress Codes by Cruise Line

Each luxury cruise line can vary a bit on dress codes and they can also change frequently, so it's best to check directly with the cruise line prior to packing. Here's a quick list of some of the best-known lines and links to their current dress codes:


Crystal Cruises

Country Club Casual is the standard on-board attire, meaning no formal wear or ties required. They do, however, have Black Tie Optional evenings. Visit Crystal's FAQ .



While the dress code on Cunard cruises depends on the time of day and the venue, all passengers need to pack semi-formal and formal outfits for dinners, Gala Nights, and for most evening entertainment. Cunard is strict about its dress code, so pack accordingly.


The on-board dress code is relaxed and casual. For gala dinners, men are recommended to wear a jacket and tie, while women might wear a dressy outfit. Visit Ponant's FAQ.


Regent Seven Seas 

This cruise line prefers elegant casual after 6 pm which includes slacks with a collared shirt or sweater for men, and skirt or slacks with a blouse for women. They occasionally also have formal optional nights where tuxedos, gowns or cocktail dresses are suggested. Check their Website.



The dress code varies by time and location, with casual wear suitable during the day and elegant casual required for most restaurants after 6 pm. Formal nights may require a suit or cocktail attire. More details here.



They have casual, informal and formal dress codes at different times, with formal including a tuxedo, dinner jacket or dark suit for men and gown or cocktail dress for women. Visit Silversea's FAQ.



Viking recommends elegant casual attire: slacks and collared shirts or blouses in the day, and dresses or suits for the evenings. Jeans are not typically acceptable in dining areas. Visit Viking's FAQ.

Please remember to check these links closer to your cruise date as dress codes can change and may also vary by specific cruise itinerary. Safe travels!


As you embark on your first luxury cruise, remember - the journey is as enjoyable as the destinations. With this guide, tackle the packing process with the mindset of a seasoned cruiser, setting sail on an extravagant maritime adventure! Happy cruising!


Let's get started planning your vacation! Reserve your complimentary consultation call with me to begin!

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