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33 Things People Forget on Their Cruise



It’s pretty obvious that most everyone ends up forgetting something here and there that they meant to bring on their vacation.  Based on people’s responses in a social media group of the things they’ve forgotten that they wish they hadn’t, we’ve put together a list of things you don’t want to forget when packing for your cruise.  Also, some of these items you may not have thought to bring at all – so we hope this list helps!

Items People Forget on Their Cruise


1. Highlighter for daily newsletter activities

This is a quick and easy way to ensure that you have your tentative schedule for the day down pat, and that it’s easy to notice for any member of your group.

2. Towel clips for the deck or beach

Who wants their towel flying away? Not me! Use clips to hold them onto your chair so a gust of wind doesn’t claim them captive of the sea.

3. Bug spray

This is especially important for any tropical ports you may be visiting, because there’s bound to be a lot of little insects begging for a piece of you. (literally!)

4. Nightlight

If you’re traveling with kids who may be used to sleeping with a nightlight, or an adult that likes to be able to see where they’re going when they get up in an interior cabin, a nightlight can be a crucial item that you don’t want to forget.

5. Power strip for more outlets

Every seasoned cruiser knows that there is usually a huge lack of outlets in the stateroom.  Bring a small power strip for extras.  Bonus points if you buy a nifty one that includes USB plugs!

6. Sunscreen

Whether you claim you “never burn!” or you’re trying desperately to come back home from vacation with a sunny glow, bring the sunscreen.  Chances are, the amount of sunny days you have will be more than enough for a sunny glow… and you don’t want to come home looking like a lobster and feeling like a fireball instead.

7. Alarm clock (most staterooms don’t have one!)

While cruise ships will often offer a wake-up call for guests who want one, sometimes an alarm clock is just easier.  If you don’t want to have your phone nearby for every second of your vacation, consider bringing a small travel alarm clock to use instead.

8. Water shoes for various excursions/a rocky beach

Depending on the ports you visit and excursions you plan, you may want to bring some water shoes.  No one wants to hobble back to the ship with sore, bleeding feet because they walked on some harsh terrain.

9. Wrinkle release spray

Cruise ships do have laundry services, but they’re expensive.  For the clothing you packed so carefully that still somehow ended up a wrinkled ball in your suitcase, bring wrinkle release spray. It’s a quick, easy way to have your clothes looking presentable again.  And before you ask, irons aren’t allowed so don’t consider bringing your own.

10. $1/$5/$10 dollar bills for tipping or buying souvenirs in port

Often the little shops and markets near a cruise ship port or around town will not take any form of plastic, so bring some cash.  In some ports you will be able to use American dollars, and in other ports you’ll have to exchange.  Either way though, you’ll be prepared.

11. Small fan

Many, many people need a fan blowing to sleep soundly.  If you’re one of these people, or you just tend to get hot during the night, bring a small one.

12. Seasickness pills or bracelet

There are many forms of seasickness relief.  Some swear by ginger, others by Dramamine, and then there’s the SeaBand bracelet crowd.  Consider bringing some form of aid that works best for you, in case the rocking of the ship ends up getting to you.

13. Reusable water bottle

Instead of buying water bottles each day you head into port or for your stateroom, bring a reusable one from home.  This way, you’ll always have a container for some thirst-quenching goodness if you happen to pass by a drinking fountain, and will also be able to refill it in your stateroom, too.  The big bonus here is: you won’t be using up tons of unnecessary plastic with disposable ones.

14. Hat

A hat gives you a two for one.  Not only will you be probably protecting most of your neck and face from the sun, you’ll also lighten the load on your eyes if you forget your sunglasses on the ship.  Plus, hats can just add so much style to a vacation outfit!

15. Safety Pins

Whether it’s clipping your towel around your chair on your balcony so it doesn’t fly away, or pinning in some shorts that you realized are a little bit loose on you, there are hundreds of uses for safety pins.  So to be prepared for any situation big or small, stash a few just to be on the safe side.

