One of the fastest growing sectors in the travel industry, cruise industry revenue increased to $37 billion over the past decade. By offering new travel destinations and customizable cruise experiences the cruise industry has made a big comeback from decades past. For instance, in 2019 over 1.2 million passengers boarded cruises from Seattle. The global cruise market capacity reached its all-time high of 550 passengers in 2019 which means there’s a good chance you or someone you know is planning a cruise. But just what do you need to know before a cruise vacation? Should you pack differently then for a regular vacation on land? Read on for some tips and tricks on what you should pack to prepare for your maiden voyage.
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Unless you booked an all-inclusive cruise, you should be prepared to be tempted by extras that are not covered in your initial ticket purchase. Examples include drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic, spa treatments, laundry/dry cleaning, specialty restaurants, trips to shore, and more. As a general rule you should remember that the less you pay for the cruise and the larger the ship, you will likely have to pay for extras.
In addition to the optional extras that you can purchase, you should also budget for tips. Most cruise lines automatically add $10-$15 per person per day to your account. This is because staff is rarely tipped with cash and you aren’t expected to tip baggage service personnel. While some staff such as speciality restaurant wait staff or room service staff are generally tipped with cash, you should certainly plan on paying a surcharge at the end of your cruise.
While it can sometimes be difficult to plan what types of outfits you may need on your vacation, on a cruise it is more important than ever to not overpack. The average size of a cabin is 170 to 200 square feet and you will be much more comfortable without having things stuffed in every corner. When packing you should remember that most ships have laundry onboard should you need to wash your clothes.
While this may sound like something out of grade school, some ships still require a dress code for dining. You should check with your cruise line to see if there are any formal dining nights included in your cruise that you would need to pack appropriately for. Luckily, during the day all cruise ships are suitable for casual attire. Additionally, while some ships do have the formal dress code for dinners, it is not the norm anymore.
When packing you should also investigate the type of electrical outlets that are onboard. While US ships will have US-style current and outlets, international cruise lines may have different electrical standards. Additionally, most ships do provide a hair dryer so you won’t need to worry about packing that in your luggage.
Going along with the packing light theme, you should find out what types of amenities and toiletries are provided in your cabin prior to cruising. Like major hotel brands, most cruise ships provide toiletries like shampoo, soap and beach towels. As long as you don’t require specific brands this is a great space saver in your luggage. It is worth mentioning that cruise lines do not allow irons in cabins as they can prove to be a fire hazard, so you can leave that at home as well.
While passports are only required for international travel, it is wise to bring your passport onboard anyway just in case. Additionally, you should make sure to carefully read over your tickets and cruise information several weeks before your scheduled departure.