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5 Worst Mistakes to Make When Packing for a Cruise

clock 18th March 2019 | comment0 Comments

Packing for a cruise can cause anxiety in some guests – whether they’ve cruised before or not. Questions like ‘what am I expected to wear on a formal night’, and ‘are towels provided for the pool’ might be swimming around your head. While answers to these questions will differ among cruise lines, there are some cruise essentials that you would do well to remember, just as there are a number of faux pas that can be avoided when packing for a cruise. Read on for the five worst mistakes you can make when packing for your cruise holiday.



1. Not researching airline rules

One mistake which can really put a damper on the start of your holiday is to forget to check the luggage weight limit for your airline. Some cruisers can become preoccupied with abiding by cruise line rules and then don’t check those of the airline. This can be a huge mistake considering most cruise lines are very generous – with luxury lines such as Silversea Cruises and Regent Seven Seas offering no limit at all. Common weight limits for larger airlines are around 20-23kg, however, many of the smaller ones are just 15kg. Be sure to double check this to avoid a nasty bill when you check in (the information will be available on airline websites).


2. Assuming every day will be hot

Although understandable, another error is to think that every day on your Caribbean cruise will bring sunshine and temperatures upwards of 25°C. While this part of the world is known for its warmer climes, the truth is there could be grey days, windy weather, and even rain during your time there. Same goes for destinations in the Mediterranean and Asia. Be prepared for all eventualities by packing a light cardigan and a foldaway raincoat/poncho even if the forecast tells only of sunny skies. Neither of these items takes up much room in your suitcase, and you’ll be grateful for them if the weather does turn.



3. Forgetting a plug adaptor

Many of us are guilty of this one - especially when cruising from Southampton or another UK port. Most cruise lines take pride in catering for an international clientele – including British passengers – so it’s easy to forget that many are actually European or US-based companies, meaning they have European or US style plug sockets onboard. In fact, it’s only Cunard and P&O Cruises that have the standard 3-pin British plugs. Be sure to find out what plug sockets will be in your stateroom, and pack at least one adaptor so that you can charge your phone/tablet, straighten your hair, or use any other electrical item you need to bring with you. 


4. Wasting suitcase space

It’s easy to overpack when cruising, especially if it’s a no-fly venture with next to no luggage limit. Instead of wasting your suitcase space on things you don’t need, consider saving the room for bringing back more souvenirs.



There are a number of things that you might not realise you don’t really need, for example;

  • Multiple books – there is usually a library with a good selection onboard
  • Large toiletries – often supplied in cabin bathrooms, or can be purchased onboard
  • Hair dryer – usually supplied in the cabin’s vanity unit
  • Towels – most lines supply enough towels for use in the cabin and pools

    5. Not bringing spare clothes in your carry-on bag

    On embarkation day, you will be asked to leave your luggage with attendants who will see that it is delivered to your cabin. Considering how many people will be boarding, this process could take anything from an hour to most of the day. In anticipation of this, it’s a good idea to pack some clothes to change into when you get onboard. Whether you’ve made a long car journey to reach the port, or you’ve had to fly in, a fresh outfit will put you in the holiday mood ready to explore your new home away from home.



    For more advice about what you should be packing for your cruise holiday, see our blog about packing for different climate zones.

    What to Wear on a Cruise

    clock 8th May 2018 | comment0 Comments

    You’re all booked and getting more excited by the day for your upcoming cruise, and have even started thinking about putting things aside to be packed. But, if you’re like many other new and even seasoned cruisers, you might have concerns about what you’re expected to wear. Instead of getting in a fluster and over-packing, take a look at our tips about what to wear on a cruise.



    Clothing for the Daytime

    Whether it’s a sea day and you’ll be trying out onboard activities, or you’re in port and out exploring, in general clothing for the daytime on a cruise should be casual and comfortable. No matter if you’re on a luxury cruise or a budget one, the theme of your holiday should be simply doing as you choose; so if you want to soak up the sun in swim clothes all day, do it. Or if you want to be hiking in port, or climbing the rock wall onboard, you can do that too. As long as you cover at least shoulders to knees when dining or in other indoor spaces onboard, wear whatever you like.

