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What not to bring on a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
04 Nov 2021

You’re within a week of your cruise, the suitcase is out--and it’s already starting to get full. It’s finally here!

You’ve got all the necessities that you’d normally take on vacation, but you’ve never been on a cruise before. Did you know there are certain items that you aren’t allowed to bring with you? 

There are some surprising things that make the list of items you should leave at home when packing for a cruise, and there’s really three different reasons why:  Safety, Public Nuisance, and Space Savers.

Safety

Fun facts about Symphony of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

The following items are banned on cruises for safety reasons--often because of fire hazards. Anything that could cause a spark or has an open flame is dangerous on a closed vessel like a ship, where a fire would be disastrous. These items will be confiscated if brought to the terminal:

  • Candles, Incense, Coffee Makers, Clothes Irons, Travel Steamers & Hot Plates. (Items that generate heat or produce an open flame. This includes heating pads, clothing irons, hotplates, candles, incense and any other item that may create a fire hazard. NOTE: The only exception to this policy are curling irons and hair straighteners. Matches and normal lighteners are allowed onboard. However ""torch lighters"" and novelty lighters that look like guns are not allowed onboard. Torch lighters emit a powerful concentrated flame, and therefore are prohibited.
  • Hoverboards
  • Flammable Liquids and Explosives, including lighter fluid and fireworks.
  • Hookahs & Water Hookah Pipes.
  • HAM Radios
  • Baby Monitors
  • Electrical Extension Cords 
  • Dangerous Chemicals, including bleach and paint.

Just for fun | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you need special accommodations, email Royal Caribbean at [email protected]; please include in the e-mail the guests' names, booking number, ship name and sail date. You can let RC know about dietary needs or special room necessities, like extra plugs for a CPAP Machine. 

We also have to consider personal safety as well. We are used to the following items being banned or limited in large groups of people to limit someone getting hurt, and the same applies on a cruise ship. 

  • Firearms & Ammunition, including realistic replicas.
  • Sharp Objects, including all knives and scissors. (Note: Personal grooming items such as safety razors are allowed. Scissors with blade length less than 4 inches are allowed.)
  • Martial Arts, Self Defense, and Sports Gear, including handcuffs, pepper spray, night sticks.

Cruise FAQ: Cabins | Royal Caribbean Blog

There are different laws from port to port on what drugs and chemical substances are allowed, and so Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines have to limit what cruisers can bring on ship with them. 

  • Illegal Drugs & Substances
  • CBD Oil / CBD Products

Public Nuisance

Must Do Royal Caribbean: Enchantment of the Seas | Royal Caribbean Blog

While Royal Caribbean does a terrific job of crowd control, you’re still going to be on a ship with lots of other people, so it’s important to consider that when choosing what to take with you. Most of the items on this list aren’t banned, but could cause a conflict, or are just impolite. It’s a good idea to just leave them at home.

Walkie Talkies

You’ll still find these on many downloadable packing lists, but with technology upgrades like Royal’s In-App chat feature, and internet service, you won’t need Walkies to communicate.

Most of the time, they don’t work very well anyway due to the distance and interference. I’ve come across a few people trying to use them, and it is mostly just loud static. Imagine being on an elevator with someone screaming into a handheld radio! Not a pleasant experience for a neighbor.

If you aren’t going to use your phone to communicate, take a whiteboard or post its and leave notes for each other in the room, or just set up check in times.

Pool Floats

I love floating in a cool pool on a hot day as much as the next person. But that unicorn floaty takes up a lot of real estate and the pools are sized appropriately for people, not inflatables.

At 5’0”, I’m able to touch bottom in almost all the RC pools I’ve been in (at least on my very tip toes), so you can still wade around and sip your Pina Colada all afternoon. Don’t worry, this does not apply to kids’ who need arm floats, and life jackets are provided on board for your littles as well.

Adult Toys

No, not those kind of toys.

I'm talking about Drones, Kites, Heelys, Hoverboards, etc. These may be confiscated for safety reasons, but they also fall into the nuisance category. No one wants to be walking on the promenade only to get run over by a hoverboard!

And I know we’ve all seen gorgeous drone footage of ships and beaches, but remember that those marketers have special permission from Royal to take those shots. Without license from Royal, you’ll not be getting onboard with that drone.

