My hubby, 2-yr old and I recently took our very first cruise . . . and loved it! With all the travel that we do, we’ve never really wanted to take a cruise. . . Until now. These cruise tips really came in handy since we were first-time cruisers (on Carnival Cruise Line). I really wish I would’ve had this cruise checklist of 30+ things moms tend to forget for our trip.
Cruising can be a lot of fun however be sure you pack the essentials. These first-time cruise tips and checklist apply to any cruise line including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Disney.
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What should you not forget on a cruise, you ask?
1. Passport or Birth Certificate & Government Issued Photo ID – Depending on the ports of call you will be visiting, you will either need your Passport or the original copy of your birth certificate & photo ID. Sidenote: Make sure that you take your driver’s license with you at each port of call. You will need it if you plan on doing certain excursions.
2. Carry-on Bag – Even though each person is allowed to check up to 2 bags (without an additional cost) you’ll want to make sure that you travel with a carry on bag. You will have to wait a couple of hours before your checked bags are delivered to your room. Carry everything that you will need right away in your carryon bag. You can choose a backpack or a roller bag. The advantage of using a backpack is that you can also use it as your day bag while at port of call.
3. Formal attire – Wear what you want during the trip however keep in mind there are formal events (ex. the Captain’s Ball) that you will have to dress up for.
4. Lanyard – this will make things super easy for you and the family! This allows you to keep up with your sign and sail cards. The sign & sail card is
Cruise Tips for First-Time Cruisers
5. Drinks – The cruise line allows you to bring one 12-pack of canned drinks per person & 1 bottle of wine per adult. I highly recommend that you bring what they allow. And just in case you’re wondering, the drinks on board aren’t good.
6. Reuseable Straws – I don’t know about you but I LOVE drinking with a straw . . . I really hate putting my mouth on a cup or glass! If you’re like me, make sure you travel with your own straw (preferably reusable) because the ship didn’t have any. Plus, it’s a great way of using less plastic!
7. Swim shoes – These are great if you plan on doing any of the tours when at our destination stops or if you want to wear them in the pool. The beaches can be rocky and you don’t want your feet to hurt.
8. Insect repellent – Some of the destinations have a ton of mosquitoes swarming around so be prepared!
9. Day bag/Beach bag – You will need a bag that you can use when you’re at port of call for the day. This can double as your carry-on bag . . . or not. I personally don’t like traveling with too many bags so I use this one as my carry-on bag and as my day bag.
10. Sunglasses – These are a MUST! Not only to protect you from the sun but also to hide behind. I don’t travel without them . . . ever!
11. Hats and/or Scarves – It can get really hot so bring hats and scarves (preferably oversized scarves since they can be worn different ways during your trip) to help keep cool and protect you and the family from the sun. Not only that, you can stay cute while on vacay!
How much cash should you take on a cruise?
12. Cash – You don’t need a lot of cash. You will only need money to leave tips (if you decide you don’t want to pay the pre-paid gratuity fee) and/or if you want you to want to buy things while at port of call for the day. While at the destinations, most of the local businesses won’t accept credit cards. Carry small bills (ex. $1s, $5s and $10s). You won’t use cash on the ship because you will use sign and sail card however you will use cash to tip
13. Sunscreen & Aloe Vera – Depending on the time of year it is and how much sun exposure you want, you will want to protect your skin. I personally have not traveled with these in the past but it’s something I’m definitely gonna add to my own personal travel essentials.
14. Entertainment – Most of us have our own entertainment on our mobile devices. I highly recommend you make sure that you have a few shows and movies downloaded. If you’re traveling with small kids [under the age of 5], make sure to download shows and movies for them too. There was a limited selection on board.
15. Power Strip – Your room on the ship may not have as many power outlets as you may need. This is the one that I use when I travel and it comes in handy for sure – especially when traveling internationally! It’s nice to have a power strip that also has USB charging ports and serves as a converter as well.
Useful Cruise Tips: Plan & Prepare in order to get the most out of your cruise experience
16. Shoes – Besides your flip flops, you will want to bring at least one pair of dress shoes and a pair of sneakers (preferably a pair that you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy) – should you decide to do any of the outdoor activities (Ex. ride ATVs). Also, make sure you have a pair of comfortable shoes that you can wear for hours on end.
17. Water-Resistant Phone Case [if your phone is not water resistant] – Nowadays some of the phones are water-resistant and don’t really need a waterproof case. If yours is not water-resistant and/or you want to be able to use the strap to secure it around your neck, this is a must! I’ve personally been using this one and it works great! You have a lot of colors to choose from.
18. External Portable Phone Charger – If you like to take pictures, browsing social media, etc then you don’t want to want to leave home without one of these. Mobile devices generally don’t come with an everlasting battery charge. If you don’t want to go without having access to your phone, get you one! I even keep mine when I’m not traveling. I’ve used one similar to this one for years and have no complaints.
19. Motion Sickness Medication or a Bracelet – None of us got sick – THANK GOD!! I would suggest bringing something just in case though. I’ve been told this or these work really well. If you forget to bring something, you can get it on board.
First-Time Cruise Tips: You will have the option to buy things that you need onboard however it’s gonna be way more expensive. Also, the store onboard is only open while at sea. Use this cruise checklist to save time & money!
Other essential cruise tips to ensure you have everything you need
20. Workout attire – There’s a gym and a spa onboard. There’s so much food on board that you may get to the point where you feel you want to get a little exercise.
21. Nightlight – This will mostly come in handy for the kids – especially if they are used to sleeping with one at home.
22. Wrinkle Release Spray – You can not bring an iron onboard however you can request one while onboard. The problem is that it may be in high demand. If you decide to wear something and it’s wrinkled, this spray to help with that.
23. Reuseable Water Bottles – I’ve had several different reusable water bottles over the years. They’re great because you can be sure to keep fluids with you at all times – all while playing your part by using less plastic.
24. Jacket/Sweater – It can get pretty chilly and windy on the ship in the evenings. Take something to stay warm.
25. Pain Medication -You may develop a headache or something so I suggest having some kind of pain relief (ex. Ibuprofen) just in case. These are available on the ship but it’s gonna be expensive.
26. Over the door storage organization – Seasoned cruisers live by these! These are great for keeping things organized and having easy access to things. While they do come in handy during a cruise they are not always necessary. If you have 3 or more people in a room you might want to consider them.
First-Time cruisers? Be sure that you use a cruise checklist
27. Your own personal must-have items – So these are items that you personally just can’t live without – regardless of where you are! Things like a small fan, alarm clock, razor, etc. I have a long list of things I have to travel with since I travel with a toddler.
28. Travel Umbrella – This isn’t something everyone thinks about but these are great to have with you. They’re small and can fit right into your handbag, backpack or roller bag.
29. Towel Clips – if you plan on hanging out by the pool and/or the beach these will definitely come in handy.
30. Disinfecting Wipes – If you’re a mom, you probably already travel with these but they are definitely on my must-have list of these to travel with.
31. Laundry bag & laundry detergent – A laundry bag is great to have when to put your dirty clothes in – instead of throwing them in the corner (which I’m guilty of). If you plan on doing laundry on the ship, bring your own. The ones they sell on the ship are expensive and so is the laundry service.
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32. Zip Lock Bags – These are kind of ole school (mainly because there is something made for everything that you need nowadays) but some people don’t leave home without them. It really depends on you!
As first-time cruisers, we can’t wait until we take our next cruise! Carnival Cruise was fun however I’m looking forward to eventually taking a Disney and Royal Caribbean cruise.
>>> What do you think of these cruise tips? Do you plan on using this cruise checklist? Please feel free to drop me a comment below and let me know.