One of the most frequently asked questions on the first time cruisers’ forum on Cruise Critic is ‘What should I pack?’. I’m not talking about clothing, as dress codes are a whole different subject, but all the extra stuff.
My first message to new cruisers is: There is no mystery about cruising. The packing dilemma is really no different to what you’d have if you were staying in an hotel. You can buy things on board in an emergency – and in a real emergency, in my case, when my only pair of good shoes broke on formal night, the crew are very resourceful with glue and bits of string!
The tips from regular cruisers on our forum on what to pack are both impressive and awe-inspiring – can’t say I’ve ever met anybody who would confess to packing duct tape and Brits aren’t inclined to bring their own giant coffee cups for day-long swigging like some of our American cousins. But we’ve no doubt got our own foibles, like snack-pots of baked beans in the suitcase, or jars of Marmite.
Packing is a highly personal thing but for what it’s worth, here’s my own list of essentials, carefully honed after years of cruising:
- Compeed plasters – great for blisters either from walking a lot in port or wearing unfamiliar posh shoes on board
- Fizzy multi-vitamins – I kid myself that they’re a hangover cure
- Aftersun, decent conditioner and shampoo – unless you’re on a luxury ship, the stuff in the cabins is too harsh
- Tiger Balm – perfect multi-tasker for insect bites, sprains, blocked sinuses from the air-conditioning etc
- Stugeron – my preferred seasickness pills. On board, they often give you Phenergan, which knocks you out.
- Currency for port calls, even if it’s just a few coins – it’s a pain, chasing around for an ATM in some of the more remote places
- Camera cleaning kit – if you use an SLR, the lens can get messy with salt and sand
- A hat that stays on in the wind
- Small Swiss army knife – good for anything from peeling fruit at a picnic to opening bottles if there’s no corkscrew
First time cruisers, remember, there’s a whole section of the Cruise Critic site devoted to ‘all you need to know’, so do check it out. Meanwhile, let us know – what’s the single most useful thing you pack to take on a cruise? Or the strangest, while we’re on the subject!