Packing List for a British Isles Cruise from Amsterdam

by Janis on May 25, 2017

14-Day Celtic Kingdoms cruise on Holland America's PrinsendamWe are sailing on Holland America Line’s 14-Day Celtic Explorer cruise on the ms Prinsendam in early June. In addition, we will be spending five days in Amsterdam before boarding the cruise ship. We’ve been working to finalize our packing list for this trip.

What to pack for this British Isles cruise that visits Wales, England and Ireland, plus Belgium and the Netherlands ?

cruising the British IslesWhenever we are thinking about packing for a cruise or any vacation, we start with four questions. 

1. What might the weather be like? What are average temperature ranges for the time of year?

  • June average temperatures and average rain days:
    • Amsterdam, the Netherlands  – High 66°F/Low 52°F Rains 9/30 days
    • Liverpool, England  – High 61°F/Low 50°F Rains 16/30 days
    • Dublin, Ireland – High 62°F/Low 50°F Rains 21/30 days
    • Galway, Ireland  – High 61°F/Low 52°F Rains 7/30 days
    • Antwerp, Belgium  – High 66°F/Low 52°F Rains 16/30 days

2. How easy will it be to do laundry or get out laundry done?

  • Laundry will be easy for us while on the Prinsendam:
    • The ship offers laundry and pressing services by the piece, by the bag or unlimited during the cruise which you can book in advance or on the cruise. (Neptune Suite guests and 4-5 Star Mariners receive complimentary laundry service.)
    • The ship also offers self-service laundry (detergent provided, bring softener sheets; get quarters from front desk.) This cruise is port-intensive with only 3 sea days, hence the laundry room will be crowded.
    • There is also a clothes line in the cabins’ bathroom for drying items you hand-wash.
    • Dry cleaning is also available on-board the ship.

3. How many bags can we check on the flight without paying extra, and what is the weight limit?

  • In general, if flying in business class between the US and Europe on United or Delta, each passenger may check two bags weighing up to 70 pounds each free of charge. For American Airlines, business class passengers can check up to 3 bags per person, weighing up to 50 pounds each.
  • In general, if flying economy between the US and Europe, each passenger may check 1 bag each free of charge, as long as it weighs less than 50 pounds.
  • In addition, each passenger flying from the US to Europe can carry-on 1 small roller bag (that fits in the overhead) plus one personal item such as a backpack or briefcase that fits under your seat. NOTE: If you are connecting to a European carrier in Europe, you may have more limited carry-on options.
  • Each airline has specific size rules for carry-on bags. For example, United Airlines:
    • Maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels.
    • Maximum dimensions for your personal item, such as a shoulder bag, backpack, laptop bag or other small item, are 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches
  • DO CHECK with your air carrier for specifics for your flight.

4. What kind of activities and/or events do we need to dress for?

  • We will pack for:
    • day time exploring in port – casual clothes, comfortable shoes and dressed in layers prepared for rain
    • evening dinners – resort wear for most nights, i.e. slacks and a collared shirt for Mr. Jones and slacks/sweaters/casual dresses for myself
    • gala nights – there will be 3 during our cruise. Mr. Jones will wear a sport coat and tie or suit; I will wear cocktail dresses or black pants with a dressy top.
    • exercise – clothing and shoes for workouts in the ship’s gym, and swimwear/cover-up/flip-flops for swimming/hot tubs and sauna/spa use on the ship
    • personal items such as under garments, pajamas, jewelry, medications
    • misc. items for communications, photography and entertainment such as iPhone, tablets, computers and associated charging cords

    suitcases for 14-Day Celtic Kingdoms cruise on Holland America's PrinsendamOur packing list for this British Isles cruise

    First, the bags we’d take:


    1. Two extra-large wheeled duffel bags, one each. Ours are from Patagonia and Eddie Bauer — we’ve traveled with these all over the world. They hold a ton of stuff, are easy to maneuver, and are light but tough. We would check these bags on flights, weighing them with our Digital Luggage Scale to make sure they are not over the 70-pound limit (this would be 50-pounds if we were in coach), either on the way over, or for the return when we invariably have acquired more stuff. To help organize items in these duffels, we use packing cubes, mesh bags, quart-size plastic bags

    2. One carry-on size roller-bag. Mr. Jones’ is from Briggs & Riley. Even though we are flying in a few days early before our cruise departure, we don’t want to get caught without a change or two of clothes if are checked bags don’t arrive with us. So we carry one roller-bag with our essentials to cover us for a few days. This bag expands, if we get crazy buying stuff and need to check it on the flight home.


