Packing Tips for Cruise Ship Crew


Knowing what to pack for your first contract working on a cruise ship can be overwhelming. You don’t want to pack too much. You don’t want to forget anything either. Here are some packing tips for cruise ship crew—follow these and you’ll feel like a pro!


How Much Luggage Should You Bring?

It’s a fact that first time crewmembers often bring way too much stuff. They bring too many clothes, they bring too many toiletries, and they bring too many personal items. This adds up to too many pieces of luggage as well. Consider that you may need to schlep your luggage by yourself without help of others or trolleys, especially once you get into the cruise port.

Once you’ve worked on a cruise ship, you get an idea of what type of clothes you need for your position. You also understand how much and the types of leisure clothes you need. You find out that you can purchase your toiletries as you need them in the ports you visit. Many crewmembers also realize that they can live without many personal items such as a personal blanket or pillow.

Eliminating items that you don’t need and adding some items that you didn’t think of the first time will make you an expert by your second contract. A good rule of thumb for how many pieces of luggage to bring are two checked pieces that have wheels plus one airplane-sized carry on such as a backpack.


Laundry for Cruise Ship Crew

Understanding how crew laundry works onboard may help you to decide how many clothes to bring as well. Although there are laundry machines for crew and officers to do their laundry themselves, there is also a free laundry service for crew, too.

Most crew send all their uniforms and formal wear through the onboard laundry service and dry cleaning service. But, when it comes to more personal items, many crewmembers choose to wash these by themselves in the crew and officer launderettes. Both types of laundry are free of charge.

There are a couple of issues to consider. The laundry service may on occasion damage your clothes or they may go missing. As for the launderettes, they may be busy during the only time you have to wash your clothes.


Is Formal Wear Required for Cruise Jobs?

The amount of formal wear you need to bring will depend on the cruise job you have onboard. Many crewmembers will never have the opportunity to wear formal wear whereas some positions will wear dressy clothes throughout every cruise.

Cruise jobs such as cruise staff, entertainers, cruise sales manager, art auctioneer, loyalty manager, port and shopping guide typically have to dress in their own dressy clothes every formal night. This means men in suits and women in long evening gowns or cocktail dresses. Exactly how many shoes and formal clothes you bring will depend on the space in your luggage.


How Much Leisure Wear Should You Pack?

Every crewmember is different when it comes to how many extra clothes to bring. Although you are probably in a uniform most of the time, you still need to bring a fair amount of clothes to wear during your off hours. Take into consideration how much free time you actually have, how much time you go ashore, and how much time you are just hanging out.

You will need clothes to sleep in, a couple of bathing suits, workout clothes (for the gym onboard), jeans for chilly climates and for the ship’s air conditioning, and summer-type clothes for warmer weather. A light weight rain jacket and a fleece are great items to bring. As for shoes, these tend to take up lots of space so choose them wisely, too.


What About Toiletries?

Toiletries can also take up a lot of space if you are intending to bring a six months supply of them. Don’t make this mistake. There may be some products that you prefer to have and you don’t think you can get while traveling. Just consider the itinerary you will be traveling to. Can you purchase your favourite products in the ports you will visit?


Other Essential Items to Pack for Cruise Ship Jobs

As you finalize what you think you need to bring onboard for your first contract at sea, consider these other items.

Uniform Shoes – You will probably be given a list of required items that you will need in terms of your uniform such as white shoes and black shoes. Consider that most cruise jobs require you to be on your feet all day, so comfort should be a priority. Steel toed shoes are typically available in the uniform store onboard. Check with your recruiter.

Universal Adapter – Most of the outlets onboard cruise ships are either meant for North American appliances (110 volt) or for European appliances (220 volt) or both. An adapter will allow you to plug your hairdryer, computer, etc. into the outlets in your cabin.

Computer – This is a great way to stay connected with friends and family (use a crew internet card for low priced internet). You can also watch DVDs on your computer and listen to music. Bring headphones so that you won’t disturb your cabin mate.

Hair Dryer – This is not usually provided onboard.

Alarm Clock – Although you can set a wakeup call on the phone in your cabin, it’s important to have a back up too. A travel sized alarm clock doesn’t take up much space in your luggage.

Power Bar – Also called an electrical power strip, this item comes in handy because there are only a couple of outlets in each cabin. Although you may not be using all your items at the same time, not having to unplug and re-plug each time you use it is a convenience.

Money – Most cruise ships use either United States Dollars (USD), Euros, or Pounds as the currency onboard. It’s a good idea to start with the equivalent of about $200 US cash. This way you can purchase phone cards and internet cards. You can also pay your onboard account if you purchase beverages for your cabin or shop in the crew store.


Packing Your Carry-On

Your carry-on is only so big, so pack it wisely. You will probably be taking an airplane to join your ship and you want to make sure that anything important to you doesn’t get lost. That’s why what you put in your carry-on will have vale to you.

As a priority, you need to keep all your joining instructions, passport (with C1D visa stamp), and wallet with local currency and shipboard currency in your carry-on. Other things to pack in your carry-on are other valuables such as your computer, cell phone, and medications. After that, it’s whatever else will fit.


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