Clothing for a seven day cruise plus two days air travel.

If you have ever been on a cruise before, you know how difficult it can be to pack everything you need in one suitcase and a carry-on bag. There are many blogs that give advice for women on how to pack for seven to ten day cruises, but very little out there for the gentleman in your life.

In a few days I will be venturing out on another cruise to the Caribbean – this time to the western part of the Caribbean. This is my third trip and I have learned through trial and error what works for me. As this trip is a business/pleasure trip, there are a number of semi-formal events including one formal gala event to attend. Most of the semi-formal events include dining in rather posh restaurants on the Celebrity cruise ship, the Silhouette. My wife and I enjoy dining in nice restaurants, therefore, casual dress clothing is a must. The one formal event is invariably a suit and tie or black tuxedo occasion. I have managed to get by without bringing a suit or tux, by utilizing a rather careful selection of casual dress clothing including pants, shirt, tie, and a nice jacket. In my opinion, suits and tux’s are overkill and they are a pain-in-the-butt to travel with without requiring expensive press and laundry service on the ship. But alas, bankers will be bankers – they love their stuffy conservative suits and tuxedos.

By comparison, I am a minimalist when it comes to a selection of clothing appropriate for travelling from a winter temperature of -22C and low humidity to a tropical climate with a temperature of 30C and almost 100 percent humidity. Nevertheless, I do not like hand washing clothing or using laundry services during the trip, so I bring what I need plus one. Allow me to explain; if a trip is 9 days total, then I calculate what I need each day (usually two changes of clothing) and then, bring along one extra set of clothing.

As someone who is rather hot blooded, the vast majority of my clothing is 100 percent cotton. Yes, I know that pure cotton is expensive these days, but I would rather be comfortable than hot, sweating, and miserable in synthetic clothing that leaves me feeling like I just came out of the sauna. Most of the high-tech synthetic fabrics work well in the heat for removing moisture, but the materials have a tendency to retain odours. The small cabins on a cruise ship can start to smell like a gym locker pretty quickly if clothing does not air out properly. Spend the extra cash for an outside cabin with a deck – useful for drying out clothing while in port, just don’t forget to bring in your swimsuit, etc., when the ship sets sail or your clothing will be floating somewhere on the ocean currents of the Caribbean. The only exceptions I make are two lightweight long-sleeved synthetic travel shirts (for the plane), swim trunks, a rain jacket, and my super duper travel sports jacket from London Fog. Everything else is pretty much all cotton clothing from companies such as The North Face, Levis Dockers, London Fog, and Nautica. These are the companies that tend to make decent well-made clothing for travellers of all sorts. In fact, I have so much North Face and Nautica clothing one would think I have a vested financial interest in the companies.

I won’t break down everything to a neat list, but suffice to say that I have discovered I need a lot of underwear, t-shirts, golf shirts, and casual shorts for trips to the Caribbean. If one is not soaking up the sun on the deck of the ship or a beautiful beach in a port of call, the heat and humidity can be almost unbearable. I have the tendency to crank up the air conditioning in our fancy pants cabin, leaving my wife wishing she had brought a sweater along.

To me, there is nothing more satisfying than to spend the better part of my time on a beach swimming and snorkelling farther out towards a reef. Sometimes, I worry about dangers such as stinging ocean creatures, or shark attacks, but to the best of my knowledge, sharks are not a problem anywhere on our intended itinerary. I always ask the locals though, better to be safe than sorry. One should also be aware of various tidal dangers including rip tides and undertows, especially if you are swimming or snorkelling in a remote area.

I have learned my lessons well, sight-seeing, hiking, and swimming along the coast of Nova Scotia. There are all kinds of dangers that few tourists and adventure travellers pay attention to. You might be surprised at how many locals in Nova Scotia are not even aware of some of the dangers in their own back yard. The relatively recent tragedy at Peggy’s Cove is a prime example.

Finally, I have learned to get by with one pair of casual dress shoes (brown), a pair of hiking or walking shoes, and a pair of sandals or flip-flops – anything else is superfluous. A reversible leather dress belt (black and brown), a couple of silk ties, a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, a dress watch and a casual dive watch, and a shaving kit and other personal items – most toiletry items are provided for on the ship. If you are flying to your destination from a cold winter climate, do yourself a favour and go out and buy a super warm and highly compressible down jacket that you can later stuff into a small space in your carry-on luggage. I do not bring expensive jewelry or anything electronic outside of perhaps a small camera and/or a cell phone. By the way, lock up your valuables in the safe in your cabin as stuff just seems to disappear – common sense applies here.

Naturally, each one of us is unique and may have different preferences and needs in terms of clothing and accessories. I saw one couple from Toronto who had enough luggage with them to sustain them through a month long African Safari. The porters loved them though. Speaking of porters, ignore the porters Stateside as they want at least a twenty dollar US tip for doing less than two minutes of work. One year, a rather disgruntled porter in Fort Lauderdale left our luggage sitting on a sidewalk instead of properly packing it on a shuttle bus. Apparently, he wasn’t happy I gave him what I had in my pocket, a twenty dollar Canadian bill (about 18 dollars US at that time). The bus was about to leave when I noticed all our luggage was still sitting there.

As for me, one suitcase and a carry-on is more than sufficient. Just roll your clothes – it will take up less space and your clothing will remain relatively wrinkle free. Don’t forget to pack an extra days worth of clothing in your carry-on luggage. Last year, one couple from Australia had all their checked luggage lost and were forced to purchase clothing on the ship and various ports of call. One can do that with relative ease if you are not concerned about a budget. In fact, I know a number of people, young and old, that travel around the world like that. All they have is the clothes on their back and a small carry-on and/or backpack – they purchase their clothing as they need it. Recently, I read a story of a guy (professional athlete) who donates to charity the rather expensive clothing he purchases enroute – just before he returns home. Most of us do not have the resources to live a superfluous life of luxury as he does, so we pack our stuff as needed.

Bon Voyage!

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