What to pack for a cruise holiday

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to, Travel 32 Comments

Last week I popped my cruising cherry.

Yes, 40 years after falling in love with the concept of cruising via The Love Boat and wishing that all things on TV could become real, it did.

Master SY and I boarded the US$50million refurbished Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas (as guests of the cruise company) for its inaugural voyage from its new southern hemisphere home, Brisbane.

It was a two-night “cruise to nowhere” … what those in the business call “sampler cruises”.

Royal Caribbean Legends of the Sea | Sampler cruise

The aim of two or three-night sampler cruises is to do just that – to offer a sample of what holiday life on board a cruise ship might look and feel like.

We found that there was certainly a mix of people like us, keen to see what cruising was all about, but there were also seasoned cruisers as well as party groups ready to maximise their time on board celebrating a milestone birthday or just the end of the year.

Royal Caribbean Legends of the Sea

All this combined excitement and anticipation created a perfect storm to showcase what DOESN’T happen on a regular cruise.

With everyone wanting to try ALL the things, ALL at once, it lead to a lot of queueing.

I’m quite Zen about queues but many on board were not. I get that.

Maybe my Zen approach was helped along by being on board one of the biggest ships able to dock at Brisbane’s Portside Wharf.

Maybe it was helped along by arriving on board and immediately signing up for kids’ club (him) and spa (me).

Maybe it was helped along by our balcony stateroom on the 7th deck.

Royal Caribbean Legends of the Sea

Maybe it was helped along by that first Pina Colada.

Royal Caribbean Legends of the Sea

Maybe it was helped along by extremely calm sailing conditions.

Maybe it was all of the above. That it was all exciting and new.

All I know is that we were bitten by the cruise bug and know we’ll back for more.

What I loved on board Legend of the Seas

I loved that we could unpack all our clothes and put them away for the two nights. The appeal of this would be even greater on a longer cruise.

Our balcony cabin was spacious, the bed comfortable and the sheets crisp and clean. Only regret? Not spending more time on the balcony.

Royal Caribbean Legends of the Sea

No shortage of deck chairs.

A stunning sunset to farewell Brisbane.

Superior meals in Izumi – the onboard Japanese restaurant. You have to try the hot rock options.

Royal Caribbean Legends of the Sea

Eating Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream in Cafe Latte-Tudes after dinner.

Duty-free shopping at 11pm at night after a few Champagnes.

Buying a daily drinks package so has not to have to work out how much you’re spending on those Champagnes each day.

Mini golf at sea.

Royal Caribbean Legends of the Sea

Free kids’ club that your kid actually wants to spend every minute at.

Said love of kids’ club ensuring a full and relaxing experience for myself in the kids-free section of the boat.

Royal Caribbean Legends of the Sea

Said love of kids’ club ensuring time spent at the Vitality Day Spa was stress-free (I can highly recommend the Thai Herbal Poultice Massage).

Royal Caribbean Legends of the Sea

What to budget for outside of your pre-booked fare

There are plenty of included activities and eating options on board but for a full cruise experience, you’ll want to budget for extras. All charges on board Legend of the Seas are made in US dollars. Before boarding, your ship pass is either linked to your credit card or it’s agreed you pay cash for extras spent before disembarking.

Royal Caribbean Legends of the Sea


Drinks, including barista coffee


Specialty dining outside of the main dining room and buffet


Fitness classes


Extra hours outside regular kids’ club times

What to pack for a cruise holiday

What to pack for a cruise holiday

Carolyn Unwin hat | Kalokeri dress* $129 @ Sequins and Sand

As a newbie, my ideas for what to pack for a cruise holiday were based upon what I might pack for a short resort escape.

Think more dressy than a camping holiday but still comfortable, easy-to-wear pieces that work while at sea and out to evening dinners or events. Loose and flowy all the way.

Surafina maxi dress | Salita Matthews necklace | FRANKiE4 Footwear sandals | Michael Kors sunglasses

Surafina maxi dress* | Salita Matthews necklace* | FRANKiE4 Footwear sandals | Michael Kors sunglasses (bought on board duty-free) | Secrets Shhh bangle

Some cruises have formal dinners so you need to factor in that as well.

Sacha Drake dress | Everyday Cashmere knit | Country Road heels

Sacha Drake dress | Everyday Cashmere knit* | Country Road heels

Do factor in the potential for the wind at sea to make things cooler than you’re used to – even in mid summer. Lightweight knits are ideal.

Comfortable shoes are a must as you may do a lot of walking in the course of a day.

Pack at least two swimsuits – and a swim/rash vest – as that is a hot sun out there in the middle of the ocean.

Carolyn Unwin hat | SunSoaked rash vest | Uberkate necklace

Carolyn Unwin hat | SunSoaked rash vest* | Uberkate necklace*

Ditto a broad brimmed hat – one that fits you well and isn’t prone to flying off your head in a gust of wind.

