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Our Cruise Packing Essentials List.
Over the many years we have been cruising we have learnt a thing or two. Things we wish we had known earlier. So in an effort to help you, we have compiled a list of our cruise packing essentials that we never now cruise without. A lot of them you might not even realise you needed. Can you cruise without them? Sure. But we have found some of these things to be super useful and handy when on your cruise ship or cruise excursion. In our mind, they can enhance your onboard experience. And, best of all. A lot of them are relatively inexpensive.
Picking the perfect suitcase for your trip can be confusing and daunting. They come in so many shapes, sizes, colours and materials. First and foremost you will need one that will last the rigours of modern-day travel. We know those baggage handlers don’t often treat our bags with TLC we would like so they need to be tough too. The selection below are some of the best and all those important spinners wheels to make moving around that little bit easier.
Depending on the ports you visit and excursions you plan, you may want to bring along some water shoes. No one wants to hop back to the ship with cut and bleeding feet because they walked on some sharp rocks or even worse…stepped on a sea urchin. Ouch. All the watershoes listed are unisex and extremely lightweight & comfy. Some even look like training shoes so can be worn on and off the beach.
Insulated Water Bottle
Instead of buying water bottles each day you head into port or for your stateroom, bring a reusable one from home. We purchased a couple of groovy stainless steel tumblers from Tervis last year. They are insulated so will keep coffee/tea hotter for longer and cold drink nice and chilled for a long time. I left my Tervis in a hire car in Florida when we explored a theme park a few years back. The soda I had left in there still had unmelted ice even though the car was sweltering hot. Talking of Soda they are ideal if you have an onboard soda or drinks package. They are robust too. I drop things all the time and am happy to report these have survived intact.
Door/Wardrobe Storage Hangers
Another essential cruise item are storage hangars. Whilst some cruise cabins are equipped with an amazing amount of storage space there are those that are not so well designed. If you are on a long cruise you might need that little bit of extra storage too. Enter the door or wardrobe storage hanger. Ideally, it should be foldable and/or rollable so it takes up little space in your luggage. We find space for shoes can be a challenge so if you can find a hanger with shoe pockets…even better. If you’re travelling with more than say, two people, this is a must-have. You can also use them to handily store such items as umbrellas and water bottles.
If like me you are always having issues with keeping your towel on your sunbed, especially if it’s blustery on deck or at the beach then towel clips are a godsend. They are relatively cheap and now come in some fabulous shapes and colourful designs. An alternative is to use towel bands which are elasticated loops that you can stretch over your towels.
I can’t tell you how useful and versatile a sealable or ziplock bag can be when you are travelling. Well actually I can and I am. The uses for them can be varied and wide-ranging. We use them to store shampoo and sun lotion bottles. If flying we often find that altitude can cause some bottles to pop open and leak (as an additional precaution we scotch tape those pop up lids down). Travel document will be kept safe and dry. You can, of course, put food in them (perhaps a cookie or 2 from the buffet). Storing wet bathing clothes on your way back from the beach or keeping sand off your mobile phone or camera. There are even small ones to carry pills in and some that are both water and fireproof, great for keeping important documents like your passports in. I could probably list a hundred more uses for them. Very handy to have with you.
Cable Tidy Bags
If you are anything like me you carry on vacation a huge assortment of cables, plugs, flash drives & memory cards. I’ve lost count how much time I have spent trying to locate which one I need as I have thrown it into one of the many cabin drawers. Which is why having them in one spot is ideal. An accessory bag is perfect for this. There are zipped pockets for keeping your flash drives together and elastic bands to keep your cable neat and tidy. I use an extra-large two layers one like the Vemingo below. I keep my tripod, action camera and other bit and bobs in there too. A nice handle makes it super portable.
Wrinkle Release/Anti Static Spray
Another cruise packing essential item we take is wrinkle release spray. For the vast majority of cruise ships bringing your own travel iron is a no-no. There are a few cruise lines that have a dedicated ironing room onboard (Carnival & P&O Cruises are two that come to mind) but for the most part, you have to rely on the cruise lines expensive laundry service. One solution we have found is to bring along a wrinkle release spray. They are surprisingly effective and whilst they won’t get out the most stubborn of creases they will eliminate minor ones. Just spray, wait a minute and then smooth out with your hands or gently pull the garment to fix it. An anti static spray can also be very handy too.
Whilst this section does not necessarily relate to cruise ships it’s always hand to carry something that will enable you to back up those precious photos and videos you take whilst on vacation. Wifi is notoriously expensive and slow onboard cruise ships and I have found that I am unable to back up to my usual cloud services such as google photos. So I always take a few flash drives with me. These listed below I have all used. They are very small, compact and lightweight. I always go for around 64Gb which will store around 960 videos, an amazing 20,000 photos and 16,000 songs. You can go larger or smaller but with most modern smartphones taking 4k video and 12mp photos you can use up space very quickly. Take care when buying as they have different connectors. For my iPhone and iPad, the SanDisk has a lightning connector. If you are unsure or have more than one kind of connector you could try a multi-version like the iDiskk which has lightning, USB-C and micro connectors (very handy if you and your partner have different smartphones, iPhone and Android for instance). The Kingston are ideal for your laptop and transfer data very quickly.
Portable Night Lights
Last but not least on our list of essential cruise item are portable night lights.
How many time have you awoken in your cabin for the call of nature? How many of those times have you walked straight into the small coffee table in the middle of the room. I have had many a bruise to show for it. You can turn on the bedside light but they are often way too bright and if like me I hit all the wrong switches and turn on every light much to the displeasure of my partner. So last year we invested in a small mini light that was egg-shaped and we kept on all night in the bathroom. It shone a soft diffused light under the door that was a great guide toward the bathroom. Small motion sensor lights are a clever idea too. Insomniacs will love a smaller (softer) bedside reading light as well.