What’s on your cruise packing list? Taking a river cruise can be an exciting and fun way to explore the world. But before you board, you’ll want to make sure you have all the essential items packed and ready to go with you. From clothing to entertainment, here are some cruise packing tips so that you can make the most of your trip.

Cruise Packing Tip No. 1: Choose Appropriate Clothing Based on Climate

When it comes to packing for a cruise, one of the most important things is to make sure that you pack clothing appropriate for the climate of your destination. Is it a Mississippi River cruise or a trip through the Alaskan waterways?

If you’re planning an ocean cruise, chances are that you’ll be visiting multiple destinations. It’s best to bring a mixture of lightweight materials, as well as layering pieces, such as sweaters or jackets that can easily be removed when needed. Even tropical climates can get cool at night, and open-ocean breezes can increase the chilliness factor. For river cruises, remember that while the weather may be warmer during the day, temperatures can drop significantly at night, especially if you’re cruising in Europe or other parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

Another good rule of thumb is to always bring at least one bathing suit — even if your schedule doesn’t include any beach days. This is obviously important if you plan to go scuba diving in warm weather.

Layering pieces, such as a sweater or light jacket, will come in handy for those chilly nights on deck. And don’t forget about shoes. Pack comfortable walking shoes that are appropriate for both hot and cold climates. (Think breathable sandals and closed-toe shoes.)

Cruise Packing Tip No. 2: The Essentials

No matter where your cruise takes you, there are certain essentials that should always accompany you on board, regardless of whether it’s an ocean or river cruise. You can keep many of these items in your cruise ship cabin. It’s a good idea to review this list; we recommend packing with this list handy for reference.

These include:

  • sunscreen
  • hats
  • insect repellent
  • travel-size personal first-aid kit
  • rain gear
  • backpack/daypack
  • medications
  • phone/laptop chargers
  • comfortable walking shoes
  • lightweight jacket
  • converter plug-in (if needed)
  • toiletries bag
  • sunglasses
  • passport/visa documents
  • camera (or phone with camera)
  • extra batteries
  • cash/debit/credit cards
  • travel insurance documents
  • personal items (e.g., books, puzzles, games) that will help keep you entertained during downtime aboard ship.

Consider bringing along some type of water bottle in your carry-on bags so that you don’t have to rely solely on purchasing bottled water from vendors onboard. This is especially important if you plan on spending time exploring ashore during port visits.

Cruise Packing Tip No. 3: Be Prepared for Anything

On an ocean cruise, you may want to add more formal attire for dinner or special occasions.

Some ships even host themed nights or formal nights that require costumes or specific dress codes. If this is something that interests you, then make sure to bring along the appropriate clothing and accessories.

On a river cruise, however, casual outfits tend to suffice. Still, it never hurts to throw in some nice clothes just in case.

How about things you can leave behind? The size of your suitcase or packing cubes will likely depend on how long your trip is and what type of ship you’re taking. If space is limited (as it often can be with smaller river cruises), then try not to overpack by leaving behind unnecessary items, such as additional shoes of the same type/style or too many electronics.

When packing clothes, keep your wardrobe versatile so that you can mix and match different pieces throughout the trip without having to bring multiple outfits per day.

Remember pockets! Many women’s clothing styles do not have pockets. You will want to make sure pants and/or jackets have at least one pocket to carry your room card key needed to enter your stateroom and to check on/off the boat for shore excursions.

Your next cruise vacation should be full of fun, relaxation, and adventure! With these packing tips in mind, all that’s left is choosing which destinations — whether they’re near or far – will be part of your journey.

By selecting clothing based on climate, remembering essential items no matter the destination, and being aware of what amenities are offered aboard ships of different sizes, you’re on your way to some smooth sailing.

Of course, if you have any questions about what to bring on a specific trip, don’t hesitate to get in touch with USA River Cruises. We’re the experts, after all!