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How Cruise Packing Has Changed

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Cruise packing has changed considerably in the 21st century.  Even though I knew we were over-packers, Mrs. Kuki and I used to pack 4 full suitcases, even for seven day cruise.

Today we can easily get it done with 1 suitcase each, with room to spare, and we’re still over-packers. Sure, our thought processes to decided what we need have changed over the years. Part of it is what we’re old now, so don’t care much if we’re fashionista.  But so to have the general rules of what is required cruise wear changed.

It’s a bit of a blur, so I’m uncertain what came first, the cruise lines beginning to relax dress codes, or the airlines implementing reduced weight limits on luggage, followed by fees for checked bags. But, the results were good for the cruise lines, and I believe, in the end, good for cruisers.

From the cruise line perspective– old time cruisers will remember the voluminous amounts of luggage that not only had to be loaded on board, but also had to be delivered to cabins by the ship’s crew.  Because of the labor required for this duty, the cabin stewards were a part of this delivery crew, as well as for the collecting of luggage for removal from the ship at the end of each cruise.

As the volume of luggage needing to be handled lessened, the cruise lines also came up with a plan for self disembarkation – where passengers capable of carrying all of their own luggage off the ship at the end of a cruise could choose to do so, and be in the first group to get off the ship. I admit I was, and remain, surprised at just how popular an alternative this has become.

Thus, the relaxing of dress codes, the luggage weight restrictions and baggage fees put in place by the airlines, combined with the policy of allowing self disembarkation, have significantly reduced the stresses on managing the labour time of the ship’s limited number of crew on board.

An additional benefit has been the reduction in necessary closet and storage space needed in cruise ship cabins to satisfy most passengers. This, perhaps small benefit, also benefits passengers. Remember when you found it difficult to find proper storage for everything you brought on board with you?

From the passenger’s perspective –this isn’t the only benefit of the changes I’ve discussed.

As a result of the ability of the cruise line to better manage the labor force they don’t likely work them any less hours, but they are given the ability to redirect their efforts. And the affect of that is the ship’s cabins and public areas can be cleaned and prepared for the passenger’s of the next voyage earlier.

“Turn around” days are still incredibly busy for the crew, but once the last guest of a voyage leaves they direct larger portions of the ship’s work force to prepare the public areas, and thus rather than keeping future passengers waiting in embarkation buildings before they are allowed to board, they are able to begin the embarkation process earlier, and get anxious passengers on board earlier than they ever have. This also allows the entire process to be spread out over an extra period of time, leading to smoothing the process for new guests boarding.

Though there are some cruise lines which maintain a more “traditional” dress code, requiring tuxedos, suits and other formal wear, the majority have at least cut back on the number of “formal nights”. Some lines have dropped formal nights entirely, and moved almost exclusively to “country club casual” designations., where no formal or business wear is required or expected. And for some the definition of a dress code is basically understood to be anything “clean casual”.  It is my belief, in the not to distant future, that distinction will be the norm, not the exception.

I admit that I used to be a bit of a “traditionalist”; enjoying dressing up occasionally to make the evenings seem a bit special. To dress up the cruise experience if you will.

However, as travel became more complicated; with weight restrictions, fees for luggage, TSA requirements at airports I’ve embraced the idea of simplification. As long as I’m cruising with loved ones, or friends, does it really matter to me what they are wearing? Does it diminish the service I enjoy, the entertainment I view, or the taste of the food I sample, if I and those around me are not “dressed up”? Nope!

Whether we are cruising for adventure, or for vacation we are able to enjoy the experience just as thoroughly dressed casually. The result is it’s much easier to prepare, easier to travel, and less of our own labor necessary to lug suitcases.

Whatever the chronology of the events that led us to where we are,  I’m pleased with where we’ve to gotten to, and where I think we’re going.

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time November 20, 2012 at 6:06 am

This has a two edged sword effect, I must admit.

Firstly, the airlines have indeed placed an onus on luggage, restricting what may be placed on board, however, for the fee, if one wishes, paying for the extra piece(s) or weight is the perogative of the airline passenger, whether fying to cruise point, or other deistinational requirement. We have paid up to $350.00 in fees, for longer cruises where formal attire is the norm, not a second thought.

With regard to luggage, “space bags” are the way to go, althought, American Tourister has them, of better quality, stronger and sold at Wal Mart in the luggage section. Either of these brands are roll-up air release, no vacuum needed. This saves space, a real helper. Incidently, I learned of this while watching Live with Regis and Kelly a few years ago.

As the ships get bigger, the passenger count gets higher, the crew gets smaller. That I feel is the main reason for baggage regs on “some” cruise lines. Also, luggage point to point service, from your home to the ship is offered on select lines, at a premium price.

During my last several cruises passengers that self-disembarked, taking their own luggage off, did so, bashing elevator doors, scraping walls, and destroyed some paneling. Now, can that offset the lack of crew and what they are paid, only to redo bashed parts of the ships interiors? I think not.

Ah, a third edge to a worn sword, what you pack. We have long stopped taking multiple shorts, tees, polos and the like in favor of sending laundry out, and re-wearing as opposed to multiple items, never worn, and bulking up a suitcase.

Comment from Bob Green
Time November 21, 2012 at 8:58 am

The space bags are great for getting more stuff in a bag. For those trying to avoid or at least minimize airline fees should be careful about weight. That air you squeeze out does not weigh anything it is all of our stuff that does us in.

Comment from Ray McDonald
Time November 21, 2012 at 10:32 am

Most of the bashing of elevator doors, scraping of walls, and destroyed paneling I have seen on cruise ships have been done by people in motorized scooters or wheelchairs. The Carnival Magic used to have nice glass sconces and decorations in the elevators…they were all replaced due to the damage of the scooters. I witnessed one of the final ones being destroyed myself.

Comment from David Beers
Time November 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Another thing to consider is whether paying for laundry service on the ship is now worth it as opposed to paying the same money in airline baggage fees. Even on lines without self-serve laundromats they often have a ‘wash and fold special’ where a bag full of clothes can be washed by the ship for $20 or $25. If you are going to have to pay it anyway, why not cut down on the luggage and just have the clothing laundered?

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time November 22, 2012 at 5:38 am

Ray brings up a very good point, motorized scooters and wheel chairs. Yes, they do cause damage to be sure.

Now, as the public ages, and more passengers on ships will need scooters and the like, where will the cruise lines house them on board? A few handicapped cabins with roll in showers won’t hack it, there will be many more such cabins needed, and there are not going to enough, at least as it goes today if the few such cabins are the limit.

More new ships? Ripping out and enlarging cabins and suites? Scooter only access restaurants? These are major issues for the cruise lines to consider, and frankly, they will deal with it.

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