Cruise Wisdom: Don’t Forget to Pack These!

In the Bag

A packing list of things you haven’t thought of.

By Cindy O’Neil
Q: My family is getting ready to go on our first cruise. I have a pretty good idea of what clothes to pack, but what do I need to bring that I might not have thought of?
— Glenda R., Jonesboro, Georgia

A: Actually, there are quite a few things that are on my go-to packing list that I never would have thought I needed before I started cruising on a regular basis.

  • If you travel with a lot of gadgets, bring a power strip or multiple-outlet plug. And don’t forget your battery chargers for your phone, camera, MP3 player, and any other device that you’ll be using on board.
  • If you’re a heavy packer, extra clothes hangers will come in handy. Pack some lightweight hangers to conserve valuable space as well.
  • Your ship’s cabin will be cleaned every day, but it’s a good idea to bring extra disinfectant wipes to clean the phone, TV remote control, the balcony door handle, and other high-traffic areas.
  • Cruise lines usually provide liquid soap and shampoo in dispensers in the shower. If you use hair conditioner or prefer bar soap, you will have to bring your own (on most lines).
  • A magnifying mirror comes in handy when putting on makeup. Some ships provide one, but not all. And if the mirror is in the bathroom, it will usually be fogged up when you need to use it.
  • The walls and doors of modern cabins are made of metal so a few magnets will allow you to post notes for your cabin mates or hang your daily schedule in a convenient location.
  • If you prefer to set your own alarm instead of using a wake-up call, pack a travel alarm clock. Extra batteries are also a good idea. A small flashlight kept on your nightstand can illuminate your clock without waking your cabin mates and will also come in handy in an inside cabin that lacks natural light.
  • Bring a water bottle and a soft-sided cooler or lunch bag. You can fill your water bottle and carry it with you on or off the ship. It’s handy and saves you money as well. A soft-sided cooler will allow you to bring ice, beverages, and snacks with you to the beach.
  • A small first-aid kit and a travel sewing kit should also be on your list. Both will save time and money and take up very little packing space. Trust me. It’ll be the one time you don’t bring them that you’ll need to sew on a button in a pinch.
  • Some cruise ships require you to insert your key card into a slot to turn on the lights in your cabin. If you bring an extra card (old cabin card or similar strip card) you can leave it in place and not worry about it.
  • Since your cabin card is your room key and your charge card on the ship, you will need to have it with you at all times. Bring a lanyard….

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