From A to Z, we list a few critical things not to forget the next time you cruise.
If you're traveling outside of the North American and Caribbean region and will be spending any time at a hotel, you'll need to bring a power adapter with you. It's an easy item to forget as most cruise ships these days offer both North American and European plug sockets, but hotels do not. We recommend getting an all-in-one world adapter that you just leave in your suitcase all the time; that way you'll always have it when you need it. (Plus, you can use it on your cruise ship to make use of an additional outlet.)
Unless you're on a warm-weather cruise and plan on plonking yourself down poolside all day or at the beach in every port, you'll probably be doing a lot more walking than you expect. Even your most broken-in shoes might start to feel a little rough in destinations like Alaska and Europe where glacier hikes or walking tours are standard fare. Be prepared for the inevitable blister or two with Band-Aids at hand, in whatever bag you carry with you off the ship and some spare ones onboard.
Don't waste half a port day chasing down a laptop charger like one Cruise Critic senior editor was forced to do after switching laptop bags and forgetting to move the charger to the new bag. If you're bringing anything that needs to be charged, make sure to double-check you've got the charger for it. There are lots of cruise destinations where getting a replacement charger could be near to impossible. You do not want to be stuck in a picture-perfect setting with no way to take a picture! Keep cords organized with an electronics gear bag.
4. Emergency contact list
Sure, we've all got our contact numbers stored in our cell phones these days, but what if someone else needs to make a call on your behalf and your phone requires a PIN or thumbprint? Or what if the phone is missing or the battery is dead? Having a hard copy of all your emergency contacts in your wallet or stored in your in-cabin safe could turn out to be a lifesaver.
This is especially true on post-pandemic cruises. You will want to keep your family updated should your itinerary change due to any COVID-19 cases aboard your ship or if you yourself become ill (a rare occurrence but best to be prepared).
5. Hand sanitizer and wipes
As part of their COVID-19-related health and safety protocols, cruise lines have added more hand washing and sanitizer stations around the ship to prevent the spread of germs. However, you will want your own little handy squirt bottle and we suggest wipes too. These are useful for cleaning down everything from your airplane seat to the deck chair at the pool. Touch something, wash your hands!
Sadly, we've read horror stories of people showing up to cruise ports without their passports, birth certificates or required visas and getting turned away. If it's the last thing you do before you walk out your door, always check to make sure you've got all the identification and paperwork that is required for every step of your trip.
The latest cruise ship cabin amenity is disposable masks, but you may want to bring you most comfortable masks from home. You will also need to wear a mask at the airport and on the plance if you are flying to your embarkation city. And everyone needs to wear a mask in the cruise terminal during embarkation and disembarkation.
Other than a handful of over-the-counter remedies (cold pills, pain relievers and seasickness treatments) sold at inflated prices, cruise ships carry only a limited supply of prescription medications, and these are given out only in emergencies. If you take any kind of medicine on a daily basis, be it prescription, vitamin or something else, it's imperative you bring enough with you to last your entire cruise -- and even a few days longer just in case some type of travel delay prevents you from getting home on time.
Even though most cruise ships do carry pills for seasickness prevention either in the sundries shop or in the medical center, if you're prone to seasickness you shouldn't forget to bring your own supply as well. Store it all in a sleek pill organizer that doesn't scream "senior."
Even on warm-weather cruises you're likely to run into unexpected chilly air, particularly in public areas of your cruise ship where the A/C is often set to "blast." Plus, you never known when Mexico or the Caribbean will be hit by a cold spell. Forgetting to bring a pullover, cardigan, sweatshirt or sweater could result in spending extra money on an over-priced piece of clothing you never wear again.
10. Snack bars/packs
Going to be off your cruise ship for an entire day? Bussing it out to a remote shore expedition locale where there might not be any convenience stores? It's never a bad idea to have a snack with you when getting off the ship as you don't always know if you'll be able to get something to eat if you need it. (This is especially essentially if you've got kids in tow or have issues with low blood sugar.)
But taking food off a cruise ship is always a no-no unless it's a prepackaged, sealed snack bar or snack pack. Since these types of snack foods are rarely sold on cruise ships, don't forget to throw a handful into your luggage when packing.
11. Tampons & pads
Ladies, listen up! Don't forget to bring your preferred brand of tampons and pads when you cruise. Whether you're due for your period or not, it's always a good idea to have a stash on hand, particularly if your cruise sailing includes lots of sea days or visits exotic locations where sanitary products might not be readily available.
12. Vaccination card
Cruise lines are either requiring or encouraging guests age 12 and older to be vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated, you will face more intense health and safety protocols including COVID-19 tests (which you will have to pay for) and may not be allowed in certain areas of the ship – such as the casino, spa and some specialty restaurants. If you are not vaccinated, you may also find you are not allowed off the ship except on shore excursions – even in places where vaccinated guests are free to roam. If you are vaccinated, be prepared to prove it with an official vaccine card.
13. Ziploc bags
You can use Ziploc bags in a variety of sizesfor practically anything, from an impromptu protector for your phone from the sand and water if you're hanging on the beach to something to throw your wet bathing suit into if you've got the time to change after snorkeling. They're also great if you want to grab some food from the buffet for a late-night snack in your room or for storing a sandwich if you don't want to give up your prime lounger by the pool at lunch time.