Things You Shouldn’t Take on a Cruise, by Frequent Flyer

  • I’ve been on eight cruises and there are some items I don’t take with me.
  • Hanging shoe organizers are sometimes prohibited on ships because they can damage doors.
  • I don’t take up room in my luggage with formal wear and heated styling tools.

I am a reformed overpacker. Today, I cringe when I think back to my first cruise when I brought two oversized padded suitcases.

Learning to travel lighter has simplified my travels and helped me enjoy my vacations better. The average cabin is much smaller than a standard hotel room, so I’m a happier traveler when I don’t have a mountain of unnecessary stuff.

Here are three things I don’t take on a cruise:

Organizers above the door are not worth boarding

white shoe hanger with shoes in it on the door

Take-home shoe organizers are not permitted on some cruises.

cerro_photography/Getty Images

I’ve seen several articles that advise packing a shoe organizer over the door to hold small items in an easy-to-see way, although some cruise lines prohibit them because the metal hooks can damage the doors.

It’s important to always check your cruise line’s prohibited items list to avoid any issues.

Even though you can attach the organizer to a hanger with zip ties instead of directly to the door, you probably don’t want to delay your boarding or checking baggage while you convince the crew that you’re not going to damage vessel.

I just stick with drawers to store smaller items, although I bought a set of magnetic wall hooks for my next cruise and am excited to see how they work.

I have also heard of other passengers using suction cup wall hooks to hang lighter items.

I avoid packing heated styling tools, like my flat iron

At home, I style my hair with a flat iron — and my bathroom cabinets probably have more products than anyone probably needs — but I never pack the styling tool for cruises.

On board, I prefer quick and simple hairstyles that take me from snorkeling to drinks and dinner.

Instead, I bring hats, headbands, and a stash of bobby pins and rubber bands. I also pack sprays for beach waves, so I’m ready for the chignons and braids that go with everything.

I can take care of my hair at home when I don’t have a tantalizing list of fun activities to choose from. Plus, if I want to splurge, I’ll blow myself up in the onboard lounge.

You can dress up without packing bulky formal wear

Two people wearing semi-formal attire sitting on a swing

Simple black outfits can be dressed up or down.

Jill Robbins

For some passengers, dressing for dinner is a highlight of the cruise. But formal wear often requires steaming and ironing after being unpacked, and long dresses and suits take up a lot of room in your bag and in your cabin closets.

Since many cruises have formal evenings and I also like to dress up, I try to balance elegance with minimal packaging by bringing four to six black outfits, usually a mix of dresses and rompers with variable hem and sleeve lengths.

Basic black staples can be worn with sparkly sandals, a wrap and statement jewelry for a chicer look, yet versatile enough to dress up with

flip flops

for a concealed bathing suit or paired with tennis shoes and a hat for a comfortable fit on wear day.

My husband brings a blazer and a pair of dark jeans that he usually wears on and off the ship. Beyond that, he’s outfitted with a single pair of khakis and a few shirts and tees that also work with shorts.

However, always check the ship’s dress code requirements in advance.

About Robert James

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