Back in 1999, I boarded my first cruise ship, not as a passenger, but as a cruise member. I continued working onboard luxury cruise liners for two years, and had the most fantastic time of my life!
If you’re interested in hearing about my fun adventures and stories while living and working on board, you can read all about it here.
In this post, I’d like to share with you my top 10 things I consider absolutely necessary when going on your cruise.
Beach days: swimwear, sarong, boardshorts, rashguard, sandals, beach hat or baseball cap.
Sea days: dresses, some pants (jeans, capris or even yoga pants), a couple cute tops (t-shirts, button-up shirt, a beautiful sweater), casual slip-on flats.
Formal nights: a lovely “fancy” dress, dressy shoes that match nicely with my formal attire, some beautiful jewellery and a cute matching purse.
The Basics: undies, bras, socks, silk jammies & a silk bathrobe (because they are very lightweight and easy to rollup in your carry-on bag).
Passport: I’m sure you already know this… but make sure your passport is valid and that it does not expire within 6-months of travel.
Visas: If you are travelling overseas, you will also want to check if you require any permits to enter the country.
Flight Details: Nowadays, your flight details will be emailed to you, but you can also download apps to help you keep your flight details organized. I love the App
Hotel Details: Have your accommodation details handy, so you’re not stressing out on the day of arrival.
Shuttle Details: Most Cruiselines will have shuttle pickup from the airport. Some of them are free, others you may need to pay for. If you do need to pay, do a quick Google search to see which other companies provided shuttle pickup and dropoff. In our experience, it’s faster (and sometimes cheaper) to hire your own shuttle.
Things You Can't Live Without & A Couple Of Other Nice To Have Goodies
There are going to be certain things that you can’t live without, so make a list of these things a few days before your trip so that you don’t forget what you need.
For me, this would include:
Microfiber shower towel, which is incredibly lightweight, easy to roll and dries very fast.
My own bed sheets and pillowcases. I know, I know… I’m a bit weird that way. But I have sensitive skin that reacts quickly to harsh laundry detergents.
Toiletries: baby wash, baby moisturizer, baby wipes, hair gel, conditioner, shower cap, razor, shaving gel, face wash and face cream.
Laundry soap! We pack a bar of laundry soap and by the time our cruise comes to an end, we used the entire bar. It’s nice to pack light, but that means you’ll be needing to handwash your clothes every now and then. Some cruise ships offer laundry facilities, and others only offer dry cleaning services, so keep that in mind.
Some other things that you’ll wish you packed are:
- Ziplock baggies – hey, you never know when you need them!
- Personal care products: Floss, listerine pocketpacks, feminine hygiene products, deodrant, nail polish remover, nail file, Q-tips, cotton pads (to remove makeup) and so on.
- Thank You cards! Staff and crew members on board are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. Working on board is not easy. You’re away from your home, family & friends for a minimum of 6-months, working 7-days a week, sometimes 10-14 hours a day. And at times, it can be incredibly lonely. As someone who has worked onboard for 2 years, it’s always such a wonderful treat to receive a “thank you” card from guests. It makes us feel appreciated and you might not know it, but we save all these little cards as wonderful souveniers from our days on board.
Bring what you need:
- mobile phone
- tablet or iPad
- extra batteries
For long flights, it’s a good idea to keep yourself busy if you’re not going to be sleeping. Some things to keep you entertained included: Books, magazines, audiobooks, journals & pens, music for both the plane, lounging around onboard or at the beach.
Some flights will offer free movies, but not all. So check with your airline. I like to download Netflix movies to my iPad, I’ll also download some games, and since I’m a huge audiobook fan, I’ll make sure I have at least 3 good books downloaded.
Supplements & Medication
Don’t forget to pack any supplements and/or medications that you need!
I always pack my multi-vitamin and iron supplements every time I travel to keep my iron deficiency in check.
Be sure you pack any necessary supplements or medications that you need so you can enjoy your vacation without having to worry about it.
Tip: pack a few extra just in case your travel plans get delayed. Since these are a necessity, I recommend you pack them in your purse or carry-on bag. If, for some reason, the airline runs out of overhead space for luggage and requires you to check my bags, be sure to pack these so that they stay with you. The last thing you want is for your check-in bags to go missing, and all your meds are in your checked-in luggage. That certainly does not make for a relaxing beginning to your holidays.
Remember… If you have allergies, bring your allergy medication regardless if you think you’ll need it or not!
If you or anyone you are travelling with is prone to headaches or has a sensitive tummy… pack what you need to ensure you are all looked after.