    3. Our carry-on backpack and Expandable Briefcase to hold our computers, tablets, phones, charger cords, key travel documents, medicine, and for Mrs. Jones, her make-up in quart-size plastic bag and a small Cross-Body Purse.


    4. A lightweight, Stowaway Packable Daypack for carrying camera, water bottle, maps, etc during day trips and shore excursions. (I don’t want to carry a purse most places, but if I do I can stuff my cross-body purse in this daypack.)

For packing, we think about the clothing and shoes we will need by how we will be spending our days. 

  • 1. Day-time active wear: clothes to wear each day as we are exploring in ports.
  • For June in the British Isles we will follow the adage to “Dress like an onion – in  layers so you can add-on or peel off as the weather of the moment dictates.” We’ll plan for three layers that can mix and match:
      • A t-shirt or light top (take 7-10)
      • A sweater, sweatshirt, hoodie, a button-down type shirt and/or a vest. (take 5-7 to rotate)

    • A waterproof jacket, shell or raincoat with a hood (take 1)
    • A rain hat and umbrella.

    With these toppers we would wear jeans, khakis, or other comfortable, casual pants. Perhaps throw in 1-2 pairs of walking shorts.  (We’d take 4-6 pairs each.)

    2. Evening dinner wear which we would get laundered/pressed as need as rotate during the 14 days:

    • I would take 6-7 dresses and 2 pair of black dress slacks with 3-4 tops. At least three outfits would be suitable for formal nights.
    • For Mr. Jones, we would pack a dark suit and/or sport coat and trouser, 2 dress shirts and ties, 3-4 pair of dress slacks or khakis, 3-4 long-sleeved button-down shirts and 3-4 polo shirts.


    3. Other Clothing/Toiletries/Electronics/Misc.:

      • Exercise wear for workout on the ship
      • My Fitbit, with charger cord and alternate wristbands
      • Underwear, hosiery, sleepwear (the Prinsendam provides robes in each cabin)
      • Belts, jewelry
      • 1 swimming suit each, plus a cover-up and flip-flops or other shoes to wear to the pool/hot tub.
      • Sunglasses
      • Packets of sunscreen, Insect Repellent Towelettes, and sanitizing hand wipes (by carrying the kind in foil packets, they are lighter and don’t count as liquids in your flight carry-on bag)
      • Foil packets of Shout Wipes to remove stains
      • A Travel Power Strip with USB Charging Ports as the plugs are limited in the cabin, and we need to charge our phones/cameras/tablets/computers overnight. (Be sure to bring a power strip that does not have a built-in surge protector – the ship’s don’t allow those.
      • Two Dual Port Travel Power Adapter that allows you to charge to devices with a single electric outlet
      • Two Collapsible Travel Trays (we each have one to keep items such our keys, jewelry, etc. organized in one place.)
      • Travel size packets of tissue and cloth handkerchiefs for Mr. Jones
      • Each of us packs our laptop computers, mouse, computer power cord, iPad and iPhone and dual charge cord — we tend to keep up on work even when traveling
      • For camera’s we use our iPhone but if you take a camera be sure to include chargers, back-up batteries and photo cards.
      • We used to carry books, puzzle books, DVDs for entertainment on flights, buses and trains. Now, we load our iPads with games, movies/television shows from Apple and Amazon Prime. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial we access our favorite guidebooks and other books we’ve bought via our Kindle app. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can try Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days with this link:Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

    • We each take two sets of tiny inexpensive, earbud headphones . (We find this item easy to lose or misplace so we keep one with our phone and one spare packed in our carry-on bag.)

    4. Shoes

    I have a hard time limiting my shoes. I would take these:

      • 2 pair dress shoes
      • 1 pair of dress sandals
      • 1 pair of black flats (wear on plane)
      • 1 pair of tennis shoes suitable for gym /exercise

    If either of our bags are overweight, this is where I will edit.

    Mr. Jones is a shoe minimalist.

    What would you pack for a 14-day British Isles cruise in June? 

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