CRUISE TIPS: The UK is rich with historical sites and breathtaking landscapes and therefore a delightful destination to cruise. Cruising allows you to take in the region’s most exciting and iconic attractions easily and see a lot in a short period of time. Here’s what to pack for a cruise to the UK.
Although the UK is known for its rain, the summer months are relatively warm with little rainfall compared to the rest of the year. However, there can be unexpected and sudden rain and gusty winds so it’s important to know what to pack for a cruise to the UK that allows for a variety of weather conditions with little warning from Mother Nature.
What to pack for a cruise to the UK includes bringing clothes that can be layered. Depending on which areas of the UK you are travelling to, temperatures can vary dramatically even during the summer.
The coastal and northern areas such as Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England tend to be chilly, so pack jackets such as a light raincoat or waterproof windbreaker with a hood that can be worn over shirts and sweaters. The warmer, southern regions of the UK won’t require as much protection but pack a light coat and umbrella in your knapsack just in case. While many shore excursion buses provide umbrellas for tours, they are not always offered.
In the UK you can expect to visit a wide range of attractions from magnificent castles and glorious gardens to large museums and cozy pubs and shops. On days that you know you’ll be walking a lot, wear a pair of comfortable shoes.
There are lots of cobblestone streets in the UK, so it’s best not to wear high heels or other unstable footwear, nor open-toe shoes so you don’t stub your toe. Footwear can take up lot of space in your suitcase so consider choices that do double-duty. Sneakers are great for both site-seeing and working out. Loafers can go from casual to dressy if they’re the right colour and style. Consider black or neutral dress shoes that go with almost everything.
Shoes that are waterproof are also a good idea to bring in case it rains and you have to walk near puddles, wet grass and dirt. Or bring waterproof shoes or shoe covers that you can easily slip over your shoes if needed. Today’s newest covers slip on easily over your shoes and have grips along the bottom for traction.
Sites such as religious buildings may require you to wear modest clothing to enter. Therefore, what to pack for a cruise to the UK should include items you can use to cover up your bare shoulders, arms and head.
Pack clothes that can also do double-duty such as dark jeans that are fine for site-seeing and more presentable for dining rooms than blue jeans when on the ship. Or pack workout wear that could also be worn when site-seeing on shore.
Pants with leg zippers are also ideal to easily convert to shorts if the weather is warm. And cargo pants with lots of pockets are ideal for travelling and carrying many items – as long as the pockets can be secured.
On the ship
Knowing what to pack for a UK cruise to wear when on the ship depends on the cruise line as some are more formal than others. Visit the cruise line’s website and search “Dress code” for guidance.
In general, most cruise ships have a wide variety of restaurants and bars so pack at least one outfit that’s formal enough to adhere to the most upscale dining venue so you can enjoy any of them even if you’re a bit ‘overdressed’ for the more casual options.
Business casual is the most common dress code for most ship venues and for men this means longer tailored dress shorts or pants and a collared shirt. For women, this includes dresses, skirts and blouses, dress shorts or capris. Always carry a shawl or sweater for those chilly spaces such as dining rooms and theatres that are heavily air-conditioned so you don’t have a long walk back to your cabin to get one.
If you want to attend formal night activities or venues, men can wear suits or dress slacks with a sport coat, dress shirt and tie, or go all out with a tuxedo if it’s an upscale cruise line. For women, cocktail dresses, pant suits or elegant skirts and blouses are ideal. Consider clothing made of fine fabrics like silk and polyester that are lightweight and don’t take up much space.
Casual jeans, T-shirts, workout wear, sleeveless shirts (for men), flipflops and sneakers are best to wear around the pool, gym, recreational or sports venues such as basketball courts, mini-golf and shuffleboard, casual outdoor bars or out on deck.
With most ships having amenities such as pools, hot tubs, waterparks and spas, pack a swimsuit for those days spent at sea or after the end of a long day at the spa.
Also consider an overall colour theme such as black and white clothes to offer greater ability to mix and match. Black items perform well for evening wear and white clothes for casual day wear. When used together they always match.
And if there’s something you’ve forgotten to pack, the cruise ship gift shop likely has something you can wear that’s suitable until you can go ashore and shop for exactly what you want.
Cruise packing tips and tricks
For your carry-on luggage keep your important documents in a safe place that can be easily reached for officials who need to check them frequently. Also pack a spare outfit that could be worn for site-seeing, as well as restaurant dining on the ship in case your luggage gets lost or delayed and takes a day or two to catch up.
Medication and essential toiletries also need to be in your carry-on luggage and if for some reason your carry-on must be gate-checked for your flight, keep medication in one small bag that’s easy to pull out and carry by hand on board.
While many people like to roll their clothes to reduce wrinkling, it doesn’t always conserve space due to the gaps in between.
Instead, try flat packing – laying each item open and flat such as an unfolded shirt with the sleeves hanging over the sides of your suitcase and the collar at the top. Layer all your shirts or blouses open and on top of each other in the same way and tuck in all the sleeves altogether along the sides of the case. Also use the circumference of your suitcase for shoes with heels in the corners.
CN Traveler shows how flat packing saves more space.
For pants and skirts, alternate where waist bands go. Arrange so that half the waistbands are at one end of your suitcase and the other half are at the other end, or stagger the location of belt areas like a waterfall to balance out the bulk.
Another packing style many travellers like is using packing cubes to keep similar items together for great organization in your cabin. But cubes might mean fewer items will fit in your suitcase simply due to the construction of the cubes taking up space.
Photos: Celebrity Cruises
You might also like to read Cunard offers cruises to the UK this summer
FREE Cruise Packing Checklist – One for Men and One for Women both!
For more information on what to pack for a cruise, here are detailed FREE Cruise Packing Checklists – one for men and one for women – that you can download and print. They include items appropriate for the pandemic to keep you safer.
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