Don't Forget One Of The Last Stops You Should Make Before A Cruise

You're getting ready for your cruise: Your pre-departure hotel is booked, your transfers are arranged, and your documents are organized in order of need in a waterproof wallet. You're ready to embark on your cruise. But wait! There's one more stop to make before you get on board: the supermarket.

"But the cruise is all-inclusive! I don't want to cook for myself on vacation!" We hear you. However, there are a few things you should stock up on before your cruise to make life onboard a little more comfortable. Yes, you might have paid in advance for the all-inclusive drinks packages, and you know that you're going to get three or more meals per day. But after a couple of days, you may begin to miss your favorite granola bar as an afternoon pick-me-up or crave your preferred brand of coffee in the morning. Here's when the supermarket becomes an unsung hero.

Food and drinks

The food and drink offerings onboard a cruise ship are usually delicious and wide-ranging. But if you're traveling with kids who are picky eaters, or if you have certain preferences yourself (3 p.m. is Snickers time, and nothing else will fill the hole), then you'll want to swing by a supermarket and pick up some supplies.

Most cruise lines will allow you to bring a certain amount of food and drinks onboard. Carnival, for example, allows passengers to bring up to 12 sealed cans or cartons of non-alcoholic beverages onto the ship, and passengers who are over the age of 21 can bring one 750 ml bottle of sealed wine or champagne in their carry-on luggage. Royal Caribbean has a similar alcohol policy but also allows non-alcoholic drinks in bottled or canned form on their ships. Check each cruise line's policy carefully before you travel.

In terms of food, pre-packaged foods tend to be permitted; homecooked or perishable foods are not. Granola bars, candy, chips, and a few cans of soda are all great items to have handy in case hunger or thirst strike. Who doesn't enjoy a little midnight snack while on vacation sometimes?

More supermarket essentials

Most cruise ships have a limited supply of essentials available, like toiletries and over-the-counter medications. But it's best to bring your own because items bought on a cruise ship are more expensive than in your local grocery store. 

So, first, do a supermarket sweep in the toiletries aisles — go through your normal routine at home in your head, and think about what products you use. Next, cover all eventualities related to medication: Seasickness tablets, headache pills, anti-diarrheal medications, Band-Aids, and other items to treat cuts and scrapes are all good to put on your list. Finally, while there are seemingly endless options for entertainment on most cruise ships, sometimes you just need a little downtime in your cabin (especially if you're traveling with kids). Grab a couple of games, a pack of cards, and even a good paperback in the supermarket for some relaxation time. When you're on your cruise, you'll be glad you were so prepared.