Space Savers

Category 2J Central Park View Balcony Stateroom on Symphony of the Seas Photo Tour | Royal Caribbean Blog

Lastly, there’s a few things I want to mention simply because they save room in your suitcase. You may find these on an online packing list, or you may be used to taking them on a land vacation. But, these are all things you don’t need to take with you on a cruise.

Beach Towels

 But wait, we’ll be going to the pool and the beach and we don’t need towels? How will we dry off? Royal Caribbean has towel stations around the pool area for you to grab as many towels as you need.

Plus, when you’re heading off ship for excursions, there are always staff members waiting to check towels out to you! Leave those bulky towels at home!

Food & Snacks

I’ll make an exception up front for parents with small children--you go right ahead and pack those little puffs that your baby loves! However, for the rest of us, there is more than enough food on board. We don’t need to bring anything to eat.

The first two cruises I took, I packed a box of granola bars, just in case...and both times they went home with me completely unopened. I’ve found there is something for everyone on ship, no matter what you’re in the mood for.

Royal Caribbean will also honor special requests in the event of food allergies or dietary restrictions. I’ve put the information at the bottom of this post.

Yeti Cups/Personal Water Bottles

Spotted: New Coca-Cola souvenir cup design | Royal Caribbean Blog

This one really is a personal preference, but I’ve found it's a good one if you really need to save some space.

Everything you drink on board is already going to come in a cup or bottle already, so you would have to pour it into your Yeti anyway. If you get the Unlimited or Refreshment Drink Package, you will receive a Freestyle Coke Cup with an RFID chip for the machines--your Yeti will not work with those machines. 

Books

If you want to see me struggle while packing, come visit me when it is time to choose my vacation reading. Every single time, I am in agony over whether I should just take my tablet, when I really want to take hard copies. They are so much prettier to take pictures with! In the end, though, the tablet always wins. Books are heavy, and as much as I love them, they have to stay at home.

Download Overdrive and check out some e-reads from your library. Plus, most tablets are at least semi-waterproof now, so if you drop it in the hot tub for a second, it won’t be totally destroyed. (Don’t ask me how I know…)

Your suggestions

Who out there is so good at packing that you can get down to carry on only? What do you trim out of your cruise packing list that most of us would deem necessary? We’d love to hear your packing tips! Share with us in the comments!

What can you not bring on a cruise

In:
01 Jun 2020

When you pack for a Royal Caribbean cruise, you may want to bring all the comforts of home so that your stay at sea is just like being on land, but you should be aware there are some important rules about what you cannot bring on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

For the safety and well-being of all guests, certain items are prohibited from being brought on a cruise, and it will save you time (and embarrassment) by being aware of what you can and cannot bring on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

During the check-in process, security will scan all luggage (both checked and carry-on), and if they spot an item that meets the criteria, they can confiscate it and return it to you after the cruise concludes.

Appliances

If there is one item that I see confiscated the most on Royal Caribbean's prohibited items list, it is household appliances.

Coffee makers, clothing irons, travel steamers, electric kettles and hot plates are not allowed to be brought onboard. These items pose a fire hazard, so you will have to send out for laundry via dry cleaning and rely on Royal Caribbean for your morning cup of coffee.

Candles and anything you can light on fire

Fire is the number one danger onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise, so anything that can generate a flame is prohibited.

This includes, candles, incense, flammable liquids and explosives (including lighter fluid and fireworks), hookahs and water hookah pipes.

Weapons

Firearms & Ammunition (including realistic replicas), knives, scissors, martial arts, self defense equipment, sports gear (including handcuffs, pepper spray, night sticks) are all prohibited from being brought on Royal Caribbean.

Personal grooming items such as safety razors are allowed. Scissors with blade length less than 4 inches are allowed.

Sporting goods

Royal Caribbean does allow the following items to be brought onboard, but they must be stored in your stateroom and not used onboard the ship:

  • Baseball Bats
  • Hockey Sticks
  • Cricket Bats
  • Golf clubs
  • Skateboards
  • Surfboards
  • Bicycles

Drugs

While it may not surprise you that illegal drugs and substances are banned from Royal Caribbean CBD oil and CBD products are also prohibited. 

