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Packing for a cruise today v packing 10+ years ago. What's changed for you?


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I started cruising just about 10 years ago and I know the experience has changed quite a bit in that time. I no longer even own a long dress and have drastically decreased the amount of jewelry I pack for any vacation.  If anything, it's very liberating, though I do miss the excitement of buying a new dress for every new cruise. 

 

Do you still pack in the same way today as you did when you first started cruising? What do you do differently? As mentioned, no more fancy gowns and jewelry. I will bring up to four pair of shoes but really do try to keep it down to two pair on a seven day cruise. I don't need as many clothing choices as I once felt I did. I repeat wearing something; do laundry or send it out; mix and match my wardrobe. The cruise we took last month, a seven day Mexican Riviera, was the lightest I'd ever packed. It's something I see doing more often, this under-packing.

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Posted (edited)

I think for me the big change came with the explosion of lightweight wicking fabrics that are easy wash.  The other moment was when I discovered the $20 laundry bag.  Light packing became my quest.  I never enjoyed hauling big suitcases around and it was liberating to pack for a 30 day cruise with an 8 day wardrobe.  I still carry more jewelry than a person should.  
 

I am taking a 10 day vacation with my sis in a few weeks and I am carrying a carry on and a small day pack

Edited by Mary229
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I take something nice for formal night, but only one outfit instead of something different for each night. Hubby says he's only taking jeans for dinner, but I'm gonna push for slacks for formal night.  Since we've started cruising Princess, we take fewer clothes--I don't mind washing if I can take less and have more return space for new purchases. I also take fewer books--I have an e-reader--but at least one or two giant books for balcony reading. I do take more sunscreen and protective clothing.

 

What I *don't* take anymore? Textbooks! I finished two degrees between starting in 2007 and finishing in 2020. One cruise, I took 33 papers and wrote an annotated bibliography. No more.

 

I take my wedding set, silicone rings, and a few necklaces and earrings. Nothing expensive. 

 

And, as a nurse with 33+ years under my belt, basic OTC meds/bandaids/minor first aid supplies.

 

First cruise in 2001, right after 9/11.

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Fewer ‘dressy’ things, no more tux for DH. Still get dressed for dinner, but will rewear many things. Fewer shoes. Capsule wardrobe  (pick 3 colors) that everything goes with everything else

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I'm probably one of the cruisers who goes back farther than most, as my parents started taking me on cruises around 1970-71. Cruising then was a lot of fun -- the idea of "cruising just for the sake of cruising" was in its infancy -- as opposed to cruising to go from one destination to another. Ships were smaller and there were fewer options: no buffet open for B, L, D.  No specialty restaurants, no real room service although cabin stewards might bring you a pot of coffee in the a.m. before breakfast in the MDR.

 

Dining codes were not very relaxed. I recall three dress codes:  Casual (usually only on the first night), Informal or Semi-formal, and Formal.  Formal attire was enforced and was truly formal.

 

My mom, sister and I would bring an entire suitcase just for all of our shoes and evening purses (we each brought several).  Dresses were the norm for all nights except casual.  I was a kid then, so didn't particularly like all the fuss and bother of dressing up. I still have a pic of me, aged around 9, shaking the captain's hand with my hair up -- and I still remember hating that hairstyle -- it hurt!

 

Enter the 1980s -- the era of Dynasty, Princess Di and conspicuous consumption. Ships got bigger and fancier, midnight buffets were endless displays of food and dining was even more formal with tableside preps, formal nights featuring caviar and mid-dinner palate cleansers in the MDR (never would find that now!). I have photos from those days of me in satin taffeta gowns with enormous puffed sleeves and dyed-to-match shoes, wearing glitzy faux-diamond earrings, necklace and more. 

 

I didn't cruise much in the 1990s -- newly married, house mortgage and a baby meant we didn't have extra cash. But we did take a 10th anniversary cruise on Celebrity, NY to Bermuda and it seemed just as dressy as ever. Celebrity had just hired Michel Roux to transform dining from the "old classics" to "nouvelle cuisine" and it was great. I still remember packing a lot and spending time in the laundry room ironing cute outfits (even shorts!). 

 

Then in the 2000s things started to change for cruisers. Formal started to feel less like fun and more like a chore. I got tired of feeling like a general marshaling my troops (clothes) every time I packed for a cruise. I realized that I was bringing back clothes unworn and un-needed. Throughout that decade formal nights also seemed to decrease and the guidelines regarding what was considered appropriate for formal nights also changed. Throughout that decade I found myself slowing learning to pack less -- especially as my trips started to involve overseas travel before and after cruises in Europe. 

