Cruise survival kit: What you need to be totally prepared

Carnival Inspiration finally docked in Florida at 8:30 p.m. last night after being held out at sea due to weather conditions. A bunch of other Carnival ships are sailing modified itineraries for weather-related issues. Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas was tossed around in bad Middle East weather.

News from the cruise industry lately has been all about weather-related delays, modifications of itineraries, disabled ships, braving storms and compensation to passengers for their troubles. With that in mind, cruise packing lists are being updated with a number of items normally found on lists for camping or backpacking. Start with these for your cruise survival kit:

Satellite phone
For as little as $24.95 a week you can rent global Iridium Satellite Phones from Satellite They can provide the lifeline you want when power goes out. Call rates of between $.99 and $1.59 a minute might sound expensive sitting on dry land but that will quickly be a bargain if you are the only one able to communicate with the outside world.

Lots of backup power
When the ship loses power the clock starts ticking on your cell phone or camera battery. What could be a timely call home (if and when you can catch a signal) to let friends and family know you are OK might not happen without plenty of backup power. iPhone users know is the place to go. Brookstone has a universal battery that works for phones and cameras.

Survival food
The passengers aboard Carnival Splendor, the ship by an engine room fire, have a lesson for us: Bring food. When lavish buffets and gourmet dining come to a screeching halt because the power got knocked out or the buffet lines thrown around by angry seas, some high protein snacks will come in handy. Think canned nuts, peanut butter, or other survival food high in calories that won’t take up a lot of space in luggage.

The right luggage
Now, more than ever, its a good idea to have only one piece of luggage that you can keep with you at all times. Cruise lines allow passengers to skip checking luggage if they can carry it on and off the ship without assistance. On Carnival Inspiration, held at sea for so long, guests who held on to their luggage were the winners. Durable Victorinox has some great choices.

The odds are you will have a totally safe and care-free cruise vacation. But savvy travelers know that being prepared for anything that might come your way is a good idea.

New Mophie Juice Pack Plus doubles your iPhone 4 battery life

Mophie has long been the leader in iPhone battery power cases – and with their new Juice Pack Plus, they will probably keep that position for some time.

The new Juice Pack Plus provides 2000mAh of extra battery capacity, more than doubling the battery life of your phone. Best of all, it does this in a case that does not make the phone all that much thicker.

Charging and syncing is taken care of with a MicroUSB port, and the phones speakers are “enhanced” through a virtual speaker box.

The case is available right now in black, with the three colors you see above arriving “soon”. The Juice Pack Plus is available directly from Mophie, and retails for $99.95.

Review: Mophie Juice Pack Reserve – compact power for hungry Apple devices

When it comes to powering Apple devices, few companies are as innovative as Mophie. They were one of the first to offer a combination case/battery pack, and now one of their newest products offers one of the most compact ways to get your device powered when you really need it.

The Mophie Juice Pack Reserve is a small 1000mAh battery pack with a few neat tricks up its sleeves. For starters, its connector conveniently slides inside the unit, which protects it, and prevents you from having to carry a plug cover. It also features a built in LED flashlight, hidden charging indicators and can be charged off USB using the included MicroUSB cable.

Included in the box is a carabiner clip, which makes it easy to clip the Juice Pack Reserve to your bag or key chain. The 1000mAh battery is powerful enough for just under one full charge, making it ideal to carry for those times where you really need to check your email, and can’t find an outlet anywhere.

The Juice Pack Reserve works on any Apple device with a dock connector (but not on the iPad). It retails for $39.95 and is available directly from Mophie, the Apple Store or


The Mophie juicepack air – Protection and power in an single product – the Gadling review

As awesome as the iPhone is, all that awesomeness comes at a hefty cost of battery life. Traveling with the iPhone means you will need to find a power source at least every 48 hours, or you may find yourself with a shiny brick. There are countless battery charging solutions for the iPhone – and we have covered many of them in the past here on Gadling.

In this review, we’ll take a quick look at a battery backup product built into a case – the Mophie juicepack air. The juicepack air is part case and part iPhone 3G/3GS battery pack. The case consists of two parts – you slide your iPhone into the bottom half, then slide the top on, creating a hard shell that protects the entire phone.

Of course, when you add any kind of case to your phone, it is going to add some bulk, but adding a case and battery obviously makes things even bulkier. The case weighs 2.2 ounces (62 grams), so while weight may not be an issue – the added thickness to your otherwise sleek iPhone may annoy you. This is of course the price you pay for more than doubling the battery life of your device.

The design features of the juicepack air are really quite clever – the microphone and speaker are fully functional thanks to two small indentations in the bottom of the case, and because of the way the speaker is pointed up, sound actually becomes more vibrant – as long as you don’t turn your phone screen down.

Charging the juicepack air is simple – you use the included MicroUSB charger cable, plugged into any USB power source. This USB cable doubles as a sync cable, which means you can leave your regular iPhone dock cable at home.

On the back of the juicepack air is a battery level button, and four blue LED’s show the current battery status. Unlike many other iPhone power sources, the juicepack air only powers your device when you need it – by turning it on. This means it is always ready to help power your device.

Yes – your iPhone will become quite a bit thicker, but anyone who has arrived at their destination only to find their iPhone is dead will probably learn to live with the bulk.

Final thoughts

The battery in the juicepack air is 1200mAh – which should be enough to almost double the life of your iPhone battery. In my test, I took an iPhone with an empty battery, and with the juicepack turned on, was able to keep it going for another 19 hours – which is about the same amount of time I’d get off the iPhone without a battery booster. During that test, I did the same things I usually do – lots of email and other apps, Wi-Fi on and some Bluetooth audio streaming.

The price is a bit of an issue – at $79.95 the Mophie juicepack air is not a cheap accessory, and there are cheaper options out there. Several online retailers stock the juicepack air for around $65 – which is still on the high side. That said – the juicepack air is one of the better looking battery packs, and many of the cheaper solutions really don’t look that appealing.

Still – if you don’t care about looks, or value your cash more than your style, then the juicepack air may not be the best option for you. However, if you like keeping your iPhone sleek, the juicepack air more than delivers.

PROS: Good looking, good build quality

CONS: Price, relatively low battery capacity

Personally, I would have preferred to see the package come a little more complete – there is no AC or car charger included, and no screen protector. These extras could have made the price a bit easier to accept.

Product page: mophie juicepack air