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How to Pack for a Cruise

(Photo: Laying on Beach with Suitcase via Shutterstock)

Perhaps you’re like me and start filling your suitcase a week (or more) before your cruise, armed with a packing list and smart space-saving techniques, like rolling up socks and stuffing them in your shoes. Or maybe you’re like my husband, who throws a bunch of clothes into a carry-on at midnight before a morning flight and always packs the right things.

Either way, you’ve probably learned that what you bring—or more importantly, what you forget to pack—can impact your enjoyment of your cruise vacation.

I own untold numbers of sweatshirts that I bought when I was caught out on an unseasonably cold day in port with no warm layers—a waste of shopping time and money since I have rarely worn them post-cruise. And forgetting to bring socks on a short cruise meant I couldn’t try out the bungee trampoline on a Royal Caribbean ship. But I’ve also waltzed through the airport with only a backpack and roll-aboard suitcase prior to a seven-night Europe cruise, and I was still able to supply travel companions with reading materials, seasickness meds, and plane snacks they hadn’t thought to bring. And after shivering through one too many dinners in uber-air-conditioned cruise-ship dining rooms, I now pack cardigans and pashminas to match my sleeveless evening wear (they also double as blankets on long flights).

So whether your goal is to avoid those checked- or excess-bag fees by packing light, reserve your in-port shopping for souvenirs rather than necessities, or simply make sure you take everything you need on your next vacation, here are our top 10 tips for packing for a cruise.

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