16. A jacket/sweatshirt

Yes, even on Caribbean cruises it can get chilly in the evening!  This is pretty much a given for Alaska/Canada/Europe voyages, but keep in mind that you should probably bring something a bit warmer for southern itineraries too.  It’s always a good idea to have it on hand, even if you never use it. (But you will!)

17. Band-Aids

For the occasional scratch, cut, and even bug bite you just put anti-itch cream on, a band-aid can always prove useful.  Sure, ship crew would probably be able to get one for you if you asked, but it’s just easier to already have them on hand.

18. Conditioner and shaving cream

Most cruise lines only offer shampoo, bar soap, and body wash in your stateroom bathroom.  Be sure to bring your other essentials, like conditioner, shaving cream, makeup remover, and lotions.

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19. Wristwatch

Especially helpful if you’ve locked up your cell phone and aren’t glued to it during your cruise, a watch is always good to have.  Be sure to keep it set to the ship’s time throughout your voyage, so you always know what time you need to be back before sail away while in port.

20. Nail Clippers

This doesn’t really need much explaining.  If you’ll need nail clippers during your voyage, be sure to bring them.

21. Sunglasses

Who want to squint through beach days, and be scrunchy-faced in all of your tropical photos?  No one, that’s who.  Plus, it’s so much better for your eyes to have sunglasses – be sure to get ones that have UVB protection.

22. Laundry bag for dirty clothes

Instead of throwing all of the dirty clothes in the corner (guilty!), bring a pop-up hamper or durable bag for laundry.  It’ll keep your room looking cleaner, which is good for your room steward, too.  They probably don’t need to see your dirty underwear.

23. Comfy walking shoes

For those long walking tours or shopping along a cobblestone street in Europe, you’ll want comfy shoes made for walking.  ‘Nuff said.

24. Lint roller

Another peril of jamming all of your things into just a couple of bags is dust, dirt, pet hair, etc. is going to probably end up on some of your clothes.  Bringing a small, travel-friendly lint roller means you’re totally prepared for that. Level: expert.

25. Ibuprofen or other pain medication

Whether it’s a headache, stomachache (let’s be real here, it is vacation with lots of drinks and unlimited food), cramps, or tense legs from walking all day, you’ll probably want some pain relief. Be prepared and bring your medicine of choice.

26. Over the door storage hanger

Frequent cruising families swear by these.  If you’re traveling with more than say, two people, this is a must-have.  All of the little essentials, knick-knacks, accessories, and even small clothing items can go in one of those over-the-door shoes storage hangers and help you keep your sanity in tight quarters with multiple family members.  It’s even better if it’s a see-through one.  Curb the clutter: preserve sanity.

27. Umbrella

Depending on your destinations, you may want to bring an umbrella.  If you’re headed to Australia during rainy season, or anywhere in Europe you should probably consider whether you have room for one.  They fold up into such tiny sizes these days, so you’ll likely have room and it’ll likely be worth it.  Just don’t forget to actually bring it into port.

28. Sticky notes

Sticky notes and magnets kind of go hand-in-hand.  Sticky notes are perfect to leave little notes for your cabin-mates on where you’ll be, what time to meet for dinner, etc.  Magnets are good for hanging the daily activities newsletter on your wall, as well as anything else you find important.  The cabin walls are metal, so your stuff can go just about anywhere.

29. Lanyard for key card

On almost every cruise ship, your key to your room (and to buy stuff) is a card the crew gives you before you even board.  Instead of trying to keep it from falling out of your pocket or stowing it deep in your wallet, buy a lanyard.  The crew will even punch a hole in your card for you if you ask nicely.

30. Razor

This probably isn’t necessary to mention, but just in case anyone is likely to forget: bring a couple of razors!  If your ship sells them, I can guarantee they will be very expensive.

31. Laundry detergent

If you do plan to do laundry onboard your ship, be sure to bring a travel-sized laundry detergent or a few of those little pods.  Once again, if you have to buy it onboard it will be outrageously overpriced.

