You've been counting down the days, saved every penny, made all the arrangements, and now your cruise vacation is almost here! Now, it's time to pack for a weekend, a week, or even two weeks of fun and relaxation and get away from your job, the pressures of daily life, or, for those taking a winter cruise, the cold winter months at home. But, how many swimsuits do you need? And what kind of swimsuit would be best?

Just as with anything else, you need to plan first to get the most out of your vacation. First, think about how many days you'll be sailing the high seas, luxuriating poolside, or lounging on a tropical beach at your cruise's port of call. If you are only taking a short, extended-weekend cruise, maybe 3 or 4 days, you can likely get away with packing only 2 swimsuits. One is never enough, after all! But if your vacation lasts a week or more days, you would be smart to pack a couple more so that you don't have to deal with the hassle of laundry on vacation and are prepared for any unexpected mishaps. If you're able, we recommend bringing one swimsuit for every day you'll be in "vacation mode" during the cruise. The day you set sail and the day you arrive back at the port are both typically pretty busy days, with little time for sipping drinks by the pool, so you can typically not count those days. So that means, for an 8 day cruise, 6 swimsuits would be enough to make sure you can wear something clean and fresh every without having to worry about any "chores" onboard.

What kind of swimsuits are appropriate depends on a number of factors. What kind of vacation are you planning? What sort of activities? Will you spend all day catching sun on a deck chair, or are you planning on a hike on some tropical isle followed by a long, destressing soak in a hot tub? To decide what kind of swimsuits you should bring, think carefully about the activities you're planning. Most cruise ships have pools on deck, and if you're traveling to a tropical destination, you'll probably spend at least a few days lying on the beach. You also have to think about excursions, though; some cruise lines offer a wide range of activities that let you explore your ports of call. Popular extra activities can include scuba diving and snorkeling, tours, hikes, and even archeological site visits, for an additional cost, of course. If you're planning to do one of those, or if you'd consider purchasing one after your cruise has set sail, you'll need a swimsuit appropriate for that activity or can adjust the number you'll need! After all, as comfortable as many swimsuits can be, we wouldn't recommend wearing them on a jungle trek.

Swimwear doesn't just cover swimsuits, though. While the tropical sun is warm and inviting, you'd be surprised how quickly you can catch a chill sitting on the desk in the sea air. You'll also need bathing suit coverups and wraps to keep you warm after slipping out of the pool, as well as comfortable and safe flip flops or sandals when you're walking back to pick up another pina colada. High SPF sunblock is a must, of course, and the more skin you'll be showing, the more careful you need to be. You'll also need to make sure you pack things like sunglasses, sun hats, and a beach bag to carry your belongings in. While every cruise ship has these items ready for purchase, it's just like buying at an amusement park, and the prices can be a bit higher than usual. Taking a moment before you go to consider everything you'll need won't just make your trip easier and more comfortable, it'll save you a hit to the bank account! We'd recommend packing at least two pairs of flip flops and a comfortable pair of sandals in case one pair gets broken or lost, one or two bottles of sunblock, two pairs of sunglasses, one or two beach bags, and as many sunhats as you want. After all, sun hats look as great off the beach paired with a casual outfit as they do on the beach with a bathing suit!

Coverups, aside from helping to stave off a chill on dek, can serve a number of purposes on a cruise, and you don't need to have a different coverup for every bathing suit you bring. With a little planning and a good eye for color coordination, you can get away with packing half as many, maybe even less. Cruise style is all about comfort and flexibility, after all. A swimsuit and wrap can look at home at the pool or dancing the night away in a ships nightclub, and coupled with the right accessories, you can turn heads from sunrise well into the night.

Last but not least, remember to set aside a little of your planning for self care. From the simple comforts of a soft robe at the end of the day to packing a little Dramamine to stave off sea-sickness for those of us without our sea legs, a small amount of advance effort can ensure that your vacation remains stress-free. Plan for all-important pampering! Order that room service! One of the great parts of a cruise is taking time for self-care and relaxation. Make sure you not only bring what you'll need to make it happen, but also be sure to carve out time from the many activities onboard just to relax! Be sure to pack (or buy ship-side) a large, comfortable terry cloth robe so once the big day is over, you can retreat to your stateroom and relax. At the end of the day, this time is about you and what you need, from looking good to feeling good, so that when you head back home you're rested, relaxed and ready to tackle the challenges of everyday life.

We hope these tips are helpful to you, and we hope you have a great time on your next cruise!