When packing for a cruise, most items are obvious-swimsuit, flip-flops, sunscreen-but some cruise packing tips are unexpected. Many of these surprising items are the things you miss when you take your first cruise, but you can look like a cruising pro with these inside packing tips. You'll have everyone saying "why didn't I think of that?"
- Noise machine: The walls on a cruise ship are thin, much thinner than a typical hotel room. Some white noise is essential, especially if you have kids who go to bed before people start wandering back from late dining with their loud conversations and slamming doors. Most white noise machines even have a ocean waves mode, so you can keep a consistent ocean theme all night long.
- Lanyard. Okay, so lanyards aren’t the sexiest accessory, but it’s better than standing in line at guest services because you lost your key card-again. Lanyards seem to be more important for ladies. Guys can just use their pockets, but I found that many of my cuter outfits didn’t have pockets. Of course, I chose fashion over function and needed an easy way to keep up with my card. I went the cheap route and got a cheesy lanyard from the casino, but there are many (almost) fashionable options for cruise lanyards. Check Etsy for unique beaded choices if you want a little bling with you keycard.
- Door Decoration. This item falls mostly in the fun category, but it can also be useful to help you find your door if it has a distinguishing decoration on the front. Be sure to check the cruise line’s restrictions on door decorations. Disney Cruise Lines only allow magnetic decorations and will fine you for using adhesive, while Carnival doors are not magnetic and will need some kind of tape. Show your personality and make it fun.
- Watch and Clock. Being on a cruise ship is like an experiment in time deprivation if you don’t bring along your own timepiece. This is especially important if you, like most modern humans, no longer wear your watch and rely on your cellphone to tell you the time. Likely, you will turn off your phone at sea and need a way to know when it is time to go to Bingo. A clock in your room is helpful, as well.
- Shampoo/conditioner. All cruise lines provide some kind of shampoo, but some don’t offer conditioner. If you are picky at all about your hair products, or you need conditioner to keep the frizz at bay, bring your own.
- Dollar Bills. No, it’s not that kind of cruise ship, but dollar bills and cash in smaller denominations is great for tipping when you are in port. If you hit land with nothing but $20s in your pocket, you’ll end up paying $20 for a two dollar picture of a monkey.
- Hotel Key Card. Some cruise ships require that you place a key card in the slot by the door to turn on the lights. It’s a great green initiative, but it’s also annoying. Any leftover key card from any hotel will do the same thing and save you from forgetting your card in the room when you leave. Just don’t forget to turn off the lights.
- Tennis Shoes. One of the perks of cruising is the excuse to live in sandals and flip flops. Most of the time this works, but be sure to pack a pair of tennis shoes. With the unique offerings on cruise ships now (hello ropes course and rock climbing wall!), there are activities that require closed toe shoes. Who knows, you might even feel like hitting the gym. It could happen.
- Towel Clip. You can always spot a first time cruiser; they are the ones on the top deck chasing their towels and complaining about it being soooooo windy. When the ship moves, the wind blows and if you want to be sure your towel and other cloth stays nicely on your deck chair, you need a fastener. There are special clips just for deck chairs, but you can use a giant chip clip in a pinch (see what I did there?) It’s a little red-neck, but I promise, you will not be the only one.
- Favorite Snacks. Yes, there is more than enough food on a cruise ship, but sometimes you just gotta have a Snickers.
Check out this list for the first edition of unexpected things to pack for a cruise.