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As a cruise addict extraordinaire, I get asked all the time by my friends and family about what things I can't live without when I'm going on a cruise. Even seasoned cruisers ask just to validate what they're taking. And while there are a lot of things that will make cruising a super-happy experience, here are 5 things I absolutely, positively, without a doubt will not leave home without.
1. Travel Documents
This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised by how many people don't include this as a vital part of their travel prep. People leave home without verifying that they not only have the right documents but any documents at all ?. Right after you book, find out what documents you need and start taking steps to obtain them. If you already have them, great! Your job then is to include them as part of your packing process. Here's my recommendation to make sure you have them:
- If your identification is not something you carry around with you every day (i.e. driver's license), throw them in your suitcase as soon as you decide to start your packing process.
- Print any necessary boarding documents at least a week before your trip and put them with something you plan to take. I print my documents as soon as I'm able and drop them in my carry-on.
- Check that you have your documents:
- After you have finalized your packing
- Before you leave the house for your trip
- If driving: before you pull out. If flying: before you check your bags.
2. Digital Entertainment
I know what you're thinking. I'm going on a cruise and I plan to participate in everything they have going! Why do I need digital entertainment? Well, what are you doing while you wait for your flight or on the drive to your embarkation port? Every moment won't be jam-packed with activities, so I strongly recommend you take your favorite music, books and/or movies.
There was a time when I wouldn't travel with my iPad because I wanted to disconnect, but now my iPad has all my entertainment on it. I download a couple of books I want to read and a few movies I might watch while enjoying time on my balcony. And all of my favorite songs are readily available right on my phone. I just need to make sure I have all the new stuff I want to hear. You'll need some earphones for all this entertainment. I recommend the Beats Studio Wireless Over-the-Ear headphones because it creates a seal so you can really enjoy audio while blocking out other noises. It's especially great on planes. I also like the Apple AirPods when I'm walking around because they are small and inconspicuous.
3. Charging accessories
When you have multiple travelers with multiple devices and limited outlets, it's important to choose the right charging device to keep you powered up. It's also important to note that power strips with surge protectors are a danger to the ship. Surge protected power strips are designed to protect your home from an overloaded circuit. But because ships generate electricity in a different way, that same surge protector could overload the ship's circuit and cause a fire.Tip: Surge protectors designed to protect your home can cause a fire on a ship.
How can you memorialize your trip if you don't have a camera? Nowadays, most mobile phones come with a good camera. People often buy phones based on how good the camera is. But if you're not one of those people, make sure you have a good camera to take those great photos. Looking back at your photos a year later will take you right back to that moment in time. I like to catch sunsets (mostly because I'm not an early bird and can't make myself get up early enough to catch a sunrise ?). I also like to get sunsets in time-lapse. So I have a tripod that will allow me to record them without having to hold the phone in my hand and be still the entire time (talk about tired!). If you know the kinds of photos/videos you want to take, make sure you have all the accessories needed to make it happen.
I shoot all of my photos and videos on my iPhone X.
5. A Positive Attitude
There are some things that are set and won't be changed about your cruise vacation barring an emergency:
- What ship you get on
- Your embarkation port
- Your debarkation port
Everything else goes according to the weather and Murphy's Law, so it's important that you stay positive so that no matter what happens, you can go with the flow and make the most of your cruise vacation.
We've missed ports (I missed a scheduled luau in Hawaii! ?) had leaks in our cabin (handled flawlessly by the staff), delayed/late port departures and arrivals, times when our cabin steward didn't service our cabin as requested (quickly fixed) and weather so bad that most people on the ship were seasick. Things happen. Sometimes we and the cruise line don't have control over what happens, but a great attitude will make the difference between a bad or okay vacation and a vacation that had some really great stories.
What are your travel must-haves?