Getting Ready for the High Seas:
Packing for a Cruise Vacation

Cruises are a great way to go on vacation and eliminate the fuss of getting from destination to destination. Plus, your ship is a vacation in itself: tons of restaurants, swimming pools, activities, amenities and theaters. Where could you go wrong? Preparation, of course.

When packing for a cruise, it's important to take some things into consideration and make a checklist to ensure that you're ready.

1. Clothing. When it comes to clothing, it really depends on where your cruise is going. A cruise to Alaska, for example, would require very different clothing than one to the Caribbean. Remember to look through the ship activities to find out if you will need formal clothing (sometimes ships have formal nights), swimming suits, gym clothes, etc., depending on how you want to spend your time at sea. Take into consideration, also, where you are going. Will you be in religious areas that will require covered knees and shoulders? Respect your destination's etiquette guidelines. A side note: flip flops, sunscreen and a good sun hat. Just bring them, no matter where you're going.

2. Documentation. You will need to pack your tickets and passports, obviously, but make sure to print out your check-in information and luggage tags for the ship itself. Bring identity cards, medical prescriptions, emergency numbers and travel insurance paperwork as well. Quick tip: photocopy your passports so that if they are stolen on your trip, you will be able to get home with less trouble.

3. Medication. Medical care can sometimes be in limited supply on cruise ships, so be sure to bring simple OTC medications like acid reducers, ibuprofin, etc., along with you. Also, requesting medication from onboard medics can sometimes result in you being quarantined in your room to avoid spreading it to other passengers. Even if it's just the shrimp you ate at lunch!

4. Camera. Definitely bring a camera to capture all of those memories! Plus, most people like to shut their phones off overseas in order to avoid incurring large data and roaming charges. And on that note, bring a watch! Most people have gotten used to using their phone as a timepiece and if you're not carrying it, you'll want to know when to get back to the ship so you don't miss it!

5. A moneybelt. Depending on where you are going, it may be wise to purchase a moneybelt to keep your belongings safe. In cities where pickpockets are rampant such as Rome or Barcelona, keeping your cash next to your body instead of in back pockets makes it easier to hold onto.

Bonus--two things to leave at home that you may not expect:

1. Personal appliances like your hairdryer, or electric razors. Usually, there is only one to two electrical outlets in the entire stateroom and there's no telling if it will be in the bathroom. Plus, most cruise lines offer hairdryers in each room. For shaving, grab a good old fashioned one.

2. Alcohol. Cruise lines have strict rules about alcohol. Anything brought onboard at embarkation will not be returned until the cruise is over. Plus, any alcohol purchased at ports of call will be held as well.

(Image: marekuliasz / Shutterstock)