A lot of people get ready for a cruise vacation by hitting the mall or online shops to purchase a few items they think they will need onboard, but I've walked away later on regretting some of these purchases.
Whether I thought they would make my life easier, or just improve the vacation experience, in practice, some items I've bought for my cruise ended up not being what I expected.
Typically what happens is I will be browsing the internet and run across someone with a neat gadget, or read about something that might make my day at the beach or in my cabin better. At the time, it sounds like a revelation and I usually end up buying it because I think to myself how could I not buy it to improve my vacation.
Just like rompers, duck-faced selfies, or flat brim hats with the sticker still on it, we just aren't as hip as we thought. Or perhaps the product ended up not living up to the hype.
Here is my own list of things I bought for a cruise that ended up being a terrible purchasing decision for me.
A few times in my life, my late-night television browsing has come back to bite me, and this happened when I saw a commercial for smart luggage.
Smart luggage is supposed to be an enhancement to traditional bags you pack, where it not only optimizes the space better, it can charge your mobile devices, and maybe even last forever. In a world of traditional luggage that rips too easily and looks boring, why wouldn't I go for one of these bags?
After I bought it on a whim, I realized first and foremost that it was quite expensive. While you can find luggage at all sorts of prices, smart luggage are anything but cheap in cost.
After the new luggage arrived at home, I realized how small it was. Clearly, it was meant for business travelers who want to do a carry-on only kind of trip. Since cruise ships do not charge for luggage, sticking with just carry-on bags has never been a priority.
And then you have the smart features, like being able to charge your device or even tracking. Sounds neat, but in practice, it's more of a gimmick. In fact, the lithium-ion battery packs are sometimes not permitted by airlines.
So essentially, I overpaid for luggage that did nothing more than I had before, but with less space.
If you watch YouTube enough, you will run across some amazing videos of people doing some really fun activities and it is all captured on action cameras that can handle wind, water, heat, and sand, while delivering incredible high-fidelity pictures.
I bought a GoPro so that we could capture our family trips, especially when on shore excursions. I thought the GoPro would be perfect for the kids and we could remember all the times we swam, jumped, and dove.
My issue with buying a GoPro isn't the quality of the video or anything the GoPro promises. It is exactly as advertised when you edit and upload your footage.
The problem is video editing is downright awful. If you want your video to not be a snoozefest, you will need to invest many hours editing it all down. This is tedious and has a steep learning curve.
Moreover, the particular model I bought had no viewfinder or way to see what I'm filming, or review it later. Subsequent models of GoPro have a small screen, but I was filming blindly and hoping it looked okay later.
After one trip and many hours of editing later, I stopped bringing the GoPro because I could not be bothered to spend the necessary time making it all look good. Perhaps that's just the perfectionist in me, but it seemed more trouble than it was worth.
The worst part of any beach day is if you accidently step on a rock, crustacean, seaweed, or anything else pointy or slimy in the ocean. So the obvious answer is to buy water shoes, right?
I have bought at least 3 pairs of water shoes over the years to address this problem and every time I come to the same conclusion that I wasted my money.
All water shoes feel weird when you wear them in water. They are clingy and make my feet feel like they are trapped in a rubber/silicone bag. So yes, I feel better about not touching seaweed or something else mysterious underwater, but I still feel icky.
Equally important is the fact the bottoms are not puncture proof, so you still have to walk gingerly to avoid stepping on something really sharp.
Worst of all, after you are done in the ocean, you are stuck with a soaking wet (and likely sandy) pair of shoes that are a burden to bring back to the ship. Not to mention the added bulk of carrying them with you.
Another "I can't wait to bring on my cruise so I can get amazing video" idea was to buy a drone.
My plan was buy one, and then take amazing aerial footage of my cruise ship and the places I visit.
The problem is Royal Caribbean prohibits anyone from operating a drone on the ship or at their private islands.
On top of all of that, every country has its own rules about where you can operate drones and the last thing I want to do is get in trouble with the local authorities because my drone went somewhere it should not.
Ultimately, I regretted buying a drone because you cannot use it near the cruise ship and footage of my backyard is just not that exciting.
Clothes washing device
Royal Caribbean does not have any self-service laundry option on its ships, and dry cleaning is pricey, so washing clothes is tough on a cruise ship.
You can hand wash small items in your bathroom sink, but you are really limited to smaller garments. Plus, it can be a big mess.
I remember running across a Facebook ad for a device that you could toss your clothes into and similar to Shake n Bake, wash your clothes easily without much fuss.
This item is really intended for campers, but it seemed the perfect way to get pants and shirts clean for another use.
I don't think it was much of an improvement in terms of effort over filling the bathroom sink or tub with water and washing clothes there. So it ended up being money I did not need to spend to achieve similar results to what I had going before.