As useful as packing checklists are, there are too many variables for them to really be useful as anything more than a jumping off point. So consider this list as a good place to start. It’s a basic list of things most women would probably need on a 7-day cruise to someplace warm and sunny, such as a Caribbean cruise. Print it out, make notes, cross things out, and add your own items to the list to customize it.
Getting the maximum number of outfits out of a minimum number of pieces requires that travelers build a wardrobe around neutral pants, shorts or skirts and complementary tops.
For a 7-day cruise, pack 2 or 3 pairs of neutral color pants (think black, blue or tan). Add 1 pair of jeans: you might need them for an excursion or on-board activity like ice skating. Add 2 pairs of shorts or casual skirts.
Next, choose 5 tops. Mix up the styles (e.g., 2 cotton v-neck tshirts, a tailored tank top, a casual tank top, and a casual button-down blouse). Ideally, each shirt could be worn with each of the pants/jeans/shorts/skirts you’re packing. Add 1 more shirt – a long-sleeved one. Cotton button-down shirts are nice because they can go casual and worn open over a tshirt or buttoned with trousers for a more polished look if you want to meet new friends for drinks.
Three dresses are ideal for a 7-day cruise. Pick a neutral everyday or sundress. Pick 1 business casual dress (like what you’d probably wear to go out to dinner or for a work event) and 1 formal dress. Most cruises have one semi-formal and one formal dinner. Add a cardigan or shawl to make an outfit dressier or for warmth. Choose one or two pieces of statement jewelry that can dress up an outfit alone or when paired with a scarf or shawl.
Don’t forget pajamas, underwear, and 2 pairs of socks. For days spent at the pool or beach, have 2 bathing suits (1 to wear while 1 dries), a beach coverup, hat, sunglasses and case, and flip flops. In addition, 4 pairs of shoes should have you ready for anything: heels, flats, walking shoes/sneakers, and sandals.
Pack a scarf. It’s good for covering your head and exposed shoulders in places of worship or wearing over your hair during windy boat rides or other adventures. If you plan on working out while away, pack gym clothes, a sports bra, and sneakers.
If you have them, pack three handbags: a wristlet is perfect for dinner and dancing – just enough to hold your room card, lipstick, etc.; a crossbody bag leaves you hands-free for sightseeing and excursions; and a sturdy tote is good for shopping while doubling as a beach tote.
And finally, check the forecast; you may need an umbrella and jacket or waterproof poncho.
Before you go, take an inventory of all you’ve packed. When you get home, make notes about what you’d do differently next time. Save that inventory and use it as your own personal packing list for your next cruise!