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Essential Items For First-Time Cruisers



Going on a cruise for the first time might seem a bit daunting, but in essence it’s not really different than any other vacation. There are things that are probably not so important to bring, but conversely, there are many things that you absolutely need to pack. So, if your first cruise is right around the corner, look through this list and be sure to take all of these. They will save the day.

1. Swimming Gear

Swimming with the Sting Rays in Grand Cayman.

Whilst we’re not talking wetsuits and scuba diving paraphernalia, you’ll definitely need swimming gear in case you fancy a dip in the pool, or even if there’s a chance for a little swim at a beach stop-off. A swimsuit for women and bathing trunks for men are essential, and be certain to bring many towels! A quick-drying towel will definitely be useful.

2. Sun Protection

This means you’ll want sunblock (and after-sun lotion), a good wide-brimmed hat, lip protection, and a quality pair of sunglasses. The last one is perhaps the trickiest to get right, as many people are happy enough to buy a cheap pair at a gas station they found on the way to the harbor, but really, you should be thinking ahead. Eye protection is very important, as UV rays need to be blocked out with a pair of sunglasses that can handle it! Ray-Ban, Oakley, and Prada are all trusted brands when it comes to eyewear, but there’s also something to be said about Michael Kors sunglasses. Look at the styles and see if there’s something that matches your taste.

3. Chargers

It’s quite easy to pack your phone, tablet, and maybe even laptop before you run out of the door, but wait! Don’t forget to bring those chargers too. You won’t have much fun if you planned on taking some photos on your phone, only to discover that your battery has died and you have no way of charging it until you’re back. Erase any doubt by making sure your chargers are amongst the first things you pack.

4. Mix of Shoes

Sandals or flip-flops are likely to be the type of footwear you’ll wear the most, but they shouldn’t be the only pair! A good set of trainers will be handy if you just want to roam around the ship indoors, and if you plan on having a nice dinner, then a fancy pair of Brogues would also be fantastic. If the weather is bad or it’s cold at night, then you’ll be glad you’re not just wearing your sandals.

5. Range of Jackets

Similarly, you should take a few jackets with you, perhaps a nice dinner jacket and a light sports coat for when you wish to be outside on a cloudy day but don’t want to feel the chill. A good range of jackets is essential because it always happens that when you need one, it’s not there.

6. Over-the-Counter Medication

Whilst the ship will have a doctor on board, there might be times when you simply want a bit of relief from low to medium pain. Things like paracetamol or ibuprofen will be useful for headaches, and stomach relief pills like Pepto Bismol can help when things get a bit choppy on the sea. However, if you suffer from bad seasickness, then we’d recommend reading these tips.

7. Earplugs

Although many find the sound of the ocean to be very relaxing, it’s not for everyone! There might be random sounds made by the ship or the occasional seagull, too. Therefore, it’s best that you find some earplugs if you think that there will be too many noises that will keep you awake at night. If you’re sharing a room with someone who snores, then you’ll definitely need a pair.

8. Books and Magazines

There may come times on the cruise when you don’t feel like swimming, or even looking at your phone, so when these moments happen, a good book or magazine will be perfect. It’s nice to take a break from technology now and then, and reading a book in the sun while the ship breaks through the waves is a perfect idea.

What are some items that you don’t cruise without?

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Top Tips for Ultimate Cruise Style



Packing for a cruise can be a daunting affair. Who really knows what clothes you will need for the duration of a long sailing? Nevertheless, acing the packing test is the key to an enjoyable and stress-free time. We’ve already explored the main reasons why packing light will vastly improve your cruise, but this arguably only makes the task harder; how to choose what makes the cut?

Your cruise vacation can be an opportunity to bring out some of your finer things. Many liners host organized dinner events with dress codes that require more glitzy attire. However, balancing out your everyday clothes with evening items can be tricky. To help, we’ve compiled our top tips for each cruise liner dress code so you don’t have to compromise your packing space or holiday style.

Know Your Cruise

Photo via Princess Cruises

It may seem obvious, but the best way to start thinking about what has priority in your suitcase is to read your cruise guidelines. Here, you can find information about evenings with specified dress codes, and rules regarding shorts and swimwear within the ship lounges during the daytime. It’s also a good idea to check what kind of activities are on offer both while aboard the ship and on land: if you expect to be biking or climbing every other day, you know to pack extra exercise shorts, and maybe one less smart shirt.

