Packing for a Cruise: Don't Waste Space

Royal Caribbean Independence of The Seas Packing for your First Cruise

Hey Owlets,

If you haven't already heard from the 15,000 times I've previously mentioned it, last year I was lucky enough to go on my first ever cruise. Now it may have had something to do with the anxiety of never travelling abroad before or the fact that it was booked last minute, but when I heard "no luggage limit" I ran with it, and ended up taking THREE suitcases! Yes, I know that was excessive and, I'll be honest, one of them didn't even get unpacked. My room attendant looked at me like I was mad when he knocked on the door to tell me my suitcases had arrived. So since the phrase "pack light" isn't in my vocabulary, I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the things I took but never used  and hopefully it inspires you to pack a little lighter than I did! Just to clarify I went on a cruise around the Mediterranean, so this only really applies if you're going to hotter destinations. This was going to be a "ten things..." type of post but apparently I'm paranoid about having creature comforts with me, because after several days I've still not managed to think of 10 things I didn't use - oops.

Royal Caribbean Independence of The Seas Packing for your First Cruise
If you read my blog since before I posted my Holiday of a Lifetime post, you may be sick of seeing this outfit.
Number One: Jeans

Okay, maybe jeans might be your go-to outfit every single day, and for me they normally are, but they have no business travelling around the Mediterranean ocean with you. For me my outfits are always "jeans and something", but when you're coming into port and it's 38ºC (just over 100ºF for those of you across the pond), the last thing you want is to have your legs encased in thick fabric. If you absolutely hate your legs then opt for trousers with thinner material - at the moment Asos has some great options, both with and without pattern. Otherwise I basically spent two weeks in the same red dress because I was the idiot that planned to wear jeans in Portugal - don't be me.

Royal Caribbean Independence of The Seas Packing for your First Cruise

Number Two: A Coat

I'm not saying don't take any jackets with you, but when I was packing I threw in the embroidered coat that you helped me find last year because I thought it would be cold at sea. When we were sat on the top deck in Southampton it was cold, but even then it wasn't enough to wear that coat and I opted for a lighter jacket instead. From what I remember the weather was quite bad the first two days as we went through the Bay of Biscay; I just about remember lying on an outdoor sofa on the pool deck and a crew member came and put a blanket over me, but to be honest I was so ill with motion sickness that I felt like I was drunk, had flu and had a migraine all at once so I don't remember a lot of the cruise until day 3 when I went to the medical centre. Maybe I could've used a coat then, but most people just stayed inside until the weather was nicer. Even sat outside at 9pm on a sea day wasn't cold enough for me to wear my coat, so unless you're one of those people that's always cold, you're only going to hang it in your wardrobe for two weeks. For reference, this is what I actually wore for two weeks - basically as little clothing as possible.

Royal Caribbean Independence of The Seas Packing for your First Cruise

Number 3: A DSLR

I know having added it to the list, I'm obviously using my camera here - or rather arguing with a monkey that wants it as a souvenir- but this is pretty much the only time I used it. I know some people are really into photography and for them that is a holiday, but even though I love photography I just didn't need my big camera. I took my Olympus EM10 (if you've ever bumped into me in the street, this is the little one that I always have with me) and my Canon 5D iii on holiday with me, and to be honest I only took the Canon for my F2.8 lens, but the Olympus image quality was perfectly good enough. I enjoy photography and like the option of changing lenses, so having bought the Olympus version of my favourite lens, I'll be leaving the big camera at home this year. Unless you're planning to do some National Geographic-style madness on board, you'd be fine with just a decent compact camera.

