What will my mom need for her cruise?
November 24, 2010 2:30 PM   Subscribe

What does my mom need for her first cruise?

My mom and dad, both in their mid-to-late 50s, are going on their very first cruise in March. My mom, who has been trying to get my dad to go on a cruise for years, is understandably excited. They haven't travelled anywhere 'tropical' since they've been married!

For Christmas, I would like to make her a little basket/stocking-like gift with some things she will use on the trip. I have never been on a cruise, however, and I'm not sure what those things are (other than, say, sunscreen). So, I'm looking for some ideas of practical things, and a few fun/frivolous things that she might not think to pick up herself. Any suggestions? It's a Caribbean cruise, if it matters.
posted by torisaur to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Sea Bands just in case she or dad gets sea sick! Also, hand sanitizer, night light, new book. Also, if you know the cruise they're going on, you could go to the cruise line's website and have something nice delivered to their room as a surprise.
posted by fresh-rn at 2:43 PM on November 24, 2010

A fun parasol for shade in the sun.
Great flashy sunglasses.
A fun hat with a wide brim for skin protection
Seasickness pills for sure, just in case (not fun, but essential, just in case)
posted by HeyAllie at 2:44 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding sunglasses, some kind of anti-nausea meds, and a floppy hat, and also:
-a nice passport holder
-pen/post-it notes/highlighter (for leaving notes for each other or highlighting the daily schedule)
-something with aloe in it in case of sunburns (very expensive to buy on ship)
-a small sewing kit (with extra safety pins!)
-a travel or battery-operated alarm clock
-a disposable underwater camera if they will be doing any snorkeling
-an over the door shoe holder for the bathroom has always been useful to my family for keeping little things together

Maybe instead of a basket you could use a tote bag that she can use around/off the ship. A kit with any of the normal medicines they might need would be nice, medicine is crazy expensive on the ship.

One of my friends had her dad schedule a spa appointment for her mom halfway through their anniversary cruise for an anniversary present and she loved it- I imagine you could do something similar for a shore excursion or something as well if your mom is the type that would enjoy it.
posted by kro at 3:03 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding the night light, a battery powered one to be sure it'll be useful. Cruise ship bathrooms are surprisingly dark at night.

Candied ginger. Ginger is good as a mild anti-nausea agent, and it's yummy.

On-board massage or spa is a great idea.
posted by Nelson at 3:06 PM on November 24, 2010

A travel alarm clock
posted by Perplexity at 3:11 PM on November 24, 2010

A book of stamps so she can mail post cards from her exotic locales (if she's the postcard type)

A customized travel journal (ship name, ports of call etc) you can get that info off the cruise website.

If they're getting off the ship, include some sun hats & cheap sunglasses; they will burn even with sunblock. The cheap sunglasses are a must because they won't have to be careful with them and no harm if they lose the pair.

Digital camera or extra memory cards if they already have a camera. If your parents have a really nice (read: expensive) digital camera, consider getting them cheap version so if they're off bungee jumping or horseback riding, they can still take pictures w/o worrying about their nice camera.

Depending on the cruise line and based upon prearranging it with them, you might be able to treat your parents to a special bottle of wine or dinner at the fancy restaurant on board (something they might not treat themselves to.) Make up a hand drawn gift certificate in your best six-year-old handwriting regarding this treat to put in the basket.

If your parents are the types who make friends easily and would want to keep in touch with people they'd meet on board, design and print out calling cards for them. I'd recommend a simple card (names, city/state and email addresses). Even if they're not to social types, these kinds of cards are handy to have when traveling.

Do some in depth net research and print out a handy guide on customs/shopping tips/etc for any country they'll be stopping in (could be combined with travel journal)

How are they getting to the ship? Could you arrange for limo to pick them up and deliver them to the dock. Unless they're limo type people, your mom will feel like a glamorous world traveler.

If your parents don't ever travel:

Make up a small medical must-have kit (aspirin, seasickness, anti-diarrhea, antacid, pepto, band-aids, handi-wipes, etc). If your mom is anything like my mom, she'll take along stuff she's had around in the medicine chest and half the stuff will be out of date. That stuff's expensive to buy on ship. Make the kit small enough to tuck in a purse so she can take it with her.

If you have more computer skills then your parents, offer to make up a medical emergency list for them (him on one side, her on the other - 4 copies) and get them laminated. Again, it's better to be prepared. The info should include: primary physician name & contact info, any specialists name & contact info, prescriptions including dosage instructions and any allergies. Better to be safe than sorry.
posted by jaimystery at 3:15 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ahem, a book of stamps from the US won't work mailing from the Caribbean except from St. John, unless she plans to mail them once she gets home.

