A Christmas cruise can be one of the most entertaining, relaxing, and exotic ways to spend the holidays. But as much as they feel like proper resorts, cruise ships come with certain limitations – space comes at a premium, shared facilities are often limited, and some small luxuries are offered at exorbitant prices. And even if none of these can pull you out of your Christmas mood, there are still a few things you can do to make a good vacation truly spectacular.

The Space Factor

Experience is the best teacher, as Caesar liked to say, and although my first cruise a few years ago left me enough beautiful memories to last a lifetime, it also taught me some hard lessons. Number one – storage space on a ship is restricted, so a bit of planning now can save you tons of inconvenience later.

First, I always carry a hanging shoe organizer with me to utilize the empty vertical space inside the closet. I even got a second one recently for all the miscellaneous tidbits that otherwise clutter the luxury interior of a cabin.

Cruise hanging shoe organizer.

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Second, I never understood the use of hanging toiletry bags until I saw the minimalistic cruise-ship bathrooms. Now, I never leave without one of these, which I fold out and hang on the inside of the bathroom door for convenient access to all my skincare products.

Hanging toiletry bag for cruises.

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And finally, I will never forget my poor husband’s face, when he dragged my huge suitcases into the cabin and realized there was not enough room for all three. Thankfully, the good people at Rollink have come up with this genius collapsible suitcase, which has all the benefits of a hard shell, but it folds flat as a pancake when you need to stow it away.

collapsible suitcase

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Speaking of Suitcases…

Yours will be one of several thousand pieces of luggage that the crew will have to handle in record time upon embarkation. Mistakes will happen, and when they do, this Bluetooth tag could save you lots of trouble.

bluetooth luggage tags

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In addition, the cruise line will email you luggage tags, which you must print out and attach to your bags. I remember my husband printing ours the night before and duct-taping them onto the suitcases, but you can do better with a few inexpensive universal luggage tag holders. 

cruise luggage tags holders

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Small Print Costs Big Money

Mains sockets on ships are often made to one particular standard, and adapter plugs are sold at shameless prices on board. Fool me once, shame on you, but I am not falling for that again. Now I always bring at least two universal power strips in my luggage, and I advise you to do the same. Just make sure they are cruise ship compliant, like this one from Cruise On.

cruise approved power strip

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Another avoidable expense is ironing, as irons are not provided in the cabins for safety purposes. So, instead of paying a month’s salary for a week’s worth of laundry services, go for this wrinkle releaser spray. It works amazing and smells fresh.

wrinkle releaser spray for cruising

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Cruise ships are fun – movie theatres, gala evenings, yoga classes – but sometimes you just want to spend some time on your own. For those quiet and meditative hours, nothing beats reading and journaling. There is one place where a Kindle is a priceless possession, and this place is called “in the middle of the ocean”. Not only are eBook readers compact and lightweight, but you could also consider an Amazon Prime subscription, which comes with a free 30-day trial. Ehem… the average cruise is one to two weeks (hint, hint).

amazon prime

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Or if you prefer to put your thoughts and impressions on paper, I wholeheartedly recommend this beautiful cruise logbook, which looks and feels like something sneaked out of the bridge.

cruise log book journal

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But you are out at sea, remember? The view out the window isn’t so shabby either, what with the blue whales, glacier-covered cliffs, or golden sunsets touching a tropical horizon. Why, if only you had a pair of binoculars… This time you will. The good ones, in my experience, come with a phone attachment, so that you can snap a few photos for your mother, who would otherwise refuse to believe you saw that brown bear fishing by the shore. 

binoculars for a cruise

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Speaking of photos, a decent camera is a smart investment that can last you many years. For cruises, I prefer a mirrorless one, as it is smaller and lighter than a DSLR, without sacrificing performance. Accessories are also more compact, especially the notoriously bulky zoom lenses that let you capture elusive wildlife and distant seascapes.

canon camera

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And finally, emergency entertainment for children. Unless you are on a Disney cruise, your kids are bound to get bored at some point, and as much as I approve of educational toys and games, nothing beats a Nintendo Switch when you need fast results. As compact as a smartphone, it can be paired with a cool case for extra visual appeal. Also keeps husbands amused.

nintendo switch

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nintendo switch Mario case

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Bathing and Wellness

Regardless of whether you are sailing to Alaska or Aruba this December, swimsuits, trunks, and beach essentials are a must for the entire family. And despite the numerous onboard attractions, few people can resist the occasional exotic shore excursion. In such cases, a reliable beach bag with good-quality sunscreen and a few fun beach accessories is all you need to continue your maritime adventure on dry land.

Cruise day trip beach bag.

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coral friendly sun screen

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And Don’t Forget Christmas!

Just because you are on a ship, doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself of that cozy holiday mood you have been craving all year long. And although setting up your own Christmas tree in the cabin might be a step too far, a fluffy festive sweater and a few Christmas stockings may be all you need to feel at home out at sea. And, if you have some spare room in your luggage, throw in a few fun items, like a vintage Santa swimsuit or reindeer beach shorts. Why not?

Christmas sweater

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Christmas stockings

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Christmas swimming shorts

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The Shipyard

P.S. Looking for Christmas gifts? Here are seven gift ideas for ship-lovers!

P.P.S. Are you a RMS Titanic fan? Check out these instant downloads!

P.P.P. S. Check out my complete cruise essentials list here!

*All products recommended here are things I have used myself. I have selected my favorites and those I would purchase again. Some of the links may be affiliate links. If you choose to purchase after clicking a link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

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