Cruise Packing Tips: 6 Things You Can't Forget

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You might be a frequent flyer but ladies, do you know what to pack for a seven-night Caribbean cruise?


Savvy sailor Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon shares her top packing tips, and the scoop on six “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?” essentials.

Light Jacket

No one anticipates being chilly on a Caribbean cruise. But a balmy day in port can become a blustery night once you're in open water, turning a romantic stroll on deck into a swift retreat from the elements. I recommend packing a wrap, shrug or light jacket to wear outdoors at night and in aggressively air-conditioned show venues.

Pick up a shawl from the "Everything's $10" store at the airport, or splurge on a tissue-weight cashmere wrap from Eileen Fisher.

Power Strip

Even when I'm traveling light I've got a laptop, iPhone and iPod in tow — all of which need daily charging, often simultaneously. I've yet to encounter a stateroom with enough electrical outlets to juice up all my gear, so now I always pack a power strip. Avoid keeping it plugged in all night because the surges through the cruise ship will surge your battery. Charge for a maximum of two hours at a time.

The $15 - $30 SurgePlus USB Swivel Charger (a compact strip with three outlets and two USB ports for one-stop charging) is my pick, but any regular power strip will do.


So it's been a long night at the casino or in the lido bar, and all you can think of as you stagger back to your stateroom is the long and luxurious lie-in in your future. That is until you're jolted awake at 8 a.m. by the voice of the Cruise Director over your cabin's loudspeaker detailing the day's lineup of activities. That's when you'll wish you'd packed earplugs.

I swear by Hearos. They're not the sexiest things you can take to bed, but at $4 they're a steal.

Convertible dress

There'll probably be two formal nights on a seven-night cruise but that doesn't mean you need to pack two fancy-schmancy outfits. Buy a short or maxi-length convertible matte jersey dress, and just by wrapping the straps in different ways you'll get two completely separate evening looks. And if you choose a color other than black, you can throw on an armful of bangles and some flip-flops and work it as a day dress, too!

Find your fave from less than $40 at retailers such as Target or Amazon to pricier versions at

Business Card Case

Sure, those lanyards cruisers wear to tote their cabin key cards serve a purpose, but are they chic? I think not. Instead, pack a sleek leather business card case, tuck your room key and an emergency $20 inside, and then stash it away in your pocket. The fashion police will thank you.

Collapsible Suitcase

One of the advantages of cruising over flying is that you can, within reason, pack as much stuff as you want. But if you've brought a ginormous suitcase there won't be enough space for it in compact cabin quarters. Solve that problem by buying a bag that fits all your stuff but can be compressed to go beneath your bunk or in the closet.

My fave: Biaggi’s Contempo line of luggage, which folds down to half its size.

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