From the Shipmate Archives. Originally Published April 3, 2017.
There are varying levels of cruise fans out there on this big, beautiful, water-covered planet (71% covered in fact). From first time cruisers to this woman who has over 200 sailings under her belt after retiring on a cruise ship – we love you all. But, the cruise accessories below will likely appeal more so to the latter type of shipmate.
When approaching the terminal before shipping off, you can typically tell who knows their ship. The first-timers leave all of their cruise necessities in their checked bags. They’ll fumble with passports, boarding passes, and luggage tags. They stop and take pictures with every prop along the way. We were all there at one point – don’t worry, it’s cute.
The experienced cruiser shows up with their luggage tags and boarding docs affixed to their bag and person (see cruise necessities below). They have a carry-on with the required gear to b-line it to the lido deck. They stiff-arm the guy soliciting photo ops, and they’re poolside before some of us are even through security.
A while ago, we posted 26 Cruise Packing Tips and Hacks that have since gone viral. We’ve seen insane amounts of traffic and thousands of Pinterest pins. That article prompted a bunch of our experienced ship mates to share products and cruise necessities that they won’t leave shore without. That’s where most of these ideas originated.
Below are some of the tell-tale accessories that the cruiser before you is legit. Of course, any and all ship mates can get value from these cruise products, but we expect it’s the veterans that will be most excited when seeing these below… unless they already own them all.
#1 – Power Strip (Non-Surge Protection)
We, humans, love our gadgets… Kindles, iPhones, laptops, hairdryers, shavers, curling irons, etc. Hardcore cruisers know that outlets are tough to come by in your temporary ocean abode. With this little, lightweight power strip & device charger, you’ll have everything humming at once. NOTE: Some cruise lines strictly prohibit power strips with “surge protection,” so make sure to get one without surge protection built into the device.
#2 – Cabin Organizer & Space Saver
Another great hack used by the cruise gurus… the over-the-door hanging cruise cabin organizer serves as the perfect tool to keep your sea-home nice and tidy. It’s ideal for shoes, bathroom products, your new travel mug (see above), and all that other stuff that typically finds its way to the cabin floor.
#3 – Windproof Towel Holders
It gets really windy up on the top decks of a cruise ship. The serious cruisers know this and use this little hack as a way to outsmart mother nature. Clip your towel on your deck chair and you’ll be sure it’ll be there when you get back from the Lido Bar. It doubles as a great way to stake your claim and secure your precious poolside real estate. Otherwise, the hardworking cruise staff could mistake your seat and towel as abandoned and send it off to the laundry. That $25 deposit could have easily been saved with this handy cruise accessory.
#4 – Waterproof Smartphone Cover
Not only is this great to have poolside, but it also comes in particularly useful when leaving the ship. Stop wrapping your device up in a t-shirt when at the beach or snorkel adventure. Stick it in this waterproof cover and avoid a smartphone tragedy. With this cruise necessity, you can also take sweet underwater pics. Get side-by-side with a big fat sea-turtle and enjoy an underwater selfie.
#5 – Luggage Tags
A couple of weeks before you set sail, the cruise line will send your luggage tags or give you access to print them online. If you’re a cruise pro, you’ll then slide those right into your luggage tag holders. If you’re like me, however, you’ll accidentally rip them and end up duck taping the remaining pieces to the side of your bag. Don’t be like me.
#6 – Magnet Hooks
Did you know that the walls separating you from your ship mate next door are made of metal? Probably not – but, hardcore cruisers do. And, they take advantage of it using these magnet hooks. Slap a few of these puppies on your wall and you just created a bathing suit hanger, lanyard holder (see below), or hat rack. Combine these hooks with the hanging organizer above and you’ve just created a mind-blowing, Martha Stewart-like contraption.
#7 – Cruise Lanyard & Key Card Holder
If you’ve sailed before, you’ve seen this cruise necessity… the Cruise ID Holder and lanyard. At first, you may have thought, “holy ship that’s nerdy.” But, after the third time you’ve lost your key card, you begin to reconsider. No more digging through pockets – you’ll never forget where your ID is while hanging around your neck. As soon as you get back to your cabin, you can take it off and hang your cruise lanyard on your metal hook (see above). And as an added bonus for our cruise pros, you can show off your platinum status to everyone in the room. Make way… VIP coming through!
#8 – Portable Lockbox
The portable lockbox serves multiple purposes on your cruise. You can be a pool-chair-hog while securing your iPhone, cruise card, casino winnings and more. The cruise staff won’t be able to move it because it’ll be safely locked to your chair! You can also take it down to the beach while at the port and swim worry-free. Your stuff will be safely secured by your lounge chair. A burglar would have to drag the whole chair off the beach to get your stuff!
#9 – Easybreath Snorkel & Mask
If you’re like me, a normal snorkel has always been more of a big straw than an underwater breathing device. I may as well be using one of those old McDonalds straws when I get out there in the beautiful Caribbean waters. It took 2016 years, but there’s finally an amazing solution. The Easybreath Snorkel and Mask allows you to breath normally while out there racing sea-turtles or finding Nemo. On your next cruise, you can now enjoy the refreshing saltwater without ingesting half of it! For our snorkeling fans out there, this is an absolute cruise necessity!
#10 – Cruise Binoculars
We got this great idea from our amazing users in the comments section below. Binoculars come in particularly handy when cruising alongshore (like an Alaska Cruise), when spotting ocean creatures, or checking out the blonde on the next cruise ship over. You may also need the extra long-viewing-power on one of the mega-ships, like the Oasis or the Allure of the Seas. Prop yourself up on the top deck and use binoculars to either spot, or continue hiding from friends and family as they roam the decks below. This particular set of Bushnell Binoculars are very affordable and have amazing reviews on Amazon.
#11 – Solar Device Charger
Rather than sitting in your cabin waiting for your phone to charge on your Power Strip, you can head to the top deck and let mother nature do the juicing. Both you and your device can sit there taking in the sun, while getting energy in addition to a beautiful bronzed hue. This works well for smartphones, portable speakers, eReaders, cameras, gaming devices, and other accessories.
#12 – Packing Cubes
This is suitcase porn for the neat freaks and super-organized cruisers out there. When preparing for a cruise, this packing cheat helps assure you bring the perfect amount of clothes and to keep them neat and tidy all week. Your undies have their own home. Your pants. Dresses. Socks. All counted and hanging out in their designated zones, waiting for their cruise debut. And your packing cube set wouldn’t be complete without the included laundry bag. You can work up a good stink hiking exotic ports or climbing cruise steps all day. Trap those soiled items all by their lonesome and keep tonight's outfit so fresh and clean.
#13 – Portable Beach Lounger
If a beach chair and a towel mated, this portable beach lounger would be the glorious offspring. It has the comfort of a lawn chair, with the added convenience of a beach towel. It folds up nicely for easy carrying and even has an extra pocket for magazines or leftover pizza.
#14 – Coffee Mug
We mentioned this cruise necessity in our 26 Cruise Packing Hacks and Tips and readers LOVED this idea. Cruise pros know how tough it is to get your caffeine fix while at sea. The cruise lines really make you work for it with those 6oz thimbles they call coffee mugs. Good luck trying to bring one of those things back to your room. By the time you’re up/down the stairs you have 3rd-degree burns and 2oz of joe left. With this travel mug, you can fill up once and go about your day.