MSC Cruises has assembled a squad of ‘Holiday Preps’ – travel and organisation pros to offer live 1-2-1 consultations to eliminate packing stress.

MSC Virtuosa sailings depart from Southampton this summer, meaning no airports and no baggage stress – ideal for the 35% who worry about those extra charges.

Here are the professional packers top tips….

Jeannine Williamson, The Pro-cruiser

  • Don’t pack lots of books and magazines – at most, download them to a device. The busy daily programme of activities, shore excursions, entertainment and never-ending food and drink means there is hardly time to read a newspaper, let alone War and Peace!  
  • It’s very easy to over-pack and end up taking away far too much. Lay out all the clothes, shoes and accessories you plan to take before you go, rather than getting things straight out the wardrobe and putting them into a suitcase. Try to stick to two or three main colour schemes. Put them together as ‘whole’ outfits – and take photos of them a reminder – so you can easily see which tops can be worn with different skirts and trousers and how outfits can be mixed and matched, and accessorised with scarves and jewellery, so they can be worn several times but still look like a different outfit.
  • Even if you’re travelling in the height of summer take a variety of clothes that can be layered over T-shirts and shirts, such as long-sleeved jumpers, cardigans, a jacket and lightweight raincoat. Temperatures can fluctuate and it gets cooler at night if you want to sit out on deck with a cocktail. Shrugs or shawls for ladies are also a great idea and the latter take up little room and are easy to roll up in your suitcase. For summer cruises take a sunhat or baseball cap and pack a beanie or similar for winter sailings.
  • For Mediterranean cruises take loose-fitting clothing that will be comfortable in hot climates. Natural fabrics such as cotton or moisture-wicking tops are best. Don’t forget wide-brimmed sunhats, sunglasses, sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • If you like writing postcards from different ports of call get a sheet of peel-off address labels and before you go write the names and addresses of the people you’re going to send postcards to. This saves time writing them on the cards when you’re there, or remembering to take an address book with you.
  • If you have a fabric suitcase then line the bottom with reusable plastic bags and pop one or two on the top to cover your clothes when you have finished packing. This will keep your clothes dry if bags are left outside in the rain at the airport or before you board your ship. Once you’re aboard and unpacked they can double up as laundry bags for dirty clothes that you bring home and separate them from other items.

Nicola Lewis, the Professional Organiser, top tips:

  • Start off by using a collapsible clothes rail, this will allow you to plan your holiday wardrobe and coordinate what shoes and accessories to pack with your clothes.
  • Always use packing cubes. You can organise in category order, save space inside your case and make unpacking so much easier at the other end.
  • On the way home, pack your dirty clothes in colour order inside the cubes, this will make the laundry a lot smoother and less stressful upon your return.

Yaya & Lloyd (AKA Hand Luggage Only), The Travel Guys, top tips:

  • Block pack instead of layered packing; don’t just pack all of one item (eg t-shirts) all along the base of the suitcase. Fill up your luggage in blocks. This stops you from rummaging through your suitcase when on the road.
  • Shoe space; don’t pack shoes in cumbersome boxes that fill up your suitcase. Use shower caps (placed on the base of the shoes) to be more efficient with space and keep your packed clothes clean.
  • Pick the right luggage for you and your packing style. Some people like to pack everything in one space. Others like to segment and section off things (e.g. toiletries separated from electronic, in case of leakage). It’s best to buy a piece of luggage that suits the way you like to pack rather than trying to make the wrong suitcase work for you.

Emily Norris, The Family Packer, top tips:

  • Jewellery can be a tricky thing to pack! A great hack is to store your jewellery in a hard sunglasses case or a pill organiser box to separate them and thread necklaces through straws to keep them from tangling.
  • When we go on a package holiday with no laundry facilities, I take two thin mesh laundry bags. One for lights and one for darks. This makes doing laundry for the family so much easier when you get home!
  • Sun hats are so easily squashed inside suitcases! To avoid this, pack the head of your sun hat tightly with clothes so that it keeps its shape.
  • Sort out your and your family’s heaviest items so you can pack them at the bottom of your suitcases. This will help to distribute the weight, making it easier to pull and stopping it from falling over!
  • Mini products are cute but they are more expensive and not great for the environment, especially when you’re packing for the whole family. Decant your and your family’s favourite products into mini reusable containers so that you can travel with everything you need.

For more information on MSC Virtuosa click here.

For more information or to book now visit, see your local travel agent or call 0203 937 7570.