Even if you have a legally prescribed dose of marijuana, you cannot bring or smoke pot, edibles, cartridges onboard. Medicinal use is not permitted, and can result in serious legal troubles since Federal drug laws apply.

Alcohol

While Royal Caribbean does allow you to bring up to two bottles of wine per stateroom, any other alcohol is strictly forbidden.

Any alcohol you purchase onboard the ship or in a port will be stored by Royal Caribbean, and then returned to you on the last day onboard to be brought home.

Alcoholic beverages seized on embarkation day will not be returned.

You are also allowed to bring small quantities of non-alcoholic beverages in a carry-on or hand luggage onboard only on boarding day. Specifically, non-alcoholic beverages brought onboard may not exceed 12 standard (17 oz) cans, bottles or cartons per stateroom. Distilled water or specialized beverages such as, milk for medical purposes, dietary or infant use, are permitted.

Gadgets & toys

It may seem like a great idea to bring your favorite electronics with you, but certain ones are prohibited because they are a fire hazard or may annoy other guests.

You may not bring hoverboards, HAM radios or baby monitors onboard.

You should also be aware that electrical extension cords are also prohibited.  Instead, consider bringing a USB hub device to keep your devices charged up. Be aware that surge protectors, especially, are prohibited.

Guests may bring drones on their cruise to be used on land only, and outside the port area.  Drones may not be operated onboard the ship at any time, nor on Royal Caribbean’s private destinations: CocoCay, Bahamas or Labadee, Haiti.

Everything else

There are a few other items that Royal Caribbean does not allow you to bring onboard that do not fit under any other category, so here they are:

  • Perishable Food & Meat Products
    • The only food that can be brought on board must be sealed and prepackaged.
  • Dangerous Chemicals, including bleach and paint

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - What to pack for a Royal Caribbean cruise

In:
19 Feb 2020

Listen to the Show

Packing for a cruise is a great source of anxiety for some. To help simplify the packing process, this week's episode is dedicated to helping spell out exactly what you need to pack for your cruise.

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:

The worst cruise packing mistakes to avoid

In:
16 Jan 2020

You will start packing for your cruise in the days leading up to the ship's departure, and whether it is your first cruise or twentieth, packing is never a simple task.

Mistakes happen, and I have the top ten cruise packing mistakes not to make!

Bringing a prohibited item

Probably the most common packing mistake is packing something that Royal Caribbean prohibits you from taking onboard. Alcohol, drugs, weapons and more are not allowed.  

Be sure to check the list of what is and what is not allowed to be brought onboard on Royal Caribbean’s website.

Putting important documents in checked luggage

You may know to bring the proper documentation with you on a cruise, like a passport or birth certificate, but be sure not to put it in your checked luggage.

The luggage you give the porters at the cruise terminal to be delivered to your room will take hours to get to your room. 

If your passport is in your checked luggage, it means a big problem with checking into your cruise. Be sure to always carry your important documents with you, or put it in a carry-on bag.

Not protecting against leaks

If you are particular about the brand of shampoo, soap or other important liquids or gels you need, be sure to guard against leaks that can ruin clothes and other things in your luggage.

Luggage gets tossed around easily, and if something explodes, it can really mess things up. Consider getting TSA approved and leak proof containers, or simply put these items in a zip lock bag.

Bringing medicine

If you have medicine you need to take regularly, be sure to first and foremost bring enough not just for the duration of the cruise, but for a few days thereafter. You never know if you will encounter a travel delay.

In addition, be sure to keep your medicine in a carry-on bag.  This guards against a lost bag creating a health issue with not having enough medicine.

Forgetting formal wear

In the grand scheme of forgetting important pieces of clothing, I think forgetting formal wear, as well as clothing to wear out at night, is an easy one to overlook.

Despite the name, formal night isn’t that formal, but you do need clothing to wear that looks nice and is appropriate for the themed evenings of your cruise.

Consult a past Cruise Compass for your ship and sailing to get an idea of what themed evenings will be offered, and pack accordingly. 

Not unpacking soon enough

Once you get in your cabin and your luggage is delivered, be sure to unpack to prevent clothes from getting wrinkled.

