8/11/12, around 6:34pm CDT, about 3 hours southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River
We have spent nearly 50 nights at sea. After 7 cruises, we are fairly-seasoned travelers, and we know what to pack and what not to pack. One of the funniest things we see are the unnecessary items people bring on board a ship. Things they think they’ll need, but they most likely never will. A short list, if you will:
1. 50 pairs of shoes. Really, you need three, at most – a pair of good walking shoes, preferably some that you don’t mind getting dirty, in case an excursion takes you into the woods, trails, or river/creek water a la Belize Cave tubing; a pair of nice sandals/shoes for dinner, and; a pair of beach shoes/flip flops.
2. Cases of bottled water. Yes, you can buy a case of water for $5 at the grocery store. Yes, it’s more expensive, in bottles, on the ship, but – it’s free out of bottles. Just bring a refillable bottle (one!) and use it when you go onshore. Lugging a case of water weighing 25 pounds up several flights of stairs, from your car, waiting for an hour in line, etc., is just silly.
3. A case of soft drinks. Unless you are addicted to soda, you can get – wait for it – drinks FREE on the ship. No, you won’t get sodas free, but amazingly, people CAN and DO live without soft drinks for weeks, even months at a time. Drink some tea, coffee, or water, and if all else fails, drink one or two soft drinks during the week on ship. If you cannot afford $3 for a soft drink, you probably don’t need to take a cruise until you can.
4. More than one large bag and one small bag per person, each full, for a 7-day trip. If you carry this much stuff on board, you will (a) not ever wear it all, (b) have no place to store either the clothing or the luggage, while on board, (c) have to wash clothes for three days when you get home, as everything really has to be washed after sun, sand, and sweat touch it, and most importantly (d) never be able to do self-assist, which means you get stuck on the boat, outside your room, with other depressed passengers, during debarkation day, for several hours after those doing self-assist get to leave.
5. Non-folding strollers. If your kid is too good or too small to ride in an umbrella stroller, don’t bother bringing them on the boat, frankly. Too young just means he won’t remember the trip, you won’t have a very good vacation, and he will simply annoy those of us trying to get away from infants/small children while we’re on vacation. Larger strollers also don’t fit down skinny ship hallways very well, and they are a pain in the butt on excursions. Kids should travel, but they should also not disturb those of us who either don’t have kids, have grown kids, or have small kids and have left them at home. I didn’t pay $2,500 for a week on a ship to be next door to a screaming infant nor to put up with your kids running up and down the stairs and hallways, causing people to have accidents.
6. 5-inch heels. Ladies, we know you want to look nice, but in case you didn’t realize it, the boat ROCKS while it is in motion. That means it moves side to side. That, in turn, means that it’s extremely hard to traverse slick marble/terrazzo/tile floors and stairs in heels. Just give in and look a little less glam on the ship. It’s okay.
And our personal favorite:
7. Box fans. Yes, we actually saw a family, probably from lower Louisiana we thought, carrying a box fan, in the box, on board once in NOLA. Folks, they have air conditioning on the boat, and if that goes out, a box fans probably won’t help. Perhaps this family could not sleep without “fan noise”, but even in interior cabins the sounds of the ship works like a gentle lullaby at night.