Carnival Cruise Deck
Photo By: Russell Otway

For your first cruise, take along the following items for comfort and convenience:

Water shoes

These are a specialty shoe made to dry quickly with either a gripping or heavier sole. They can slip on, tie, or come in a sandal style. You’ll need a pair if you are planning water activities aboard ship or for shore excursions. For example, water shoes are perfect for paddle boarding, beachcombing, boating and any other activities when you’re getting in and out of the water, which happens a lot on a cruise!

Hat

Not only will you get style points for bringing along a proper hat, your face and neck with thank you. Think of your hat as your own portable palm tree, keeping you cool and shaded while you explore the tropics on land and sea. I’ve found the best type for men, women, and kids are the floppy brimmed hats with a bit of mesh (for circulation) and a string to keep it on my head in the wind (which is everywhere). These can also be easily folded into a pocket or bag.

Umbrella

It might rain on your cruise, and you don’t want to be stuck inside or huddled in a doorway on shore. Easy solution – mini travel umbrella. Some are the size of your hand when closed, making them convenient to carry.

Outerwear

This might be an obvious item to pack on your first cruise if you are headed for Alaska, northern European ports, or traveling in a location’s winter season. Did you know, however, that you’ll want and need a jacket in the Caribbean? The nights and the rainy days can be chilly. I’m often heard saying (to the irritation of my travel companions, I’m sure), “You can take off the jacket, but you can’t make it up out of thin air if you need it.” My suggestion is to choose a weather-resistant lightweight jacket with a hood. This doubles as rain protection and a wind break.

Small go-bag

As you move around the massive floating island that is your cruise ship, and take all the shore excursions at ports of call, you’ll need a go-bag. Things like sunscreen, cameras, phones, identification, cash, water bottles, and so forth will go with you. A small nylon backpack, tote, or over-the-shoulder bag is a necessary accessory. I recommend that everyone in the family carry their own (if they’re old enough), and put a few zip lock plastic bags inside. The latter are useful for keeping wet and dry items separate.

Extra duffel bag

Fold and pack an extra sturdy duffel bag in your suitcase. This is perfect for collecting dirty clothes when there are several occupants in the cabin. Also, my favorite use of this item is to put all my vacation purchases in it, and send it through checked baggage on the return trip home. Otherwise, no amount of sitting on my suitcase will allow me to close it!

Lanyard

The last item on our list is a lanyard – a neck or wrist strap with a clip for your room key card. Your key card is your pass to everything on the ship; not something you want to lose or forget in your room. Lanyards can be purchased at any store, and come in fun colors and designs.

Finally, take a quick glance through the ‘prohibited items’ list for your cruise line so your luggage is not delayed in its arrival to your stateroom. There are a few unexpected items, such as remote controlled toys/drones, irons, and fireworks that are banned; and others, like alcohol, that are regulated. It’s best to know ahead of time.

Stay tuned for the next article on tips to smooth the waters of your first cruise vacation.

Forget to pack cruise
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