 

By the 2010s I was pretty good at packing light. I prioritize differently now -- I still bring whatever the appropriate clothing is to meet requirements on board (and probably above basic requirements for most nights), but I bring less of it and do more mix-and-match. Fabrics have changed so that most things are lighter, more comfortable to wear and don't wrinkle as much (if one avoids linen, the bane of my existence....)  I bring very little jewelry, as few pairs of shoes as I can get away with, and one evening purse. I no longer travel with a hair dryer. And I don't think I've worn pantyhose since 2000!

 

As someone else mentioned, my Kindle has also made a huge difference. I am a picky reader and now I can bring as many books and references with me as I want without taking up any extra space. I don't have to depend on maybe, hopefully finding a book or two in the ship's library. 

 

I've never been one to pack a lot of extras other than clothes. No pop-up hamper, over-door hanger, flameless candles, or door decorations. I guess the one addition is my laptop -- it's a MacPro and is very light. I tried tablets but because I like to take notes on my travels and I type a lot (as well as taking lots of pics), my laptop is much more compatible with my needs.

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Oh my, those cruises back in the 80s.  We were usually guests of client companies, so looking 'smart' was vital. I remember a two-week cruise that 'required' me to bring 3 evening gowns.  THREE!!  Today I bring black silk pants, tunic top and scarves or little chiffoney 'wraps' I've picked up that take up no room and give a different look.  Always find some  'statement' earrings and usually wear black velvet slippers.  My daily clothing is black, beige and one bright color and it's all hand-washable.  I'll never be a true 'light packer' but I bring only half of what I used to, that's for sure.  These days, I enjoy dealing with my 30# suitcase lots more than I did when it was probably more than 50#!  E-readers are a godsend; I used to pack 6 books for a 10-day trip.  I'll probably never travel with anything smaller than a laptop, I'm always working on some project or other. 

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cruisemom, you really covered the changes in cruising. earlier years, cruising was not for everyone--too costly. Advent of larger ships, more people could cruise.Trend to casual dress at work and other places, luggage charge on airlines, many people skip the dressy items.

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1 minute ago, jhsocal said:

luggage charge on airlines,

This was the one that caused the cruise lines to make significant changes to the dress policy.  I guess Cunard being mainly a crossing and used by people who don't fly was not impacted by that change and kept the traditional standard..

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  • 1 month later...
On 6/12/2022 at 5:38 PM, RollingMeadows said:

I will bring up to four pair of shoes but really do try to keep it down to two pair on a seven day cruise. I don't need as many clothing choices as I once felt I did. I repeat wearing something; do laundry or send it out; mix and match my wardrobe. The cruise we took last month, a seven day Mexican Riviera, was the lightest I'd ever packed. It's something I see doing more often, this under-packing.

 

Same.  In fact, if it wasn't for my snorkel gear and Scrabble game, I might not fill my suitcase to capacity.  What I do bring now that I didn't 10 years ago is my laptop.  Of course, it has it's own bag.  I also pack more "medicine chest" items just in case. 

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We still dress in tuxedo and gowns or cocktail dresses for all formal nights.  On the other evenings, I am now more likely to wear linen or crepe palazzo pants with a nice top, and fewer dresses, allowing me to wear pantihose fewer times.  (Yes, I will wear them any time I wear a dress; otherwise, my veins and other imperfections will negate any positives.)  Always heels, still.

We pack more prescription meds now, as well as multiple eyeglasses.

What I no longer pack is dresses for afternoon tea.  My outfits, sometimes with a hat, and DH's outfits, no longer have that occasion to wear them for.

We have never packed any of the cabin things such as organizers, and I don't think we ever will.

DH now only packs one sportscoat or blazer per cruise; used to be two, as well as his tuxedo.

We have easily packed everything we needed for a month in Europe, including party clothes, in one medium case for the two of us.  But for cruising, we still pack as much as we want, and always enjoy having Date Night every night.

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On 6/13/2022 at 2:10 PM, Mary229 said:

This was the one that caused the cruise lines to make significant changes to the dress policy.  I guess Cunard being mainly a crossing and used by people who don't fly was not impacted by that change and kept the traditional standard..

 

Even Cunard are relaxing their standards, and oh is it a topic of much consternation on the Cunard forums. 

 

Instead of 3 'gala' nights on a 7 night crossing, there are now only 2, and the other 5 are 'informal' - still dressier than the casual of other lines, but not to the same standard as previous years. Gentlemen don't even have to wear a blazer or sport coat on informal nights anymore! (cue shock and horror) 

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I try to pack lighter than our 1st in ‘97 and feel like I’m getting better at it.  Packing cubes help tremendously to stay organized and make me feel like I’m packing lighter.  Enjoyed reading Cruisemom42’s post.  Love all things Love Boat and  think it would have been great cruising in the 70’s and 80’s when people put their fancy clothes on - even boarding the ship embarkation day.  

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