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Packing for a cruise can be a daunting task if not tackled properly. Formal wear, country-club casual, semi-formal, smart casual - even the descriptions for suggested attire are confusing. Whether you will be cruising to Alaska or sailing the Caribbean, here you will find links to some of the best packing lists and tips, as well as a guide to cruise attire terminology.

Defining Cruise Attire What does it all mean? What is the difference between smart casual, semi-formal and country-club casual? Explanations and examples of how to dress according to suggested guidelines is provided.
Cruise "Master Packing List" This is one of the most comprehensive lists on the internet that includes everything you need to know about packing for a warm weather cruise.
Alaska Packing List Packing for Alaska is more challenging than the typical Caribbean cruise. Follow this link to make the task easier.
Children's Packing Tips Traveling with children always requires some extra preparations. From infants and toddlers to children, find out what to pack to aid in making the trip pleasant for everyone.
Essential Carry-On On a cruise, luggage is not delivered to your stateroom with you, so it is imperative that you pack a carry-on with necessary items to get you through the first few hours onboard.
Packing Tips from the Pros CruiseReviews has compiled a helpful list of tips from those who travel extensively.

 

Cruise Attire Terminology: What Does it All Mean?
By Nancy Norris, CruiseReviews.com Contributing Editor

Okay, so you are ready to pack and you discover in your cruise documents that the cruise line informs you there will be 2 formal nights, 2 smart casual and 3 casual nights. HUH??? What does that actually mean? Here are definitions and the kinds of apparel that serve as examples of each.

Formal: Once upon a time that meant tuxedoes for men and long formal gowns for women. Although you will still see men and women dressed in such fashion, our society has become more casual and the guidelines have become more flexible. This is a great opportunity to wear that prom dress, winter formal or maid (matron) of honor dress that is hanging in your closet. But, if those styles no longer suit you, consider what you might wear to an evening wedding reception, New Years Eve gala, exclusive restaurant or awards banquet. Long gowns, cocktail dresses and dressy pantsuits are all considered formal attire. Consider your own personal taste and clothing style and select accordingly. Men, your choices are somewhat more limited. Although I love a man in a tuxedo, if that is not your style a dinner jacket or dark suit is always appropriate. Actually, in today’s fashion world, a suit and tie of almost (note I said almost) any color is acceptable.

Informal / Semi-formal / Smart Casual / Elegant Casual: Now, I do not think there is any more confusing terminology than this category of dress! All of these terms are synonymous. Depending on the cruise line, you will see one of these terms used to describe the attire that is somewhere between formal and casual. This is also the category that is the most confusing. Here the lines blur and how informal (or formal) the suggested attire for this category of dress is very dependent on the cruise line you will be sailing. On most mainstream cruise lines, the suggested attire for this category would be pantsuits or nice dresses (the kind you would wear to church on Easter, an afternoon wedding reception or social luncheon). Men, for you this means anything from a suit to a sports jacket (tie optional). Of course, as mentioned before, in our relaxed more casual society a nice button down shirt and slacks (without a jacket) is still acceptable.

Now, if you happen to be sailing on a more formal cruise line, you might need to move the “casual” concept up a notch. Women are still pretty safe wearing that nice dress or pantsuit, but you will also see some women in understated cocktail dresses (nothing real flashy). Men, for you the dress code will most likely mean that a jacket and tie is suggested.

Casual (Sometimes also identified as Country-Club Casual): What is the difference between casual and “country-cub” casual you ask? Well, in our society of relaxed standards, casual has taken on a whole new meaning. What was once defined as casual dress has now come to mean anything you happen to be wearing (including a bathing suit, t-shirt, shorts or jeans). Well, that is not what “casual” means on a cruise ship! So, in order to more clearly define the cruise definition of “casual evening attire”, many cruise lines have gone to the term “country-club casual”. Open neck shirts (collared golf shirts), khakis, sundresses, casual slacks and tops are all appropriate here. You will find that jeans, shorts and t-shirts are not appropriate in the main dining rooms at dinner. On most cruises both the first and last night will be casual evenings. On the first night may people will have to wear what they wore on the ship since the luggage may not be delivered in time to change for dinner. On the last night, guests are required to pack their luggage and may only have left out the clothing they will be wearing for the journey home.

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NANCY’S PACKING TIPS FOR ALASKA CRUISES

When you look at the brochures for an Alaska cruise you are bound to see snow covered mountain peaks and glacier filled lakes. Alaska is not all cold and ice though. In fact, the summer months can be quite pleasant with daytime temperatures averaging between 60 and 80 degrees. Nighttime and early mornings are a little cooler with temperatures averaging in the 40’s and 50’s. Late August and September you will notice that the rain increases and average daytime temperatures will fall to the 40’s and mid 50’s. However, there is no such thing as “average” in Alaska. The weather in Alaska is unpredictable and very changeable.  So, how do you pack? First, you must plan on both rain and sunshine. Then, plan to layer, layer, layer!  Bring clothing that can be worn in layers that will prepare you for any and all changing situations. Bring a warm, water resistant coat and pants and a sweater. Plan to wear lighter clothing underneath so that as the day warms you can remain comfortable. And speaking of comfort, definitely bring comfortable shoes like sneakers. If they are waterproof, all the better. Since viewing nature in all its majestic glory is the essence of an Alaskan cruise, make sure to pack binoculars and a camera (preferably with a zoom lens). Don’t forget the insect repellent as you may encounter significant numbers of mosquitoes in the summer months and a good sunscreen is a must. I have listed what I believe to be Alaska Cruise Packing essentials. Have a wonderful cruise!

Necessary incidentals include

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Zip-lock bags (in a few different sizes)
  • Medications
  • Camera, film (or extra memory stick) and fresh batteries
  • Binoculars
  • Proper Identification (passport preferable)
  • Insect Repellent

  Packing Suggestions include

  • Jeans or khakis
  • Comfortable shirts (both long sleeved and short sleeved)
  • Running suits and pants
  • Sweatshirts and sweaters
  • Comfortable shoes for hiking and walking in wet/damp conditions (make sure to break them in before the trip).
  • Good socks (lots and lots of socks – your feet tend to get wet)
  • Long underwear
  • Pair of gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Sun hat or baseball cap
  • Scarf
  • A water-proof poncho
  • Windbreaker or lightweight jacket
  • Heavy waterproof jacket (hooded is best)
  • Insulated vest
  • Fanny pack, tote bag or back-pack for shore excursions/carry-on for overnight if on a cruise tour.
  • Bathing suit and shorts for warm weather (yes, there is a good possibility that you will need these).

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