Packing can be a headache even when you're a seasoned cruiser. With most cruise packages varying dramatically in terms of style and length, it can often be tricky to narrow down your cruise packing list to incorporate both the lavish and the essential. This is where we come in. To help ease the stress, here's our guide on what to pack for the trip of a lifetime, including the more unusual items that you might not even have considered.
It may take a little while for your luggage to board the ship at your embarkation point, so it's worth packing a small bag filled with essentials to see you through the first hour or so, including a change of clothes, some sunglasses (if you're jetting off to sunnier climes), any medication you may need and even a toothbrush.
Dress for your destination and go with a mix-and-match approach. You don't want to pack a dozen items that you'll never wear. Think about what type of cruise you're going on and what type of excursions you'll be doing. Take breathable clothes if you're heading somewhere scorching, long crêpe beach trousers if you enter mosquito zones - these are also perfect for covering up on hot days or in the evenings - and a jumper or lightweight jacket for colder climates. A hat or visor can also be a staple accessory.
Every cruise liner will usually have some sort of gym, fitness centre or aerobics studio, so if all that delicious holiday food ends up making you feel a bit sluggish, it may be worth taking some sportswear with you for when you have a bit of downtime during days at sea.
One thing's for sure - know your dress codes. With most cruise ships favouring traditional dining outfits for the evenings, with the exception of more family-friendly cruises, it's worth taking a couple of "dressy" outfits so you don't feel too casual.
A maxi dress or wrap dress with smart shoes or heels are fine alternatives to a full-on gown. Or why not try a nice blouse and trousers or a more understated dress? Go for elegant, bold designs that are stylish and classic. Loose-fitting blouses are chic, but not too casual, and tailored trousers with an elasticated waistband will ensure you're comfy as well as smart.
While you don't need to worry about power points on board, an adaptor will come in very handy at embarkation and disembarkation points. Make sure you invest in a universal adaptor so that you can use it anywhere in the world. Essential to any cruise checklist.
Aside from evening footwear, it's even more important to pack comfortable shoes for the daytime. They can be rubber-soled, walking shoes or even sandals, but make sure they are supportive and lightweight no matter what the activity. Wet shoes are also extremely useful for water-based activities. For some inspiration, here are the best sandals for over 50s as recommended by our very own gransnetters.
A key addition to your packing list and excellent for daytime excursions at each destination, especially if you're doing any activity that involves a large body of water. It'll keep all your valuables safe and dry, so you can enjoy yourself completely without having to be on damage alert.
Whether you're hitting the beach or relaxing by the pool on deck, swimwear is a must. If you need help choosing the right swimsuit or bikini, we've chosen a selection of great styles to suit all ages and body shapes.
These may seem like the least necessary items to pack in your suitcase, but they'll be a lifesaver when you run out of clean clothes - especially underwear. And another perk? You won't need to pack as much <hurrah!>. Many cruise ships have a laundromat on board for those emergency washes, but bring travel detergent with you just in case for the odd small bit of washing you might need to do.
You can never be too careful, especially if you're mooching around a European city or tackling a rainforest, but make sure it's actually waterproof <been there, done that, got the wet T-shirt>. And don't forget your trusty umbrella for extra protection against the elements.
Very handy for whale watching, looking out at sea or exploring further afield on dry land...but make sure they're travel-size!
Most cruise ships allow you to bring your own stash of alcohol on board (usually a bottle or two) - ideal for those times when all you fancy is a champagne breakfast. Do check each cruise line's individual policy on this as not all have the same rules. Bottled water or soda water are also useful to bring if you don't fancy paying an arm and a leg for a non-alcoholic beverage.
Be sure to check the cruise company's website before you travel as they'll provide a comprehensive list of prohibited items as well as a list of what's already on board for you. In most cases, you won't need a hairdryer, beach towel or shampoo and conditioner. Hooray, more room in the suitcase!
For more handy packing advice, check out our top 10 tips for holiday packing.