Finding the perfect luggage for your cruise

On cruise vacations, a new goal on choosing the right luggage is to be able to walk on and off the ship with it by yourself. If you are physically able, this is the way to go.

Called doing it the “self-assist” way, the cruise lines require that you must be able to handle the luggage without assistance on and off the ship. If you can manage it yourself, you’ll save time and completely eliminate the possibility of your luggage being lost, stolen or rummaged through while you are not looking. Plus, you won’t have to wade through the sea of luggage after sailing to find yours among hundreds of others that look just like it.

If you can’t do that, you will need to give it to the porters at the pier to handle for you. (see photo)

Pre-Test:Which way sounds/looks like your luggage and the stuff in it will be better cared for?

Whatever you have, it will need to be small enough to fit through scanning machines on the ship, otherwise pretty much any size or shape will do.

Before you even think about looking for luggage though, we need to get the expectations for what it needs to handle straight. On a standard seven night cruise there will be two formal nights. Outside of that, there is broad acceptance for onboard apparel.

Consider where you’re going and what you’re packing before you shop for new luggage too. This will determine the quantity and size of luggage you’ll need. Not sure? Check travel guides and travel reviews for play by play recommendations before you shop. The big trick to making a budget on this stuff and sticking to it is knowing exactly what it is you want before you start looking for it.

Also consider that you will probably travel someplace else in your lifetime so versatility is a good factor to consider. A quick search of Gadling gear deals is probably a good place to start for the latest and greatest of what is out there right now.

Soft or Hard? Decide whether you want soft or hard-sided luggage. Heavier, hard-sided suitcases offer far better protection for fragile items. Soft luggage is lighter and bends when squished up against or rolled over by an airplane.

Check with your airline- Make sure the bags fits your airline’s approved carry-on size. The cruise line has no limits or restrictions on luggage but less is better here too. Choose a size that’s appropriate for the length of your trip. Keep in mind the possibility of needing to accommodate unexpected items or expand for a longer trip.

Here is a good line we have used on both short and long cruises as well as land vacations from Briggs and Riley.

Flickr photo by Marit and Toomas Hinnosaar