Sunday, November 3, 2013

The MVPs of our Cruise

Cruising on a budget typically means cabins without windows, ordering the cheapest drinks, and navigating narrow halls filled with kids.  So, with that in mind, here are my tips on what you’ll need to cruise (besides the obvious things):

·         Small, battery-powered tea lights.  You can buy these 2 for a dollar at most big-box stores, and if you drop one in an empty water glass at night, you can have a gentle glow in your cabin.  This is especially important in the bathroom, since the only alternative is groping around for a light switch that will absolutely wake up anybody else sleeping in the room with you.  One light typically lasts 2 nights, as long as you don’t leave it on all day.

·         Earplugs.  Yes.  Earplugs.  The squishy foam ones.  Don’t even be shy about it, just pop those suckers in and have a nap in the sun.  Ear buds won’t work as well, since the noise level can be totally overwhelming on the more family-oriented decks, and noise-cancelling headphones are probably not the aesthetic you want.

·         Sleep mask.  The tea lights help some, but depending on your proclivity to drink, you will inevitably want one of these.

·         Cork Screw and Wine. Carnival allows each person to bring on one bottle of wine or champagne at departure.  If you’re the type who can appreciate that a nice wine will be utterly pointless while eating cruise-line food, then you should also know that paying $15 a glass in the dining room, plus a $10 corking fee if you buy or bring a bottle, is a total waste.  So bring your own bottle, bring your own corkscrew, and pour yourself a glass before leaving your cabin.

o   Pro-tip for smuggling wine: you and your companion are entitled to a bottle each.  So if you carry 2 bottles and she carries 2 bottles, you’re really just carrying the wine for the group, and obviously a communication error occurred, and aren’t we very sorry about that?  Seriously, buy an extra bottle of Yellowtail and give it a try.  Double-down on the “free” drinks.

·         Nail polish and remover.  This is one of those things that can present a challenge for flying carry-on.  You certainly can’t carry a normal-sized bottle of acetone on a plane!  So put some into a smaller bottle, pop a few cotton balls into a zip-lock, and grab a few outlandish shades.  Or splurge, and buy a bottle in the ship gift shop.  On-ship massages and spa treatments are overpriced, and it’s easy to spend a fun couple of hours doing pedicures.

·         GOOD Chocolate.  Trust me, you’ll be glad to have it.  Especially on one of the cheaper lines.

·         Carry-on Luggage Only. Less is more.  Besides, what do you really need? A couple of sun dresses, a versatile pair of shorts / capris, and at most three tops.  Mix-and-match with swim-wear and a wrap, and you’ll be in no danger of repeats. I like to use a mid-sized backpack for clothes and toiletries and a messenger bag for electronics and wine – it makes getting on and off the ship, as well as to and from the airport, quite easy.   If you're a real professional, you can even find a travel cork screw for under $5, and it shouldn't upset the TSA.

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