It is easy to leave your bags packed for a while as you explore the ship, but neglecting clothes that can wrinkle easily (especially on the first night of your cruise) can lead to some embarrassing moments.

Remember, there is no self-service laundry or irons on Royal Caribbean, so unpack sooner than later.

Overpacking

I admit, I’m an overpacker and do it often.  

While overpacking is not the end of the world, you do want to avoid going overboard with packing.  

To avoid overpacking, download a packing list, use packing cubes for better organization and think through exactly what you really will (and will not) need for your cruise.

Forgetting a jacket

I am guilty of this one all the time, because I live in Florida where it’s generally warm year-round. But if you are taking a cruise in the winter months, or perhaps a cruise up north, it is easy to overlook bringing a jacket.

Cold fronts do occur in the tropics, and of course cruises to Canada and New England, even in the fall months, can still get some chilly temperatures.

Consider bringing A lightweight, easy-to-roll jacket that's still warm.

Socks!

This is totally one I have failed at time and time again. Bring enough socks of various varieties.

Dress socks, athletic socks, low cut, whatever. Bring the kind of socks for formal night, as well as activities onboard and onshore. 

Keep in mind activities like ice skating or rock climbing require you bring your own socks, and athletic socks are easily overlooked when planning a warm Caribbean cruise.

Forgetting to leave out something to wear on the last day

There’s always someone who misses this last tip, and that is to make sure you do not pack all your clothes on the last day of the cruise.

On the last night of the cruise, guests pack their bags and leave the bags out to be delivered in the cruise terminal.  This makes disembarkation easier.

The issue is, some people pack everything, and that means they do not leave themselves a spare set of clothes to wear off the ship.   It seems there is always one family who wear their pajamas off the ship because they forgot.

What should I pack for a cruise to Alaska?

In:
14 Jan 2020

An Alaska cruise will take you to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  It is filled with breathtaking vistas, new discoveries, and trails to awe-inspiring views.

The Last Frontier is known for glaciers, wildlife spotting, and the Northern Lights. With so much to see and do, packing for this kind of a bucket list adventure is no easy task.

There are a few important things to know about what to pack for an Alaskan cruise, so here are the basics.

This post contains affiliate links, however, all opinions expressed are exclusively are my own. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Layers

If there is one mantra about Alaska that is absolutely true, it is the idea of "layering".

Essentially, the weather changes a lot during the day in Alaska.  It may start out cold and rainy, then the sun comes out and warms things up, followed by a breezy afternoon and perhaps rain again.

Cruise experts will tell you want to have three basic layers while in Alaska:

  1. Base layer: t-shirt and jeans
  2. Warm layer: Fleece or down jacket/sweater
  3. Waterproof layer: Thin waterproof jacket suitable for when it rains

The idea is you can take off or put back on any of these layers at any given time. 

Base Layer

The base layer is suitable for when you are on the cruise ship, or when the sun is shining while outdoors.  This is essentially the kind of clothing you would wear in the early spring or fall back at home, where it is warm, but not hot, outside.

You should plan to pack primarily t-shirts or other casual mostly warm weather shirts as your base layer. Plan on having one for every day.

Warm layer

This is the layer you put on when temperatures start to go down and it gets chilly.  

It seems like most people opt for fleece jackets or pullovers from brands such as North Face or Columbia.  Brands aside, you want something that will keep you warm without resorting to something too "poofy".  Parka jackets, need not apply.

I invested in a quality fleece jacket, and also packed one or two hoodies that I can swap out interchangeably. You do not need one for each day, but should have a back up option or two just in case.

Waterproof layer

This is what you put on when it rains.  Rain in Alaska varies, and is often misty and light, but definitely occurs off and on sporadically.

Just like the warm layer, you do not want something bulky, because more than likely you will be carrying around this layer with you just in case it rains. 

A windproof rain jacket is a solid bet. Be sure to get one that is lightweight.

A popular choice are three-in-one jackets that have the warm layer and waterproof layer bundled together, and can be taken off as needed. 

Regardless of what rain jacket you opt for, you want to make sure it is light enough to put in a backpack to carry around without being a nuisance.

Shoes

There is a lot of advice when it comes to the proper footwear in Alaska, and I believe the proper footwear depends on what you plan to do on your shore excursions.

