We all know the feeling. You’re packing for your cruise and the doubt creeps in that you’re going to forget something. While we always suggest an extensive packing list so you can check off items as you go, here are some extra-important things that you'll want to double (or triple) check before you hit the high seas.
Photo by heller181/Thinkstock
If there’s one thing you don’t want to forget on your cruise vacation, it’s your (other) ticket to actually boarding the ship: your passport.
Why You Don't Want To Forget It: We’ve heard horrier stories of people arriving at the cruise terminal only to realize they’ve forgotten the one thing that can keep them from leaving. This goes for all citizenship-related documents. If you use a Green Card to prove your citizenship or need some other document like a Visa to legally visit any ports on your itinerary, make sure to have everything with you.
If You Do Forget It: While cruises sailing from and returning to the same US port only require a birth certificate and government-issued photo ID, there are countless other cruises around the world that will require a passport. Plus, even if you are on one of those closed-loop cruises, it’s always much safer to have a passport in case of an emergency. Triple check that your passport is in your bag before you lock your door and head out on vacation.
2. Bathing Suit
Photo by LeszekCzerwonka/Thinkstock
While we actually know people who don’t bother to pack a bathing suit because they know they won’t be swimming, the majority of cruisers are looking forward to a beach day or taking a dip in the onboard pool. Don’t pack it in your checked luggage, either. Stow it in your carry-on so that you can hit the pool as soon as you board the ship without having to wait for your bags to be delivered to your room.
Why You Don't Want To Forget It: Who wants to start their cruise off without being able to cool down with a quick swim before the sail away party?
If You Do Forget It: One of the onboard shops may have a small selection of bathing suits to choose from, or you can pick one up in port. Until then, consign yourself to just dipping your feet in the pool.
3. To Call Your Bank
Photo by max-kegfire/Thinkstock
You’re all packed and ready to head away to beautiful foreign ports, but there’s a very important thing you need to do first: call your bank and/or credit card company.
Why You Don't Want To Forget: No one wants their credit card flagged and put on hold for suspicious activity when they were just trying to buy a bottle of wine in Italy. That could cause big problems for the rest of the voyage, not to mention trying to get home without your main source of funds. Before you leave for your cruise, call or go online to your credit card company and let them know where and when you’ll be traveling. That way if the system sees purchases going through in a foreign land, they’ll know it’s you.
If You Do Forget: Call your bank as soon as possible, even if you have to use a pay phone in port or the internet cafe on the ship.
4. Prescription Medications
Photo by Robert Byron/Thinkstock
Essential prescription medication is just that: essential. Be sure to pack as much as you’ll need while you’re away, taking into account pre and post-cruise stays as well.
Why You Don't Want To Forget It: Depending on where you’re visiting it can be difficult to get the medicine you need if you forget to pack it, and chances are it will be an absolute headache to acquire it: think phone calls to your doctor back home, doctor’s visits in a foreign country, price gouging, etc. Also, pack medicine in your carry-on; that way you’ll always know where it is.
If You Do Forget It: Assuming that your medication is essential and you can’t go without it, visit the onboard medical center or try your luck with a pharmacy or walk-in clinic in port. It’ll likely cost you a pretty penny, though, and who wants to spend their port day at the doctor’s? Also, in some foreign countries, prescription drugs may not be regulated to the same standards you’re used to at home, so tread carefully. The bottom line: don’t forget it.
5. Make Onboard Reservations
Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line
If you’re sailing on a line and ship that requires reservations for select dining, entertainment, and even activities, make as many as you can online before your sail date.
Why You Don't Want To Forget: The most popular shows and dining options will fill up fast, and you want to secure your spot as well as your ideal time and day. Once you board it’ll be one less thing to worry about, knowing your must-do’s are already reserved for you.
If You Do Forget: Book those reservations as soon as possible once you board the ship. You may find that your ideal times are filled, but if you are flexible there may be some spots left. If they’re filled for a show, for example, ask about a waitlist or whether you can standby for any extra room that may be available.
6. Walking Shoes
Photo by Maridav/Shutterstock
It's absolutely imperative that if you're taking a port-intensive cruise - and maybe even if you're not - that you bring comfortable shoes for walking.
Why You Don't Want to Forget: In Europe especially, many streets are cobblestone and you will not bode well if you choose your strappy stilettos or flat-footed flip flops. If you're a nature lover, you know that footwear is extra important for excursions that include hiking, walking along a rocky shoreline, and a myriad of other things. Choose something that has good cushion and arch support and won't have much of a risk of coming off easily during strenuous activities. Quality footwear isn't just for activities ashore, either; Many cruisers end up walking a few miles just in their day-to-day activities around the ship!
If You Do Forget: If you're going to spend most of your port time at the beach or doing some leisurely shopping near the port, you may be able to get away with whatever shoes you happened to pack. However, if you're going to be doing activity-centric shore excursions, we'd highly recommend getting some good shoes in the first port of call you can.
Photo by Celebrity Cruises
Whatever you do, be sure to bring a healthy dose of patience and understanding with you when you leave for your cruise.
Why You Don't Want To Forget It: We can’t even count the number of reviews we see where people are genuinely unhappy about minor aspects of their cruise, and let those trivial things completely ruin the experience. If you go in with the mindset that not everything will be perfect, you’ll be much happier and more relaxed.
If You Do Forget It: Don’t sweat the small stuff; your vacation will ultimately be what you make it.