Technology can either enhance or detract from your cruise. And while you don’t need to bring every piece of tech you have at home, there are a few items that can help elevate your cruise experience.
We have put together a list of some of the best tech regular cruisers recommend to pack on every cruise. And while you may prefer to leave all your gadgets at home in preference of a simplified vacation experience, you might find that a few of these items are a great addition to your packing list.
I won’t put your actual cell phone on this list as these days it’s pretty much implied. You can make reservations, check the daily planner, and even message members of your group using the ship’s Wi-Fi and your cell phone. Gone are the outdated tips of leaving your phone in the cruise cabin safe for the duration of the cruise.
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Here are some of the best gadgets to pack for your cruise:
1. Portable battery charger
You might be used to your phone’s internal battery lasting all day, but when you’re exploring a port of call in a foreign country that battery life could be cut in half when your phone is searching for a signal. Even if your service provider has coverage in the area to which you are cruising, having an external power supply is always a good thing to have with you.
You will be taking more pictures and videos than normal during a vacation like this and you won’t always have an outlet nearby the charge up. A portable battery charger allows you to keep your phone or other devices charged up while on the go. Walking around with 2% flashing in red on your phone just won’t cut it when you’re about to take the must-have photo.
These chargers come in a variety of sizes and capacities. I recommend having at least a 10,000 mAh portable power supply. This can be the same size or smaller than your phone but will allow enough power to charge your phone twice, as the average cell phone battery is about 4,500 mAh.
If you want to have enough power for all the devices in your group you can opt for a 15,000 or 20,000 mAh charger as well. Just make sure you pack it in your carry-on and have it all charged up prior to your trip.
On Amazon: Anker 10000 mAh portable power bank
2. Smart watch or fitness tracker
If you’re going on a destination focused cruise you will be surprised at just how much walking you will do. And that’s in addition to all the walking you will do back and forth on the ship.
Having a smart watch or fitness tracker can help monitor your activity, keep an eye on your heart rate, and even make sure you’re working off all those extra calories you’re sure to consume with all that fantastic food on board.
Most of these fitness trackers will also keep track of how many times you took the stairs instead of the elevator if you need that motivation.
While I believe 100% that vacation is a time to rest and relax, physical activity is a great way to decompress and unwind as well.
Just remember to keep that watch on cruise ship time instead of local time so you know exactly when you need to be back on the ship. You can set up a notification in case you forget and time slips by as well.
Note: Even if you don’t bring a smartwatch or fitness tracker with you I do recommend bringing a regular wristwatch that is set to ship time. You might rely on your phone for the time but your phone will automatically set to local time, which is not always the same as ship time.
3. GoPro or action camera
There’s a reason many cruise ships sell these cameras on board. Sure, your cell phone might be waterproof, but GoPro cameras are built to handle just about anything a cruise excursion can throw at it.
Whether you’re scuba diving, snorkeling, zip-lining, or driving an ATV through a tropical jungle, an action camera will not only be durable enough to survive the activity but will also smooth out all the bumps along the way.
A 360-degree camera is also a great choice to make sure you covered every angle of your adventure.
4. Bluetooth trackers for luggage
M brother, Ben, uses these on about every cruise he takes. Bluetooth trackers like AirTags or SmartTags allow you to track your luggage and any other items while your stuff is in transit.
These tracking devices can enhance your cruise experience in three ways.
First, attach them to your luggage to ensure it reaches your cabin safely. Use the app to track your bags, even during transfers at port locations. This minimizes the risk of lost or misplaced items, providing peace of mind throughout your journey.
Second, you can keep an eye on your children by attaching the AirTags or SmartTags to their belongings. The app allows you to monitor their whereabouts, ensuring their safety and preventing them from getting lost or straying too far.
Third, these Bluetooth trackers protect your belongings from theft. Attaching a tracker to your bag or valuable items enables you to receive instant notifications if someone tries to pick them up, offering an added layer of security.
While they may have limitations in areas with poor connectivity, they remain a valuable tool for cruisers wanting a little peace of mind.