At the very minimum, you need sneakers or other closed toed shoes suitable for walking and perhaps light hiking (as in going up a paved trail).

If you plan on doing real hiking, where you will be going into the brush and going off-road, then water-resistant shoes/hiking boots are the way to go.  Unless you are the Bear Grylls type, hiking boots are likely overkill, and waterproof hiking shoes are a more practical bet.

Binoculars

Something you would (likely) never pack in the Caribbean are binoculars, and there is definitely good reason to bring one.

Whether on sea or land, you will be surrounded by beautiful landscapes filled with wildlife spotting opportunities. Binoculars with a great ability to zoom is what you want, and quality is important here.  

I will caution that you do not need to get binoculars, and should not spend a great deal of money in a pair that you may never use again. Ideally, borrow one from someone else, or perhaps look for a sale.  But if the price is too high, this is one area I think can be left off.

Clothing accessories to keep you warm

In addition to the layering advice earlier, you may want to pack other items to keep you warm(er).  These are items that help with keeping your extremities warm, including:

Backpack

 

You want to bring a high quality and durable backpack for your time on shore in Alaska. 

Your backpack will need to carry your personal documents, water bottle, rain jacket (if not wearing it), warm layer (if not wearing it), snacks, sunscreen, bug spray and more.

Ideally, you will want a water resistant backpack in case it rains all day.

Alternatively, some people prefer a lightweight, water-resistant crossbody bag. Regardless, you will need a means of carrying your supplies.

Bathing suit

Yes, seriously.

While it may not seem like you will swim, your Royal Caribbean ship still has a hot tub and you would be surprised how many people end up going for a swim.

Odds are you already own a bathing suit, so throw it in your bag just in case you find the desire to go.

Sunscreen

 

Yes, seriously. The reflection of the sun off snow or ice on a glacier is a recipe for getting sunburnt easily.

This is especially true on faces, so pack some to avoid paying ridiculous prices for it in Alaska or on your ship.  

Camera

If you have been wanting to upgrade your camera for a while, a cruise to Alaska is the perfect excuse.

Not only do you want a high-pixel camera that can take the kind of photos you would want to humble brag about on Facebook, you are going to want a a good zoom lens to go with it.

Be sure to also invest in plenty of memory cards to ensure you never run out of space for photos. Quite often, you will be snapping photos in rapid succession in hopes one of them came out well. 

A DSLR camera is not for everyone, so if you prefer something more compact, consider a higher-end point-and-shoot camera.  I really like the Sony RX series of cameras for this purpose.

If you are going to rely on your phone, you can purchase phone lens attachments to enhance your photo taking capability.  

Insect repellent

Mosquitoes in Alaska have a nasty reputation (where don't mosquitos have a bad reputation?), especially in the summer months.

Be sure to pack insect repellent and apply liberally to avoid becoming a walking Windjammer for the official state bird of New Jersey.

Video: Top 10 cruise packing mistakes

In:
05 Dec 2019

Packing for your cruise vacation means making sure you have everything you need for an a memorable and enjoyable time away from it all.  Packing also has its own set of challenges, and I have ten packing mistakes to avoid making.

Whether it is your first cruise or your twentieth, packing is one of those things we all have to do and it can cause problems later on in your cruise.  Here are the top pitfalls of packing for a cruise and what to do to avoid them!

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single video!

So check out the video and then let us know: Is there a packing mistake you have made? What is your advice for someone packing for a cruise?

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - Dollar store shopping for a cruise

In:
31 Jul 2019

Listen to the Show

Have you ever thought of doing your pre-cruise purchases at a dollar store? There is a surprising amount of great choices available, and this week Sheri joins Matt to talk about this very topic!

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:

Video: Important things to pack before you go on Royal Caribbean

In:
05 Mar 2019

We are back with another RoyalCaribbeanBlog video this week, and we have the most important things to pack for your Royal Caribbean cruise!

We all know that feeling... you are getting ready for your vacation, but you cannot shake that feeling that you are forgetting something.  Our goal today is to help you avoid that feeling by sharing the most important things you will forget to pack before you go to on your cruise… so you DO NOT forget to do them! 

And if you love this video, we have lots of other great cruise videos to watch on our Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel!

