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9 Cruise Packing List Omissions that Can Completely Ruin Your Trip

By Margaret Manning July 07, 2016 Travel

I remember wishing that I had created a cruise packing list before my first big adventure on the water. It was 1am and I had a splitting headache. Determined to get some sleep before my first day in a new city, I threw on my robe and hobbled down to the lobby, hoping to get some help from the woman at the reception desk.

I asked her if she had some aspirin that I could purchase, she informed me that it was against their regulations to give out medicines to passengers. Unfortunately, I would need to wait until we reached the next port to deal with my headache.

Now, in fairness, this was a small ship. As a result, they didn’t have an on-ship doctor. Even if they did, seeing her probably wouldn’t have been free.

Since then, I have taken to the water several more times. During my subsequent cruise adventures, I have learned that forgetting certain items can ruin your day… if not your entire cruise.

Here are a few cruise packing list omissions that can ruin your trip.

A Power Adapter and Small Power Strip

Many people expect their cruise ship to have plenty of extra power adapters lying around. This is not always the case. On larger ships, you may be able to purchase one, but, you shouldn’t count on this. In addition, it’s usually more expensive to purchase a power adapter once you leave home.

If you have a lot of electrical appliances, you may even want to consider bringing a small power strip with you. A quick call to the cruise line will tell you how many electrical outlets are in your room.

While you’re on the phone, you may also want to ask whether the outlets in your room will be European-style. Even if you’re leaving from an American port, it is likely that you will be on a ship that was built overseas.

Comfortable Walking Shoes

One of my favorite parts of any cruise is getting to see old cities from new angles. There is something magical about approaching a city by sea and then setting off to explore it on foot.

If you live in America, you are probably used to perfectly smooth pavements. In many parts of the world, cobble-stones and broken paths are the norm. It’s not that there is anything “wrong” with this. These features are just a part of the cultural heritage of many cities in Europe and Asia.

At the same time, nothing will ruin your trip faster than twisting your ankle or taking a nasty fall. The best way to avoid both of these situations is to pack good footwear. In my case, I have two left feet, so, ankle support and plenty of grip are essential.

When you are choosing which shoes to bring, think about the type of walking that you will be doing and the kind of weather that you are likely to encounter.

Seasickness Pills

Many cruise ships will be willing to give you seasickness pills. At the same time, as with any medication, it’s a good idea to pick some up before you leave.

This will allow you to check with your doctor to make sure that your seasickness pills won’t interfere with any of your other medications. Your doctor may also have recommendations on what kind of seasickness pills to take. There are a surprising number of options if you plan ahead.

Your Medicines and Prescriptions

Finding aspirin or seasickness pills on your cruise probably won’t cause you too much trouble. Forgetting your prescription medications almost certainly will!

In addition to your actual medications, don’t forget to pack copies of your prescriptions. This will help you to avoid any customs issues. In addition, it will make the easier to get replacements for any medications that you misplace or run out of along the way.

In addition, don’t forget to check if the supplements and medicines that you are taking are regulated in the countries that you will be visiting. Some supplements and over-the-counter medications are actually strictly regulated in many parts of the world. A quick Google search should give you the information you need.

Tip: Leave a copy of your prescriptions and credit cards with a family member back home. This way, they can send them to you in email in an emergency. Never pack your prescriptions in your checked luggage. Keep these close at hand.

Hand Sanitizer and Antibacterial Wipes

It really is true what your mom said. The best way to avoid getting sick is to wash your hands. This is true in everyday life and it’s especially true on a cruise ship.

I’m usually not a big fan of antibacterial wipes and hand-sanitizer. I prefer good old fashioned soap when I’m at home. But, on a cruise, I make an exception and bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer and a pack of anti-bacterial wipes. I use these regularly, in addition to washing my hands with soap.

Nothing is worse than spending thousands of dollars on a cruise, only to spend the entire time in bed with a nasty virus. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is wash your hands multiple times a day.

Tip: Avoid shaking hands where possible. Ok, I know that this is going to seem anti-social, but, I actually avoid shaking hands on a cruise where possible. I don’t refuse to shake a hand that is offered to me, but, I certainly don’t offer mine. And, if I do shake someone’s hand, I wash my hands with soap as soon as possible. Oh, and while we’re talking about Norovirus, pay attention to your fellow passengers. If you start seeing quite a few people looking green around the gills, it might be a good time to find some alone time.

A Small Sewing Kit

Many people take additional “back-up” outfits with them when they cruise. Personally, I prefer to travel with fewer clothing items and a small sewing kit. This way, if I lose a button, I don’t need a completely new outfit.

Your Passport

America is such a large and beautiful country that many of us go most of our lives without needing a passport. Even those of us who travel internationally usually do so infrequently.

Trust me when I say that there is nothing worse than getting to your ship and discovering that you have left your passport at home. Write yourself a note. Set yourself an alarm on your phone. Do whatever it takes. Just don’t forget your passport and other travel documents.

Leaving your adapter at home or forgetting your comfortable shoes may make your trip less comfortable, but, forgetting your passport will prevent your trip from getting started.

A Sun Hat, Sun Glasses and Sunscreen

Being stuck in your room with a sunburn is almost as bad as being stuck in your room with a nasty virus. In fact, it’s probably worse, because you know that it’s completely your fault.

By all means, enjoy the beautiful weather, but, don’t forget your sun hat, sun glasses and sunscreen. They are your best friends on any cruise.

Something to Make Your Luggage Stand Out

The chances of your luggage getting stolen on a cruise ship are pretty small. That said, I always like to avoid accidental swaps by tying a strip of colorful ribbon to each of my bags. Not only does this make my bags easy to find, but, it also reduces the risk of mix-ups with other passengers.

Tip: Take a photo of your bag – both the outside and the contents – just in case you and your luggage become separated. This will help the crew to locate your bag if it grows legs and decides to go exploring by itself.

What items would you add to our cruise packing list? Have you ever paid the price for leaving one of the items listed in this article behind? Which one? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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