When I was packing for my cruise in the Caribbean with Princess Cruises, I thought it’d be easy. Just throw in a few maxi dresses and flip flops and I’d be good, right? I didn’t realize how many different outfits you need based on what you’re doing. I was underdressed several times as well as overdressed at other times. Here’s what to pack if you’ll be traveling to the Caribbean broken down by each part of the cruise.
During the Day
On days you’re at sea all day, it’s time to get comfortable! Enjoy taking a dip in the pool in your swimsuit and lounging by the pool for the rest of the day. I wore casual dresses most of the time since I mainly got breakfast and lunch from the regular dining places. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, though! Many people started looking like lobsters by day three, so I think they forgot how strong the sun is.
Also, remember to bring a few good books. I have my handy Kindle so I can fit multiple books on it without taking up space. In 10 days, I read five books! That’s a new record for me. There’s nothing more relaxing than reading on a lounge chair or before you go to bed as the boat is rocking you to sleep.
I heard they had formal nights, but didn’t realize what that meant. People dressed to the nines for these nights, especially the older couples. Tuxedos, long gowns, and plenty of diamonds came out on formal nights. It’s basically an excuse to get dressed up for dinner and there’s usually some kind of event before. One of our nights we had a champagne waterfall, as you can see below. I don’t know if you’ll necessarily get kicked out if you’re underdressed, but you’ll stick out pretty bad.
Pay attention to what excursions you’re doing because this will dictate how you pack. Plan to be outside for most of your excursions though, which means you’ll need to be protected from the sun. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat will come in handy. The Caribbean gets very hot, especially as you get closer to the Equator. If you’re doing water activities like snorkeling, bring a bathing suit and water shoes if you’ll be walking in the water.
If you’re going hiking or doing something a bit more strenuous, bring appropriate shoewear. I can’t tell you how many people I saw on my Panama hike wearing sandals in the rainforest! There were hundreds of ants crawling around everywhere, not to mention the fact that we were climbing up and over tree trunks and other things that can easily scratch up your feet. If you think you don’t have room to pack your tennis shoes, wear them on the plane.
There will be several ATMs on board (especially near the casino – they’re smart!), but you can save yourself the fees they charge and take it out before your trip. Most of the places you’re going are well accustomed to American tourists coming through their ports, so they’ll take American money. This isn’t true for everywhere I’m sure, but every port I went to accepted American money. That included Oranjestad, Aruba; Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Limon, Costa Rica; and Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
While I’m all for taking a break from being offline during your vacation, it is nice to have the internet when you’re wandering around cities on your own. It makes it much easier to quickly look something up or get directions if you’re lost. I’ve been using the KnowRoaming SIM sticker for over a year and love how I can turn it on just when I need it.
Also, this may be a given, but if you have any known allergies, bring your medication with you. I got hit with terrible allergies walking around the rainforest in Panama, and it only got worse in the Costa Rican forest. It was still cold in Seattle at the time, so I hadn’t even thought of being in warmer places with flowers blooming. I was stuffed up pretty badly for the last half of the trip, and trying to buy medicine in a different language is never fun.
Most cruises will have body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and a hair dryer. If you don’t care which brand you use, save space and leave yours at home. Most ships will also have a small store should you forget something, but the prices are almost triple what you’d normally pay.
I’ve left out the basics (I hope you have enough sense to bring underwear!), but here’s everything else I recommend bringing:
- cover up
- flip flops
- casual dresses or skirts
- tank tops
- sturdy sandals (for walking around the ports)
- workout clothes (if you plan to use the gym)
- lightweight pants for hiking
- tennis shoes
- a large hat (for sun protection)
- two formal dresses (or however many formal nights you have)
- nice flats or heels
- chapstick with SPF
- a small container of aloe (in case you do get burned)
- any medication you need
- books or a Kindle
What else would you recommend bringing on a cruise?
This post was sponsored by Princess Cruises, but all opinions are my own.
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