32. Disinfecting wipes

For everything from your TV remote, to your bathroom counter, doorhandles, and more, sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.  Yes stewards do clean the cabins, but it’s hard to know what surfaces they pay extra attention to, and how hurried they are on any given day.  If you’re prone to sickness or would just feel better about it, bring some wipes to do your own dirty work.  (I would also suggest giving your cabin an extra wipe-down if you know a Norovirus outbreak occurred on the voyage before yours.)

33. Ziplock bags

For anything from a child’s soiled clothes, to keeping your cell phone and camera safe on the beach from sand and surf – ziplock bags have nearly unlimited uses.  Stash a few in your bag just to be prepared.

What else would you suggest packing for a cruise vacation? Let us know in the comments below!



12 Differences Between Carnival Horizon and Carnival Vista



Just because two ships are in the same class doesn’t mean that they are exactly alike. After all, even twin sisters have differences — some subtle, some blatant. In the case of ships, changes can be made for numerous reasons. Perhaps a new feature is being added, or the initial design didn’t work out quite the way everyone imagined it was. Each new ship in a specific class is like a chance to enhance on what came previously.  So it’s not surprising that when Carnival Horizon was being built, the company incorporated lessons learned from the first-in-her-class Carnival Vista while also adding completely new elements to the already successful formula.

So what differences have we noticed so far between the two ships? Take a look at our list below, and then hit the comments if you’ve spotted other differences between the sibling ships.

1. New Lighting in the Atrium

Carnival Horizon

Chances are good that upon entering the atrium, your eyes immediately will be drawn to the Dreamscape funnels and their beautiful, constantly-changing imagery. But take the time to really look around the atrium. You’ll notice that between each of the three levels, there’s a circle of track lighting which not only helps create the illusion of a bigger space, but adds an additional design element which is somehow subtle and striking at the exact same time.

2. Tap Entry to Staterooms 

Carnival Horizon

Your sign-and-sail cards now have RFID technology which allows you to enter the room without sticking your card into the slot. If you look closely, you’ll see a small wire running along the outer edge of the card that lets it communicate with your stateroom door when you get close. This is the same concept utilized by Royal Caribbean for their WOW bands and Disney — both in the parks and on their ships — with the Magic Bands.

3.  Bonsai Teppanyaki

Carnival Horizon

One of the biggest and most noticeable changes is obviously the Bonsai Teppanyaki restaurant. Based on our experience and the difficulty people have had in booking the space (which has limited seatings available), we won’t be a bit surprised if this restaurant is not only included on future builds, but perhaps even added to other ships in the fleet when they go through refurbishments.

READ MORE: Bonsai Teppanyaki Review 

4. The Speeds Bumps are Gone 

Carnival Horizon

On the Carnival Vista there were several areas on decks three, four and five which had slightly-raised edges around the fire doors. Anyone dragging their feet (or using a cane or other mobility device) would definitely notice (and possibly trip over) them. On Horizon, however, they seem to have addressed the potential problem.

5. There are More Havana Suites 

Carnival Horizon

As soon as renderings of the Carnival Vista began circulating, people went nuts for the new Havana Suites and their lanai-like balconies. Not surprisingly, once the ship was actually introduced, the entire Havana area — including the aft area which is reserved for Havana guests during daytime hours — proved crazy popular. So it’s not surprising that when it came time to parse out staterooms on Horizon, they added a few extra cabins in this category.

Read More: Carnival Horizon Trip Report: Embarkation Day

6. The Pig & Anchor Smokehouse

Carnival Horizon

Yes, the RedFrog Pub is gone… but before you get your knickers in a knot, know that the Pig & Anchor Smokehouse/Brewhouse is most definitely a worthy replacement. The food is amazing, there’s plenty of cold beer on tap and entertainers keep your toe tapping. This is a very welcome addition to the Carnival fleet… so much so that I actually heard people say the Pig & Anchor alone could sway them to choose Horizon over Vista.

READ MORE: 35 Tips For Sailing The Carnival Vista

7. Entertainment In The Steakhouse

Carnival Horizon

Sometimes, the smallest ideas can have the most surprising results. Who would have thought that simply flipping the locations of Piano Bar 88 and The Library Bar would make such a difference? But because the piano bar is now directly next to the steakhouse, diners can enjoy the smooth sounds of someone tickling the ivories while they enjoy their meal. And as far as I’m concerned, the more live entertainment, the better.

