Your suitcase sits in the hall, stuffed with bathing suits, formalwear, comfortable shoes and casual travel clothes. Your carry-on perches on top, with your cruise tickets, passport, prescription meds, camera and a change of clothes. You've been to the bank for extra cash, the supermarket for snacks and the drugstore for sunscreen.
So why do you feel like you've forgotten something?
On your first cruise, you pack the obvious items, but it's not until your second -- or maybe your third, fifth or tenth -- cruise that you discover all those useful things that make life onboard and onshore so much easier. Perhaps that's bringing small bills for tips or small purchases in foreign countries, or a roll of duct tape to fix whatever breaks. Maybe it's a highlighter marker to circle not-to-be-missed activities in the daily schedule, or bubbles to entertain the kids during sailaway.
That's why it's always good advice to ask an experienced cruiser what you've forgotten to pack before you embark on your very first sailing. Don't know any? Do like we did and go to the Cruise Critic message boards, where you'll find plenty of knowledgeable frequent cruise travelers. There, we found tons of great packing tips for the uninitiated and compiled our favorites into a slideshow of must-read advice. Before you check your bags, check this out!
Cover all your bases with our Ultimate Cruise Packing Guide for tips, tricks and packing lists.
--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor