What to Pack for a Seven-night Cruise

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What to pack for a seven-night cruise made easy

You’re going for it – you’ve booked that seven-night cruise, but you have no idea what you need to take. We all know that packing for a vacation can be a time-consuming experience, with some of us beginning well in advance with plenty of tweaking along the way. In reality, packing for any getaway doesn’t have to be complicated, though when it comes to cruises there are a few things to keep in mind.

You’ve got seven days to play with, what do you take? First, remember in the cruise world, some trips go on for weeks. So in this situation, one suitcase will still do just fine. Some ships might harken back to a bygone age with elegant Art Deco designs and dress codes but long gone are the days of large travel trunks filled with gowns, shoes and hats for every occasion. Nowadays our sense of dress is crossing over – casual can easily be re-jigged to be more formal and visa versa, add a little accessory or two and you’re done. So one of the first rules is:

Go light.

A seven-day voyage is the perfect opportunity to travel light. Think about what you’d like to wear for three or four days instead. After all, it’s easy to give that favorite red top of yours a quick wash, especially with many of the ships offering laundry facilities. No one will notice and you get to feel fabulous all over again.

Yes...that's snow on a Canada New England cruise. Not a lot but enough that the crew had enough to make little snowmen! Many had never seen snow.

Yes…that’s snow. Lucky this crewman had the right clothes!

Think about your destination

It’s vital to research the weather for your destination and ports of call. If you’re heading to the Mediterranean during the peak summer season, there’s going to be very little need for a thick sweater and gloves, but if you’re heading to Alaska for example, you might need woollies as much as you would need a sun-hat and sunglasses. If you’re unsure or concerned that you might require something warm (especially in the evenings) – layering is always a good option.


Cruise ships have rules.

While you’re enjoying the many daytime activities on board a ship – from tennis, to shopping to relaxing in one of the lounges – casual attire is encouraged and what you need is usually self-explanatory. From 6pm things might start getting a bit more complicated where dress codes such as “casual”, “informal”, “resort casual” and “formal” come into play in public rooms and restaurants.

Double check, but some ships have two formal or gala nights on a seven-night cruise (the rest are casual or semi-formal evenings). Some guests love the opportunity to glam up with diamond jewellery, embroidered gowns and skyscraper heels, which can certainly be a lot of fun. However, these days a full-length maxi dress for a woman, and a lounge suit for a man will usually do. Some ships are less formal than this but check before boarding. If there happens to be a touch of rough seas, those skyscraper heels will have to stay in your closet.

There’s informal and then there’s informal.

Shorts, bikinis, and swimsuits might work in gym areas or at the poolside but, even in the more casual venues and restaurants it’s not a good look nor allowed (though it’s fine for lido lunching as long as you wear an appropriate cover). Think about the times you’ve stayed at a hotel that has a leisure centre, you’d always put a kaftan or something similar on before heading back to your room – the same sort of rules apply here.

Little extras.

You might want to take your own hairdryer and straighteners (or you could just head to the on board salon). Magnet clips are also very useful, it might look like your cabin wall isn’t made out of metal, but it is, which means that you can attach important paperwork such as shore excursions, newsletters, dinner invitations etc., to the wall nearest to the door for easy access.

Also, don’t forget to take a small rucksack or travel bag for onshore activities – to carry water, your camera, smartphone, Kindle or iPad – and all your gadgets (though be aware of roaming and internet charges). And finally, the most useful tip to remember when packing – roll, don’t fold. This way you’ll fit more in, meaning you can squeeze that extra outfit in without any problems.

Bon Voyage!

What to Pack for a Cruise



  1. August 30, 2016 / 8:25 pm

    Great article. I love packing for cruise vacations! Your tip on magnetic clips are brilliant! I will have to remember that one. Our most current blog post on cruise packing is a great list of seven essential items that we take when we cruise. Head on over to our page and add any other suggestions and link your blog! Our readers would love your article.
    ~The Savvy Couple

  2. Ken tilton
    October 24, 2016 / 6:13 pm

    Great article. I too like the magnit idea

  3. Sherry Kennedy
    October 26, 2016 / 10:15 pm

    Thanks, Ken!