It’s better to have these things handy than not.
Small First Aid Kit
A few years ago, we were on in Maui, lying on the sand, underneath a bush of tropical flowers, enjoying the warm afternoon sun while watching the kitesurfers. And suddenly, out of the blue, a centipede bit me! If you’ve ever been bitten by a centipede before you know, it is unbelievably painful!
Back in those days, we didn’t pack our first aid kits with us, and I certainly learned from that centipede bite!
These days, my hubby always has a small first aid kit packed away for us.
Inside a first aid kit you’ll find:
- safety pins
- nail clippers
- antiseptic, and so on.
You never know when you need it, especially when travelling to a tropical destination!
Luckily you can buy first aid kits that are small enough to pack that it doesn’t take up a lot of space.
Some additional things you can include in your first aid kit are insect repellant, aloe vera, sunscreen & Afterbite.
Sunglasses, Glasses & Eyewear
Since getting laser surgery, my eyes have become quite sensitive to bright sunny days, so I have to pack my sunglasses. But the thing is, I can only wear certain types of sunglasses; otherwise, I’ll get a migraine.
If you have sensitive eyes or require eyewear, make sure you pack whatever you need to keep your eyes happy! These may include sunglasses, eyeglasses, eye drops and contact lens cleaners.
Beach Bag & Beach Stuff
It’s nice to buy a beach bag at one of the ports of calls or onboard, so you have a nice souvenir, but if you are looking to save some cash, bring your own beach bag. Make sure it’s big enough to fit everything you need.
What to pack in your beach bag: The cruise lines offer beach towels to use, and they are big and thick, which is nice. Plus, you can swap your used dirty towels for fresh clean ones everyday.
You’ll also want to pack your sunscreen, sunhat, beachwear, sandals, water shoes, water bottle, snacks, sunglasses, coverup, some cash, camera and cabin key. You may also want to bring ID just in case. I like to bring insect repellant as well, but that’s just me. If you enjoy snorkelling, it’s a great idea to pack your snorkelling kit and flippers, or at least bring a set of googles. Another thing I always pack are beach chair clips! I love how handy they are. I also pack baby wipes, gum and extra change.
Tip: Consider buying a waterproof beach bag. I can’t tell you how handy we found ours. We use it everytime we go sailing, to the beach or kayaking and it’s never let us down.
I usually don’t wear makeup, especially when hanging out on the beach. But for sea days, dinners and formal nights on board, it’s nice to wear some light makeup. I’ll usually pack a small cosmetic bag that includes moisturizers, CC foundation, mascara, eyeliner, bronzer, and a moisturizing lipstick or lipgloss.
I’ll also pack my curling iron, hair clips, a brush and hair products. And of course a mini-sized perfume.
A Final Tip
Be Kind & Generous! And TIP The People Who Took Care Of You!
As someone who has worked on board, I’d like to leave you this final tip.
To All Staff & Crew.
Most passengers are lovely, kind and courteous. And we love these passengers.
But honestly… some passengers can be downright rude, insulting, and plain miserable. When I worked onboard (some 18-years ago), I’ve had some pretty awful experiences where customers yelled and were extremely unpleasant to deal with. It’s happened not only to me, but to my fellow crew members as well. And it really just wrecks your whole day!
I mentioned before, that they are the hardest working people you’ll ever meet. They work 7-days a week, sometimes between 10-14 hours a day. They are away from their family, their friends and their home for a minimum of 6-months. While you are on vacation, they do everything they can to make sure you are having the time of your lives and are happy.
So please be gentle and kind. Acknowledge them, greet them, thank them. They deserve your respect.
And Please TIP the people that are looking after you on your cruise!
You might not know it, but a lot of them make under a $100 a week for all their hard labour. Your tips is not just a tip, it’s their paycheck. A lot of these staff members, especially that come from third world countries, save all their money and send it back home to their families. Many of the people who are serving you on board, have little babies at home, that they haven’t seen in months. They are there working their butts off to provide their families with better lives and opportunities, so please, please, please, keep this in mind before thinking “Why do I need to tip? I don’t want to tip!”
Quick side story… I remember once a friend of mine was a buttler for the penthouse. A famous celebrity was onboard, and my friend bent over backwards for this passenger. He would go out of his way to make this particular passenger happy. And at the end of the week long cruise, this particular celebrity didn’t even tip! My poor friend was absolutely besides himself. He cried and cried and it was just so upsetting to witness it.
I'd Love To Hear From You!
Did I miss anything?
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