Before deciding what to pack, do your homework first to narrow your focus and eliminate the urge to throw things in the suitcase at the last minute for “just in case.”
Make a list of every day’s port of call and the activities you plan to participate in at each.
How many days do you spend at sea? That requires almost no wardrobe. You can spend the entire day in a bathing suit if you wish.
Now that you know your itinerary, get down to serious business. Remember, most people don’t dress or look like the models in cruise advertisements. There’s no need to break the bank on clothing for a cruise. Save your money for fun things to do at the different ports you’ll be visiting.
Most things you need are in your closet.
The usual basics are best for both men and women.
For men: Slacks and a polo-style shirt are appropriate attire for a man at dinner and the shirt can be worn the next day with shorts. The only night men need a coat and tie is the formal evening.
For women: Don’t limit yourself to dresses and heels–you may regret it. Dinner wear is actually fairly simple. For daytime, bring a pair of light slacks and a pair of black slacks with blouses or tanks. Formal night is whatever you want it to be but slacks with a dressy blouse are fine
Footwear: A must have item are black walking/tennis shoes. Both for men and women. Yes, even on formal nights. Ladies, trust me, in rough seas walking can be tough and you don’t want to be in heels. Who’s going to look at your feet anyway?
Why such casual footwear? Your cruise ship’s main dining rooms may not be located on the same floor as your stateroom. So, you may have to climb stairs and walk from one end of the ship to the other—in rough seas. Be comfortable. You’re on vacation.
Sweater: Even though it’s warm and humid in the Caribbean, air conditioning can make dining chilly. A good investment for a woman is a nice light-weight black sweater. It can be stuffed into a carry-on bag and pulled out at a moment’s notice to dress you up while wearing casual slacks.
Cover ups are important to remember but towels are furnished poolside and for beach trips in port.
Snorkel equipment is usually included with shore excursions. But if you have your own gear, bring it. Then you’ll know your mask won’t leak and the fins won’t blister your feet.
Lightweight rain jacket just in case liquid sunshine decides to dump on you. Some rain jackets fold into themselves to make packing easier.
Small rain umbrella when combined with lightweight rain jacket is as much good luck as you can possibly pack to stave off rain. Cruising during the Caribbean’s usual January-April dry season is the most powerful rain deterrent.
Tim O’Keefe, past president of the Society of American Travel Writers, has specialized in Caribbean travel for more than three decades. Visit his website at www.guidetocaribbeanvacations.com.
Posted by Cynthia Boal Janssens