Friday, March 15, 2013

So you're going on a cruise? Here's what to pack!

This post is sponsored by Carnival Cruise Lines

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had the absolute pleasure of cruising from Sydney to Melbourne aboard the Carnival Spirit. It was our maiden voyage, and we had absolutely no idea what to expect, what we'd be doing, or more importantly, what to pack!  They say you learn from I'm here to share that experience with you. btw - how beautiful is the ship!

1. Choose your luggage wisely
The size of your bag will depend on a number of factors; whether you're male or female (women generally pack more...shocking revelation, I know); how long your cruise is for; and whether you need to pack for children as well.  Choose a pull-along style suitcase on wheels. The Carnival Spirit is a really large ship (nearly 300m long!), and you may need to carry/pull it a long distance. We speak from experience here. My poor husband had half of my belongings in his over the shoulder tote, and ended up with bruises! Ouch!!

2. Identification and spending money
If you're travelling to one of the Carnival Spirit's overseas destinations, you will need your passport. Make sure you have plenty of time left before it's expiry...and triple check that it's in your bag before you leave home! The ship will not wait for you if you forget it.  If you're travelling to an Australian destination only, you will require your driver's license or other officially recognised form of photo identification.

The Carnival Spirit accepts Australian currency, as well as all major credit cards. It's never a good idea to carry loads of cash, so make sure you store it securely in your stateroom's safe.  Make sure you have plenty  of credit available on your card too. You may wish to notify your banking institution that you are travelling, so they can expect expenditure from strange and exotic locations. You don't want to have your card cancelled while you're away!

3. Read your itinerary carefully
If you're a fan of packing at the last minute, you might overlook the fact that there are "themed" nights on board the Carnival Spirit. Dressing up and joining in is lots of fun, and you don't want to be the only person wearing board shorts, when then rest of the guests are in their fine dining clothing. Restaurant dress codes do apply for some themed nights...don't get caught short.

4. Select clothing that can be layered, mixed and matched
Think casual and comfortable for the day time. You'll be spending time walking the ship, swimming, taking in the ship's activities, perhaps taking a day trip to one of the many island stop overs.  Once the sun sets, the outside decks can get quite chilly. Remember to bring along a cardigan or jacket to wear.
Enjoying the sunset. Ladies, a maxi dress is great for during the day or for night time.
5. Accessories
While you're preparing your outfits, pull out some matching accessories and pack them in a travel jewellery roll such as this one. You can separate all of your pieces into the zippered compartments, and roll it up neatly for packing. Once you're on board, you can hang it inside your Stateroom's wardrobe, and then hang each of your necklaces from the hooks at the bottom...great for ensuring your necklaces remain tangle-free!
6. Pack sensible footwear
Now is not the time to show off your hot new stilettos. You are going on a ship...where the outer decks may be slippery, and waves may make the ship sway and rock. Even with flat shoes, you might lose your balance...especially after a few cocktails (not that I would know...I'm a good girl...ignore photo above). Consider packing thongs, sandals and a pair of dressy shoes that will go with every outfit. Wedge heels are a great high heel option.  Oh, and don't forget your joggers if you plan on exercising while on board.

7. Swimwear and towels
If you're planning on spending a lot of time in the pools and spas, it's wise to pack more than one pair of swimmers. Consider packing a lightweight kaftan, or sarong to wear over the top of your swimsuit while you're walking around the ship.
Poolside at Serenity...a sanctuary for the adults away from the kids
A word to the do NOT need to pack a beach towel! We made that mistake, and all it did was take up valuable space in our luggage. There are plenty of towel stations on board the ship, and you can swap them when needed. They're a great size too, so no need to worry about them being skimpy.

8. Slip, slop, slap, wrap
I am predicting that you'll have fabulous weather on your cruise. Make sure you look after your skin health while you're away to avoid getting burnt! You will need sunscreen, perhaps a rash vest to wear in the water, a wide-brimmed hat and your sunglasses. As parents, we're vigilant about applying sunscreen on our children...just don't forget to put some on yourself as well. Pack some after-sun...just in case.
    9.  Sort out your medication
    Do you take prescription medication? Make sure you have enough supplies to last you your entire trip. It's a great idea to pack other medications you might need while on board including anti-nausea/sea sick tablets, panadol, kids panadol, etc, as seeing the onboard doctor, and purchasing medication can be very expensive.

    10. Capture your memories, and stay online
    The Carnival Spirit is fitted out with Australian electrical plugs and wattage, so no special converters are required. You'll want to capture every moment you experience on board the ship, and while exploring the stop over destinations. Make sure you bring along your camera, and may as well throw your camera overboard if the battery goes flat (no, don't do that). I took along my digi slr, but ended up taking most of my photos on my iPhone...much easier, and very portable.
    Mystery Island, Vanuatu - image supplied by Carnival Cruise Lines
    We also packed my netbook and hubby's iPad, which were very handy. You can purchase internet time from guest services if you feel the need to stay connected with the www. Load your iPad up with movies and games for the kids too, for those down times.

    11. Availability of toiletries and a hairdryer
    The Carnival Spirit very generously provides soap, liquid body wash, 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner and a hairdryer in each cabin, so it's not necessary to pack your own.  If you're fussy like me and want to take your own anyway, that's okay too. Make sure you decant your toiletries into small travel sized bottles. The larger sized bottles can take up value space in your luggage, and add unnecessary weight. You may also find when you get home that 1/2 bottle of very expensive shampoo has leaked all the way through your clothing. Yes. Yes, it happened!

    12. Lastly, don't forget your lanyard!
    A lanyard? Yes, a lanyard. It is your lifeline on board the ship. When you check in at the departure terminal, you will be issued with a keycard, which not only gives you access to your room, it acts as a credit card while you're on board the ship. You can top up your card with cash or link it to your credit card. is so lovely to walk around without a hefty handbag.  We purchased a souvenir Carnival Spirit lanyard each, which have now become bus pass holders for the kids...practical on board, and a gift when you get home...winning!
    The Carnival Spirit now calls Sydney, Australia home...and it's waiting just for you!
    A cruise aboard the Carnival Spirit is so much fun...especially when you're prepared. :-)

    Next stop...our fabulous trip aboard the Carnival Spirit!

    Disclaimer: We were provided with an all-expenses paid trip aboard the Carnival Spirit from Sydney to Melbourne. No further money was offered, nor accepted. I was not obligated to blog about this experience. All opinions expressed are my own.

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