Things People Forget to Bring for a Cruise

If you are planning a cruise, you’re probably thinking about what to pack for your fabulous vacation. And, hopefully, you are using a good cruise packing list. But, even when using a list, both virgin and seasoned cruisers can tell stories about the things they forgot to pack for a cruise, and regretted.

Don’t forget to Pack These Things When Going on a Cruise

Passports or Government ID

This one is so obvious because most people remember to bring their required ID to board. After all, it’s a “must have” to be able get on a cruise ship.

However, even if they didn’t forget it, some cruise passengers have made the mistake of packing these important items in their luggage, rather than keeping it on them on their person or even a neck passport holder. I recommend you DO NOT keep your ID or passport in your cruise carry on bag; folks tend to to put these down and then forget them.

For safety and convenience, I recommend you follow our lead; we both carry our identification, credit cards, and cash in this RFID blocking neck travel wallet with passport holder (for men and women).

Proof of Vaccine & COVID-19 Test Results

This is a new requirement for boarding a cruise ship, so it’s really important to keep a continuous eye on your cruise line vaccine policies and pre-cruise test protocols.

Many cruise lines are requiring proof of vaccine for cruises through 2022. Testing for vaccinated cruise passengers, for cruises departing from the US, must be done within 2 days before your cruise embarkation day.

Be sure to keep your proof of vaccine and negative test results secure, as you won’t be able to board without them. I recommend using a waterproof vaccine card holder big enough to hold those odd-sized CDC Vaccination ID Cards.

Cruise Documents

Always print your cruise documents.

  • First, your cruise documents have all your cruise information and security will ask for it as part of the cruise boarding process.

  • Second, your cruise documents have your cruise port and boarding time and other information that’s handy for you to have on hand when heading to your cruise ship.

If you do forget these documents, the cruise line can probably still look up your information if need be, so most of the time the only thing that happens is a delayed process.

Note: Even Princess Cruise passengers on Ocean Medallion ships, should print out their cruise boarding passes, in addition to getting OceanReady with the MedallionClass app.

Emergency contact list

We all have our contact numbers stored in our cell phones these days, but what if someone else needs to make a call on your behalf and your phone requires a PIN or thumbprint? Or, what if the phone is missing or the battery is dead? Having a hard copy of all your emergency contacts in your wallet or stored in your in-cabin safe could turn out to be a lifesaver.

This is especially true on post-pandemic cruises. You will want to keep your family updated should your itinerary change due to any COVID-19 cases aboard your ship or if you yourself become ill – a rare occurrence but best to be prepared.

Medications

Daily Medication

Other than a handful of over-the-counter remedies, such as cold pills, pain relievers and seasickness treatments, which are sold at inflated prices, cruise ships carry only a limited supply of prescription medications, and these are given out only in emergencies.

If you take any kind of medicine on a daily basis, be it prescription, vitamin, or something else, it is imperative you bring enough with you to last your entire cruise plus a few days longer, just in case some type of travel delay prevents you from getting home on time.

Over the Counter Medication

As mentioned above, there are some basic over the counter meds sold on cruise ships, however the selection is very basic and very expensive.

As a healthcare professional, I like to travel with an adequate supply of over the counter medications, this way we have everything we need – just in case. In my First-Aid Kit For Travel post you’ll find a good list of all the necessities.

Luggage Tags

As part of the online check in process for your cruise, you’ll be guided to print out your paper luggage tags. I recommend you print out a few extra copies, in case you mess a couple up when folding and stapling to your luggage.

You should also consider purchasing plastic luggage tag holders. They are very convenient and reusable as well.

If and when you do buy luggage tags, check to make sure they are specific to your cruise line. There are several sizes and some work for different cruise lines and they are reusable, but you want to get the right ones.