  4. Opal Hale
    February 6, 2017 / 12:55 am

    I’ve found that there is only 1 or 2 , 120 volt plug-ins ion cruise ship rooms. I take a power cord in my checked suitcase. I also use a over the door shoe holder with plastic pockets, that my husband and I use to put on the schedules and our receipts.

  5. Sherry Kennedy
    February 7, 2017 / 12:42 pm

    Thanks, Opal. You’re right…many ships only have one or two US outlets in the rooms. I like the over the door shoe holder idea…especially for scraps of papers/receipts. Sherry

  6. Kimberly
    April 25, 2017 / 1:56 am

    I have gone on about 10 cruises, and have packing down to a science. One great tip I can forward is to ask if the ship has public laundry facilities. Every cruise I’ve been on, which have all been on large ships, I’ve been able to pack for only 3 days of clothes, 1 formal outfit, bathing suit and cover, bed clothes, and a minimal amount of toiletries. I love packing those mini shampoos and conditioners, because once used you can discard them and use the space for souvenirs.

    While many 7 day cruises have 2 formal nights, I found there is no reason to pack a second formal dress, as you’re only wearing it for a couple of hours at most. It saves a lot of space to only pack one. I travel with my best mate on most cruises and we each pack 1 bag, and then pack a garment bag that we share. Just to make certain we always have enough space for purchases, I also pack a compressed nylon Totes bag, since most airlines allow 2 bags per person. If we go a little overboard on shopping, it’s easy to pack clothes in the extra bag, and use clothes to wrap our goodies for protection in our larger bags.

    The one bulky item I do pack is my own pillow. I have allergies to certain things, and packing my own pillow, the thing that’s closest to the most vulnerable part of my body for the longest amount of time has saved me from much travel related illness over the years, once I started the practice.

  7. Sherry Kennedy
    April 25, 2017 / 10:43 am

    Hi Kimberly,
    Thanks for your terrific suggestions. Wow…if I could figure out how to pack my own pillow…it would be terrific! Great idea.

  8. theresa
    June 12, 2017 / 9:48 pm

    the over the door shoe holder,i use every cruise. put sunglasses, sunblock, bandaids, any small item that I might misplace. saves draw space also.

  9. Sherry Kennedy
    June 13, 2017 / 7:52 am

    Hi Theresa,
    An over-the-door shoe holder sounds like a great idea and seems to be very popular, too. I need to add that to my list to bring next time! Thank you very much for your suggestion!

  10. Elsie
    July 11, 2017 / 10:51 am

    If the cruise ship has a laundry facility, a few tide pods.

  11. Sherry Kennedy
    July 11, 2017 / 5:46 pm

    Hi Elsie,
    Good idea! Especially if you’re not sure if the ship furnishes clothes detergent, if they might not refill the dispense often or if you just don’t want to use the harsh detergents that many cruise lines give for free. Thanks for your comment.

  12. Kathleen Tucker
    July 26, 2017 / 1:41 pm

    Nice job ladies!

  13. Sherry Kennedy
    July 26, 2017 / 11:06 pm

    Thank you! And everyone!

  14. Amanda
    December 27, 2017 / 1:14 pm

    I love these ideas! I am going on my first cruise this upcoming summer, although I have a great tip for any vacation. I always take photos of each individual item when I pack. On the last day, I delete the picture of that particular item, after it goes in the bag.

  15. Sherry Kennedy
    December 28, 2017 / 8:43 am

    Hi Amanda,
    Congrats on your upcoming first cruise! I’ve never heard of that packing tip, but it’s a good one! Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful cruise!

  16. Dawn
    January 23, 2018 / 12:16 am

    We are taking “Wool lite” for cleaning clothes if needed. You can wash, rinse in yr cabins sink or shower then let the clothes dry over nite.

  17. Sherry Kennedy
    January 26, 2018 / 3:55 pm

    Hi Dawn,

    Thanks for your helpful comment. I think you might even be able to find packets of Wool Lite too. Have a wonderful cruise!


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