Luggage has changed a lot over the years. So have the regulations governing what you can take on commercial transport. The days of the durable, everything-fits steamer trunk are over; travelers must now pack for space, sturdiness, practicality and weight. Figuring out what luggage meets all of those qualifications and is easy enough to lug around between connecting trips, if necessary, is the first step to a relaxing cruise.
Since many North Americans don't live in a major port city like Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco, San Diego or Fort Lauderdale, getting to the departure docks requires other modes of transport first. For those who fly to the departure city, there are luggage weight and size restrictions for flights. The restrictions differ from airline to airline and include charges for extra baggage that can be quite expensive.
Some cruises have suitcase limits as well. Carnival Cruise Lines has a limit of two pieces and 50 pounds per person. Royal Caribbean's website states that the cruise line limits carry-on items to a "reasonable amount of personal property" including luggage, but does specify a predetermined number or weight. Norwegian Cruise Lines allows a maximum of 200 pounds per person.
Types of Luggage
When it comes to choosing luggage for a cruise, both durability and convenience apply. That brand-new, attractive luggage set is likely to be put through its paces as it is loaded with all of the hundreds or thousands of other items. Just like on airplanes, cruise luggage can be tossed, heaved and stacked in piles before it reaches your stateroom. Durability (not attractiveness) should be the first consideration.
Contemporary luggage is made from a wide variety of materials. The flexible soft luggage is a godsend for those who aren't able to pick up heavy suitcases. It also helps the traveler keep within the airline weight limits. It is important, however, to pick flexible materials that will stand up to the job. Cruisediva.com, a cruising advice website, recommends a durable nylon or Teflon-coated material. It also points out the benefit of well-manufactured edges that have been encased in plastic against wear.
Hard-shell luggage shouldn't be totally disregarded. It is made to withstand being broken or crushed and is certainly viable on a cruise or an airplane. Sturdy luggage wheels are a must in such cases.
Luggage locks and compartments should be inspected to ensure they are study and tear-free. Locking your luggage isn't much help if the lock isn't up to the wear and tear of routine handling.
Multiple Luggage Pieces
Using several different sizes of luggage rather than one or two larger ones will cut down on frustration when it comes to unpacking in the stateroom. The multiple sizes can be stored inside of each other and stowed under the bed.
Every traveler has a different preference when it comes to luggage. Some prefer matching sets, others like mix and match assortments that meet their individual needs. Whatever your preference, keep ease and expediency in mind. Luggage hassles should be your least concern during your cruise vacation.
Jan Lee has been writing articles for approximately 20 years. Lee's articles and content have been published at Suite101, Examiner, BCAdventure, Columbus World Travel Guide and Go Northwest and appeared in publications in Canada, United States and Mexico. Lee received her Bachelors in Spanish from Simon Fraser University, Canada and is a 2004 Society of Professional Journalists' winner for Editorial Writing (Greater Oregon Chapter).