8. The New Doors 

Carnival Horizon

You know how sometimes when you would go outside on deck 5, there’d be a gust of wind and the door might actually be hard to open? Sometimes, depending on the weather, you could hear doors slamming all day and into the night. Well, thanks to the airlock-style doors installed, it’s now a much smoother inside-to-outdoor transition. It may seem like a minor change, but it makes life easier, and isn’t that what we all want out of a vacation?

9. Taste Bar is Gone 

Carnival Horizon

Change is good… usually. But the jury’s still out on this one. Word is that Taste Bar will eventually be eliminated fleet wide. On Horizon, it’s already a gone pecan. You can still grab some limited food here at breakfast time, and on sea days they set up a salad bar, both of which help disperse the crowds at the Lido Deck Marketplace. Personally, I’ll miss the Taste Bar, which often offered samplings of foods from some of the specialty restaurants on board.

1o. A Larger Guest Relations Area 

Carnival Horizon

Frankly, we hope that you never have to visit the Guest Relations deck… at least not because you’re having trouble on your cruise. But if you do, the expansion of this space on deck 3 is a good thing, as it’s created more work stations at which the crew can try and make right whatever has gone wrong. Not only is the space larger, but it has a much more open feel did the same area on Carnival Vista.

11. Additional Seating Outside 

Carnival Horizon

A big reason many of us cruise is to connect with the ocean. There’s something about sitting outside — whether reading, eating or napping — and feeling the sun on your face as you gaze off into the distance that’s about as peaceful as life gets. So it’s only fitting that on a ship named Horizon, they’ve created a lot more spaces from which to… well, gaze at her namesake.xThis is especially true on the starboard side of deck 5, which on Carnival Vista was home to Guy’s Pig & Anchor. Here, the space has been freed up for more seating. In fact, that’s something we noticed at every turn on this ship: There are all sorts of areas, both indoors and out, to sit, whether by yourself or with a group. There are cozy nooks and loungers and quiet corners everywhere.

12. Smart Elevators

Carnival Horizon

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Carnival Horizon rolled out smart elevators that are often used in busy land-based buildings. These elevators eliminate the stop-and-go at every floor. Instead, you walk up to the elevator and push which floor you’d like to go. From there, the elevator’s brain picks which lift is quicker for you and assigns your an elevator. The new elevators also expedite disembarkation by moving 1,000 guests per hour. The new elevator system is scheduled to be implemented on Carnival Panorama and eventually retrofitted to Vista.

Have you noticed any other differences between the Carnival Horizon and the previous ship in her class? With the Carnival Panorama currently being built, are there any changes you’d like to see implemented on her? 



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Everything Carnival Horizon, Part 5: The Bars



A word of advice: When traveling on the Carnival Horizon, don’t make plans with your friends by saying, “I’ll meet you at the bar.” Why? You might never find one another! Heck, even saying, “I’ll meet you at the bar by the pool” could lead to confusion, because there’s more than one… actually, there’s more than one pool and more than one bar! But never fear, because in Part 5 of our series exploring everything about this massive ship, we’re finally getting around to doing a bar crawl.

The Perfect Place To Start

Carnival Horizon

The Atrium Bar.

For a lot of cruisers — us included — the first thing they do upon boarding a ship is grab a drink with which to toast the beginning of their vacation. On the Carnival Horizon, a lot of people wind up doing so at the Atrium bar… which makes sense on a lot of levels. After all, those gorgeous Dreamscape funnels are the first thing you see, and they draw us in like moths to a flame! And while we’re big fans of everything about the atrium, we suggest coming back later. Why fight the crowds when there’s a whole big ship — jam-packed with bars — waiting to be explored?

Carnival Horizon

Pig and Anchor aboard Carnival Horizon.

Our suggestion?