By the way, have you subscribed yet? Be sure to subscribe to our channel and never miss a single episode!

So check out the video and then let us know: What is your best advice for someone planning a Royal Caribbean cruise?

Top travel gadgets to bring on a cruise

In:
11 Jan 2019

Packing for a cruise vacation means not just remembering to bring a swimsuit and formal night wear, but also helpful travel gadgets. These tech tools can enhance any vacation experience and ensure your days by the pool, at the beach or exploring are the best ones yet.

Here are some of our favorite picks for innovative accessories to bring on your next sailing. Note that we included links in this post that may contain affiliate links. Basically that means Amazon gives us a "finder's fee" commission without charging you anything extra.

Wireless Earbuds

Whether you jam out to classic reggae or prefer a Top 20 pop hit, wireless earbuds allow you to enjoy your favorite tunes without worrying about disturbing others around you.

Our pick: Apple AirPods

Phone Case Wallet

I have lost count of the times I have accidently de-magnetized my SeaPass card due to my phone being too close to it.  Until the whole fleet moves to RFID cards, you can guard against this problem by getting a phone case wallet.  They are inexpensive and will save you a trip (or four) to Guest Services for a new card.

Our pickSilk iPhone X / XS Wallet Case

Waterproof Bluetooth speaker

A day at the beach is about relaxing in the sun and surf, but passing the time enjoying those rays and waves is much more enjoyable with some great music.  Royal Caribbean does have some live music on the island, and some recorded music playing near the bars, but back at your beach chair it can be difficult to hear any of it.

We do not advocate blasting your music to disturb other guests, rather, provide a way for you and your family and friends to enjoy some background music while you take it all in.  Enjoying music among friends is a great way to spend the day, especially if you are in a cabana.

Our pick: UE Boom 3 portable Bluetooth wireless speaker

Portable device charger

Never let battery power on your phone, camera or any electronic device prevent you from capturing or enjoying the fun onboard or onshore.  A portable USB charger ensures you can stay charged up, and even allow multiple devices to be useful all day long.

Our pick: Anker PowerCore 20100

Clip-On phone camera lens

Your phone is capable of taking great photos, but with a clip-on lens, it can take even better photos.  By adding a clip-on lens, your phone can take wide-angle, close-up, or just plain spectacular shots that can rival any DSLR camera.

Our pickXenvo Pro Lens Kit for iPhone and Android

Travel Pillow

If you are flying to your cruise, you may want to invest in a neck pillow so that you can actually sleep comfortably on an airplane. 

Our pickEverlasting Comfort airplane travel kit   

USB wall charger

Since Royal Caribbean prohibits guests from bringing a surge protector (they are a fire hazard), your best bet is to bring a USB wall charger to keep everyone charged up during your cruise.  There are limited outlets in a standard stateroom, and a USB wall charger means you do not have to unceremoniously unplug your spouse's device and then later blame housekeeping.

Our pickAnker 60W 6 Port USB Wall Charger

Your thoughts

Any good cruise or travel-related gadgets we missed? Have any product recommendations (or dislike any of the things listed here)? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!

First time cruisers: What clothing to pack

In:
08 Jan 2019

Packing for your first Royal Caribbean cruise can feel like a daunting task, as there is a lot to consider. You have to take into account where your cruise is going, the shore excursions you want to book and dress codes onboard.

In a way, it is difficult to blame anyone for over packing because the longer the cruise, the harder it is to figure out just what clothing you will need. Your luggage will have vastly different clothing in it if you cruise heads to the Mediterranean versus Caribbean or Australia.

We have some tips to share for what to pack for your first cruise.

Cruise destinations

Even though Royal Caribbean has the word "Caribbean" in its name, Royal Caribbean ships serve a variety of ports around the world, so where you go can make things easier or harder on your packing.  

Caribbean and other warm water port destinations usually require a lot of t-shirts, shorts, and other light clothing.  But if your cruise is visiting cold water ports such as Alaska, New England or Northern Europe, you're going to need clothing that will feel comfortable outdoors as well as clothing that is comfortable inside the ship.

