Summer is coming (don’t tell Ned Stark) and even this year one of the most popular types of travel is cruising. Thanks to my recent cruising adventure, I found the perfect solution to pack for your all of your cruise needs. You will thus be able to optimize, making the most out of your vacation, without forgetting any of the essentials.
The best way to go, both for short and longer cruises, it’s bringing a suitcase and a small backpack with you. According to my experience, Norwegian Cruise Line asks passengers to check in their luggage before boarding. This procedure allows the staff to carry on with the safety checks and to the passengers to get onboard without any hassle. Imagine the mess if thousands of people were to drag huge suitcases through a maze of corridors and lifts!
The fact is that that the baggage you leave at check-in is brought to your stateroom during the day: you could get it also at 8PM. On board the Norwegian Epic, we were allowed to get to our stateroom only at about 2PM. So you will have to spend a few hours on board before you can get your hands on your suitcase!
Some prefer to wear a swimsuit under their clothes, but I find it particularly uncomfortable, especially if you get to the port straight from the airport. My suggestion is therefore to carry with you a backpack as a carry on. It won’t only be useful only upon arrival, but also for the disembarkation day. Instead of walking around at the port with your pajamas under your arm, you can store away everything in your backpack to go get your suitcase. The evening before the disembarkation, in fact, the staff will take away your luggage and you will need a purse or a backpack to store the necessary for the night and the following morning.
A nice backpack
Let’s start right from the basics. I brought with me a Wolffepack Capture.
After a pretty interesting (and successful) campaign on Kickstarter, this brand finally launched this innovative backpack. Capture is designed for photography enthusiasts, with a front pod that accomodates a reflex camera and two lenses. The pod also features a small pocket with a zipper and two mesh side pockets, so you can also store memory cards, spare batteries and other small accessories.
However, the pod can be easily removed, to get three customizable areas. You can decide to keep them separate in two compartments that divide the top of the backpack from the bottom, a particularly useful choice that allows you to better organize your items if you decide to use it for a weekend out or a cruise, or unify all the available space. There is also a front pocket that can be used to carry your tablet or laptop, with pen pockets and others for small items.
Capture, like the other Wolffepack backpacks, reinvents the very concept of “backpack”. The award-winning Capture technology allows, thanks to a series of strings and materials such as carbon and kevlar, to release only the front of the backpack without removing the straps. You can hook it on the front, keeping it open to store groceries at farmer’s market, or access the camera in its pod. The reason why I find Capture perfect even for occasions such as a weekend out or a cruise, is that the back padding is very comfortable and structured with air channels designed to reduce sweating. The exterior texture, in a fine melange with red inserts, is very elegant and makes it one of those “passe partout” backpacks that you can use in many situations.
Whether you decide to wear a Capture or another backpack for your cruise, make sure not only that it doesn’t hurt the eye, but also that it is big enough and comfortable on your back!
Swimsuit, sunscreen, sarong and sunglasses
If like me you get to the port directly from the airport, you could bring a small bottle of sunscreen in your liquid bag. Wearing your swimsuit from home may be particularly uncomfortable, so my suggestion is to keep it in the backpack along with a pair of sunglasses and a sarong. As soon as you get on board the ship you can change in one of the bathrooms, storing the discarded clothes in your backpack: you will be ready to dive in the pool in just a few minutes!
Sunglasses are one of those things that I need always with me: I have very sensitive eyes!
I also find it particularly useful to apply sunscreen just before heading to the pool area. First of all because applying it many hours before (and maybe sweating on it) won’t make it as effective. Then because when the ship leaves the port, only a couple of restaurants are open for lunch. Typically one is always on the main deck, outdoors. If you decide to have lunch there, you will be ready to sunbathe without risking a sunburn.
Sandals and Kindle
Some prefer to walk around on the ship in sneakers, some others loves slippers. I chose to pack light and opted for a pair of sandals without heels. Keep in mind that a cruise ship is really huge and you are very likely to walk a lot to get to your stateroom or to one of the restaurants. The thick carpeting is very beautiful, but also hard on those wearing high heels. So I used these sandals to stroll through the boat, have lunch or even to get to the pool area. Even if you can’t soak them, they’re still a great compromise to reduce your luggage size. Wear them along with the sarong and swimsuit to explore the ship or to go to the main deck while waiting for your luggage!
Kindle is always in my bag wherever I go. I’ve been experimenting with Voyage for a few months now and I’m pretty much in love with it. You can read it well also under the direct sunlight, the battery lasts for weeks and I can also use it to read comic books or mangas. In the pool, at the spa or anywhere else, it’s one of my must-have also when I’m packing for a cruise!
From the Kindle Store on Amazon, you can shop at very low prices with just one click: the books will be delivered directly to your device. Each time I bring Voyage with I feel like having a small bookcase always available. I don’t even buy paper travel guides anymore – I keep them on my Kindle!
The great protagonist of this Summer will be the action cam.
The dilemma so far has always been between bringing a reflex, a compact camera, a video camera or just your smartphone. It was a tough decision, especially now that sharing contents on Instagram or Youtube is a widespread practice. We often ended up with a carry on only for photographic and video equipment. Definitely not nice, especially considering the fact that many low cost airlines offer reduced prices to those traveling only with a carry on.
The solution is now at hand: bring an action cam with you.
These small devices come with wide-angle lenses, capable of shooting a scene larger than you would get with a traditional camera or video camera.
The size is minimal and therefore you can stuff it in any bag, with the great advantage of having only one device for video, photo and time lapse.
GoPro is the most famous action cam but not everyone wants to invest such a large amount of money. In my case I’m not too used to this kind of devices and wanting to do some practice I was looking for something that combines good technical features, versatility and low price. That way I wasn’t goint to feel too guilty if I decided it wasn’t my thing!
I went for a Hamswan F60 that comes with a tiny price. You can in fact buy it on Amazon with free shipping at about 60$. It comes with 170° wide-angle glass lenses and a very useful 2-inch HD display, a Wi-Fi module that allows you to connect it to a dedicated app, but above all, (and this is awesome) it is stabilized. With this device you can record video in 1080 to 30fps and take photos at 12 MP. When I received the box I was particularly impressed. I wasn’t expecting the huge amount of accessories included for such a small price and in such a nice packaging. There are 29 parts, including a protective frame, a waterproof case that allows you to use it down to 98 feet, bicycle accessories and more. Just know that my husband has gone completely out of his mind and is now shooting videos on his Moto Guzzi or in the car, just because he can’t help it!
On my latest cruise I stuffed the Hamswan F60 in the backpack. It’s really small and this allowed me to bring it not only in the pool, but also at the Spa and on walking tours. For a cruise it is really essential, the battery actually lasts a lot and in the basic package they also provide an additional battery (see why it’s a good deal?). You just need to buy a large micro SD memory card to save your photos and videos for the whole vacation, without having to carry around heavy equipment the whole time.
It is also important to keep in mind that if there will be further developments regarding the ban on audio and video equipment on board flights to the United States and England, this little action cam could be (hopefully) safely kept in your carry on.
EDIT: Because you’ve been asking so much about Hamswan F60, Hamswan decided to activate a discount code for my readers. Type “TRAVDANY” in your cart to get a whopping -15% on your camera! You can activate your discount code for Hamswan F60 directly on Amazon.
What do you think of this guide on what to pack for a cruise? Did you find it useful? Do you have any suggestions to share with the other members of the community?
You can now also read my guide to packing light for Winter trips!
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This post has been written in collaboration with Amazon, Wolffepack and Hamswan. I trust the abovementioned products for me and my family. All opinions are my own.