Head to the Pig & Anchor! After all, it’s not just a smokehouse, but a brewhouse, too… and in fact, takes the place of the beloved RedFrog Pub on this ship. For many cruisers, ourselves included, heading to the Pub to kick off the vacation is a long-standing tradition. Well, trust us… the Pig & Anchor is a fine, fine substitute. (This is also a great place to hit after dark, especially if you prefer your music on the more countrified side.) Lest you think a brewhouse has nothing but beer on tap, belly up to the bar and take a look at the specialty cocktails such as the Blackberry Bourbon Fizz or the Smoky Manhattan (and yes, it automatically became our favorite because it’s topped with a crispy slice of bacon and everybody knows bacon makes everything better).

Lounging By The Pool

Carnival Horizon

Lido deck on Carnival Horizon.

Pick your poison: Tequila or rum? Whichever you prefer, you’ll find a potent potion available at the BlueIguana Tequila Bar or the RedFrog Rum bar, both conveniently located within shouting distance of the main pool. And if you’ve opted for the quieter Tides pool — located at the back of deck 10 and offering killer views of the wake — there’s always the appropriately named Tides Bar. And if you want to get away not only from the typical poolside madness but kids altogether (hey, no judgment here!), there’s a nice little bar up on the Serenity Deck where you can grab a cocktail and then meander over to one of the very, very comfortable loungers, clamshells, or hammocks. (Although careful, because after a couple drinks, those hammocks can be downright dangerous… especially when trying to get out of one!)

A Drink Before Dining

Carnival Horizon

Alchemy Bar on Carnival Horizon.

The pre-dinner (or pre-show) cocktail is, for us, one of the joys of cruising. And if you want to elevate it to the next level, the best place to do so is the Alchemy Bar. A word of warning, however: Don’t go here looking for a beer or a soda, as you will be politely but firmly sent elsewhere.

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Carnival Horizon

The Alchemy Bar has the cure for what ails you.

This spot is all about the hand-crafted cocktails lovingly prepared by lab coat-wearing mixologists. Another word of warning: Many of the drinks on this limited menu are as potent as they are delicious. Looking to ease your way in? Give the refreshing (and popular) Cucumber Sunrise a try. And if you can’t find something on the menu that sounds appealing, tell the mixologist what ails you (and what you think might cure it), and they’ll whip up something specifically for you.

READ MORE: 5 Reasons To Visit Carnival’s Alchemy Bar

Carnival Horizon

Casino Bar on deck 4.

Alchemy is also a great bar to hit up after dinner and before a show. But you could also swing by the casino bar (home to a second Dreamscape funnel, which comes as a surprise to many people) to get your literal pre-game on. Need to check on the latest sports score? The Skybox Sports Bar, located just off the casino, is a safe bet. (Sports… bet… see what we did there?)

Carnival Horizon

Sports Bar on Carnival Horizon.

After dark, all of the ship’s bars come to life, many featuring live entertainment. If you feel like grooving to a Latin rhythm (or simply watching others do it while you sip a Cuba-inspired drink), hit the Havana Bar. Had a few cocktails and feel like singing (but not quite brave enough to attempt karaoke)? Hit the piano bar, where the only person required to have talent is the piano player, while everyone else can sing along with no fear of judgment from their fellow crooners.

Now that you’ve figured out all the best spots to get your drink on, let’s take this in an entirely different direction. Here’s hoping you don’t have too much of a hangover, because we’re going to be dealing with kids — and all the ways to keep them occupied — in our next entry.

Read our past entries:

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Carnival Horizon Bonsai Teppanyaki Review



When Carnival rolled out the Horizon, it didn’t just introduce a new ship to its fleet… it also introduced a new dining option into its rotation. Already having had great success with their Bonsai Sushi restaurant, they expanded the brand by introducing Bonsai Teppanyaki. So how does the restaurant stack up to some of the other specialty restaurants on board? We swung by to check the place out, and here’s what we found.

A First For Carnival Cruise Line

Given that cruise ships have a limited amount of space available, the decision to devote prime real estate to something new —as opposed to simply sticking a tried-and-true venue into the spot — is not undertaken lightly. That is especially true when the restaurant in question is a revenue-generating specialty venue, requiring that guests be willing to pay for the experience. So clearly, Carnival had both a lot on the line and complete faith in the idea of a Teppanyaki-style restaurant.

