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Cruise kit for Spring Break survival at sea

The open sea, wind in your face, the refreshing salty air and the gentle rocking of the sea. Snap back to reality: did you pack enough clothes? Did you remember your passport? Did you bring enough money?

These are all good questions to ask yourself before you set foot on a ship for that spring break cruise you’ve been dreaming about.

The first thing to consider is your passport. Is it updated? Do you need one, or will a copy of your birth certificate work?

Lisa Easter, who works for Washington Travel, suggests leaving a photo copy of your passport and driver’s license at home in case they are lost. That way they will be much easier to replace. Easter also recommends putting your name inside your suitcase as well as on the tags outside.

Now on to the daunting task of packing a suitcase — you will pack other things besides your swimsuit, in case you didn’t know. Easter suggests packing clothes that do not wrinkle easily.

“Leave cottons at home unless you want to spend the day ironing,” Easter said.

Pack clothes that are easily layered and that can be mixed and matched for day and eveningwear. For example, bring a shirt that can be dressed up with a skirt and a jacket for dinner but worn with pants or shorts during the day. Easter also advises spring breakers to bring colors that can easily be matched like red, black and white. Also, contact your travel agent for an itinerary so you know whether or not you need to bring formal wear.

“I tend to overpack anyway, so I think on a cruise I definitely will because you don’t know what you’re going to do until you get there,” said Jennifer Thompson, a USF student going on a cruise for Spring Break.

Easter also suggests packing a mini first aid kit, just in case. Bring things like pain relievers, Band Aids, alcohol wipes and pocket-sized hand sanitizer. Also, bring something for an upset stomach, especially if you’re going to Mexico. You get the drift. And don’t forget sunscreen. You want to tan, not fry. Buy your sunscreen before you get on the boat because the ship may only have one brand, and you could be allergic to it.

“Bring an old T-shirt to protect your back from burning,” Easter said. “The sun cuts through the water.”

If you’re worried about money and exchange rates, Easter suggests travelers cheques or the Visa Travel money card that acts like travelers cheques but with the convenience of a credit card. It will also automatically calculate exchange rates. Either option is better than the risk of having your cash stolen.

“I’d rather have it (money) and not need it than need it and not have it,” Thompson said. “That’s what my mom always says.”

But you do want to make sure you have a little cash for tips. Room stewards, servers and bartenders should be tipped, according to Easter.

“Room stewards leave a guide in the room to let you know how much to leave,” Easter said.

Also, any beverages like sodas and alcoholic drinks are not included.

“You’d be surprised, it can really add up,” Easter said. “Some (ships) offer a refillable cup for $20-$30 but it may be worth it.”

Also, before you leave, do your research. Read up on where you are going. Go to the travel agency that booked your cruise, and figure out the excursions offered. Excursions are activities that cruises offer while at a port. Learn what each place you’re visiting has to offer, Easter said. If you go to Cancun, you may want to visit the ruins. If you are going to the Grand Cayman, you might want to take a snorkeling or diving excursion.

“You want to take advantage of that sight-seeing and not just walk around the stores when you get to shore,” Easter said.

So make sure you do your research, pack accordingly and be prepared for anything. But also remember to have fun, get tan, be safe and relax knowing you have a whole week without the stresses of classes.