There are many things that "they" don't tell you when you book a cruise. There are also many things that this seasoned cruiser has picked up over the years that end up being my life savers for the week in a 156 square foot cabin.
1. Duct tape--will fix ANYTHING that is broken (hems, suitcases, shoes...etc..)
2. Extension cord or a power strip-the cabin will come with ONE maybe two if you are lucky outlets...this is a must do for cell phones, laptops, alarm clocks, electric razors, hair dryers....
3. Alarm clock-your room won't come with this and if you have an inside cabin, you will LONG to know the time.
4. Night light-again for inside cabins. You can't leave the bathroom door open, as you are sailing it will rock back and forth making noise. If you need light at all you had better take a light.
5. Ziploc bags-perfect for anything that might leak, wet bathing suits on the way home and I keep one in my camera bag. I cut a hole big enough for my camera lens and I have a semi water resist way to still take pictures. Especially handy on a whale watching excursion.
6. Sea sickness-if you get motion sickness consider a midship cabin. Less rocking! If you like the waves book a forward cabin (I LOVE them!!!) Aft tend to feel the roar of the engines.
7. Post its- I leave NOTES on my cabin door and usually a balloon...this helps find your cabin in a long hall full of cabin doors and makes you unique.
8. Address cards-Handy to give out in case you find a table mate or a crew member you want to stay in touch with....I use this tip ALOT!!!
9. Hand Sanitizer-I don't generally use the stuff, but in foreign countries it is sometimes hard to find soap and water. Most of the ships will require you to use the stuff before you enter dining halls.
10. Hangers-I bring hangers to hang up our clothes. The closet will not have enough drawer space or hangers. Bring your own and you solve the not enough drawer space problems. I leave them at the end of the cruise for the next guest. Sometimes I have been lucky to be the recipient of another guest that left their hangers. LOVELY!
11. Travel journal-you may want to jot down things. If you are that type of person bring a notebook so you don't forget a thing.
12. Dollar bills-perfect for tipping room steward for room service (food is free but it is nice to tip), tipping a cab driver, or a porter
13. Highlighter-perfect for marking your daily map so that you won't miss the things you want to do. Also good for keeping up with shops you want to visit and grading trivia contest papers.
14. Don't be afraid to make friends-there are some great people on cruise ships, say hello. On the other hand, these people don't know you, you want to wear your speedo, ok go for it (I promise I will be snickering at you).
15. Insulated cup-get a cheap one...use it to fill with tea or water so you can take to the decks or to your room. Most cruise lines have them for sale if you forget to bring one....then you have a ship souvenir with the logo.
16. Ship map-I always at least glance at it before I leave. Find your room, the dining room and the main lobby. This will help make things easier on you. You probably will "get lost", but that is half the fun.
17. Don't forget to look for an abandoned bar/lounge/area during the daytime if you just want to read and watch the water out of the sun (or if it is raining). I like to draw and write in these areas.
18. Don't forget to shop on board. Specials last one day so if you see one you like and it is the special of the day, get it!!! Scarves, purses, and costume jewelry are usually $10 and a great deal. Some ships offer "outlet" days on a day at sea. Watch your ship newspaper for details. It is usually last seasons style but who at home will know?
19. If you drink alot of sodas purchase a soda card. A can of soda alone will cost you about $5.75, a soda card about $25 for a week. A much better deal. Coffee, water, tea, lemonade and sometimes fruit punch are free. You may bring sodas and water from home. I always do, just don't overdo it. I have seen people get on board with a 12pk of sodas with no issues.
20. Consider booking excursions before your cruise. The purser and excursion desks are nightmares. I avoid them whenever possible. Book before you go and you are guaranteed a spot. Alaska ones sell out.
For those interested, I don't mind sharing my packing list. Email me and I will send it out to you. Please let me know if you want Caribbean or Alaska, word or pdf. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com