Importantly, you should take into account the countries and places you will be stopping at to disembark. Some cultures have much more strict rules regarding appropriate dress, and if you expect to be visiting religious sites you will most likely be required to cover up. Finally, no matter how hot the weather forecast or how tropical your destination, don’t forget to pack something warm. Winds can pick up instantly and cold evenings are not uncommon on the open ocean.

So, how do you ensure you are dressed appropriately amid the restrictions of dress codes and a limited size suitcase? There’s a sliding scale of formality that relies on blurred lines and a degree of intuition to understand, but for the most part the boundaries are fairly apparent. Read on to see how we decode cruise liner-lingo, and find the packing essentials for every eventuality.

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Smart Casual or Country Club

Photo via Holland America

For a cruise that requires either smart casual or country club attire after six in the evening, you can be fairly certain of a relaxed environment. For men, tailored shorts and a polo shirt should be fine, although it’s always best to keep closed-toe shoes on. Similarly, jeans are passable as long as they are fitted and bear no gaping holes or frayed edges. For the ladies, a polo shirt or fitted t-shirt is acceptable with trousers or capris. A simple dress or skirt lightly accessorized is also a sure bet.

Key item: smart casual is synonymous with crisp, classic polo shirts, such as these from Ralph Lauren.

Elegant Resort


Photo via Cunard

Amping it up a notch, an evening requiring elegant attire will no longer accept the informality of shorts. Men should wear khakis or slacks with a shirt. No tie is necessary, but a light jacket adds the right level of style. Ladies can either accessorize a day dress or wear a smart top with either fitted trousers or a skirt. All shoes should be smart and closed-toe, although women will get away with dressy sandals.

Key item: at these functions, attendees are dressing to impress. Accessorize with some fine jewelry, such as one of these Tissot watches.


At a formal event, the dress code is fairly easy to abide by. Men ought to be wearing full, dark suits and women in full-length gowns or dresses. You can either keep it simple and classic, or you can add some glitz; formal night is basically prom night on a ship! However, if you don’t own anything on this scale of smart or can’t make space, don’t worry – tuxedos can often be rented aboard the ship.

Key item: a dinner jacket for the men and an evening dress for the ladies.

How do you dress on your cruise?

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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!

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5 Reasons to Pack Light on a Cruise



It’s true that most of us tend to overpack when going on vacation, but when you’re going on a cruise, relax!  There are a lot of practical reasons to pack light for an awesome time at sea; here are five of them.

1. It Won’t Fit Under the Bed

photo credit: flickr/Prayitno

photo credit: flickr/Prayitno

The bigger the suitcase you bring on a cruise, the more likely it is that it won’t fit well (or at all!) under your bed.  Most cabins, unless you book something bigger like a suite, won’t have much storage space for a suitcase, so pack as minimally and tightly as you can.  There will be room for your clothes in the closet and in drawers, but be mindful that that space is limited too – especially if you have kids in your cabin with you.

2. Less to Drag

photo credit: flickr/Matthew Paulson

photo credit: flickr/Matthew Paulson

When you’re headed to the pier to embark, or heading off the ship to disembark, the less you have with you, the easier it will be.  With customs and other processes to go through, don’t you want to be able to have a hand free?

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3. You Don’t Have to Check

photo credit: flickr/Christopher

photo credit: flickr/Christopher

If you pack super lightly, (think one large backpack and maybe a small personal bag) there’s a good chance you won’t feel a need to check any bags at all.  Because of this, your bags will be with you all the time, so you won’t have to wait for them to show up outside your door on the first day.  This also will save you time when you’ve disembarked and are leaving the port; you won’t have to wait in the baggage claim for your bag to come around on the carousel.

4. Swim, Eat, Repeat

photo credit: flickr/Aikawa Ke

photo credit: flickr/Aikawa Ke

Cruises are for fun; for vacation!  There’s no need to wear much else than your bathing suit and a t-shirt and shorts most of the time during the day.  This is a time to relax and let your worries be carried away with the wind – how many things do you really need to bring?

5. It’s Not a Fashion Show

photo credit: flickr/Ian Mackenzie

photo credit: flickr/Ian Mackenzie

Going along with the comfort/relaxation factor of being on a cruise, you don’t have to dress to impress.  Most people won’t be judging you for being in your flip flops all day, so don’t focus too much on it.  With the exception of dinner in the dining room and formal nights, cruises are usually a pretty carefree event, so you can leave your diamonds and fur at home.

Are you a light or heavy packer?

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