    What to Wear on a Formal Night

    Formal nights are still popular occasions on many cruise lines; passengers on Cunard’s Queens for example often choose the cruise line for its traditionalism and classic cruise features. These evenings can differ with each cruise line, with attire expectations ranging from tuxedos and ball gowns to cocktail dresses and casual dinner jackets. Sometimes formal nights are optional, but sometimes they are mandatory and guests have been known to be turned away from restaurants if they’re not dressed appropriately. Be sure to find out what the case is for your cruise when booking.



    How to Dress for Casual Dining

    Again the requirements for clothing at dinner on non-formal nights will change depending on the style of the cruise line. One rule that’s seen throughout however is that you must cover bathing suits, so be sure to take appropriate clothing to cover up. Guidelines on what to wear in the restaurants are diverse. Some cruise lines specify that jeans are not allowed, and some say no vests, shorts, flip flops and other beachwear for example. Again the best advice would be to check with the cruise line before embarking.

    Different Clothing for Different Destinations

    The clothing you decide to pack will of course be in relation to where you’ll be cruising to. If you’re off to the sunny Caribbean be sure to pack plenty of summery clothes, sunglasses and a hat. If you’ll be cruising to Antarctica or a cold part of the world on the other hand, remember layers are key! Another thing to consider with regards to destinations is the attractions and sites you’ll be going to see. If they include any religious places for example, you’ll likely need to cover up from shoulders to knees, and maybe your head. Consider bringing a shawl or scarf just to be prepared.


    Themed Cruises

    Many cruise lines today offer themed experiences, whether for the duration or just one night. Anything happening onboard should be mentioned to you at the time of booking, but be sure to ask to double check. Taking part in the theme is optional, but most guests like to get involved with outfits and accessories and such, and often these are available to buy onboard. Themes could be anything from 80s to Star Wars.

    While there are some things to consider when it comes to what to wear on a cruise, it’s certainly not something to be overly worried about. Remember everyone is in the same boat, (pun intended!) and the likelihood is there will be a big mix of outfits and styles onboard. Take a look at our guide to packing for different climate zones for some more helpful hints and tips.

    Top tips for embarkation

    clock 19th May 2015 | comment0 Comments

    Updated June 2017

    The excitement surrounding the lead up to a holiday is sometimes just as good as the actual thing. There is nothing quite like that feeling of finally closing your suitcase before travelling on to the port or airport of your choice to embark on the holiday of a lifetime. There is often some scepticism in the cruising world around embarking your ship at port, so we thought we’d put your mind at rest with these simple tips for hassle-free embarkation.

    embraking a cruise ship

    1. Let us know in advance of any disability or accessibility requirements

    Please make your travel advisor aware of any access requirements you may have plenty of time ahead of your cruise. This will allow us to arrange any necessary equipment or assistance for embarkation.

    2. Arrive early (or late)

    Different cruise lines advise different waiting times, because, as you can imagine, some ships are up to 5 times the size of others. To avoid queuing times we advise to either arrive at port super early, or towards the end of embarkation once the queues have died down.

    3. Use the time wisely

    There might be a bit of a wait at the cruise terminal before you board your ship. It's a good idea to take a destination travel guide or phrase book in your hand luggage so that you can read up on the places you might visit during your cruise.

    4. Remember your essential travel documents

    Passports, tickets, luggage tags, visas - liaise with your travel advisor to confirm all documentation you may need. Have these ready to go in an easy-to-access folder/wallet in your hand luggage.

    important travel documents

    5. Carry some cash, and some snacks!

    When waiting to board, it’s advisable you carry some cash in the currency of your boarding destination in case you’d like to go to the bar or shop at your port. Otherwise, come prepared with snacks and drinks to keep you going whilst you wait.

    6. Check your cruise loyalty benefits

    Most cruise lines give frequent cruisers the chance to enjoy cruise rewards through their cruise loyalty club schemes. Generally, the more you cruise with one particular cruise line, the more points you earn which can be redeemed against a whole host of great benefits. Some cruise lines such as P&O Cruises or Celebrity Cruises include priority embarkation (where available) for selected membership tiers. If you like the comfort of a cruise line you know and love, and traditionally cruise with the same cruise line each time, take a look at their loyalty scheme, you may have more points than you realise.   

