Cruise Enthusiast's Gift Guide

Posted by Doug Stallings on December 08, 2009 at 10:49:26 AM EST | Post a Comment

If you're still shopping for Christmas, there are some suggestions for what to buy those loved ones who love to cruise. I've tried to give some suggestions at several different price points so you should find a gift suggestion on this rather short list whether you want to save or splurge. And keep in mind that these gifts would be just as useful for a regular traveler as they would be for a constant cruiser.

$25 and under

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The amazing and powerful little Brookstone Twist Light doesn't need batteries. Instead, you just twist it for 30 seconds to get an amazingly bright LED light. It's an important thing to have in case there's ever an emergency at sea. And it's feather light. This is good for all travelers, but every cruiser should have a flashlight (especially if you want to get up at night for the bathroom and don't want to wake your cabin mate).

One of the mysteries of life is why cruise-ship cabins do not have clocks. But if you are like me and don't want to limit yourself to a wake-up call, then a travel alarm is de rigeur for any cruise. If you don't want to use the alarm on your watch or cell phone, then an inexpensive, useful alternative is the Nightfinder Travel Alarm Clock light-up alarm from L.L. Bean. It's easy to use, and the numbers are big and bright in the dark.

Many cruise cabins don't have enough drawers (or have closets that are inconveniently located). You can solve that problem and keep useful and often-used items within easy reach by using a simple hanging shoe organizer. These are cheap. The one I recommend has nine pockets, comes from the Container Store, and costs less than $10.

One of the most versatile pieces of clothing you can have in the tropics (and not just on a cruise-ship) is a sarong (or a pareo, depending on what you want to call it). These are useful for both men and women, and if you get a less flowery variety, they look fine regardless of your sex. They weigh next to nothing and dry in a couple of hours. Throw one in your bag, and you have a cover-up or very light-weight beach towel and don't have to worry about borrowing (and carrying) a heavy beach towel from the ship.

$200 and under

Frankly, I never thought I used my expensive, heavy video camera enough to justify its price. You will have no problem justifying the Flip Mino HD video recorder. The 60-minute version takes crisp video and helps you upload your vacation right to YouTube. And it costs less than $200.

Apple has made their small music player infinitely more useful by adding video capability. If you don't think you'll take enough videos to justify spending $200 for a dedicated video recorder (and especially if you want a music player that can also play a few movies), iPod Nano is the best value around. Plus, it weights next to nothing.

$500 and under

What avid cruiser doesn't want to keep a blog of his or her trips or just have a place to store photos and short videos? Well, you don't want to lug around a 7- or 10-pound laptop with you on your cruise. The tiny HP Mini 311 Netbook weighs a little over 3 pounds and runs Windows 7, and it's hard drive holds an amazing 160 GB in its basic configuration. This is a great netbook for travel.

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  • Doug_Stallings Fodor's editor on Dec 10, 09 at 03:23 PM

    Well, if you are going to advertise, then I'm going to give a little editorial response. I have never found these Mobal phones a very good deal for most people. The reason to carry a mobile phone with you is to make local calls (international calls are NEVER a good deal on cell phones). And you can buy a regular unlocked phone on ebay for much less than $99 and then buy a SIM card wherever you travel to make local calls much cheaper.

    With these Mobal phones, incoming calls cost you something per minute (sometimes a lot); using a regular SIM they usually do not cost anything at all. Rather, you pay only for calls you make.

    Now, the cost to call internationally is not so bad with a Mobal phone, but you can probably get a similar rate with your own mobile phone, so I just don't see the advantage or justification for this kind of service.

    If you want to make a lot of calls home during your trip (and you should resist doing this), then buy an old-fashioned phone card. It's significantly cheaper from most destinations.

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