You already know how to pack for vacation. Simply add these tips for your first cruise holiday.
Sun and Fun
Regardless of what body of water your ship is sailing upon, you will ‘have’ weather. This may be tropical sun or chilly breezes. So think carefully about what you choose for outerwear. For the warm climates, pack your swimsuit in your carry-on bag. It may take a while for your luggage to make its appearance at your stateroom, and the pool will be calling. In the cool climates, pack your lightweight jacket in the carry-on.
Also, you will want to bring along beach towel clips for any cruise. These are oversized clips to secure your towel to the deck chair. It’s super breezy on a ship; and they also serve to ‘hold’ your favorite chair. They come in fun colors and styles – my faves are the tropical parrots.
For your health in the sunshine and overcast skies, one word – sunscreen! The worst burn of my life happened when I said, “I don’t need that. It’s cloudy,” and skipped the sunscreen. Hats and sunglasses are also a must for protection and improving the chances for a sunburn-free first cruise.
The clothes you need for shore excursions might be quite different than what you’ll wear on board. For example, if you’re hiking in the nature preserves of Costa Rica or climbing to the top of ancient pyramids, flip flops are going to get really uncomfortable, really quickly. Hiking or athletic shoes are a must for most shore excursions.
If scuba and snorkeling are on your list, the equipment will be provided. But you must wear appropriate clothing for these and other outdoor activities.
Another consideration that will make you a thoughtful traveler is the local culture. In some areas of the world and at some tour destinations no one should be wearing shorts (and women may have additional clothing requirements). Carefully read the ship’s info about where you will be visiting. All these details will be provided by the cruise line.
Many cruise lines have a ‘formal’ dining night, aka captain’s dinner or gala. While the bulk of the vacation will be ‘cruise casual,’ this event may require a bit of dressing up. Read the recommendations for your ship and cruise line. Many cruise lines will make a professional photograph of you that evening. Purchase it. You’ll be glad in later years to see how good everyone looked on their first cruise!
Also, you may want to go to theme parties during your voyage, and you’ll need to pack your own clothes for these. For example, you can step back in time at a 60’s or 70’s retro party; dress up in the colors of a country’s flag on nation celebration night; or ‘dress down’ for The Walking Dead™ cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines!
Bring your wardrobes. Enjoy lobster. Run from the walkers!
In addition to the cell phone (which you should get a temporary international calling plan for prior to leaving), camera and tablet, you should buy a new power strip. Here’s why. Everyone in the stateroom will want to charge at the same time, and outlets are limited. Also, if it’s not new in the package, you may not be allowed to use it.
One non-digital suggestion is a wristwatch. You MUST keep up with ship’s time. The clock on your cell phones will adjust through different time zones, which could be out of sync with the time on board ship. Wearing an analog wristwatch could be the difference in enjoying the balance of your cruise, and finding a flight to get to the next port of call because you arrived at the shore excursion dock just in time to see your ship pulling away.
The easiest option for cruise travel is a passport. This is the undisputed form of ID at home and abroad. Go ahead and apply several months prior to your trip in order to get it in time.
Other options are birth certificates in combination with a government issued photo ID (driver’s license, etc.). It is also a good idea to have copies made of these two, and put them in your suitcase. If the originals are lost, you will be glad you have a back-up ID.
You could be asked to show your ID at various locations, so keep it with you moving on and off the ship.
Last minute items
Remember your medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. While the many shops on board will have the latter; it’s much more economical to pack them in your carry-on at home.
Take some cash along on your first cruise. While almost everything is paid in advance or billed to you with your stateroom key, some activities like gambling, shore excursions, and some drink orders might require cash.
Many cruise lines, like Carnival, offer the option of downloading and printing your luggage tags – a nice convenience for prepping ahead of time.
These tips will help you sail smoothly into your first cruise vacation. Stay tuned for the next installment of Cruise Tips 101.