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An Expert's Cruise Packing Advice...

 

Tag your bags...

This may seem excessive, but I use all the tags provided by the cruise line when tagging our suitcases. At a minimum, I want two identification tags on each suitcase (in addition to our 'permanent' luggage tags). Those tags, with cotton or elastic string, can easily become detached so before putting them on the suitcases, I reinforce them with tape. I also remove the string, replacing it with long cable ties. I put one on each handle of dual-handle suitcases and two on the handle of suitcases that only have one handle. Compulsive? Maybe. But we've never had a lost or delayed suitcase because of a missing tag.

Editor's Note: This is a perfect time to have a bright orange Journeywoman tag on your luggage and backpack. Who knows? There might be another member of our JW Network who spies your tag -- and that's how juicy travel connections are made. Want to know how to get your own JW tags? Click here.

Where, oh where is your luggage?

Kathleen Kaye shares the following, "We always put our itinerary outside, as well as inside our luggage. To do this, I type up the itinerary, reduce it, and tuck it into the luggage tag, behind our identification. We always make sure our address and itinerary are taped to the inside as well. I have heard that many times lost luggage is forever lost because of no identification on the bag. Tags do come off."

Absolutely correct, Kathleen! If an airline is unable to trace the owner, or if luggage hasn't been claimed after at least three months, it ends up at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama - a veritable Land of Lost Luggage. Only two hours from Birmingham, Alabama and two and a half hours from Atlanta, Georgia (in the USA), the Unclaimed Baggage Center is a treasure hunter's dream destination. Over 500,000 people a year make the trek to shop amid over a million lost items, including watches, jewelry, electronics, and designer clothing.

Take heart, though. Over 98% of misdirected luggage eventually catches up to its owners. Keep those odds in your favor by following Kathleen's advice as stated above..

 

Suitcases with an identity...

How is your suitcase like a Model-T Ford? You can have any color you want, as long as it's black. My late friend Ed Shuster found a marking product and a clever solution for readily spotting his bags in airport carousels and crowded cruise ship terminals.

He advised, "With soft-sided black cloth luggage taking over the world, it's getting harder and harder to find your own on the floor of the warehouse. In addition to the required identification tags, we've used unique colorful tags, straps, tapes, and some others. Recently I came up with what I think is a permanent solution."

"Wal-Mart (and probably other distinguished merchants) carries a product called Speedball Painters opaque paint markers, in different colors, for under $3. We used white on the black luggage and hand lettered an identifying name in about 3-inch letters on the face of the luggage that includes the handle. One marker did three applications on each of three pieces. Easy to do, high contrast, and permanent (well, as permanent as we are). For security reasons, we didn't put our name on it, I used my Yahoo name Cap10Cruz. About the only drawback I see is it will make it harder to sell the old suitcases at a yard sale, but when we're done with them, it's dumpster time anyhow."

Happy cruising, everybody!

 

Best of the Best...

You've decided that you'd like to cruise the Caribbean. Now what? How do you choose the right ship? Which ports of call will make you smile? Pick up Fodor's Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises and your Cruise 101 course begins with author Linda Coffman as the perfect teacher. Learn what's really included in your cruise fare. Which cabins are the best -- and the worst. Get spa tips, learn cruise manners and find out about The Upgrade Fairy. Become acquainted with all of the major lines that sail to Caribbean destinations along with highlight of all the ports they visit. In very readable fashion, Linda offers different 'fast facts' about each line -- things like 'the most appreciated freebie,' 'best splurge' and 'best places to escape the crowds.' Here are just five fun excerpts.

Best Bathrooms Afloat...

Silversea Cruises:
Double vanities, marble-clad showers, separate tubs, and fluffy oversized towels are luxurious appointments, even in standard suites.

Best Regular Cabins...

Carnival Cruise Line:
Over 50% larger than industry standard and with plenty of storage space, Carnival cabins are spacious for two and surprisingly roomy.

Best Access for Travelers with Disabilities:

Princess Cruises:
Not only are accessible staterooms and suites available in a wide range of categories, Princess takes care to also provide shoreside wheelchair access to appropriate tours on vehicles equipped with lifts.

Best Shops on Board:

Princess Cruise Line:
Should you have the misfortune of lost or delayed luggage, you're in luck (kind of). Princess shipboard boutiques are stocked with nearly everything you need to carry on in style.


Best Spas Afloat:

Silver Whisper & Silver Shadow
The Mandara Spas are small, luxurious havens with full menus of indulgent treatments as well as nicely appointed changing rooms and his-and-hers saunas and steamrooms.


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