Take your swimsuit on board with you in your carry on (if having your bags checked in). This means you won’t have to wait for your bags to get to your cabin before you can take a dip. We made this rookie error.

Another rookie error? We didn’t bring one of the gazillion universal power adaptors we have at home to use the power points in our cabin. I did bring a power board like I always do and – problem solved – was able to buy an adapter at the gift store.

Do pack your active wear, if only for a walk around the top deck. You might also find the gym or a yoga class calling you.

Or not.

Carolyn Unwin hat | wYse Lifestyle top and skirt | FRANKiE4 Footwear wedges

Carolyn Unwin hat | wYse Lifestyle top and skirt* | FRANKiE4 Footwear wedges*

Are you a seasoned cruiser? What are your essentials to pack? 

For more information or to sign up for future deals on board Royal Caribbean cruises, visit here. My son and I were guests of Royal Caribbean. All extras were covered by us.

* These clothes and accessories were gifted to me for editorial consideration.

Comments 32

  1. Hi Nikki, While it hasn’t happened to us, I have been hearing that some cruise lines won’t let you use a power board any more. Something to do with breaching safety regulations.
    We also take a can of Glen 20 for the bathroom 🙂 I usually pack a couple of kaftans which can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Barb x

      1. I think P & O are the ones with the restrictions … Sounds like it was a lovely ‘taste of cruising’ you and your son enjoyed 🙂

  2. I’ve been thinking about a cruise for myself and family for sometime and with a special birthday coming up, I think that a sampler cruise for my hubby and I could be great way to “test the waters” so to speak. How much did it costs for a couple thanks Nikki?

  3. I’m liking the idea of a sampler cruise! I always take a powerboard when I travel but hadn’t thought of adapters for a cruise ship – what type of plugs do they have onboard?

  4. Sounds like a fab ship and seems as if you maximised your sampler experience to the full. I’ve never been on a cruise, but I’m getting increasingly keen to do one. When I do, I’ll be following your packing guide, for sure 🙂

  5. Lucky you getting to try a mini-cruise! Never done one but they sure look like fun. Good thing you had your very own (experienced) photographer with you – great photos! I’ll pass your clothes tips on to a friend who is about to do her first cruise.

  6. Never been on a cruise and always wary of holidaying in a confined space, out at sea. One day I might give it a try. You definitely cruised in style. You look very relaxed and zen like. Glad you had a great time.

  7. LOL you knew I’d be here … veteran of 5 cruises in the Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean Sea! (Actually make that 6 if you include the overnight trip from Melbourne to Tassie!). Great advice for what to pack. Frequent traveller tip: ask at reception if you can borrow a power adapter for free, not all cruise lines do it but many do. A swimsuit coverup is also a great idea. More ideas in my post: http://www.middleagedmama.com.au/summer-cruise-style/ 🙂

  8. I love cruising they are the ultimate do nothing or do everything holiday,I haven’t been for a few years but if love to do another one,love your suggestions on what to pack.
    I’m glad you enjoyed your short getaway Nikki Xx

  9. Loved ‘virtually’ hopping on board with you for sampler, it looked fabulous…My one and only cruise experience was as a kid on a school trip. We sailed for 10 nights around Spain and Portugal. Nothing fancy, but very memorable xx

  10. I love cruising – leaving on our 11th cruise on Christmas Eve and Royal Caribbean is our fav. cruise line. Glad you had a great time on your first one. I’m surprised you were able to take onboard a power board as last year they were confiscated and I’ve heard it was the same this year. Unless that’s just a Sydney versus Brisbane thing ??

  11. Nikki, I love you and your blog! But you must stop it now! Sitting here in cold, rainy Ireland and simply can’t cope with anymore sunshine and cruise ship bliss! Please delete this post and don’t show us anymore photos of your fabulous life or I’ll die of jealously!
    Ha ha! Well deserved! x x x Sent some sunshine (and cocktails) over when you get a chance x

  12. what a great little break nikki! … loving the outfits too!
    without having to go far, but seemed like a million miles away!
    a great sampler holiday! … have never been on a cruise, only on our boat!
    said son having a ball no doubt! such a little traveler! plus you had your photographer on board! … just gorgeous!
    have a good day hun! love m:)X

  13. We will be on the Legend of the Seas in January for our 4th cruise. We went on our first 2 years ago with our 4 children and we all loved it ! Having to do nothing at all is fantastic along with seeing lots of different places ! With 4 children having all food included in a holiday is great and we buy the soft drinks package for everyone so no need to worry about paying as you go. Looks like you had a great time !

  14. I have never been but they seem like such reasonably priced holiday packages with kids! I love the ocean too so sounds like my kind of thing!

  15. Awesome timing Nikki! I’m heading off on Radience of the Seas TODAY for 11 nights to the South Pacific!! Can’t wait to set sail! Looks like you had a blast and looked beautiful doing it! How awesome is crusing?! 🙂

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