Monday, March 11, 2013

Cruise Packing and Organization: Tips and Tricks

Traveling on a large cruise ship is an experience in itself and the traveler quickly realizes that the ship and its staff run like a well oiled machine and everything has its place. There is nowhere better to experience that than in your stateroom! Having cruised before, I know that stateroom space is scarce so it's important to pack well. Prior to our Caribbean cruise, I researched storage tools and packing techniques to maximize space and convenience.

Click below for my tips and tricks as well as info on what I packed for our Caribbean cruise.

Our seven day cruise consisted of three sea days at the beginning of the trip, two formal nights, and three stops that could potentially involve hiking, swimming, site seeing and shopping. I also knew there would be various opportunities for on-ship activities, none of which we had planned yet. Since we wouldn't choose our excursions until we arrived on board, I had to anticipate what clothes I would need without actually having a plan. I was also concerned about storage space in the stateroom and keeping the area tidy (too much clutter makes me crazy). 

The temperature in Roatan (Honduras), Belize City and Cozumel was forecasted to be around 80 degrees for most of the trip, with periods of showers. I knew that Galveston would be cool so I'd at least need a sweater and the jacket that I wore onboard. Because two formal nights were scheduled, I'd also need a couple of nice dresses and shoes. Here are the pictures of what I packed as well as my packing list:

Packing list:

- 2 bathing suits                                       - 2 beach coverups
- 1 sarong                                                - 1 sunhat
- 9 pair panties                                        - 2 bras
- 4 camisoles                                           - 1 pr. flip flops
- 1 pr. Teva sandals                                 - 1 pr. black heels
- 1 pr. casual heels                                  - 4 knit dresses
- 2 dressy lace dresses                            - 1 fun dress
- 1 fun skirt                                             - 1 red sequined blouse
- 4 pr. shorts                                           - 1 nightgown
- 1 shrug                                                 - 1 black pashmina
- 4 pastel t shirts                                     - 1 pr. bright cotton pants
- 1 pr. linen pants                                   - 2 tops
- 1 white sweater                                    - 2 Spanx higher power
- 1 Spanx bodysuit                                  - 2 pop up hampers
- 1 waterproof bag                                  - 2 hidden wallets
- 1 shower organizer                               - 1 over the door organizer
- 1 jewelry organizer                              - 1 power strip
- 1 first aid kit                                         - 1 clothes line
- l packet of laundry soap sheets            - camera
- iPad                                                       - plugs for iPad and iPhone 
- various costume jewelry                       - toiletries
-flat iron                                                  - hair clips   
- medication                                            - many tubes of sunscreen

I know that sounds like a lot but I wasn't sure what I would need. It turns out that I wasn't too far off on the clothing. More on that in a minute. 

All of the clothes, toiletries and hair items fit in one medium (not giant) sized suitcase, which I checked on the airline. The storage items and organizers fit in an almost empty roll aboard suitcase that I knew would be used for purchases on the trip. On the plane, I carried on a rolling laptop bag which held my iPad, jewelry, medication and makeup bag. We spent the night before the cruise in a Houston hotel so prior to boarding the ship, I also packed a few toiletries in my carry-on in case our bags were delayed arriving at the stateroom. 

Once our bags were delivered to the room, we unpacked and set things up. The Mariner of the Seas staterooms were very well designed with a closet large enough for two people (shelves and hanging space) as well as a fair number of drawers and cabinet space for clothing, toiletries, etc. Here are pictures of the room:


Not a lot of space, right? Since any added clutter could really wreck our enjoyment of the space, I used the "over the door" shoe organizer to store items such as my flat iron, medication, sunscreen, razor, contact lens solution, Qtips, etc. This item was absolutely invaluable! Not only did it cut down on the clutter, it kept everything conveniently within reach as we were getting ready for the day.
You can see from the picture that it fit well over the closet door. Originally, I had thought we'd use it in the bathroom but the bathroom door was smaller than I anticipated. I have had this item for several years but you can purchase these at Amazon, Target, etc.

The next item that worked well for us was a pop up hamper. If you have a kid in college, you'll recognize these as the kind that dorm room outfitters typically advertise towards the end of the summer. Knowing that we'd need a place to put our dirty clothes during the trip, I picked up two of these hampers (from Amazon) for my husband and me. We placed them at the end of the bed, on either side, where it was convenient, to hold our dirty clothes. After returning from the trip, I set both of them up in the laundry room for use as clothing sorters.

In the bathroom, we used the bathroom organizer to hold shampoo, conditioner, soap, razors, etc, in the shower. This not only helped us keep the items close at hand but also helped our room attendant maintain the bathroom in a tidy manner. 

The last major organizational item was a hanging jewelry organizer, which kept my earrings, bracelets, necklaces, my husband's cuff links, etc in individual compartments. We hung this in the closet.

My personal packing was pretty much spot on. I wore everything but one pair of the Spanx, the fun skirt, the sequined top, two of the knit dresses, the sarong and one of the bathing suits. 

As for the other items, we ended up not needing the travel clothes line because our shower had one. We also didn't use one of the hidden wallets (hides your valuables under your clothing). The waterproof bag (I bought this one here) was awesome! I used it on one of our snorkeling trips to keep our phone and camera dry on the boat, but it can also be attached to your body while snorkeling and it will float right behind you. I also used the detergent sheets to wash my bras out in the sink . The power strip was used a lot because we only had two electrical outlets in the room so this was really invaluable!

Do you have any tips and tricks for packing? How about for organizing your property during a cruise? Do tell!