Tip 4: Don't assume your favorite toiletries will be in your cabin. You'll always find basic toiletries onboard, such as soap and shampoo. In main cabins on some cruise lines—Royal Caribbean, NCL, Carnival—toiletries offered are limited (in some cases to pump bottles of mystery soap affixed to the wall), so you may want to make room in your luggage for your favorite brands. Same goes for hair dryers. Most staterooms come with weak dryers so if you're picky, pack your own.
Tip 5: Bone up on the bathrobe policy. In most cases, you don't need to pack a bathrobe. They're provided in all cabins on most luxury lines, as well as mainstream lines like Carnival and Holland America, and in balcony cabins and above on most other lines. On Princess, they're available by request. If you're not sure if your cabin will come with a robe, read the FAQ section of your cruise line's Web site or ask your travel agent (or on Cruise Critic's message boards [http://boards.cruisecritic.com/]). But be forewarned: Bathrobes aren't souvenirs. You have to pay if you like yours so much you want to take it home.
Tip 6: Dress for your destination. Simply put, some places are more formal than others. Expect to pack more resort-casual wear if traveling to Europe (all regions) or Bermuda (duffer alert: golf courses in Bermuda have strict dress codes). In contrast, other cruise itineraries are more casual than the norm—in that category we include Hawaii, the Mexican Riviera, the Caribbean and French Polynesia. And don't forget to think about your in-port activities; flip flops are fine for a beach day, but you'll want more comfortable shoes for long days of sightseeing or active excursions like hiking or biking.
Tip 7: Save some room in your suitcase. Don't forget that you're likely to pick up at least a few souvenirs during your cruise and that you'll need room in your luggage to bring them home. This is particularly prevalent on Hawaiian-based itineraries where, by voyage's last night, just about everyone has dispatched their continental garb for Aloha-wear. Consider packing an extra duffle that can fold up into your suitcase on the way to the cruise and later be filled and checked for the trip home.
Tip 8: Mix and match. If you can make your clothes do double duty, you won't be hit with excess bag fees or find yourself fighting with your spouse about who gets the last hanger in the cabin's small closet. Stick with one color theme so you can re-wear bottoms with different tops, or bring shirts that can be dressed up for dinner on one night and worn sightseeing the next. Opt for the layered look to handle differing temperatures in the various cruise ports. Change up the look of one formal outfit with different accessories (jewelry, ties, scarves), rather than bring two suits or cocktail dresses. Remember—you will never see most of these people again (with thousands onboard, you might not see the same person again before the cruise ends!), and most won't remember if you wear the same outfit twice.
Tip 9: Remember the basics. Most cruise ship cabins don't come with alarm clocks, so if you want to know the time and set an alarm (rather than a phone wakeup call), bring your own. If you're using your cell phone for this job, make sure you don't incur roaming charges simply by leaving it on in foreign waters. Other items you might want to pack because they're not provided or super-expensive to buy onboard include: extra hangers, over-the-counter meds, batteries, camera memory cards, sunscreen, ear plugs, plastic bags for transporting liquids or wet things (or keeping water out of your gear on water-based tours) and power strips to charge all your electronics.