Countdown…one month to our Alaskan cruise

Our Alaskan cruise is just a month away. Finally. This trip has been in the plans for over two years. It is hard to believe it is finally almost here.

The cruise and air fare has been paid for months. Shore excursions have been booked. I’ve spent evenings researching what you need to bring – binoculars, clothing, you name it, and I’ve read up on it. But I don’t feel any more prepared for this trip than I did before.

I think this trip is more intimidating than our last cruise (three years ago) not just because we are flying to our departure port (which limits what we can pack) but that the weather in Alaska in the summer can be so varied. One day, it might be a high of 58 but a few days later the high is in the 80s. And those are the highs. It will be cooler in the mornings/evenings and of course up on deck with the wind blowing.

And then there is the possibility of rain. It seems whenever I check the weather, it shows a chance of rain.

We live in Texas where it doesn’t rain much, and it doesn’t get cold but maybe one month a year. We don’t have gear for this. Our stores don’t carry clothes for these situations. Thankfully, there is the Internet.

Most of the advice I have heard about packing is to plan to dress in layers. And many of the sites feature suggested packing lists; however, the lists always contain things I don’t wear such as yoga pants, sweats, capris. I’ll just replace those with jeans on my list.

To help out those planning their own Alaskan cruise, I do plan to post afterwards what I took and what I wish I had or what I didn’t need.

My goal is to not over pack. But without knowing what we need that is hard. Like do you need a swim suit on an Alaskan cruise? Based on the answers online, it depends on the cruise. Some do have indoor pools or hot tubs. But packing a swim suit means I need shoes to walk to the pool/hot tub and a cover up. With packing space at a minimum, I need to decide if this is something I need to bring.

Since the kids have outgrown all their pants from last winter, I had to go buy them new ones. Thankfully, they were on clearance at the store. Then Jase needed a suit and dress shoes for “formal” nights. And Lexie needed new tennis shoes. Ugh. The thought of packing all this stuff feels overwhelming. I don’t even know how many suitcases I will need. We only took 2 for the whole family on the Caribbean cruise, but those were summer clothes and not jackets and rain coats.  (We each had our own carryon too.)

Somehow, I am sure it will work out. We will get all our necessary supplies to the cruise ship and have a wonderful time. Until then, I have four weeks to figure out how to make that happen.

Packing and buying items for our cruise

In just six days, we will be rising early to head to the Port of Galveston. There we will board the Carnival Magic for seven days of fun…with the family.

Yes, our family cruise is almost here. And by family, I mean me, my husband, my two kids, my brother and my parents. It is the first time we have all gone on vacation together. It should be interesting to say the least.

Lexie is so excited to be going on a ship. Jase is too, but I expect him to be a little bit apprehensive when he actually sees the ship. He is our worrier so the safety of the ship will be on his mind as well as not letting Lexie on to the room balcony with any of her toys – especially her favorite stuffed animal, Snowball.

This is packing week. I already have my list of what needs to be packed so that I am not taking 14 outfits per person (that would be 7 day outfits and 7 evening outfits). The goal is to wear at least shorts (or jeans) more than one day and possibly wear our evening attire for dinner on more than one occasion. I hope this will cut down on the amount we want to take.

It is hard not to want to over pack. And this isn’t like a normal vacation where you can run to the store if you forget something or need additional of an item. We will be at sea, which means you either do without or hope to find the item in the ship’s shop where it will undoubtedly be overpriced.

91IcUKlJMqL._UL1500_We made a couple of purchases recently for the trip. One was a garment bag. We have sufficient suitcases but since we are bringing suits for the boys and nice dresses for the girls and cannot bring an iron, I wanted something that might transport these clothes with the least amount of wrinkles. I bought the bag on Amazon’s Prime Day Sale so it was 30% off and of course is something my husband can use for travel. He is an attorney so often needs to pack suits. Before we only had a bag that held one suit at a time, which was good for overnight trips.

I also bought a small purse for carrying my room key and whatever I need while I am up on deck. If I am in shorts, I figure I would just have stuff in my pockets but in a sundress, there is no way to carry your room key which in our case also lets the staff know we are on Carnival’s unlimited soda plan. You can’t get a soft drink (or juice) without your room key.

91gUSeAptTL._UL1500_I found this cute little purse on Amazon and bought both the grey and tan colors. I tried the tan one on my recent PTA leadership conference (more on that next week). It worked out great. It easily fit my iPhone 5, my car keys, ID, credit card and some money. Since I don’t carry a lot typically in my purse, I can see myself using this at home too.

71UQSXTAeML._SL1500_Another item that we bought earlier this year was digital cameras for each kid. I wanted something that each of them could easily use. The Nikon CoolPix S32 received good reviews and as a bonus, it is waterproof and shockproof.

DSCN0062We have spent part of the summer testing it out at Sea World and our neighborhood pool. It works great and is very easy to use. (The photo to the right was taken with this camera.)

Now I think we are ready for this cruise…or we have just a few more days to figure out if we have everything. I will give a report on our trip later this month. But just because I am gone next week, it doesn’t mean I won’t be posting. I already have topics scheduled so you guys won’t even miss me.

Planning for our cruise is still under way

In just 61 days, my family – along with my parents and brother – will embark on a Caribbean cruise as a joint celebration for my dad’s 80th birthday and my husband and my 20th wedding anniversary.

cruise list

Yes, we got our passports taken care of in February (or March for our son since they didn’t think the first birth certificate was official). We booked our shore excursions early too.

Occasionally over the past few months, we have briefly talked about things to take on the cruise and even bought a few things – water shoes, biodegradable suntan lotion and a new camera since ours stopped working on our last beach trip.

Now being a major planner, I need to start thinking about what we are going to pack and whether we need to buy anything else for the trip. One of my major concerns is over packing. It is easy to want to bring everything you think you might need, but the cruise cabin is not very big. We won’t have tons of room so packing smartly is needed.

Formal Nights

CIMG2188On our cruise, there will be two “formal” nights. Soon after we booked our cruise in December, we bought my daughter two nice dresses that were on an after-Christmas sale. Both my husband and I are already set for these nights, but my son has never really had the opportunity to dress up. I thought we might get by with dress slacks and a dress shirt. No so. Jase wants a suit, so he can be like daddy. (My husband is an attorney and often must wear a suit, though he hates it.) Now we bought Lexie’s dresses the next size up since we were buying them eight months before the cruise. I have been holding off with buying Jase’s suit. i am too afraid of a growth spurt causing it not to fit. I think we will buy it in July – a mere month before the trip.

Toys and kid technology

Typically when we travel, the kids pack a backpack with toys, stuffed animals, and their iPad/iPods. On our trip to Disney World last year, they were required to be able to carry this backpack through the airport. On this trip, I assume we will do the same, but I really want to limit at least them bringing any small toys that could get lost. Part of me doesn’t think they will use their toys very often but there will be some down time where they may need to get away from all the stimulus of the cruise and relax in the room.  Their iPads will go on the trip too but will be regulated to staying in the cabin.

And packing isn’t the only thing I need to think about. I am going to have to figure out how much cash we need to take for tipping of the people on our shore excursion and for buy souvenirs at vendors who don’t take credit cards. That reminds me…I need to add letting the credit card company know we will be out of the country, so they don’t think our cards were stolen to my list. See? So much to do and think about for a planner like me.