Musing on Cruising #3 – Packing or why only the paranoid survive

imagePacking for our cruise has been stressful to put it mildly. Not only are we away for almost a month but the range of temperatures and the types of clothes needed is extreme. New York in December will be somewhat colder than St Lucia (I hope) and the the clothes needed for a beach in St Kitts will be somewhat different from a Royal Ascot Ball.  So for guidance I turned to the CruiseCritic forums for a solution.

It seems that there are two types of packer; the liar and the paranoid.

The liar, often male, claims to not have even thought about clothes or packing and intends to ‘throw a few things in a case’ the night before travel.  He’ll moan about having to take a dress suit and will ask intentionally provocative questions like ” Can I wear swimming trunks to a ball” in order to have the paranoids start screaming at him. These represent about 2% of travelers.

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The initial selection

The paranoids, or the rest of us, engage in a complex discussion of room size vs. number of nights vs. temperature. On Cunard you change your clothes at least twice a day if you’re a man and potentially more than that if you’re a woman. Multiply that by 26 nights, temperatures ranging from -5C to +30C and add in fascinators, dance shoes,make-up and jewelry and the list becomes enormous. So given there is no restriction on the number of bags and we have a suite we will be packing heavy. By my rough estimation five cases and a suit bag.

I thought that maybe other cruise lines had useful tips of what to pack and turned up these gems from Disney Cruises. They range from the strange to the downright bizarre. Under the heading of ‘Other items to consider packing’ they had:

Books – if you think you have time to read. Who wouldn’t have time to read but maybe on Disney you are continually pursued around the deck by men dressed in huge mouse costumes so you won’t have time.

Bungee chord – for connecting cabins. I presume these are your own cabins not some bizarre game where you tie random door handles together and watch the fun. Come to think of that I might slip a couple for when the mood strikes.

Dry erase board – to communicate with your family. I usually prefer talking to my wife but maybe writing to each other on a four foot white board might be novel.

Duct tape – I presume to stop communicating with your family. “Time to duct tape Young Josh again he’s getting a  bit irritating”

Glow necklace – to find your family at night I assume

Two way radio – Can you imagine a trip with a hundred families talking to their children on two way radios. The horror. The horror.

Suction cups – to hang wet swimming truncks at the porthole also I presume to muzzle the children if the duct tape fails.

But leaving the duct tape, dry erase boards and radios to one side here are my tips for packing happiness.

  • Buy lots of suitcases. You’ll never use them again but that is why your house has a loft.
  • Take everything you can conceivably think of, however unlikely. The collapsible shoe tree will have its place and the oil painting of Great Auntie Margret will make your minute cabin feel more homely.
  • Take duplicate items assuming a waiter will spill soup on you at every meal and the laundry breaks down. So 52 changes of clothes for 26 nights is not unreasonable.
  • Think of the most unlikely scenarios and plan that these happen regularly. “Oh no, that pesky swarm of killer phone charger bees have stolen my 3rd back-up laptop charger….again”
  • Know that the cruise line makes a note of each outfit you wear and will fine you for repetitive dressing. Pack accordingly.
  • Assume that the boat has the facilities of a small life raft and pack everything you might need that they clearly won’t be able to provide; like soap.
  • Work on the assumption that the cabin staff will lose half your clothes so pack extras just in case.
  • Understand that with time changes each day is 37 hours long so take extra clothes to cover the additional hours.
  • Expect the unexpected. It could snow in the Caribbean in January and there could be a heatwave in New York in December. Remember that there are no shops in New York or the Caribbean.

Follow the other parts of Musing on Cruising below

Musing on Cruising #1

Musing on Cruising #2


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