After the devastating destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, you might be telling yourself that it would probably be best to hold off on any vacations to the Caribbean until at least after 2018. But if you were to ask anyone in the Caribbean, whether it be a shop owner in St. Thomas or an executive stakeholder in the travel industry, they would tell you this: the Caribbean is open and in its effort to rebuild from the devastation of the 2017 hurricane onslaught, it needs you, the avid traveler, to visit.
Cruise lines have emphasized that the Caribbean remains open for business as one of the top destinations in the world and that when travelers take a cruise vacation there, they're also supporting recovery and rebuilding across the region. They also highlight the fact that while the hurricanes have decimated certain areas, most of the Caribbean was largely unaffected. At least 90% of all Caribbean destinations have been operating as usual and welcoming guests since the hurricanes.
Celebrity Cruises, part of parent organization Royal Caribbean Cruises, has played a pivotal role in relief efforts in the Caribbean region. Immediately following the hurricanes, they mobilized their ships to carry provisions to high impact zones – such as St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Antigua, and San Juan, Puerto Rico – and to assist in evacuation efforts throughout the Caribbean. And now, they are offering an abundance of Caribbean vacations.
Celebrity Cruises are now offering 7-day Caribbean itineraries for fares as low as $499. The time to travel to the Caribbean is now.
Now that you'll be planning for a vacation in the Caribbean, here are some tips on packing for a Caribbean cruise that won’t require having to bring three suitcases!
Shoes to Bring on a Caribbean Cruise
Shoes take up a lot of space so let’s start with those. To pack concisely and strategically, bring shoes that can do double duty, such as:
Hiking Shoes: Pack low-top hiking shoes for outdoorsy shore excursions that can also double for a workout on board if you hit the gym, and which are comfortable to wear around a Caribbean port town while shopping and exploring.
Dressy Sandals or Loafers: Bring a pair of sandals or loafers that look dressy enough for dinner in the on board specialty restaurants, but also are casual enough to wear around the ship during the day.
Flip-Flops: Get easy to slip on shoes to stick in your day pack for beach excursions and to wear to the pool – or for a quick jaunt from your stateroom to get a coffee or other drink to enjoy on your verandah.
What to Bring for Port Days
Something that makes the Caribbean such a fun and memorable vacation is the huge variety of activities you can do while there. Islands differ on what they are known for (such as beaches, ziplining, rain forest hikes, architecture, and so much more) and even one single island can have wildly different things to do while in port. Cover your bases and any last minute shore excursions you might decide to sign up for once on board your ship by packing the right clothing. Here are some items you’ll want to make sure you have.
Lightweight Raincoat or Poncho: The Caribbean is a tropical destination and part of what gives the destination its tropic beauty is rainfall, so you may encounter some on your vacation. It doesn’t have to ruin your day in port, though; most times of year rain in the Caribbean is sporadic and doesn’t last long. Be prepared with a rain jacket or poncho you can take out of your daypack and you’ll still be able to enjoy whatever activity you’re doing without worrying about getting all wet.
Pants and Long Sleeves: If you’re going to be walking through rain forests or other wilderness areas in the Caribbean, bring breathable pants and a long sleeve shirt you won’t get too hot in, but which will keep you covered. This is ideal for areas you’re traveling in which may have mosquitoes or scratchy vegetation.
Swimsuits: Bringing a swimsuit probably goes without saying for a Caribbean cruise, but what you might not think about is bringing different types of suits (ladies, this one is more for you). Definitely bring a suit that you want to lounge on the beach or by the pool in, and you also may want to stick in a swimsuit that you can be more active in. Think sports swimsuits that will let you comfortably snorkel, surf, go tubing down rivers, or any other adventurous water activity you may want to do in the Caribbean.
Rashguard: Even if you’re not planning to try surfing or boogie boarding, sticking in a rashguard is wise since it will help protect your skin from the sun if you’re planning to be in the water a lot. The Caribbean sun may be much more powerful than what you’re used to and a painful sunburn is one quick way to ruin a vacation.
Sunglasses: The Caribbean is sunny! Don’t spend your time in port squinting. Bring a pair of sunglasses (polarized sunglasses are best when you’re near water to help reduce glare) or a sun visor.
What to Pack for on the Ship
Here are some items you’ll want to pack for your time on the ship, starting with dinner.
Celebrity Cruises’ dress code for dining is Smart Casual on most evenings, which entails the following items:
- Ladies: Dress, slacks, blazers, jeans, scarves, skirts, casual tops — basically, whatever you’re comfortable in without being too casual.
- Men: Pants or jeans and a sport shirt with sleeves.
Depending on the length of your cruise, there also may be one or two Evening Chic nights (say good-bye to those stuffy formal nights!), and you’ll want to come prepared for those evenings so you can participate in the fun of getting all glammed up. Stick the following attire in your suitcase for Evening Chic nights (which also may double well for the nightlife onboard):
- Ladies: Cocktail dress or skirt/pants/designer jeans with an elegant top. Or get totally dressed up in an evening gown!
- Men: Pants or designer jeans with a dress shirt, button-down shirt, or sweater. To get fancier, wear a blazer or sport coat over it.
Pool Cover-Up: Bring something to throw on over your swimsuit for your walk from your stateroom to the pool and to put on if you take a break from relaxing by the pool to run to the Lido Bar.
Keep in mind that during the day the Caribbean may be hot, but at night when you’re sailing in the middle of the sea from one island to the next, the temperature can dramatically drop, which brings us to the next point on what to pack:
To round out the rest of your clothing for your trip, pack a few t-shirts or tanktops, cardigans or sweaters, a couple pairs of both shorts and pants or maxi skirts. You should be able to mix and match these to fit different weather and activities, whether in port or on the ship.
Then get ready to enjoy an incredible Caribbean vacation!
Excited to start packing your suitcase sooner than later?
Don’t miss out on Celebrity Cruises’ current holiday special: the Holiday Season of Savings. With this special, book in an oceanview stateroom or higher stateroom category and the first two guests in your stateroom receive a free perk. You can choose from:
- Classic Beverage Package (includes alcoholic beverages)
- Unlimited Wi-Fi
- Prepaid Tips
- $150 to Spend on Board
Book a suite and receive all four perks. The next two people in a stateroom (oceanview or above) receive 50% off their cruise fare as part of the Holiday Season of Savings. To see all terms and conditions, click here.