This is a great, fun, easy read for people who don't travel much. Chock full of tips to make travel a bit easier and I think there is a section just for cruise travel, but I'm not sure.
posted by HeyAllie at 3:42 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

If they're likely to go to the pool or beach, I found that having a small waterproof card holder (similar to this) was handy to carry my ship id and a little cash. I wore mine around my neck and never worried about losing my ship id.
posted by booksherpa at 4:56 PM on November 24, 2010

A book of stamps so she can mail post cards from her exotic locales

Unless their ports of call are all in the same country, this will mostly be useless. The purser's desk will usually mail your postcards for you on your behalf for a little more than the price of postage -- that way they're taking care of getting local postage for you.

If they have an inside cabin, I'd suggest a small flashlight. Because, damn, it gets dark in those cabins, and if you're a get up and got to the bathroom in the middle of the night type, you might not want to be trying to get to the lights.

Sun hats, with brims all the way round, if they don't have them.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:15 PM on November 24, 2010

Just a note on anti-seasickness drugs: Bonine and anti-drowsiness Dramamine are better than regular Dramamine; the latter can be very sleep inducing.

A disposable underwater camera.

Many businesses in the Caribbean accept US dollars but you could make little conversion tables for their wallets.

If you are local, scan and email to their accounts their main passport pages and their health insurance cards.

A water bottle might be useful; cruises provide only small cups for drinks at the buffets.

Noise-cancelling headphones if they are flying to their departure point.

A photo album for their photos.
posted by Morrigan at 7:24 PM on November 24, 2010

-A drink package of her choice-there are water, beer and mixed drinks available but are very expensive. Buying the package provides unlimited beverages at a reasonable price.

-A lightweight backpack

-Big, bright luggage tags

-A necklace/lanyard for passport, driver's license and seapass key card

-Over the door hooks-there's never enough places to hang wet garments

-A dinner reservation in one of the specialty restaurants on board

-An insulated foldup lunchbox for shore excursions and a handful of baggies to stick snacks from the food bar in for the beach or boat.

-An internet minute package

-A pair of snuggly socks for lounging around in the stateroom

-Disposable poncho to take on excursions

-Phone Cards

This site is a great jumping off point (no pun intended) for well-versed travelers.

I wish my sons were HALF as thoughtful as you are! You're a good egg....

posted by ~Sushma~ at 8:23 PM on November 24, 2010

Oh My Goodness a set of walkies. On days where the ship is at sea, the two of them may find each other wanting to do separate activities. Being able to meet up quickly and easily afterward is a godsend.

Also, seconding the small travel alarm clock. If you can, get one that has a little nightlight on top. This is for waking up so as not to sleep through the whole vacation, and for getting out of bed when it's dark and you don't want to disturb your partner.

Pay for a shore excursion! Those things are expensive.
posted by Night_owl at 11:52 PM on November 24, 2010

I respectfully disagree, the alarm clock is just another thing to remember to pack, the concierge will call you if you want to get up at a particular time, as does your Ipod, cell phone etc.. there are clocks all over the ship. A waterproof watch is much more helpful and lighter.

Walkie talkies are cumbersome, and everyone is on the same channel, they annoy other travelers and after your first cruise they will sit home thereafter. I've been tempted to throw these people overboard after hearing "can you hear me???? a thousand crackly times.

@Jaimystery: "If your parents are the types who make friends easily and would want to keep in touch with people they'd meet on board, design and print out calling cards for them.....names, city/state and email addresses). Even if they're not to social types, these kinds of cards are handy to have when traveling." - Very good idea, there are many times I needed those and didn't have. (makes list)

Try to remember that at our age, the LESS the better. We don't remember where our reading glasses are most of the time, keeping it light and simple, buy things that do multiple things. No old fart wants to carry a pile of stuff onto a ship and have to keep track of it. I'll be going on my 10th cruise next month, my sister her 40th, we've learned a LOT, mostly that we CRS.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 7:29 AM on November 25, 2010

Please get them a gift card to a book store/drug store. This way they can go before their cruise and get any reading material they might enjoy. I was so surprised that cruise ships don't sell magazines!! I wish someone had told me this before my first cruise. Luckily, you can tell your parents.


Necklace/ lanyard idea is a must. It will be the most useful thing you get them as their seapass ID card is required everywhere.

So very thoughtful of you! Great idea!
posted by hollygirl at 7:31 AM on November 26, 2010

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