Teppanyaki restaurants are nothing new. On land, Benihana has been using the concept of knife-wielding chefs putting on a show while making a delicious meal since 1964. Variations on the theme have also been introduced on cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, over the past few years. So while Carnival’s not necessarily breaking new ground, it’s managed to turn Bonsai Teppanyaki into a pretty sure-fire hit by using the laws of supply and demand: The restaurant only holds 16 people per seating, meaning that on any given sailing, a relatively small number of passengers will have the opportunity to try the hot spot.

It’s that intimacy which also makes Bonsai Teppanyaki a special experience, and one particularly suited to families and groups of friends. Which, again, means this is one of the first reservations you should make when planning your cruise. You snooze? You will definitely lose… your opportunity to eat here.

About The Dining Experience

Carnival Horizon

From the moment you enter, you’ll be caught up in the aura of Bonsai Teppanyaki. The decor plays on that of Bonsai Sushi, yet steps everything up a notch. This is an absolutely gorgeous space, dominated by warm orange and red colors. Upon arriving, you’re greeted by the chef who’ll be both cooking for and entertaining your table, as well as the server who will provide everything not dished out by the chef.

After the introductions are made, our chef — Edgar, from the Philippines — did a quick check to see if anyone had allergies, and then they took our entree order. This is a seven-course meal, so there’s pretty much always food in front of you. And although it is all prepared at the same time, this is not served family style. (Although if someone in your party isn’t into rice or vegetables, it means you can score some extra… but be quick to stake your claim.)

Remember, this isn’t just dinner… you’re getting a show, too. From the moment we sat down, Edgar had our entire group laughing (and occasionally gasping at some of his knife play).

What’s on the Menu?

Carnival Horizon

As mentioned above, the meal is served in seven courses, but don’t think this means you’re going to spend a lot of time hemming and hawing over what to get… six of those courses are basically pre-determined, with the entree being your only big decision. So what’s on tap?

You can view the full menu here.

Course 1: Teppanyaki White Shrimp

Carnival Horizon

Course 2:  Pork Belly Yakitori

Carnival Horizon

Course 3: Spicy Tuna on the Rocks

Carnival Horizon

Course 4: Miso Soup

Carnival Horizon

Course 5: Salad with Ginger Dressing

Carnival Horizon

Course 6: Here’s where you make your big decision between the various options available for your main course.  I went with the Steak and Shrimp, which is served with fried rice and grilled vegetables. There are also three sauces for dipping: a mayo-based shrimp sauce, ginger sauce, and a Worcestershire-based sauce.

Carnival Horizon

Course 7: Dessert, a chocolate bento box with ginger ice cream.

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Carnival Horizon

Is it Worth the Cost?

With a cost of $25 to $30 per person — depending on the selected entree — this is a pretty great bargain, especially since you’re getting dinner and a show. With the 15 percent added gratuity, my bill came out to be $34.50. As always, you’re free to bump-up the gratuity if you’d like to show the service team a little extra love.

The focus here is amazing food that is perfectly seasoned and entertainment that will have you laughing long after the meal is over.

Final Thoughts 

Carnival Horizon

After we’d finished eating, I asked everyone around the table what they thought of the meal and the experience. The consensus was that a good time was had by all. (One thing several people mentioned was that their water glasses were constantly kept full… something that’s been a little lacking in some venues around the ship on our sailing.)

It is worth noting, however, that since there’s a price tag attached to the meal — and the menu is somewhat limited in options — you should make sure everyone in your party knows what they’re walking into. This might not be a great spot for picky eaters.

Carnival Horizon

It’s worth stressing again that Bonsai Teppanyaki should really be booked in advance, because with only three seatings per night and 16 guests per seating, this place fills up quickly.

Forget to book in advance? Check the Hub app to see if any slots open up. It’s rare, but hey… it happens. This is especially true on days where the ship has a long day in port. People sometimes come back later than they thought they would (or fuller, having sampled the local foods) and wind up cancelling their dinner reservations.

Would I do this restaurant again? In a heartbeat.


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