    7. The importance of hand luggage

    Once you’ve boarded the ship, there may be a short wait before you can go to your cabin and access your luggage. We think it’s always best to pack some swimwear, a change of clothes, and perhaps some cards or a book with you in your hand luggage.

    what to pack on a cruise

    8. Enjoy it!

    It’s holiday time! Soak up the atmosphere, meet some of your fellow cruisers, take a complimentary magazine or simply anticipate the great memories you are about to create.

    Happy cruising!


    Note - Cruise line loyalty benefits can still be redeemed when you book with Iglu Cruise. Speak to your cruise advisor for more information.

    Packing For Different Climate Zones

    clock 15th January 2015 | comment0 Comments

    Updated September 2018


    Cruising can be fantastic fun for the whole family whatever the weather. With an ever-expanding list of exciting destinations accessible via cruise ship, plus a constant developing arena in onboard entertainment and conveniences, it is rare you’ll ever hear the phrase “it’s a shame about the weather” on your cruise holiday. Come rain or shine; activities, amusement, and exploration are in abundance on modern cruise holidays and providing you are prepared for the climate zone of your choice, you can eliminate any weather woes from spoiling what’s bound to be your best holiday to date.



    So you’ve chosen your next port of call, booked your holiday and your famous (yet slightly annoying for anyone not going) holiday countdown has begun. But when it comes to packing, what should you take and how can you ensure a good time is had no matter what the forecast has in store? Take some time to learn a little about the weather zone you are entering, and with these handy tips plus some essential pre-planning, you will be well on your way to forecast fortune-telling and smooth cruising in no time.


    No prizes for guessing these are the countries hugging the equator. If you are cruising to the Equatorial climate you’ll likely be visiting some truly exotic destinations such as Columbia, Brazil and Ecuador in South America, Central America, Central Africa, India, Indonesia and the northern coast of Australia. When cruising along the equator itself you’ll be at zero degrees latitude, the widest point of the earth and exactly between the northern and southern hemispheres. Most countries within the equatorial climate experience just two seasons, wet (tropical rainfall and higher humidity) and dry (cooler temperatures with less rain). Biodiversity is rich here due to the surge in tropical humidity; this also means some of the world’s greatest rainforests are found within this climate zone. If the air feels dense and heavy be prepared for some short but heavy rainfall, plus if you’re cruising during rainy season, air conditioning and onboard entertainment should be high on your check list.



    Equatorial Essentials: Rain mac, 50+ sun protection, bug spray, long sleeves, sports socks and closed toe walking shoes or boots for jungle excursions, binoculars, book on wildlife spotting.



    Are you planning a cruise to the Middle East, Australia or Western America? You might find yourself entering an arid climate. Destinations such as (inland) California, Arizona, Texas, Morocco, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Australia can have extremely dry regions and deserts. Although they are astounding in physical appearance, these deserts and their surrounds can be extremely hot and inhospitable places. On the upside, annual rainfall is low and you can experience some beautiful blue skies as descending air and areas of high pressure eliminates the presence of clouds. An arid climate can also bring much colder temperatures as night falls so bare that in mind for evening attire and sleepwear.



    Arid Essentials: Water bottle, sun hat for shade, cover ups (choose comfortable materials like cotton and linen), sunglasses, sandals, thermal pyjamas, eye drops, Vaseline.



    Cruising the Mediterranean is a dream come true for most holiday makers, and the balmy Mediterranean climate makes it easy to see why. This climate zone includes countries and regions roughly up to 40 degrees latitude either side of the equator but can also be present slightly further afield. Countries within this climate zone include Portugal, Spain, (the south of) France, Italy, Greece and Turkey but also (far south) Western Australia can experience similar conditions. Due to a seasonal shift in descending air, summers of the Mediterranean climate zone can be warm, sunny and dry with low rainfall. Pleasant and bearable temperatures are generally experienced throughout summer and some of the world’s best beaches are blessed with this weather, but searing heatwaves can also occur so sun protection is still important. Winter will bring cooler temperatures but still shouldn’t be cold enough to warrant packing a bulky overcoat.