Shore Excursion Confirmations

It’s a good idea to print paper copies of any shore excursions you have booked to bring with you on your cruise. Consider taking photos or creating a PDFs of the documents to keep on your phone, if this is most convenient. If you’ve booked online or with a local tour operator, it’s very important to have their contact information and any instructions handy, just in case.

I keep notes for my cruise excursions, along with payment information, in a cruise travel planner. In fact, I use it to keep organized throughout my cruise planning process.

If you’re interested in purchasing the cruise planner, it’s 47 pages of cruise packing checklists, planning forms and more. You can print it out again and again as needed for future cruises.

Masks

The latest cruise ship cabin amenity is disposable masks, but you may want to bring you most comfortable masks from home. You will also need to wear a mask at the airport and on the plane if you are flying to your embarkation city. And everyone needs to wear a mask in the cruise terminal during embarkation and disembarkation. As a healthcare professional, I highly reusable KN95 masks for protection against bacterial and viral airborne and droplet agents.

Hand sanitizer and wipes

As part of their COVID-19-related health and safety protocols, cruise lines have added more hand washing and sanitizer stations around the ship to prevent the spread of germs. However, you will want your own little handy squirt bottle and I suggest sanitizing wipes too. These are useful for cleaning down everything from your airplane seat to the deck chair at the pool. Touch something, wash your hands!

Sunscreen

A common item many people forget to pack on a cruise is sunscreen. The sun is so hot on the ocean and you can get a terrible sunburn even on the first day of your cruise. The convenience store on your cruise ship won’t be open until you actually sail away, so you’re pretty stuck if you forget it. Plus, the price onboard will be a lot higher than you would pay at home.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera or a good after sun lotion to ease any sunburns is a must. The sun on the ocean is something else, so best to have the essentials.

Lip Balm

If there is one thing that can nearly ruin a perfectly good vacation, it’s chapped lips. Maybe it’s a hot, dry summer and you’re on a road trip, or it’s a blustery winter day and you’re hopping on and off flights; we all know how easy it is to get dehydrated and end up with dry skin and chapped lips.

Possibly the number one thing that so many cruisers forget to bring on a cruise is lip balm, and then have seriously regretted forgetting it.

Bandages

Unless you’re on a warm-weather cruise and plan on plonking yourself down poolside all day or at the beach in every port, you’ll probably be doing a lot more walking than you expect. Even your most broken-in shoes might start to feel a little rough in destinations like Alaska and Europe where glacier hikes or walking tours are standard fare. Be prepared for the inevitable blister or two with Band-Aids® at hand, in whatever bag you carry with you off the ship and some spare ones onboard.

Adapter

If you are traveling to foreign ports and will be spending any time at a hotel, you will need to bring a power adapter with you. Since most cruise ships these days offer both North American and European plug sockets, this is an easy item to forget, but hotels have outlets specific to the country. I recommend getting an all-in-one world adapter; I leave mine in my suitcase all the time; that way I always have it when I need it.

Chargers

If you’re bringing anything that needs to be charged, make sure to double-check you’ve got the charger for it. There are lots of cruise destinations where getting a replacement charger could be almost impossible. You do not want to be stuck in a picture-perfect setting with no way to take a picture! Keep cords organized with an electronics gear bag.

Cruise Approved Power Bar

Remember to bring a “cruise-approved” power bar to have some extra electric and USB outlets in your cabin. Some newer ships, have installed USB outlets, but most cruise cabins have 1 or 2 electric sockets, and that’s it.

Refillable Water Bottles

Whether you want to bring water with you on a cruise port day, or if you want to have some water or even hot coffee with you while on a cruise, this is something any cruisers love and are sad when they forget it.

Press-Seal (Ziploc®) Baggies

These are the ultimate in an easy and waterproof organization system!

I use them to make mini-first aid packs to take along when we head out on an excursion, keep hair elastics and clips,  and even pack a dry snack (check port regulations and note it’s against the law in most places to take fruit, vegetables and meat items off the cruise ship).


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