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What to pack for your first cruise aboard Anthem of the Seas
+ what to wear!
This is the final of 3 posts in a short travel series about my first cruise. I took a 10 day cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas the end of June, 2019. It sailed to Bermuda, and then hit some ports in the Caribbean including St. Martin, Puerto Rico, and Royal Caribbean’s private part of Haiti. It was a fabulous trip, and the weather was great besides the first 2 days being rainstorms. You can read more about the ports and the ship in these first 2 posts:
I read a lot of posts in preparation for this cruise to help me figure out what to pack. I usually was a heavy packer in the past, but tried my best in recent years to travel with a lot less. This being my first cruise, and a long one at that, had me back up to 2 suitcases plus my beach bag as a carry-on. I can tell you all the packing lists I found were very helpful in some way, but not all will apply to each and every cruise and destination. For this specific cruise, here is what I found we did indeed need, and what was left in the suitcase those whole 10 days.
Packing for your first long cruise
I took a big suitcase for all my clothes, toiletries, and room accessories. A medium sized rolling duffel bag contained my shoes, and a lot of empty space open for future souvenirs. The rooms aboard Anthem of the Seas have plenty of storage large enough for suitcases either in the wardrobe (partially shown below) built around the bed, or under the beds. We had an oceanview room, and with only 2 of us in there it was more than enough storage space. Tip: As you can see in the photo above, you are given luggage tags to print out and attach to each suitcase. If you check in early online, you can print them out at home before you leave for your trip. Saves time boarding to do beforehand! Many people order plastic sleeves for them to stay protected. We only taped ours on, and it worked.
Here is a list of some things I did find useful, and some that were not so much:
- Buy the medicine your need BEFORE you get on the cruise ship, otherwise it will be mad expensive trying to buy later on the ship. Make sure you buy enough that will last for the whole cruise, even if you think you will only use it the first day or two. I never get seasick, but did not know what to expect going on a cruiseship for the first time. I was so glad I happened to buy plenty of Dramamine and similar motion-sickness medicines! Though I did not feel sick at all, I was very sensitive and slightly dizzy from the rocking of the boat. I took one of the medicines just once a day to make sure my body would align with the rocking so the dizzyness left and did not come back after the first 2 days.
- Also, buy the sunscreen, aloe or other after-sun soother before you board! Again, way more expensive on the ship and in the ports. Bring at least 2 cans or bottles so you can put on in whatever bag you bring around with you, and leave one in the bathroom or room.
For the Room
- I saw nightlights suggested for the room on many packing lists. I bought some cute battery-operated ones, but we never used them except the one I put in the bathroom only if we got up during the night. They are not absolutely necessary if you have a flashlight or can use the light from a phone.
- Do bring a highlighter, pen, and small notepad. A highlighter really helps when trying to mark what you would like to do on the cruise compass schedule. A pen and notepad is handy for writing notes to roommates of where you will be. They also come in handy for writing notes to request anything of your state room attendant. BTW, you can ask your room attendant for some things that will save you from having to try to pack them. Some things we requested and promptly received: extra bath towels, and wine glasses for wine we brought aboard. Tip: on Anthem you are allowed to bring aboard 2 32 oz bottles, and rooms do have a small fridge!
- Many lists also explain that usually you can use the ship’s free towels for the pool areas. Supposedly you can take them off into ports. They made it sound easy, but reality is you have to wait in a line to check the towels in and out, and will get fined if you forget to return them by a specific time. I am glad I ignored the suggestion to not bring a towel on, and brought my sand cloud towel. It came in handy since it stood out wherever I laid it so it could not be confused for another guest’s. No waiting in lines, and I knew it would be soft and comfy. Sand Cloud towels also dry really fast, and fold up very small so they are easier to pack into a bag than the usual beach towel. You can read more about them in this post.
- I do wish I brought a medium sized slingpack or book bag, rather than just a small travel purse and my big beach bag. We went back and forth a lot of the ship, and it seemed either the purse was just too small or the beach bag was too big for just me. If I had my sling backpack I would have been easier able to bring my camera and sand cloud towel everywhere along with my wallet and small items without too much of the extra bulk/space.
What to wear on a 10 day cruise to the Caribbean
As far as clothing goes, here are my suggestions. First of all, Royal Caribbean does have some guidelines on what to wear for some activities, and for the dining rooms and restaurant on it’s ships. It is best to first check what is suggested for your particular ship and the activities you plan on participating in on the Royal Caribbean website.
The main dining room is something that causes the most arguments I have seen from fellow cruises as what is right or wrong to wear. I do try to follow the rules, and take advantage of formal nights in the main dining room. If you do not want to dress up you can eat at the buffet and the smaller eateries (i.e. hot dog stand, pizza buffet) without standing out as too dressed down. My goal was to pack dresses that would double as swimsuit coverups. I took along a few that would pass as a regular dress for the main dining room or attending nicer activities. Some were at least nice enough they were comfortable to wear in a port or in the buffet. I did end up taking along 2 fancier dresses, but only wore one during one of our 2 formal nights. (shown below)
I would also check the dress guidelines of ports on your itinerary. Make sure you respect the rules of that country. For example, in some places it is not acceptable to go into stores in just your swimsuit. Some places disapprove of wearing anything camouflage. Lookup where you are going, and plan what you will wear each day. I went as far as to pack each day’s outfit into a separate gallon size baggie labeled with a marker which day it was for.
I did not wear any long pants the whole trip. My nicer capris were worn once or twice in the main dining room, but I could have just rewore dresses or went with dressier shorts I had also brought along. I think next time I would pack more shorts since I only brought 3 pairs. They are useful if you are doing any really active excursions on land. It was helpful to have along some light cardigans and a hoodie just in case it was cooler at night. I honestly did not use them much, but we went down during a warmer time of year.
Something I almost did not have enough of were swimsuits. Some people suggest bringing only 2 or 3, but on a long cruise with lots of water activities you want to pack more. I packed 7 and that seemed to be enough.
For ports/beach days/excursions usually a tank and shorts over a bathing suit was the way to go. In the evening for dinner is when I would change into a nicer outfit.For shows and inside activities on the ship I usually wore what I did in the main dining room. All in all you probably want as many nicer outfit options along as your “play clothes.”
I hope these tips will help anyone planning for their first cruise aboard Anthem. Bon voyage!
Tags: anthem of the seas, caribbean cruise, cruise, cruise ship, cruise travel, first cruise, packing for a cruise, what to pack, what to wear, what to wear on a cruise