    Mediterranean Essentials: Swimwear, beach towel, snorkel, waterproof camera, shorts, thin layers, lightweight jacket, walking shoes.



    You may not always see snow when cruising within the snow climate zone but overall temperatures are definitely colder for the most part and summers are short lived. Destinations within this region include Alaska, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Within this higher northern latitude the winters can be long, harsh and very cold so you’ll want to take some extra thermal layers if you plan on doing some shore exploring outside of the summer months. Frost melting and birds tweeting announce the awakening of spring in some areas and you’ll need good quality hiking boots to explore the magnificent terrains of Alaska, Canada or Sweden. Despite its snow coated stereotype, temperatures can still reach up to 30 degrees in the city of Moscow so consider short sleeves if you’re travelling to Russia’s capital city during summer. Stunning scenery changes drastically from vast thick fir tree forests to baron and empty acres of tundra the further north you explore the snow climate zone.



    Snow Essentials: Hat, gloves & scarf for winter, warm (waterproof) coat, lightweight fleece, synthetic fibres (warm in winter, cool in summer), hiking boots, moisturiser, nature or bird spotting book.



    The north and south Polar regions experience different climates but both harbour some of the coldest temperatures in the world. However, those that don’t mind a colder cruise will be rewarded with breath-taking scenery, amazing uninhabited landscapes and some incredible opportune photo moments. Destinations covered by the polar climate zone include (northern) Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, (north and north east) Russia, Antarctica and some areas of western China. The Arctic climate can be more bearable than the south due to moderation from the Atlantic Ocean, meaning that temperatures can reflect those of a mainland European winter. You’ll likely witness frozen ocean and some incredible ice glaciers during a cruise to the arctic north so prepare for the possibility of freezing temperatures. The sky is clear and you’ll want to bring a travel telescope or decent camera for star gazing or chasing the famous northern lights. Wrap up extra warm for a polar cruise to the south because temperatures here have been recorded at -80 Celsius. The air here is drier than most deserts so protect your skin and keep hydrated.



    Polar Essentials: Thermal clothes, hiking or snow boots, coat, hat/scarf/gloves/balaclava, digital SLR camera, waterproofs, pocket tissues, torch, polarized wraparound sunglasses, sea sickness medication, swimwear (for natural thermal springs), travel telescope, book on star gazing.



    Expect a bit of a mixture if you are entering a temperate climate, as this category can include aspects of a Mediterranean, sub-tropical or maritime climate. You could even expect four seasons in one day if you are visiting the UK for example, an island with a typical maritime climate which means conditions are influenced by the ocean. A rain mac, sunglasses and scarf could all be of use during a trip here no matter the time of year. Other destinations experiencing a temperate climate include northern mainland Europe, (western and central) USA, (western) China, (north-west) Argentina.



    Temperate Essentials: Rain mac, sunglasses, hat, comfy walking shoes, sense of humour, layers, sea sickness medication, guide to cloud spotting

    *Climate zones depicted from the Koppen climate classification. Weather conditions are always subject to change and it is advised to check official weather forecasts pre-departure for a happy holiday.

    Cruise the world and experience different climate zones on a world cruise.

    Top tips for packing for your fly-cruise

    clock 28th May 2014 | comment0 Comments

    Updated September 2017


    Packing - is it your least favourite part of a holiday? Do you struggle with what to pack, and find that when you do finally get it all together, you don’t have enough space? The fact that there is no weight limit for luggage on a cruise is extremely attractive to passengers, but what happens when you are flying to meet your ship?

    The job of packing completely changes when there is a weight limit involved, and it is estimated that 40% of holiday-makers will not take a fly-cruise due to airline weight limits. With most European flights having a 20kg allowance, it can spark instant panic about what to take and what to ditch.



    Do all airlines have a 20kg weight limit?

