CRUISE TIPS: The Mediterranean region of Europe including Spain, France and Italy features an array of idyllic landscapes and sites that will delight all your senses in every port you visit on a cruise. From picturesque beaches along the coastline to historic squares within the bustling cities, a cruise here will be enriching. Here’s what to pack for a cruise to the Mediterranean.
When going on a Mediterranean cruise you can expect to spend your days exploring ancient landmarks, relaxing beaches, quaint villages, lovely cafes, interesting shops, iconic religious sites and much more.
Due to the variety of different terrain that you’ll experience, what to pack for a cruise to the Mediterranean includes appropriate footwear for a comfortable and enjoyable vacation.
Sneakers with good support will work well on the rocky and sometimes hilly terrain that is often found at ancient historic sites. Flat and enclosed shoes are ideal for the many cobblestone streets of the villages and cities so you don’t stub your toe or twist your ankle. Also pack a pair of flipflops in your backpack while on excursions in case you get near a beach, harbour or marina.
While you can expect the weather to be warm, there is a good chance it could be very hot in certain areas. Therefore, what to pack for a cruise to the Mediterranean includes bringing lightweight and breathable clothing that can be layered easily. Each destination could be fairly different due to changing conditions of the Mediterranean Sea, along with shore excursions that might take you much further inland (and less breezy) from the port.
Some places you get to visit on Mediterranean cruise may be fancier than others – such as high-end shops, restaurants and even casinos such as Monte Carlo, so pack a few more formal clothing items that can be worn on land and on board. Sunscreen is also an absolute must for this region and you’ll find a hat handy to have too.
Pack items of clothing that are multi-functional. For example, pants that have zippers to convert to shorts are ideal to wear off the cruise ship. This way if you become overly warm, you can simply zip off the bottom fabric to create shorts. Or a sundress that can double as a bathing suit cover-up. Not only will multi-functional items save you space in a backpack, but they’re extremely convenient.
Pickpockets are common in many areas, especially in busy tourist areas like Barcelona, Rome and Nice. For additional safety, look for backpacks or purses that have hidden secure pockets to prevent theft. Or consider wearable clothing with pockets that have good zippers, buttons or clasps that are difficult for a stranger to open.
Vests that are similar to what fishermen and professional photographers use are ideal for their many secure zippered compartments.
What to pack for a cruise to the Mediterranean also means leaving some space for all the souvenirs you’ll want to buy! Luggage that’s expandable is ideal for squeezing in those unique items that you just couldn’t resist.
On the ship
Knowing what to pack for a cruise to the Mediterranean 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 basic 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.
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 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.
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.
Also consider an overall colour theme such as black and white clothes to offer greater ability to mix and match. Black items do well for evening wear and white clothes for casual day wear. When used together they always match.
Free Packing Checklists
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 during the pandemic to keep you safer.