Last month the family and I took a 7 day cruise through the Caribbean. This was not my first cruise, in fact this was the 3rd cruise I had ever been on and I would have liked to think of myself as a pro at packing for a cruise. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Although, I did come prepared for many occasions there was still so much that I wanted/wished/needed to bring and so much that I did not! So, in an effort to help those out that are preparing to take their first cruise I thought I would compile a list of tips.
Packing Tips For A Tropical Cruise
1. Bring all forms of identification. This is probably the most important thing and the thing that I was the most paranoid about. Remember to bring your passport/drivers license/birth certificate, etc. You will also want to bring a major credit card because all purchases and your daily gratuities are charged to your card at the end of your cruise.
2. Bring bottled water and water bottles. Most cruises allow you to bring on board a certain number of drinks (I think in our case it was 24). Take advantage of this!! On board the water, tea and lemonade are free but sodas cost extra. There is a mini fridge in your room so you can store these drinks and it is nice to have them easily available. Also, I suggest bringing a water bottle to carry around on the boat. The boat is HUGE and it is a pain to constantly walk back and forth to the dining areas to refill your water.
3. Bring all your toiletries and medications. Prepare for the worst! Although the cruise ship does sell some of the basic medications, you do not want to take any chances on getting sick and not having the medication you need available. My husband was getting heart burn one evening (because you are eating 24/7 mind you) and could not find TUMS on or off the boat anywhere! So prepare, prepare prepare!
4. Bring swimming basics. There is a pool on the ship that you and your children will definitely want to check out. Also if you are visiting tropical locations, I am sure you will spend some time at the beach. I suggest bringing your swimming basics. I had made the mistake of not bringing along any floaties for my daughter to swim with at the pool and the water was over her head. They did not sell them anywhere at the gift shop and I also ran into another mother looking for them. You do not have to worry about beach towels because the ship provides those but you will also want to pack some snorkeling equipment such as goggles and a snorkel. Most beaches you visit will rent them but for a hefty fee. Save yourself a few bucks and bring your own.
5. Bring some formal wear. There is a captains dinner where you will want to get all fancy. If you are taking a 7 day cruise, you will most likely have 2 formal dining nights. Of course, these dinners are optional but you will want to at least attend one so don’t forget your fancy outfits!
6. Bring nice rubber soled shoes. The first day on deck I was wearing a pair of my flip-flops, I almost completely face planted! The decks get wet and slick so you will want to wear a good pair of shoes. Also, as I stated before, the ship is HUGE and you will do a lot of walking so be prepared to wear good walking shoes.
7. Don’t Over-pack. I made this mistake BIG time on our last cruise. I packed everything but the dog and boy did I regret it. The cabins are small, so. very. small. With 4 of us staying in one room, there was barely enough room for us much less all of our luggage. So, do yourself a favor and pack lightly.
8. Bring your hat and sun glasses. You are in the middle of the water, it gets bright and you will want to protect yourself from the sun. I packed a hat for each of us and it was a life saver for sure!
9. Bring your own travel alarm clock. Your cabin will not have a clock so you might want to bring your own! You can call request wake up calls but I personally like knowing what time it is. We wore watches but it is also helpful to have a clock in your room.
10. Take a light jacket. Yes, I know you are in the tropical but it can get chilly in the evening! Also, there might be some evening activities on deck you might want to attend and you will be glad you brought along that jacket.
11. Use your sunscreen. The first day on board I walked down the hall and saw a teenage boy burnt to a crisp. I know he must have spent the rest of his trip in misery. Don’t make that same mistake, use your sunscreen!
12. Bring a small first-aid kit. On one of our excursions my daughter fell and cut her knee open in the middle of Mexico. Luckily, a man “sold” us an unopened first aid kit but it came with a hefty fee… I bought half the items his was selling in his shop as gratitude. Next time, I will carry around some band-aides and antiseptic cream for instances like that.
13. Walkie-Talkies. What a great idea! We traveled with my grandmother this last cruise and we must have lost her a half a dozen times. I saw many families traveling together that carried walkie-talkies and I can see how this is so helpful and saves you plenty of time!
14. Empty Bag. You will most likes do some shopping on your cruise so make sure you have some room or an extra bag to bring home those souvenirs and such.
15. Wine. Last but not least, you are allowed to bring one bottle of wine per adult. Take advantage of this because alcohol on the boat is pricey and this is your vacation after-all so sip your wine and relax!