Based on where your cruise is going, you'll have a better idea of how much you will need and it's important to figure out a rough idea of what your schedule will be in terms of ports.  If you're only planning on leaving the ship at one or two ports, you may not need as much clothing than if you're planning on leaving the ship all the time.

First day packing

Embarkation day requires its own special packing strategy, because you will need a carry-on bag with certain items that you need to have on you until the rest of your luggage is delivered to your stateroom later in the day.

Pack your bathing suit in a carry on bag and then change in one of the public restrooms.  Towels will be provided in the pool area for your use.  By bringing bathing suits with you to change into on embarkation day, you will be able to enjoy the pools and hot tubs without the crowds that will soon arrive for the rest of the cruise.

You should also plan to pack anything you will need to have access to between when you arrive at the cruise terminal through the evening of the first day. This can include things such as medications, electronics, passport, credit card/cash, change of clothes and toiletries.

Royal Caribbean dress codes

The phrase "dress code" often strikes fear into the hearts of first time cruisers out of concern that they will feel out of place or break a rule. The reality is dress codes are merely dress suggestions for the main dining room, and dress on Royal Caribbean is far more casual than you might think.

Royal Caribbean has three main dress codes onboard its ships:

  • Casual
    • Most times of the cruise, Casual is the defacto dress code.  You will find it for breakfast, lunch and some dinners. 
    • Some good ideas for casual nights are jeans, polos, sundresses, blouses, and generally comfortable clothing. 
  • Smart Casual
    • Think of Smart Casual as a step up from Casual dress code, so plan on something a bit nicer than you might wear on Casual.  In practice, you could easily dress for Smart Casual the same as Casual.
    • Smart Casual dress suggestions include collared shirts, slacks, nicer dresses or skirts.
  • Formal
    • Formal Night is when guests can enjoy their evening best.  Nothing is too fancy for formal night, but keep in mind that you do not have to recreate your Senior Prom either.
    • You will find men wearing suits and even tuxedos.  Ladies may opt for cocktail dresses or evening gown.
    • If all this sounds too fussy, a simple collared shirt and pair of slacks for men or jeans, skirt or dress for women will suffice.
    • Formal nights are optional (though recommended) and will only take place one to three times per cruise. As always, there are plenty of casual restaurant options available on those nights too.

Packing for fun

Beyond what you will wear for meals, the bulk of your packing will entail what you need to wear around the ship or in town on excursions. 

For all the activities onboard, you may need a workout outfit or two for the fitness center.  You will also need athletic wear to tackle the rock-climbing wall, sports court or zip line. If you are cruising on Voyager, Freedom or Oasis Class ships and want to visit the ice-skating rink, be sure to pack socks and long pants. Likewise, the zip line requires closed toe shoes.

If there is one aspect of cruise packing that may be the most obvious, it would be for the pool deck. You will need swimsuits for the pool, hot tubs and waterslides.

Cruise packing tips

Here are some more packing tips to consider for your first cruise!

  • Do a Google search for "cruise packing list".  There's a lot of packing lists out there and most contain a lot of stuff you don't need, but they are good resources for remembering those "oh yea!" things. Our friends at CruiseHabit came up with a great list.
  • When possible, re-use clothing.  Odds are no one is tracking if you wore the same pair of jeans or shorts on day 2 and day 6 of your cruise.  Pants are the easiest to reuse, as they really don't get "dirty" after just one use.  
  • For men, if you want to pack less dress shirts, try packing one shirt and tie with your suit to wear, and then on a different formal night, just wear shirt without jacket or tie.
  • Another tip for men, try finding reversible belts that go with a "black" or "brown" outfit.  One less thing to pack!
  • Have one bag, preferably something easily portable like a backpack, full of essentials you need but wont check in, such as passports, money, cruise documents, phones, etc.
  • I find two bathing suits are usually enough for almost any cruise.  Short of you or someone literally spending all their time in the pools, you can usually operate with one swimsuit drying somewhere in your cabin with the other ready for use.
  • While this article is all about trying to avoiding over packing, it's definitely better to over pack than under pack!
  • Self-service laundry isn’t available on the ship, but dry cleaning and laundry services are offered for each stateroom at an additional fee. Nominal fees are worth it if it means packing less clothing.

More packing information

Now that we have covered packing basics, here are some additional articles to help more!

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