April 20, 2018

That Time I Went to the Pool...

It's nearly here! I will soon be embarking on a 14-day transatlantic cruise starting in Barcelona, ending in NYC.
As I start to pack, I am checking off my out-and-about on the boat items. Here are my necessities for hitting the pool, the bars, and getting some sun!:...

Just because it's winter back home doesn't make the sun less burn-y. The sun is stronger in the Caribbean in the winter, than in Northern states in the summer because of science.
Make sure to use sunscreen, and reapply regularly.
A travel sized bottle that you refill from a large bottle makes it easy to pack while not spending extra on the little bottle.

Small Flasks:
These are actually for salad dressing, but work great for bringing a bit of booze up to the pool deck (or wherever) with you to put in a soda. I'm not encouraging anyone to smuggle it on board, but you can buy a bottle of your favorite spirit by calling room service and then use these to take it around the ship.
A bottle will be steep compared to liquor store prices, but will be less per serving compared with buying each drink. You'll likely also want the soft drink package to maximize your savings.

Travel mug:
If you are a coffee or tea drinker, you can bring a lot more coffee back to your room in a 16oz travel mug than the 6oz ceramic mugs that are provided.
You can get (not technically but basically) air tight mugs that won't spill which is always a bonus, or Starbucks has very basic ones for $1-2 at the counter.
A travel coffee cup, can do double duty as a cup for water if you don't want to also pack a reusable water bottle.

Reusable water bottle:
You're actually not allowed to bring bottled water on board most cruise lines, because people use them to sneak alcohol on board.
The tap water is perfectly fine to drink, and bottled water is expensive, so pack an empty bottle and fill it up to carry around with you on and off ship.

Lanyards keep your room key close at hand at all times, but especially useful if you don't want to lose it while swimming. You can buy these on board, but you can also get them very cheap. I'm told you can get a hole punched in your card at guest services, check-in, and/or the casino.
Personally, I like wrist-sized lanyards better.

Hole punch:
Not really a necessity.  It's a frill, but if you already have lanyards from something or other, and it has the flat clip, this will give you the proper punch shape. I am in this category so I am splurging on this and will be brainstorming additional uses for it. Probably will skip packing this when flying to the cruise port.
Carnival's cards come pre-punched with a circle hole, but the flat clip lanyard allows for faster release when handing your card over to the bartenders.
NCL even has the flat puncher at customer service, but it's easier to not have to stand in line.

Towel Clips
These keep your towel from blowing off your chair. This doesn't mean you should use them to reserve your chair when you're not going to be using it for hours, but it gets windy on the sun decks so it's nice to have these to keep your towel in place when you're sunning.

(Females only [probably/not judging]) If you packed heels to go with your cocktail dresses, you may want to change it up by the end of the night, especially if you're hitting up a pool-side party.
These take up little space in your luggage and provide an excellent alternative to broken feet. Take these on every cruise and wear them at least a couple times, even if it's only to mix up my footware.

Cruise lines are starting to get hip to the damage that disposable plastic does to the environment. Some will give you straws by request, others will not. Either way, skip the danger noodle and bring your own!
Look how cute! I bought long silicone ones and cut some of them to pint-glass length (7-8"), and some to cocktail-glass length (5-6"). Most come with cleaning brushes. #savetheturtles
Silicone Straws

Waterproof pouch:
I actually have not used one of these yet, but have one for my impending cruise. I do not plan on putting my phone in it for the first go- just our keycards. However, I've seen people swear by these, and they claim to be 100% air-tight so you *should* be able to safely put your phone in them. They have 3 strips of zip locking plus velcro. You can get them in phone-size, small, or large, depending on what you want to fit in it. I got the small size but may find we don't need anything bigger than the phone one.
Small waterproof Pouch

Card holder:
If you're going to take your phone with you to use the cruise line's app, stick one of these on the back. I use on in my everyday life and it's equally handy for cruises. It can hold your key card when on board (and skip the lanyard) and add your driver's license* when going into port (both needed to get back on the ship).
Personally, I like the cloth ones that have the bit on top. They all stretch out eventually and the top piece keeps it from needing to be replaced as often.
card holder

*You can use your passport to get back on ship instead, but won't fit in the card holder!

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT forget these! "I want to get out of the pool, and then put on bulky shoes so I can get to lunch in the main dining room before it ends..."said no-one-ever. Make sure to pack a pair of flops so you can easily go from pool, to indoors, and back again.*
Old Navy Flops
Probably less $$ in store than on Amazon

*Do be careful when using very smooth bottomed flops (a la Old Navy, etc.) on wet surfaces, very slippery!

(Mostly) ladies only... it may be hot outside, but depending on the time of year, and cruise itinerary, you will want this if you go outside at night
Additionally, the A/C will be cranking in all the indoor areas. So if you are dressed for warm weather, this means you can be quite chilly indoors. Carry a blanket scarf or pashmina when going to dinner, the casino, or bars, in case of arctic blast. A light jacket can of course be substituted.

Luggage Tag Holders:
Okay, this has nothing to do already being on board, but until I write a post that is all pre-cruise items, this lives here. First, I want to mention that you do NOT have to check your luggage. The reason for doing so is 1) so you don't have to trek it all over the cruise terminal and onto the ship, 2) so that once on ship, if your cabin isn't ready yet, you don't have to trek it throughout the ship, 3) the same as 1&2 when getting off.
If you are going to check your bags... these plastic holders are handy for attaching your luggage tags. You can instead tape or staple your tags, as directed, but that increases the chances of it getting lost. Different cruise lines have different shaped tags, so search accordingly. I do have them and usually have a luggage tag ready in case I decide to check a bag after all.
luggage tags
I usually do not check my luggage because we tend to board after our cabin is ready, so we are able to go straight to our cabin, and because, when checked, said bags aren't delivered until sometime in the evening and are left outside your cabin door. (It's not common for bags to be lost or stolen, but they can be).

More on cruises :)
More stuff you should bring!:
Couple's Packing List
Cabin Must-Haves

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