Cruise Vacation 101: How to Prep & What to Pack
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One of the brightest thoughts that carried me through the year I spent in the hospital fighting pediatric Osteosarcoma was my Make-A-Wish. I knew that once I had finished my chemotherapy and was finally in remission, my wish for a tropical vacation would come true. Images of the Caribbean Ocean and tropical fish often carried me through some of the darkest times of my treatment. Finally, a year after I had been diagnosed and 3 months after finishing my last chemotherapy, my family and best friend finally embarked on a 7-day Caribbean cruise. It truly was the most magical vacation of my life.
After Dustin and I got married, I knew that I wanted to be able to share the same magical experience with him and go on a cruise! We talked about going on a cruise so often during the first couple years of our marriage, but we just were never financially secure enough to swing it. This last Christmas, though, Dustin surprised me with tickets for a 7-day Caribbean cruise and before I knew it, we were on a huge ship in the open sea, exploring tropical islands, swimming with sea turtles and feeding exotic birds. We knew the second we got our feet back to the United States shore, we would start saving and planning for our next cruise right away.
Cruising is probably one of the best (and most cost-effective ways) to experience a variety of different places and cultures. Almost everything is included in a cruise such as food, housekeeping and entertainment, so you only have to worry about what you are doing when at port. Since it had been so long since I had been on my last cruise (almost 10 years) Dustin and I were both a little lost when it came to getting ready for our cruise and figuring out what to pack, and how much. Since we’re getting ready for our next one this winter, I wanted to write this all down so that I can remember it and so others will have a general idea of what to do and not get overwhelmed by the cruise preparation process!
How to Prepare For your Cruise:
1. Arrange your travel to the cruise terminal
You are responsible for getting yourself and your luggage to the cruise port where you ship is docked. Since we flew into Houston, we had to get to Galveston where the ship was leaving from (about an hour drive.) We thought about getting an Uber or taxi but ultimately decided to book a shuttle through our actual cruise line so that we wouldn’t have to worry about getting there late or getting lost on the way. It was a little more expensive than other options, but it was worth it for the peace of mind knowing that we just had to get on the shuttle and everything else would be taken care of for us.
2. Print ALL travel information, reservation numbers, and tickets
Most cruise lines allow you to check into your cruise a few days before, so you can print out your luggage tags, your plane information, and the procedure for boarding the ship. We also had to fill out a health questionnaire to hand in at the cruise counter. I made sure I had EVERY important piece of information printed out and stapled together, including copies of our health insurance and passports in case our wallets got lost. We kept all of the information in a folder that I carried on me at all times until we got into our room on the cruise and could put it in the safe. I know that’s a little extreme, but I’d rather be safe than sorry!
3. Get your skin ready
Since we cruised during February, Dustin and I were both pasty and pale. Since I already did the whole cancer thing, I’m not one to lay out in the sun for hours at a time because I don’t need a reason for cancer to come back into my life. But, I still wanted to look like I had a good summer glow going and decided to get a head start by creating my own sunshine and prepping my skin the week before we left for our vacation by using products from the JERGENS® Natural Glow® line. I spotted a whole slew of their Natural Glow® products while at Walmart picking up a few last minute items for our cruise (like a watch and bug spray) and thought they would be the perfect solution for getting a Caribbean glow without subjecting my skin to hours in the sun!
My Glow Process:
I picked up the JERGENS® Natural Glow® Color Primer In-Shower Scrub and the JERGENS® Natural Glow® 3 Days to Glow™ Moisturizer. I knew that getting the primer was a must because my skin was so dry from living in Arizona and it needed to be exfoliated in order for the glow moisturizer to apply evenly and look natural. I love that the primer is tough enough to give my skin a nice clean slate, but gentle enough to use on my scar without irritating it. I spent a nice chunk of time really applying the primer to my legs and arms before the first application and made sure to apply in circular motions in order to exfoliate as much as possible!
After I got my skin prepped and primed, I was able to apply my glow moisturizer to my legs and arms and upper chest. I find that I have the most success in applying this gradual glow moisturizer with a dense buffer makeup brush because it applies it evenly, buffs it into the skin smoothly and prevents my hands from getting stained. I always apply my lotion in circular motions to get the most natural and streak-free look.
Tip: Beware your dry areas, like your elbows, knees and knuckles. Use the lotion sparingly in these areas so that it goes on evenly; a good rule of thumb is to use 1/2 the amount you would normally use in those areas.
I continued to apply my gradual glow moisturizer every day until I got the desired color I wanted and then continued to apply it every 3-4 days to keep the color! And, you bet that both products came with me on my cruise so I could maintain my glow throughout my trip!
What to Pack (Items):
There are a few things we brought with us that were a little unconventional, so I want to mention them here for anyone else planning on going on a cruise:
A digital watch: Since time zones change between ports of call and cell phones don’t work in the Caribbean, we picked up a cheap 5 dollar digital watch so that we could keep time while at the different stops.
Air Freshener: Cruise cabins can get a little musty, especially if you are at the bottom of the ship! I made sure to bring a car air freshener and we hung it in the room about half way through our trip to keep everything smelling clean!
Selfie Stick: I swore I would NEVER own one, but we ended up bringing one with us so we wouldn’t have to worry about handing our cell phones over to complete strangers to get a picture of us.
Empty Water bottle: Since water is free on the ship (and soda is not) we each brought a water bottle that we could fill up and keep with us at all times!
What to Pack (clothes):
I definitely overpacked on our last cruise because I just wasn’t sure what to expect. Looking back on what I brought, I know I could have easily left 1/3 of it home, if not a 1/2! I spent most of the day in my bathing suit and cover-up because we were on the deck swimming or lounging in the shade on a hammock. On days we were in port, I was still in my bathing suit and a coverup (either a sundress or tee & shorts) so, the only clothes I needed to worry about was what I would wear in the evenings to dinner and to the shows we went to.
I now know that I could bring 2 dresses, one shirt, one skirt and two different “layers” and be able to mix and match to create enough outfits to wear throughout the week. Plus, I realized that I didn’t care if I wore the same dress two different nights, I didn’t know anyone there but my husband and he didn’t care!
What to pack for evening:
1 Maxi Dress
1 Fancy dress (for the elegant dinner)
1 Maxi skirt
1 plain colored v-neck
1 print kimono/cardigan
Night One: Plain colored v-neck & maxi skirt with delicate necklace
Night Two: Maxi dress with vest and delicate necklace
Night Three: Fancy Dress (usually formal attire is required 1-2 nights on cruise)
Night Four: Plain colored v-neck with maxi skirt, kimono & statement necklace
Night Five: Maxi dress with statement necklace
Night six: Plain colored v-neck with vest and delicate necklace
Night seven: Fancy Dress
The thing I hate the most about vacations is coming home and having to unpack and do laundry. It’s just so depressing! So, by packing a few versatile items that can be combined several different ways for evenings on the cruise, you’re saving yourself from laundry and from packing woes! Plus, you’ll have more room in your suitcase to bring home souvenirs!
Prepping and packing for a cruise vacation can be a bit overwhelming, but having your skin ready to glow and your outfits ready to put on will help you relax and enjoy your trip!
I want to know: have you tried any products from the JERGENS® Natural Glow® line? Have you been on a cruise? What are your tips and tricks for packing and prepping for a tropical vacation?