Royal Caribbean Independence of The Seas Packing for your First Cruise

Number 4: Big Handbags

If you've been following The Owlet for any length of time then you'll know about my addiction to pretty bags, but unfortunately you just don't need them when you're on a cruise. When on board the ship I only needed to carry my seapass, phone, camera and a battery charger because my phone's battery life is roughly equal to a goldfish's memory, so I could fit all of that in one of my smaller bags. Realistically I didn't need a bag at all, but I love fashion so no outfit is complete without one. I can hear you thinking "but what about in port?" - nope, still don't need a big handbag. For port days I carried my phone, camera, sea pass, battery charger, purse, water and some biscuits in case we didn't get chance to eat anything on land, so still not loads of things but I opted for a backpack instead, because I'd been over-warned about people that run up and snatch your bag, and it would take a lot to manage to cut the straps of my backpack, so it's much harder to steal. As much as I love my Mulberry, it's going to have to stay at home.

Royal Caribbean Independence of The Seas Packing for your First Cruise

Number 5: Facemasks

One of the things I really didn't expect while on a cruise is the lack of free time. I'd packed a few different face masks and imagined having all this time to pamper myself. The reality was that there's so much to do that I was getting up at 7am and didn't get back to my room until 1am, so my face masks remained packed in my bag for my whole holiday. The one exception I have is that a quick but really hydrating mask is a must; my favourite No7 mask has been discontinued so if you have any recommendations please leave them in the comments. I found that the AC around the ship really dried my skin out, and I found that applying moisturiser was like firefighting the dry patches. Other than something to give you a quick boost of hydration, you're not going to have time for anything else.

Royal Caribbean Independence of The Seas Packing for your First Cruise

Number 6: Things to Do

Maybe it's because I'm always busy when I'm at home, but I'm one of those people that absolutely has to be busy on holiday. I can't just switch off and lay by the pool all day long - it'd drive me mad. I wasn't sure what to expect so I'd brought things to do with me (hobbies, not work of course), but that was a complete waste of space. I ended up being so busy that sleep became an inconvenience because there was always something to do - if you like the theatre you can go and see shows, if you want to watch a movie you can do that by the pool, there's dance classes, latin dancing in the bar, a nightclub if that's your thing, or a gym and classes if you're into that. The only two things I actually used my laptop for on holiday was emptying SD cards and watching Gossip Girl on Netflix while I did my makeup each day because I couldn't go two weeks without my GG fix (yes, I was shocked that Netflix worked on board too).

Royal Caribbean Independence of The Seas Packing for your First Cruise

Number 7: Lots of Makeup

Don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you to skip makeup for two weeks- I actually did a full face of makeup even on sea days because the AC and lack of sleep sent my skin into a bit of a frenzy and I broke out a lot- but unless you specifically skip activities to make time for it, you won't have enough time to elaborately paint your face every evening. I bought a 32 pan eyeshadow palette, several foundations and 8 lipsticks, and in reality I grabbed the same thing every day for quickness - maybe a lighter coverage foundation for sea days when you're just hanging round the pool, but I probably only used 2 different lipsticks, one lighter and one more full coverage foundation, and maximum 4 of the eyeshadows. This year I'm taking my two favourite foundations, my two favourite lipsticks, and my favourite Stila eyeshadow palette that has every colour I use in one package.

Royal Caribbean Independence of The Seas Packing for your First Cruise

Number 8: Snacks

I know you're probably laughing at me now, like "you packed snacks, WHY?!" but every time I eat gluten, I get what I call my "gluten baby" where I'm majorly bloated and feel awful. Having never been on a cruise ship before I packed some GF snacks just in case I ended up living on salad for two weeks but that couldn't have been further from the truth. Instead, they had an entirely separate kitchen for preparing gluten free food and I had pretty much the exact same choice as my parents. Snacks not needed, but if you're going on a ship you should bring some English chocolate, because European chocolate just isn't as good as a trusty bar of Dairy Milk.

Hopefully this helps you if you're on the fence about whether to pack something or not. When leaving from Southampton it's great that you don't have a set luggage limit, but that does mean you tend to pack way too much. This year I'm hoping to get everything in two cases maximum, which is still a lot.

Got any packing tips for me? Let me know in the comments please!

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
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