The general advise is to pick the bare necessities in a carry on and let the staff deal with everything else. In you carry on you want to have any medications or other valuables you may need as well as a swim suit and cover up if you want to get wet. You may not see you luggage until after dinner.
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I would just turn over your luggage to the porters at the pier, tip them a few dollars and just keep the minimum carry-on. Depending on when you board, you can't always access your cabin, so you'll need to explore and go eat some lunch before venturing to your cabin to drop off carry-on. In most cases you'll see your luggage before dinner, but just in case that doesn't happen, have a change of clothes with you for dinner...
Nope, its just not worth carrying all your stuff onboard.
You answered your own question...lugging around carry-on luggage (on and off the ship) is a bad idea for anyone who does not have the stamina or strength to drag, push and pull luggage through the terminal, up and down escalators or elevators, over the gangway, through corridors, restaurants, around people, etc. Check your luggage, bring a small carry-on (as suggested by Bob above) containing medications and toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrush, hair spray you might need (mine has wheels and easily maneuverable). Without exception, I have always had my luggage delivered to my room before dinner. If you have dinner in the formal dining room the first night of the cruise, you can wear whatever you came on the ship in so I dress appropriately and maybe throw in an extra blouse in case I spill too much rum or beer on my blouse.
We always check our luggage at the port and just take a carry on with a change of clothes, meds, cameras, etc. I have enough trouble handling the carry on ! In all our cruises I can't remember one where our luggage didn't arrive before dinner (most have arrived before the Muster Drill).
Unless you can pack everything in one carry on , I'd advise you to check your larger luggage.
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Many times the fire doors are blocked off and you can't get to your cabin for a while--remember they have to clean up after the several thousand that just got off a few minutes before your several thousand got on so they need time. It's not fun to try to tote, drag and pull all your belongings up and down stairs, the buffet, the pool area, etc.
Take a small carry on with your personals--use a larger suitcase and let the porters handle it. Luggage is in general, delivered pretty quickly considering the thousands of of pieces they have to handle.
No need to put yourself through the stress and aggravation of being stuck with several small pieces of luggage for 2-3 hours.
I used to be a carry-on only person. No more. I finally got tired of dragging it around with me at airports, on and off the planes, as well as around the ship before you can get to your cabin. Or maybe it's just that I turned 51 last week and I like to make things as easy as possible for myself as I get older.
When I cruise Imagination with my mom 2 weeks from Monday I'm taking my largest suitcase, and checking it at the airport, and then just bringing a small backpack containing a small purse, travel/cruise docs, my netbook pc, chargers and other electronic essentials, and my trip journal and pens, snacks, etc... I will have this backpack on me while on the ship while my suitcase gets to me later on. We will likely just lounge on deck chairs away from the pool area after we board and eat lunch, until we can get to our cabin, so we'll just wear bermuda shorts and a tank top - no need to put swimsuit and flipflops in the backpack. My small backpack is now my "carry-on."
While my mom lives in Florida, for me, especially with two flights each way, it's nice to just have something on my back instead of something on my shoulder AND something I have to drag around into each store, the bathroom, restaurants at the airports... and I am so tired of having to shove a carry on up in the plane bins, and dragging them down again..... it's so annoying!
I made the switch emotionally over my Thanksgiving '09 trip to Florida to my mom's with my teenage son. We dragged our carryons with us down there -stop over in Atlanta - but checked them on the way home and just kept our little backpacks with us and wow, what a pleasure! I will never switch back. It was worth the cost to check them. I know the suitcase will cost more, but it's an expense I'm willing to pay.
For me, carry-ons are for weekend car trips perhaps, but I'll never schlep one around when I fly again.
Now, when I retire to Florida and flying is no longer in the picture, I may reconsider the carry-on for 2-3 day cruises. but it's really the whole airport/flight thing that makes carry-ons more of a hassle than a convenience.,
Thanks for all the replies. Forgot to say we're driving to the port so won't have the airline part of the hassle but based on your advice I think we'll only carry on what we'll need immediately and comfortably. Much appreciated!