What to Bring

Expect to be the savviest traveler aboard with our extensive pre-trip materials and advice.  AdventureSmith Explorations will provide a detailed, trip specific, packing list upon confirmation of your trip. Our expert crew has first hand experience to help you plan and prepare for your adventure. Link to our online store to find top quality clothing and equipment for all our small ship cruises and adventure travel tours. 

Small Ship Cruise Packing

Packing for a small ship cruise is easy since dress is casual. Exact items will depend on your destination.  In the meantime here are some packing general guidelines and important items.



In general it is best to dress in layers.  In Alaska this means a waterproof outer layer including pants and a jacket.  In warmer, tropical regions like Costa Rica or the Galapagos Islands a light rainproof jacket or poncho is important. Knee high rubber boots can be important on some Alaskan and Polar cruises. 

Head wear

A good hat is essential in almost any environment.  Waterproof and sun-proof hats keep your head dry and safe from the elements.  A wool or fleece cap and gloves will help you stay on deck while cruising near glaciers.  A wide brimmed hat will keep the strong equatorial sun off your face and neck.  A strap to hold your glasses can be a good idea on more active adventures. 


Footwear will vary by season and destination.  In general it is nice to have a pair of light boat shoes to wear while on board.  Hiking footwear can vary from high quality boots to waterproof sandals.  Remember to wear close toe shoes when venturing into the forest or away from the beach. 


Water Bottle

One liter or quart size water bottle is essential for each traveler on day hikes. Many travelers now prefer hydration packs over water bottles. Some hotels, lodges and all vessels carry purified water and you can minimize your impact by carrying your own bottle and refilling it as needed. Go the extra mile for the environment by bringing along a SteriPen or other form of water purifier so you can have access to clean water wherever you go, eliminating the need to use disposable plastic water bottles. See the Travelers Against Plastic video at right for more information.  

Day Pack

A day pack is essential on day hikes to carry things like your water bottle, camera, binoculars, field guides and rain jacket.


Flashlights or headlamps are important for getting around remote lodges and some small ships at night, as some do not have electrical power 24 hour a day. Bring spare batteries and a spare bulb.  Also take a small book light if you enjoy reading at night after generators are turned off, or if your roommate is asleep.

Hiking Poles

Many travelers appreciate the added stability of walking stick or hiking pole.  Thanks to lightweight, telescoping poles these are now easily packet to any destination. 

Cameras & Video

Bring camera and video equipment that you will use.  If you are photo enthusiast bring it all and plan on exceptional opportunities for photography.  If you prefer the ease of a point and shoot, bring that.  Plan on twice as much memory (or film) as you think you will need. Our trips explore remote regions where memory or film may be hard to find.

Snorkeling Equipment and Wetsuits

There are many opportunities to snorkel aboard small ship cruises.  Snorkel, mask, fins and wetsuits are available free of charge or for rent aboard most ships. If you are an avid snorkeler and anticipate taking advantage of most or all of the snorkeling opportunities you may prefer to bring your own equipment, especially the mask and snorkel.

Packing Hints


Travelers should pack all personal gear in a single piece of soft luggage or a small roller bag, in addition to bringing your day-pack.  You should be able to easily carry everything by yourself between transfer points.  The less luggage you have to manage, the more you will enjoy your trip.  Some small ships and yachts have limited storage area so soft sided luggage that can be stowed under a bed or in a closet is best. 


Think about which items are essential and pack them in your carry on luggage.  Medications, corrective lenses, extra underclothes, toiletries, cameras and documents should not be checked in case your bag does not arrive with you.  Never place valuables in checked luggage.  Your luggage and day pack should both have your name and address inside and out.  When checking your luggage, check it all the way through to your final destination. We suggest you write down your passport and traveler check numbers and make copies of you tickets and photo page of your passport.  Keep one copy at home and another while traveling, apart from the original documents.