Notice for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 Users

Carribean Cruising - Luggage.

For two people, the luggage we take on board for cruises longer than 7 days:

  • 25" High Sierra 26" Drop Bottom Wheeled Duffel (Red).
  • 25" High Sierra 26" Drop Bottom Wheeled Duffel (Red).
  • 21" High Sierra PowerGlide: convertable wheeled backback carry-on (Red).
  • 21" High Sierra PowerGlide: convertable wheeled backback carry-on (Red).
  • Tenba Messenger Medium Camera Bag: shoulder bag (Burnt Orange).

From the parking lot to the cruise terminal, we pull the 26" wheeled luggage behind us and carry the wheeled backpacks on our backs. Additionally I sling the photo bag on my shoulder. When we arrive at the terminal, we check the 26" luggage, then convert the backpacks into small wheeled luggage. I either continue to carry the photo bag on my shoulder or attach it to my wheeled backpack with it's trolley strap. We continue to carry this luggage through check-in and on-board.

Technically, the 26" duffels also have backpack straps, but we never use them as they are too heavy for our backs. We used to have more traditional hard-side luggage, but found we could not only get more clothing in the duffels, but the duffels fold up enough that we can roll them under our cabin bed on board the ship.

All of our medications, jewelery, and electronic items, as well as our netbook (if we take one) go into one of the backpacks.


Luggage we take on board for cruises 7 days or less:

  • 25" High Sierra 26" Drop Bottom Wheeled Duffel (Red).
  • 25" High Sierra 26" Drop Bottom Wheeled Duffel (Red).
  • Kipling Hiker: lightweight expandable backpack (Red).
  • Tamrac Evolution 8: photo backpack/sling bag (Black).

From the parking lot to the cruise terminal, we pull the 26" wheeled luggage behind us and carry the backpack and photo backpack on our backs. When we arrive at the terminal, we check the 26" luggage, then continue to carry the backpack and photo backpack through check-in and on-board.

All of our medications, jewelery, and electronic items go into the backpack. The netbook (if we take one) goes into the photo backpack.


Why all the bags?

The typical procedure when you board a ship is that you check your heavy luggage, then carry a smaller bag on board with you. In this carry-on bag you would typically put a change of clothes, swim suits, and anything of value; medications, jewelry, electronics items such as an iPod, Kindle, and perhaps a laptop. The change of clothes is necessary as you may not see your checked luggage until later that evening or even the next morning. The crew has literally 10,000 pieces of luggage or more to transport, so that takes time. Having a change of clothes (and swim wear) means you are not stuck in your room waiting for your luggage, but can start your vacation as soon as you arrive on-board.

On longer vacations, we usually take two backpacks as we may find there is not quite enough room to fit all of our clothing in our checked luggage. The backpacks give us just a bit more room to bring what we need.

Some cruise ports allow you to take all of your luggage with you when you disembark the ship. If you elect to do so, you can be among the first passengers off. While not all ships allow this, we have systemized the luggage so that we can easily carry or pull everything so that we can take advantage of the express disembarking.

In reality, a 26" suitcase is a a medium-large bag. And the rolling backpacks, although they are 21", the height measurement is a bit decieving as they are not overly large. The whole affair is quite manageable. However, we typically drive to the cruise port. If you fly, this system may not work for you.


Other Necessary Items.

Document Case: I carry an inexpensive High Sierra brand TVL-10 document case, which measures 10" x 6.5" closed. Inside the case there are several pockets where I keep all of the cruise documentation, passports, receipts, parking token, check-thru luggage keys, and even my car keys after we arrive on board. This case is no longer available, but Victornox and others make similar orgainzers as shown to the right.

You will need to keep your documents and passports handy for the day you board the ship and when you go through US Customs on the day of departure as well. Keeping your documents organized seperately really helps.

 

Backpack: Bringing along a lightweight backpack is essential. Whether it is used for trips to the pool or shore excursions, we always bring one. On shorter trips, we use this backpack for our carry-on luggage. For our longer trips, the High Sierra PowerGlide backpacks are too heavy for this purpose, so we pack the "excursion" backpack empty in our luggage. And in an emergency, it provides an extra bag to contain all that junk we seem to buy during the cruise.

 

Small Photo Bag: At the risk of carrying too much stuff, I sometimes bring along a portable photo bag as well. My main camera bag can weigh anywhere from 14~20 lbs, depending on what I pack into it. This is too heavy and bulky to take on a day of fun and sun. So I typically just pack the photo gear I need for the day rather than lugging the big photo bag with me. So far, this has worked out well.

I recommend either the Tamrac Zoom 4 or the Tamrac Velocity 6x; both of which I have used. The Zoom 4 flat-packs easier, but the Velocity 6x carries a bit more stuff. But either are a good choice for a small, lightweight bag.

Its not as much a matter of taking too much stuff, as it is the stuff you take should be lightweight and easy to pack.

But I need to caveat here that if you look at my photo bag section, you will notice that I have been experimenting with varous photo bags.