Cruise South Africa: Packing tips

msc sinfonia, packing tips, cruise, South Africa, family, travel, what to pack, what you need to know, what do I need to pack, cruising, durban, portuguese islands, ihla de mozambique, ocean, sea, kids. family travelNo matter how much research I do about my latest holiday destination, I always end up packing too much. And, more often than not, it’s not even the right stuff! Am I the only person who never packs enough underwear, but always packs too many clothes (that I never get around to wearing)? It drives me nuts!

Cruise South Africa: Packing tips

Since we were cruising on the MSC Sinfonia for 7 nights, it was inevitable that we would end up with a packing nightmare on our hands because, we had never cruised before and didn’t know what to expect, and we had to come to terms with “dressing for dinner” and packing accordingly. (No, we’re not used to changing our clothes for dinner).

So, in order for you to not have the same difficulties, I thought I would document what I learned. You will obviously need to use common sense when it comes to packing for a trip taking place in Winter rather than Summer, but I know I’m talking to sensible people.

Swim wear

My first tip is that you take more than one swimming costume and cover up with you . I tried to do the entire trip with one swimming costume and sarong, and neither managed to dry overnight. Is there anything more disgusting than pulling on a damp cozzie?

If you’re cruising for 7 nights, take at least 3 swimming costumes. I trust you will extrapolate up, or down accordingly. If you take a cover up or two, you won’t have to trudge back to your cabin, in order to go for lunch.

msc sinfonia, packing tips, cruise, South Africa, family, travel, what to pack, what you need to know, what do I need to pack, cruising, durban, portuguese islands, ihla de mozambique, ocean, sea, kids. family travel
Arriving back from our trip to the Portuguese islands.
Dinner wear

Whether you choose to have dinner at the buffet (I feel like I should do an entire blog post on the food on board) or in one of the fancier restaurants, you will want to have a shower and find fresh clothes to wear. The dress code at the buffet is pretty much anything as long as it’s not a swimming costume and towel, and all restaurants require that you wear shoes.

Just a tip, the buffet is fine for lunch. Go to the restaurant you’ve been assigned for breakfast and dinner. You’ll thank me, I promise.

Another aside: if you have selected to eat at the 1st sitting for dinner which is at 6pm (we did), you will find it hard to get to the 7pm show in time. The 2nd sitting is at 8:30pm which is a lot more conducive to a 7pm show and an 8:30pm dinner.

This is the reason we suffered with the buffet for so long. We wanted to eat before the show and then put kids the to bed. We tried having dinner but then found ourselves with time to kill before the 9pm theatre show. It was a lose-lose situation, either way.

Most nights, you are expected to dress smartly for dinner at the restaurant but on Gala evenings, jackets and ties are expected, so the ladies get a chance to shimmer and shine in evening wear. While lots of people bring out the bling, no one looks at you funny if you just dress wear something more fancy than your Hawaiian shirt and shorts.

These are literally the only two kinds of things you NEED to pack. Shorts and t-shirts are nice to haves for excursions and pyjamas are entirely up to you. You will pretty much live in your swim wear and a cover up. In cooler weather, you might want to throw in a hoodie for cooler weather. But that’s it.


Our cabin had 4 x 2 prong plug points. This should be sufficient to charge your devices and style your hair. If you feel like you’ll need more, take along a multi plug.

If you’re worried about missing out on your favourite sitcoms or sports matches, your in-room TV does offer a handful of satellite channels so you won’t be completely lost. Our favourite channels were actually not DSTV related. Channel 22 and 23 showed us where we were and what you could see from the bridge.

Is there anything I’ve missed? Let me know what you’d like to know and I will answer your questions in the comments field below :).

msc sinfonia, packing tips, cruise, South Africa, family, travel, what to pack, what you need to know, what do I need to pack, cruising, durban, portuguese islands, ihla de mozambique, ocean, sea, kids. family travel
Our kids loved to see where we were according to the map.
About TazzDiscovers 132 Articles
We are a family of four with a passion for our beautiful and diverse South Africa. Because of our passion for Cape Town, we love exploring and taking pictures as we grow and spend time together as a family. Our kids are 14 and 17 respectively and have had access to the most amazing opportunities through our little blog and this is something we are incredibly grateful for. We have seen them grow and mature since we started travelling and has turned them into little connoisseurs of all things wonderful in South Africa. If you would like a family perspective on your business or location, we would love to work with you. Feel free to reach out via email:


    • Hi Linda, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. When I wrote this post, I thought of doing it in a packing list format but as I started writing, I realized that there are too many variables just because there is so much to do on the boat. For example, we were happy to spend most of our time at the pool so all we really needed to pack were swimming costumes and something to wear for dinner in the evening. If, however you plan to join in on the gym classes or party the night away at the club, your packing requirements will be very different and my list wouldn’t make sense. The only advice I have is pack for the trip of a lifetime. Whether you are a party person or whether you prefer to read, there is something for everyone – yes, there is even a small library on board. Wishing you safe travels and a wonderful time on board the ship 🙂

  1. Hi Tazz. Thanks for the tips. We are going on the MSC form 15 to 20 April. Just to confirm, for dinner at any of the restaurants, a nice sun dress or trousers with a nice top for the ladies and a jeans or cheeno pant with a shirt will be fine?
    As far as the gala evening is concerned, do this take place on the entire ship, meaning all restaurants or is this at a specific location. Does one have to attend this or can you dine as normal?

    • Hi Cornelia, apologies for only responding now. Yes, if you choose to dine at the more formal restaurant, a nice sundress or chinos and a shirt will work well. I would steer clear of jeans though. There are some people that go in evening dress so you may feel a bit under dressed in jeans. With the gala evening, that happens at the formal restaurant. If memory serves, there is only one formal eatery and you will receive notification on your door about when it will take place. You don’t have to attend and you are welcome to choose one of the more informal restaurants instead. I hope this help you. Enjoy your cruise! Wishing you safe travels and a wonderful time on board. 🙂

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