With these disasters in mind, many cruisers have begun making changes to their packing lists – some to include cruise emergency kits – so we decided to research the current recommendations and put together the essential list of items to pack in your cruise ship emergency kit.
1. Survival rations
Engine room fires, generator malfunctions, and more have caused the lavish buffets and gourmet dining to come to a full stop when the power is knocked out and the cruise ship is disabled. In cases like these, some survival rations are a good idea. Think high protein snacks like packs of nuts or granola bars that won’t take up a lot of space in your luggage.
Of course, this isn’t just a tip for cruise ship trips. If you’ve ever been stuck in an airport while a snowstorm grounds all planes, you know the value of having a few snacks.
2. Backup power
When the cruise ship loses power, your opportunity to charge your devices is over. What could be a timely phone call home (if you can catch a signal) to let friends and family know your situation may not happen without backup power. Many cell phone manufacturers are coming up with extended power packs, but having extra batteries on hand as well as solar-powered or hand-generated chargers helps too.
3. Headlamps with extra batteries
While many people will pack a flashlight, we recommend LED headlamps instead. In a true emergency, a headlamp has a lot to offer – specifically it’s very light and hands-free. The newer headlamps are smaller and they come with LED illumination which takes much less battery power. Still, after testing your headlamp, toss some extra batteries in plastic zippered bag just in case.
4. Reusable water bottles
In a situation where the cruise ship is disabled, having full water bottles can ensure you stay hydrated if the water system is disabled. We recommend filling them with fresh water, popping them into your in-room refrigerator or another safe place and keep them filled at all times. When you empty your water bottle, fill it again so that if something happens, you’ll have enough fresh water to keep you comfortable.
5. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes
In a recent cruise disaster, the toilets stopped working. This is not the healthiest scenario no matter where you are, and packing hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes can make the difference. Keeping your hands scrupulously clean is also necessary – especially on cruise ships – because of the relatively tight quarters and relatively high rates of norovirus.
6. Basic over-the-counter medications
Medications on board the cruise ship and in the ports you encounter will be pricey and if you don’t want to spend your vacation dollars on some antibiotic gel and a bandage when you cut your finger, it makes sense to have what you need with you.
See What’s in your Travel Medical Kit? for a list of essential items.
7. Your passport
Even if you know which ports you’ll be visiting and are sure you don’t need your passport to get into and out of those ports, if a cruise emergency happens the ship may be diverted or towed into a port where your passport is required. In these cases, those passengers who are required to disembark will want to have their passport – especially if they’re being flown home!
8. Travel insurance
While no travel insurance plan will help you escape a disabled ship after you’ve sailed, it can help if you need an emergency medical evacuation off the ship. If you want protection in case you decide to cancel your trip because there are just too many reports of disabled ships with one cruise line or another, be sure you have ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage.
See Why Cruise Travel Insurance Can’t Rescue Passengers when the Cruise Ship Fails for more details.
One final tip …
Now, more than ever before, it’s a good idea to have the right luggage to avoid airline checked bag fees and because cruise lines allow passengers to skip the checked luggage line if they can carry it themselves. You won’t have to deal with delays while you wait for your luggage to arrive and you can get on with your cruise or get a head start getting home while everyone else waits for theirs.