Bringing extras with you on any trip can mean baggage fees and other inconveniences, and we're often struggling to pack less - not more. There are, however, some items you can bring along which could save you money. In many cases they're even things you already have at home.
1) OTC meds. Ships have sundries but simple things like Tylenol or Advil will cost you big money compared to on land, so bring a few with you and avoid sticker shock. You can often find small kits with a variety of medications which can be great to keep in your carry-on. Also know that most ships will charge for sea-sickness medications, but in this article we tell you how to get it for free, along with other seasickness remedies.
2) Wine, beer, soda, or water. Most cruise lines don't permit you to bring a bunch of liquor on (though this isn't true in the more luxury lines where they're not as concerned with on-board revenue). That in mind, most lines do still allow you to bring a little something. For example, Royal Caribbean allows two bottles of wine per stateroom, and Carnival similarly allows you to bring a bottle of wine per guest. They have varying policies on other beverages, such as water and soda, but often look the other way. NCL tends to be a bit less forgiving on these fronts. Some people try and sneak on more than what's allowed, something we've discussed before.
3) Detergent & magnetic hooks. Ships have laundry services available, but they're not cheap, and while some have self-service laundry facilities for a couple of quarters, we don't like spending our vacation time this way. If you're looking to save some luggage space by doing laundry on the ship, brig a small quantity of detergent and wash critical items in your sink. When your done, use magnetic hooks to hang the items to dry on the metal ceiling in your stateroom. While there are often clotheslines in the shower, we find the humidity and reduced circulation means things dry much more quickly hanging them up in an area other than the restroom.
4) Cash. We don't bring much cash with us at all, but make sure you bring enough, as ATM fees on ships and near touristy areas are quite high. If you do need to get more cash, head to the casino or guest services where you can often get money charged to your on-board account for 1-3%. If you want to know more about paying things while abroad (with cash or credit) we've got answers here.
5) Past punch cards and coupons. If you've cruised before with the same line and have any remaining punch cards, vouchers, etc be sure to bring them along. Often they're valid on future sailings, and even if not, asking nicely can sometimes bend rules. No, drink packages don't work this way.
6) RF blocking pouch. If you're not planning on getting shipboard internet (which can vary greatly in speed and cost depending on the line), pick up a pouch that will keep your phone from getting a cellphone signal while inside. This is another layer of protection (in addition to keeping your phone in airplane mode), as if your phone does connect to the ship's cellular network, you could get a bill in the thousands, without even actively using your device. Want to stay connected at sea? We have information on roaming, shipboard WiFi, and more.
7) Sandwich bags. They take up almost no space, and in addition to being handy for staying organized, you'll be glad you brought them along when you head to the beach or pool and keep your phone and other electronics inside. Sea water, rain water, and even sand can be damaging, so a couple pennies for baggies can save a ton in the flash of an eye. It's hard to imagine you need a video to explain plastic bags, but if you're so inclined, we made one:
8) Passports. While you may not need a passport to cruise (depending on your nationality, where the cruise is sailing, etc) it's definitely best to have one. This will save you a lot of time and money in the event you miss the ship in port, have to leave in the event of an emergency, etc. If you don't have a passport you'll need to go (potentially fly) to the nearest embassy, and often wait a few days - all of which can add thousands of dollars to the cost of your trip.