Living on a Cruise Ship

The basic advice for most travelers is ''travel light'', and it works, to a point, for ships. You will need to bring some of your own personal stuff, so you'll have to make a list, shop around for good, trustworthy, luggage, and find excuses to buy things you want and bring things you really don't want to be without.

See, it's getting tough already.

Time and Space

On board, space is at a premium. How you use your space requires some planning. You need to have a good idea what you can fit in, that isn't going to make things cramped, and remember you have a cabin mate who needs space, too.

The theory is that you can take two suitcases of airline standard size. That can be a very heavy load, and squishing things into suitcases can be a real annoyance.

Go for 'less', making sure you have the stuff you really need. Start with the absolutely unavoidable things, then, see how much space, and patience with luggage, you have left.


The basics are

  • Wardrobe, with spare undergarments,
  • Toiletries, (grooming standards can be high)
  • Personal items, anything from a laptop to a small pocket library to an iPod, etc.

The list is endless, the space isn't.


You will need good shoes, including a pair of business shoes, as well as casuals. (You can probably find spare pairs on board, but pick and choose how you spend, and when and where you spend. Your first port of call could be Shoe Paradise, New York.)

**** Important: You're on a ship. Non-slip shoes are a really good idea.

Good functional clothes, casual and business. It's best to have a business shirt, suit, ties, etc, if you're in a position where business dress is important. Bring at least one business outfit, on principle, figure out how the space situation works out.

A hat is a good idea in the tropics. The heat in some places can flatten elephants, so people need to be careful.

Having to buy new clothes all the time isn't a great way to spend time or money, unless you're really having fun. Socks, underclothes, etc, don't take up much space.

Wardrobe should be aiming for a situation where you've always got clean clothes.


There are a few simple methods of keeping yourself groomed without major difficulties.

The basic equipment:

  • An electric razor, (saves space on cream and disposables)
  • Comb, (preferably one of the kind that doubles as a brush, and is easily cleaned)
  • Suntan lotion ( You will need this. If you're European, the sun in Australia, South America, Africa and the tropics is really rough. You need a tan before you can expect to survive.)
  • Nail clippers, good strong ones, fingernails and toenails,
  • Electric toothbrush (mainly for thoroughness, saves time),
  • Deodorant (standard requirement, humanitarian approach to fellow workers, and confuses the sharks),
Other toiletries

If you use things like Dencorub, Olbas Oil, or other personal care fluids, oils and liniments, you need to make sure they're well packed and 'secured'. A cabin full of Dencorub isn't likely to be bearable, if it escapes.

Storage for toiletries

This must be secure. If you can find a traveler's case with lots of compartments you can seal, it's like a good toolbox, puts everything where it's easy to find, and reduces space usage and clutter in the cabin. Much easier to handle than a carry bag, in most cases, too, and usually fits into carry bags.

Personal Items

Personal property is probably the most important, and there are real limits to what you can take. Fortunately for everybody, the laptop, digital camera and most of the electronic media have made this a lot easier.

You can have digital libraries, music playlists, your photos and videos, the whole box and dice, packed into a very small space indeed.

'Personal effects' are the personal treasures you don't want to be without. Keep them safe, where you can always find them, preferably with anything else which has to be glued to you, like your money and passport.

Anything on paper, like letters, or other important items should be kept in a folder, with protective sleeves, and put in a suitcase or some other container.

Generally speaking containerization applies to ships in every sense of the word.

In containers, things are manageable.

Out of them, they create a bitsy mess of possible difficulties.

Storage for personal essentials like this is something you need to take very seriously.

You really don't want to be playing Hide And Seek with your valuables.


If you're a real shopper, souvenirs can require container ships to carry them all. Be selective, and always keep track of both the space considerations and the grim fact that you're the one who's going to be lugging all this stuff through Customs.

Sizes do matter, when you've got nowhere to put things.

You might be able to cut a deal with the Purser's Office for storage, and probably have to pay for it, but it's worth a shot.

(You might not be able to do that, too, so check it out beforehand. You could be buying a real problem.)

A life size replica of the Sphinx probably won't fit in to your half of the cabin, and sticking it out a porthole may pose some ethical problems.

Be realistic. If you've got a big item, you might be better off getting it shipped directly from wherever you bought it to wherever it's supposed to go by mail or private courier.


Checked everything?

Check it again.

Once on board, you've either got all your stuff or you haven't.

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