    Although international flights often have a higher weight limit, flights within Europe continue to have a 20-23kg limit and appear to continually raise their overweight prices. With this in mind, see below for a list of weight limits for the most popular airlines when flying in Europe:


    British Airways

    Checked baggage: One checked bag per person weighing up to 23kg

    Hand luggage: One Personal bag (laptop/handbag) 40cm x 30cm x 15cm plus one cabin bag 56cm x 45cm x 25cm

    Children: Same as adult allowance plus a collapsible pushchair and one car seat

    Virgin Airlines

    Checked baggage: One checked bag per person weighing up to 23kg

    Hand luggage: One cabin bag 23cm x 36xm x 56cm weighing up to 10kg

    Children: Same as adult allowance plus a collapsible pushchair and one car seat


    Checked baggage: A charge of £13 - £35 per bag is required for any checked luggage weighing up to 20kg and totalling in size less than 275cm (adding length + width + height)

    Hand luggage: One cabin bag 56cm x 45cm x 25cm

    Children: Same as adult allowance


    Checked baggage: You can purchase checked baggage of either 15kg or 20kg at a cost of £10 - £60 

    Hand luggage: One cabin bag 55cm x 40cm x 20cm weighing up to 10kg plus one small bag

    Children: No cabin bag allowance for infants (8 days - 23 months) travelling on an adults lap, however a baby bag up to 5kg may be carried by the accompanying adult in addition to their own allowance plus one pushchair free of charge

    Thomas Cook

    Checked baggage: One bag weighing up to 15kg whereby an extra 10kg can be purchased at £25 - £30

    Hand luggage: One cabin bag 55cm x 40cm x 20cm weighing up to 6kg plus one small personal bag/laptop/coat/umbrella

    Children: One checked in bag weighing up to 10kg plus a pushchair, a travel cot or a car seat


    Checked baggage: One checked bag per person weighing up to 15kg

    Hand luggage: One piece of cabin baggage per person 55cm x 40cm x 20cm weighing up to 5kg, other bags such as handbags must be carried within the single item of cabin baggage

    Children: Same as adult allowance apart from infants under 2 years old have a 10kg allowance plus pushcharis


    Tips for making the most of 20kg

    From the above it is clear to see most airlines still offer around 23kg per person. Although your initial reaction may be that this is not enough, if you pack right it should be plenty. Tips on how to make the most of your 20kg:

    • Take full advantage of your hand baggage allowance – Pack heavy items such as shoes and belts in your hand luggage.

    • Wear what you can – Try to wear any heavy items such as your coat or costume jewellery when travelling.

    • Forget the 'just in case' – We all do it, but you do not need to pack the 'just in case' pile. You will not need multiple layers, that extra pair of shoes or a spare swimming costume. If the worst comes to the worst and you do, there are shops onboard.

    • Towels are not needed – Towels take up lots of weight and space in a suitcase. As well as bath towels, a fresh beach/pool towel is provided every day on a cruise.



    • Purchase travel size toiletries – Toiletries are the main culprit for heavy luggage, so taking travel-sized bottles are perfect for a one/two week cruise. Most cruise lines provide shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotions so these are not required unless you have specific needs. Taking minimal make-up will also help keep the weight of your case down.

    • Make the most of your children's allowance. Naturally, packing for children will not require as much space as adults, so be sure to use all their allowance too!

    • Invest in a foldable beach bag – It's a good idea to take a beach bag, as you're likely to use it every day on a cruise - whether carrying a towel and sun lotion to the pool, or using it to hold belongings when out exploring. You can purchase a lightweight, foldable bag for just a few pounds.

    • Do not over-pack formal attire – Most cruises will only have one or two formal nights during a cruise, so you don't need to pack a selection of dresses or suits.

    • Plan your outfits – Knowing what you'll wear each day will make it less tempting to pack clothing that won't be needed.

    • Use the onboard laundry service - Most cruise lines provide a laundry service. Some have a self-service laundry room, whereas others offer a valet laundry and dry-cleaning service. This means you can pack less clothing knowing that you can wear the same basics again.


    Original copy by Sally Grimes

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