5. Portable Bluetooth speaker
This one comes with a caveat. Do not bring a Bluetooth speaker if you plan to play music loudly from your balcony. I know many readers who are regular cruisers will back me up on this one. Save that Bluetooth speaker for adding some atmosphere to your cabin or adding to your beach day at shore.
Cruise lines have begun to crack down on large Bluetooth speakers that loudly blare music as it can be a safety concern if passengers cannot hear announcements over the loudspeaker. On top of that it’s just bad cruise etiquette to force everyone around you to listen to your style of music.
This is mainly on the list for playing music in the privacy of your cabin or out on an excursion with your group. Otherwise, the next gadget will be more suitable.
6. Noise cancelling headphones or earbuds
You might already have this packed for the flight you will take to get to the cruise port. If you want to drown out any excessive noise on the ship and mentally get away while you bask in the sun on a lido deck lounger this might be for you.
I know many cruisers who like to listen to podcasts and audio books while on a cruise. Use headphones instead of a Bluetooth speaker for this so you aren’t a nuisance to those around you but can still cruise the way you like.
I personally own these Sony headphones, which are a great choice for noise cancelling on flights.
7. E-Reader or tablet
Speaking of books, why not start a new book while on your cruise? Especially if your cruise has a few sea days an E-Reader with a few great books can help make the trip even more enjoyable.
And if traveling with children you already know how valuable a tablet can be, whether it’s used to play a few downloaded movies or some games it’s a great way to keep the peace.
I should note that most cruise ships have libraries if you want to check out the book selection, but it’s usually fairly limited.
An E-Reader lets you pack as many books as you can read without adding any extra poundage to the luggage.
8. Portable Wi-Fi hotspot
The internet speed on cruise ships is getting better all the time. Thanks to companies like Starlink providing fast service to many cruise lines today, you can enjoy speeds fast enough to stream movies, upload photos, and even do video calls.
But Wi-Fi reliability can be still be hit or miss. You might get super-fast speeds while in a port of call and then experience spotty coverage while cruising on a sea day.
I have used the Solis Skyroam in at least 15 countries and it’s worked great. These are perfect for river cruises as you’re almost always connected to cell towers during your cruise.
One of these hotspots will let you access the internet when you’re off the ship. While in port, don’t rely on an unsecure Wi-Fi connection from a local coffee shop. Just use your own Wi-Fi hotspot and use it for navigating the port of call if your own cell phone provider doesn’t give you free data in that area.
Check with your current cell service provider first to see what they offer.
9. Power strip
Newer cruise ships have twice as many power outlets as ships built even 15 years ago. Cruise lines know we like to travel with all kinds of devices that need to be charged so the industry has adapted.
But you may still find that your cabin doesn’t have quite enough outlets. A small power strip will make sure you don’t have to keep swapping out devices to get everything charged up.
Just note that it must be a cruise-accepted power strip, and no surge-protectors are allowed. You can find many acceptable power bars online.
Note: If you’re sailing on a ship geared more for European passengers you will want to bring along a travel adapter. Often these ships have both 110 and 220 outlets but an adapter will allow you to use all of the outlets in your cabin.
Here are a few power strips you can use on cruises. Double check to make sure they do not have a surge protector.
10. Luggage scale
While you don’t have to worry about the weight of your suitcase when getting on a cruise ship, if you’re flying back home you will want to make sure you don’t have to pay any extra fees because of all the souvenirs you picked up along the way.
I like the old school analog scales, but a digital luggage scale is a lot smaller so will take up less room in your suitcase.
Even if you don’t plan on buying much on your cruise you might be surprised at how all those little purchases add up in terms if weight.
With a luggage scale you’ll be prepared on disembarkation day, so there aren’t any unwarranted surprises.
Extra: Image stabilizing binoculars
Here’s an extra gadget that is probably not necessary but oh so worth it if you’re cruising to a destination known for incredible views along the voyage. Image stabilized binoculars take out all the excessive shake when you’re zoomed in. It makes a huge difference in actually enjoying the wildlife up close without having to hold your breath to stay still. There’s a major cost difference, but if you can afford it your Alaskan cruise will be that much better.
What tech gadgets do YOU like to bring on a cruise? Let us know in the comments below.