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Preparing to Cruise

Updated on May 21, 2008

When you're off cruising in paradise, the last thing you want to be thinking about is what's going on back home. I'm a big fan of planning ahead and find that it reduces and pretty removes the stress of getting ready to cruise.

I know people who get very uptight about leaving their home. They fear that some shady character has been hiding in the bushes to see when they come and go so he can break in and rob them blind while they're gone. That's a little too Hollywood for me and while I do have a bit of a "if you want it that bad just take it" kind of attitude, I just don't see it as that big of a threat.

An easy way to go about preparing to depart is to make a checklist. It could be as simple as this:

  • Adjust furnace
  • Hold newspaper/mail
  • Call friend to care for pet(s)
  • Put a lamp on timer
  • Lock windows and doors
  • Pay any bills that will come due while you're gone
  • Double check packing list
  • Make sure you've got all documents (tickets, passports etc)

That's a pretty simple list and yours might be more complicated, but those are the main ones that pop up when we go to escape.

Speaking of packing list, let's take a quick look at packing for your cruise. I always find this VERY entertaining. I like things simple. If I could get away with bring my shorts, sandals and toothbrush, well that would be just fine with me. My wife on the other hand could supply 3 to 4 other ladies if they forgot their entire suitcase! Ok, I might be exaggerating there a bit but suffice to say, packing day is very fun for us.

With the airline rules changing now and then, the very first thing to do once you've found your flights is to check with the airline as to what their specific rules are. It used to be that there was a weight limit on each bag. Now many airlines are charging you if you have more than one piece of checked (i.e. non carry-on) luggage.

Travelling light is scary for some people but I'm a fan. Depending on where you're going, you can buy some small toiletry items after your plane lands and save the potential hassle of the "no liquids on flights" rule. Each of us having a very cleverly packed carry on really saves us time and grief and it really is something to consider carefully.

A good and valuable tip for packing is to split up your belongings. Don't put all of his clothes into one suitcase and all of hers into another. If you pack each suitcase half and half, if one suitcase goes missing, neither of you will have to go naked on your cruise...unless you want to!

Here are a few packing tips that you might find useful.

  • Clothing gets wrinkled due to under-packing which allows the clothes to shift and over-packing which squishes clothes. You can avoid wrinkled clothes by packing light but keeping things tight. I pack my suit and am able to pull it out of the suitcase and wear it without ironing.
  • Bring a few plastic bags in your suitcase. They can be used to pack dirty or damp clothes, or to bring a light snake ashore to save you some money.
  • Pack a small travel alarm clock as most staterooms do not have them. Check with the cruiseline to see if they have wakeup calls. If so, you can leave your clock at home as well.
  • Pack toiletries, clothing, and other items in clear zipper top bags for faster security examination of your carry-on at the airport and pier. This method makes it easier to repack if your bag is emptied and searched.
  • Make three copies of your documents (passport, driver's license, and credit cards) and leave one set of copies in the safe in your stateroom. Carry another copy on you when you go to shore. Most ship's purser will hold your passport (they do this to expedite clearing customs in foreign ports) so you won't have the passport on you. Leave the third copy at home with a friend or family member.
  • Bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer for shore excursions. Depending on the locale, water could be scarce.
  • No Need to pack beach towels as the cruiseline will provide them.

That's a very good start on getting you packed up smart and prepared to set sail but we've just scratched the surface. My wife and I have this routine down to a science!

For a more in depth look at how to get prepared so you're guaranteed not to forget anything and some tips that will save you time, money and aggravation, please have a look at my series of books called Cruiseship Tips at

See you on the high seas!

Mike Murphy


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