When it comes to cruising, it’s all about taking it easy. The last thing you want to worry about is if you’ve packed the right bits and pieces to make your voyage a sublime one. When packing for a cruise, you are encouraged to think on outfit plans, the right gadgets and even your carry-on bag. Luckily, it’s much less of a hassle than you might imagine, and to speed things up for you, we’ve put together a fast and easy guide that’ll have you sipping cocktails onboard in no time.

Dressing to impress

Perhaps the most basic element of packing for your cruise is making sure your attire is on point. For instance, you’re going to be packing different clothing for a cruise to Alaska than for a jaunt through the Canaries. You want to look fresh, but shore excursions, packing restrictions and plentiful activities call for some serious preliminary packing. Dress codes are provided on a daily basis by your cruise ship, but you can get a good idea of exactly what to take with this handy guide.

Daytime dressing

Days are long and leisurely, so you want a cruise outfit that suits this laidback lifestyle. Sunglasses and a wide brim hat will give an instant movie star look as well as protecting your face from the sun, which glares even in colder destinations. Keep shoes comfortable and durable, switch between a few t-shirts and loose blouses, wear a trusty pair of cropped trousers and take a floaty skirt or two for when you feel the heat. The key thing to consider when packing is layering. Scarves, leggings and long sleeve cotton tops will all come in useful.

If you plan to take full advantage of the pool, pack at least two swimwear options but remember to leave the towels at home. It’s also worthwhile to take your gym kit or something suitable for doing gentle exercise in. You may need a thickly-lined coat for Scandinavian and Northern European cruises, but if it rains or gets super chilly you’ll more than likely be staying inside and enjoying the entertainment.

Evening wear is a must

When night falls, it’s time to turn up the glamour for dining and dancing. At formal occasions you can swish into the room wearing your finest frock and best earrings. This is also the time for gents to unpack the tux, but don’t be put off – plenty of cruise lines keep things more casual these days.

Informal evening wear includes chic cocktail dresses, demure trouser suits, pretty skirt-and-top combos and a great pair of heels. Depending on your cruise length and liner, the number of such events will differ, so be sure to check when booking in order not to overdo it on the ball gowns.

Shore excursions needn’t necessitate all new threads

As well as clothing onboard, there are a couple of cruise packing tips for your time ashore. A reliable pair of walking shoes will keep feet happy all day long and a secure bag with zip fastening will keep belongings safe. Before stopping at your destination, find out if there are any attire requirements in your port-of-call. For instance, those stopping in Islamic countries are asked to keep shoulders and knees covered up. It’s also a great way to find new ensembles, of course – browsing the souks of Marrakech or the designer stores of New York is a great excuse to treat yourself to something new.

The perfect carry-on

The majority of your luggage is entrusted to the cruise ships’ team of porters and professionals, who stow it for you so that you can get onboard without being laden with baggage. While cruise lines are generally very speedy in getting luggage back as fast as possible, it definitely makes for a smart move to pack the right bits and pieces into your carry-on bag.

When thinking about what to take on a cruise ship, the most apparent elements here are the right documents. That means passports, your cruise tickets and other ID, like your driving licence, if applicable. If you’re prescribed to take any medication regularly, keeping it in your carry-on bag is also a good plan, although cruise lines prefer that you stow such medicine in its original packaging for ease of identification.

A little cash to have on hand, or your credit card, is also best kept in your carry-on luggage, as are any valuables such as your camera or mobile phone. While your belongings are just as safe in your regular luggage, items such as these are ones you’ll want on hand, whether to get a few snaps of your surroundings or because you’re off to do a little shopping or dining right off the bat.

A spare change of clothes is also a good idea, as is your swimwear if the pool is calling you. A change of clothes for the gym, if that’s what you’re after, is also a smart choice, although that’s purely down to preference. Naturally, if you’re cruising with the little ones, changes of clothing for them is a must. In fact, anything the kids can’t do without, like their favourite toys they’ve insisted on taking or their handheld computer games, definitely need to be in your carry-on bag.

Beyond that, if there’s space, give some thought to items like cosmetics, toiletries and the like. While those objects can be just as easily found onboard your cruise ship, you might save a pretty penny or two in thinking ahead.

Knowing how much to take

Generally speaking, the length of your cruise will help you gauge how many changes of clothes to take. Remember, it’s smart to mix and match outfits to keep things fresh, so you don’t need as much as you might imagine. Moreover, cruise ships have laundry facilities and it’s also possible to buy new outfits during your voyage.

Either way, a brief cruise of four days or less will likely need only a couple of casual outfits, as well as a formal option for dinners and the like. Around four or five ensembles are the norm for cruises of a week or so, with two formal options to mix things up. Naturally, double the casual wear for a fortnight or more at sea, although don’t go beyond three formal outfits or so. After all, the key to great cruise packing is that less is more, and you’ll want space for souvenirs and the like.

With the right approach, packing for a cruise can be more exciting than you might initially think. With so many great deals out there, you can start planning your adventures down to the finest detail.

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