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Packing for a Cruise

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Packing - is it your least favourite part of a holiday? Do you struggle with what to pack and when you finally get it all together, you don't have enough space? Tedious. The fact there is no weight limit for luggage on a cruise is extremely attractive to everyone, but what happens when you are flying to meet your ship? The job of packing completely changes when there is a weight limit involved and it is estimated 40% of holiday-makers will not take a fly-cruise due to airline weight limits. With most European flights having a 20kg allowance it sparks instant panic in our minds.

I regularly visit cruise forums to see what cruisers are talking about and more importantly, what people are wanting to find out. A subject that I have seen regularly is the dreaded 20kg weight limit. With many of us preparing for our summer cruises it is no surprise this subject is trending again.

Do all airlines have a 20kg weight limit?

British Airways
Checked baggage: One checked bag per person weighing 23kg
Hand luggage: One Personal bag plus one cabin bag 56cm x 45cm x 25cm
Children: Same as adult allowance

Virgin Airlines
Checked baggage: One checked bag per person weighing 23kg
Hand luggage: One cabin bag 23cm x 36xm x 56cm weighing 10kg
Children: Same as adult allowance

EasyJet
Checked baggage: A charge of £11 - £21 per bag is required for any checked luggage weighing up to 20kg
Hand luggage: One cabin bag 50cm x 40cm x 20cm
Children: Same as adult allowance

RyanAir
Checked baggage: A charge of £15 per bag is required for any checked luggage weighing up to 15kg (£30 if paying at airport)
Hand luggage: One personal bag plus one cabin bag 55cm x 40cm x 20cm
Children: Same as adult allowance. One pushchair free of charge

Thomas Cook
Checked baggage: £19 per bag weighting 20kg
Hand luggage: One cabin bag 55cm x 40cm x 20cm weighing 5kg
Children: Same as adult allowance

Thomson
Checked baggage: One checked bag per person weighing 15kg
Hand luggage: One piece of cabin baggage per person 55cm x 40cm x 20cm weighing 5kg
Children: Same as adult allowance

Tips for making the most of 20kg

From the above it is clear to see most airlines still offer around 20kg per person. Although your initial reaction may be that this is not enough, if you pack right it is more than enough. Of course if you had more allowance it wouldn't be hard to use it but trust me, from someone who has had to pack six months into 20kg, it is ample allowance for your cruise.

I recently went on a Fly-cruise around the Mediterranean and our Managing Director has just returned also so we came together and compiled a list of tips on how to make the most of your 20kg:

  • Take full advantage of your hand baggage allowance - Pack heavy items such as shoes and belts in your hand luggage
  • Wear what you can - Try to wear any heavy items such as your coat or costume jewellery when travelling
  • Forget the 'just in case'- We all do it, but you do not need to pack the 'just in case' pile. You will not need multiple layers, that extra pair of shoes or a spare swimming costume. If the worst comes to the worst and you do, there are shops onboard.
  • Towels are not needed - Towels take up lots of weight and space in a suitcase. As well as bath towels, a fresh beach/pool towel is provided every day on a cruise.
  • Purchase travel size toiletries - Toiletries are the main culprit for heavy luggage so purchasing travel size toiletries are perfect for a one/two week cruise. Most cruise lines provide shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner and body lotions so these are not needed. Ladies, take minimal make up.
  • Make the most of your children's allowance - All children, even babies get the same allowance as adults and many people forget this. Naturally, packing for children will not require as much space as adults so use all of their allowance too!
  • Invest in a foldable beach bag - It is a good idea to take a beach bag as you are likely to use it every day on a cruise, whether carrying a towel and lotion to the pool or using it to hold belongings when out exploring. However, if you pack a large one it will take up unnecessary space and weight. You can purchase a lightweight foldable one for a couple of pounds and they are great.
  • Do not over indulge on formal attire - Another one us ladies are guilty for, but you only need to take a maximum of two formal dresses. Most cruises will only have one or two formal nights during a cruise so you do not need to pack a selection of dresses.
  • Plan your outfits - I know this is not the most enjoyable thing to do but if you plan your outfits it makes it less tempting to pack clothing that will not be needed.
  • Onboard laundry service - Most cruise lines provide a laundry service. Some have a self-service laundry room where as others offer a valet laundry and dry-cleaning service. This means you can pack less clothes knowing that you can wear the same basics again.

Tips for making the most of 20kg

Another common subject trending recently is what to pack on a cruise, particularly popular with first time cruisers. I find packing for a cruise easier than packing for a land holiday as you already know your itinerary and where you are going to be each day. Obviously your packing relies on where you are travelling to, whether it's a hot climate or cold and whether it's a relaxing beach break or a city exploration. Although, wherever your cruise is taking you, packing needn't be stressful. Having packed as a crew member and a guest I think I have cruise packing down to a T. Here is my check list:

  • Formal wear - Suit or tux for male and cocktail dress for female (if required)
  • Casual wear - During sea days you can be as casual as you wish and most people will enjoy the ship in shorts, dresses and light clothing
  • Shoes - One formal pair (if required), one comfortable pair for excursions, one evening pair and one pair of sandals/flip-flops for daytime
  • Toiletries - Most cruise lines provide essentials such as shower gel, shampoo and conditioner so travel sized toiletries are all that's needed
  • Medication - As with any holiday always remember your medication. There is a medical center onboard that can provide certain medicines but be aware there is a charge
  • Chargers and Plug adapter - As cruise ships are built all over the world, many of them have international plug sockets in cabins. A plug adapter will be required for charging electrical equipment etc.

These tips were provided by Iglu Cruise.