Can You Take a Cruise With Carry-on Luggage Only?

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a room with a television and chairs and a table

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Reading the title of this post you might be saying to yourself, “René – have you lost your mind? There is no way!” and generally I would agree with you since my wife typically takes one look at the pile of stuff I want her to pack and just shakes her head.

My wife and I did manage to take a 9 day cruise with only 2 small spinner type bags and 2 backpacks. Why did we do this? We had free laundry services, it was a Caribbean cruise on NCL so not too much need for a lot of clothes, and it just made maneuvering through the entire process of travel much simpler. Still, there can be many reasons to want to take this somewhat drastic step of only bringing what you can get into a carry on bag.

a purple suitcase with a white background

Airline bag fees are no joke, and while there are numerous ways to avoid these you may also have close connections and fear any checked luggage wouldn’t make it to the final destination. Maybe you could only plan to arrive at your embarkation city the same day as departure or you might have extensive traveling plans after the cruise is finished and want to be able to travel lite-ly without having to drag heavy luggage with you or pay for the assistance of valet services.

a black backpack with zippers

When you think of all of the things the ship provides for you it becomes quite easy to reduce the amount of stuff you really need to bring with you. After all your cabin will include shampoo & conditioner, soap, shower gel and a hair dryer. Pool towels are always available as well. If you’re booked with NCL then the neat casual dining dress code most everywhere onboard means you can get by with a lot fewer clothes especially if it’s a warm Caribbean itinerary.

a black suitcase with wheels
Another top-rated carry-on bag

Another reason to consider going all carry-on is if your return flight home is early. While the cruise ship generally wants everyone off the ship by 10am at the latest, if you’re ready to go early having to wait for the announcement of your luggage tag color availability in order to disembark can be a nuisance. When your luggage is all with you then you can simply walk off the ship the minute you’re ready to leave. This also frees up your last night on the cruise to just enjoy because you will not have to have your bag packed and outside your door by 10pm.

a grey backpack with black straps
Another backpack with dedicated laptop space

While it is nice to bring all of the things you want for your cruise, it can also be nice to be alleviated of all of that baggage in order to be more flexible with your travel if say, for example, your flight home is overbooked! Something to consider at least if you can manage to travel lite! – René

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Advertiser Disclosure: Frequent Floaters is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as CreditCards.com. Some or all of the card offers that appear on the website are from advertisers. Compensation may impact how and where card products appear on the site. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

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