Knowing what to pack for a world cruise is one of those things that is half-exciting, half-distressing. You’re full of excitement as your holiday finally comes around, but wait, what do you pack? How do you fit a whole wardrobe of outfits into your luggage allowance? What about the shoes? Do you roll or fold? It’s all just too much.
Whilst packing for any old fortnight-long cruise or holiday is one thing, packing for a world cruise is another matter altogether. Outfits and essentials for 120 nights? As in, a third of a year? You’re going to need some help here. Luckily, we have got the perfect guide on how to pack for a world cruise, keeping you suitably clothed for sun, rain and even snow. Sea days, snow days and shore days; here is our guide on what to take to cover all eventualities.
When it comes to circumnavigating the world, you need to be prepared for almost all weathers and all occasions. Daytimes will be spent in a combination of sea days and shore days, and you’ll need to have comfortable clothing to cover both eventualities. One of the most important things to remember is clothing to cover your arms and legs, and perhaps a hat, all of which you will need in order to enter any sacred sites. Aside from that, a sun hat and sunglasses are a must, but the rest of your attire is largely up to personal preference.
Shorts, trousers and skirts can be paired with simple vest tops, t-shirts and lightweight shirts to get more looks from fewer items of clothing. Keep coordinating colours and you will be able to mix and match throughout your cruise. A pair of dark jeans can be versatile, thanks to their ability to be casual during the day and dressed up with a smart dinner jacket for night time. Do bear in mind that many cruise lines do not allow shorts in any of the main dining room, so it is always better to check with your Cruise Expert if you are unsure.
Planning outfits that can be layered is the best way to address packing for a cruise, with thinner layers easy to slip off or on as the temperature changes, as it so often does in ports such as Hong Kong and San Francisco.
One for the ladies! Dresses are a great option as they roll up compact and can be dressed up or down. Maxi dresses are perfect for covering up on visits to sacred sites, but can also be dressed up with the right accessories and shoes for evenings on board. You can slip on a cardigan if the weather is changeable or wear with flat sandals to look chic while sightseeing.
Wherever in the world you are cruising, a lightweight jacket is a necessity for cooler days in port and windy nights on deck. A raincoat that rolls up small is also worth considering, along with a heavier jacket in case of cooler weather – wear it on the plane to avoid taking up room in your case.
When it comes to packing for a cruise, the right shoes are key. You’ll need flip flops for days on the beach or around the pool, supportive trainers or walking boots for exploring ashore and dress shoes for evening looks. Slip on pumps are also great for smartening up in city destinations and for more relaxed evenings on board.
Even if you hate the gym, 120 days of cruise food is enough to tempt even the most diehard couch potato into a fitness class or two. If you’re taking trainers anyway, why not throw some workout clothes in there too? You’ll be surprised how much you come to enjoy starting a sea day with yoga or an hour of sweating in the gym.
Swimwear is another must, along with cover ups and a beach bag for days in the sandy bays of the Caribbean. A small bag or backpack with zipped compartments will keep your belongings safe in bustling city ports.
You can usually expect three formal nights each week on a world cruise, with additional themed balls on occasion too. With the rest of your evenings working to an ‘elegant casual’ dress code, it means you needn’t laden down your case with ball gowns and glitz.
Part of the glamour of a world cruise is the sense of nostalgia, particularly on board Cunard ships. In years gone by, every night was formal night, so it is always nice to get glammed up and slip into an incredible gown or perfectly-cut suit. Cocktail dresses will take less space in your case but make sure you pack at least one full-length gown – if you can’t pull out all the stops on a world cruise, when can you? The LBD is another cruise wear favourite, thanks to its ability to be transformed with jewellery, as can the simple maxi dress.
Aside from formal nights, trousers and skirts can be dressed up for evening with glitzy tops. Chiffon blouses fold up miniscule and weigh barely anything, so bear this in mind when deciding what to pack for a world cruise. Simple dresses that work well with flats for day can be transformed with a clutch bag and heels for night.
Finally, when it comes to footwear, fight the urge to take ten pairs of sky high heels. After a day exploring ashore, the last thing you will want to do is slip your tired feet into five-inch heels. Pick three or four pairs of heels that go with all outfits and make you feel amazing, supplementing them with a couple of mid-height pairs.
Lastly ladies, you’re not at home now. There is no shame in wearing the same outfit three, four, five, even six times, and it is impossible not to over the course of a full world cruise. Pack clever and mix up your accessories to keep things fresh.
Cruise lines will offer a number of different dress codes, ranging from casual right through to formal. When choosing what to pack for a world cruise, you’ll need to mix things up a little to avoid boredom setting in.
Formal nights on a world cruise are usually rather elaborate affairs and so are the perfect opportunity to dust off your tux or even your kilt. Taking a couple of tuxedos is ideal, with several bow ties to mix things up throughout the cruise. A sharp black or navy dinner jacket can be paired with trousers, shirt and tie for semi-formal evenings and with dark jeans and a shirt for evening casual. A lighter cotton or linen jacket will work well on hot evenings, whilst soft, thin knits can be layered over open-neck shirts for a relaxed look that works well on overnights in port.
Our top tips for what to pack for a world cruise
» Consider investing in a Kindle or tablet computer if you usually take books away with you. There are only so many paperbacks you can cram in a case and the ship’s library isn’t guaranteed to have something to your taste, though they are often very well stocked. Download all the tomes you like to your reader and use the extra space for better means.
» Remember to pack memory cards for your camera. Over the course of a 120-night world cruise, you can takes thousands of photographs and you will kick yourself if you lose them due to lack of memory.
» Many cruise lines offer binoculars for animal and scenery spotting, but always ask the question beforehand so that you can take your own if this isn’t the case.
» Slip accessories and underwear into the nooks and crannies between other items and loop belts into the inside of your shoes to help keep their shape and save space.
» Make a big cotton scarf part of your plane outfit. It will keep you warm when the air-con kicks in mid-flight and come in handy when the weather isn’t quite cool enough for a jacket.
» Slip fabric softener sheets between your clothes and in the wardrobe when you unpack. It will keep everything smelling fresh and clean.
» Get accustomed with the ship’s launderette or look into the laundry service. Many cruise lines offer reduced or complimentary laundry services as a loyalty benefit; definitely something to consider if you’re trying to be suitcase savvy.
» Don’t try and pack toiletries for the whole cruise, unless you require speciality products that are unlikely to be found anywhere else. A world cruise takes you to some of the world’s biggest and most developed cities – you’re sure to come across shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant somewhere along the way!
With your suitcase packed like a pro, you’re free to enjoy the very best thing about a world cruise; travelling the entire globe yet needing to unpack just once!