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10 crucial items to pack for a cruise vacation

Updated on June 2, 2012
sunset in Costa Maya
sunset in Costa Maya

10 must haves

Getting ready for a cruise is a lot like a vacation pack. Although there are a few things that are always good to bring, the small things you need while out of the country will usually be the things that you are charged the most for. So here are a few things I would strongly suggest bringing.

1. A credit card that will be used solely for onboard charges. Everything on the cruise ship can be purchased through your room, just like most of your better hotels. Now the only downside to this is, you don't get the immediate sticker shock to most of the things that you will purchase. Another down side is whatever credit card you use will be double charged, as they will hold the amount and take the amount out. So in essence you will be double charged until the hold comes off, approximately 3-7 days. If you need to use this card again for another week, just make sure there is ample money to cover double your charges. If not it will be kicked back and they will ask for another one.

2. Bring your medication. Given right? Well, not just an ample amount of your prescription medication but any over the counters you can foresee using. If you have knee pain, back pain, you will probably cause flare ups on your excursion trying to pack the most fun on your short time on an island. Another thing to remember is, you will be on a boat. Yes, it may look like a hotel, but it is still a boat. If you hit any high seas, the realization will come back full force. So a couple dramamine could be your best friend, or those handy patches that go behnd your ear. The cruise line will have these things, but at a very pretty price.

3. Bring your own amenities. This should include everything you use on a daily basis, hair spray, makeup, razors, toothbrush. These things may be a dollar or two here, but once you are on that water, price gouging will come to mind. I love cruising, I find it a great way to get to exotic locations without flight. However, they are there to take your money, any way that they can. Just a little planning ahead, can save you tons that you can spend on locale with great prices.

4. Waterproof wallet case. Most locales, you will find yourself in the water. You will need to keep your I.D., passport with you at all times while off the cruise ship. You can not get off or get back on without it, so keep it dry and safe with you. I have found the ones that go over your neck, light plastic are not intrusive and does the trick. I am not saying there will be nowhere to put your things on excursions on island, but better safe then sorry with your way back home.

5. Your own supply of tobacco. If you are a smoker, on board cigarettes and alcohol will be dutyfree and with great prices. Catch is of course, you can not enjoy these things till you are off the voyage. I have heard of people bringing their own liquor, I believe this is against the cruise lines rules. However, if you are a drinker, cruising may not be the place to do it. On ship drinks are a complete rip off, my opinion of course, and even 8 dollar bottles of wine will have a 50 dollar price tage. Now, on locales, especially in the Caribbean, will have great deals on local drinks. Know the time you are to leave and give yourself plenty of time to get back, but this is where you can have fun in the sun with an affordable drink. Cigarettes on locale will be priced high, so bringing your own, will ensure your favorite and no blow to your pocket.

6. Multiple bathing suits. If you are anything like me, you will find yourself in the water more than not. The pools and jacuzzis are wonderful on board and on locale the beaches are beautiful. Most people are there for that very reason. Bring several outfits to swim in. Once again, laundry prices will knock you off your feet, mitigate damages by bringing a few changes. When you are ready to go home, put suits in a plastic bag to ensure they don't dampen the rest of your clothing.

7.  Jewelry.  I know all woman want to get dressed up for some reason on these cruises, but I strongly suggest you leave them at home.  If it is a piece you can not bear to lose, don't bring it. They do have lock boxes in all rooms, however better safe than sorry scenario.  The Caribbean islands are some of the best places to buy diamonds and other precious stones duty free and at pennies on the dollar.  If you purchase large pieces, I would suggest using the cruise lines safe boxes.  All you have to do is merely ask and that will ensure an insurance on the safe return of your valuable items.  I have lost many thing on vacation, but never anything that I couldn't afford to.

8.  Clothing pieces that can be easy mix and matched.  To save yourself lugging 10 bags for a week vacation, try to pack with this is mind.  You will need several outfits a day that will be worn for maybe an hour or less sometimes.  If you can pack easily matchable things, you can lighten your load without having nothing to wear at the end of the trip.  I also suggest some good old sweat and comfy T-shirt.  There will be a day in the week that you are done with people, or once again maybe just me, but a nice pair of sweats did me good on the voyage home.

9. Your own entertainment.  Meaning books, pen and paper, whatever it is you do to unwind.  They have an ungodly amount of things to do on the cruise ship, usually many things simultaneously.  Now I am all for trying new things etc, but sometimes an actual break from the chaos on your vacation is great.  On the voyage home, sitting on deck with the book you can never seem to finish, can be the perfect ending to a perfect trip.

10.Cash.  Yes, everyone says that travelers cheques, credit cards are safer, but remember cash is king, everywhere.  There may be places in Cozumel that does not have a credit card machine or take travelers cheques.  Just keep it with you at all times, just in case.

I hope you enjoy your cruise and keep as much in your pocket as you can.  Some parts of Mexico are great to do your Christmas shopping, Cozumel especially.  You can also find discounted trips in December before Christmas.  Just think it could be 10 degrees where you are, then bam 70 degrees and sunshining.  Book ahead of time and have a great cruise!


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