1. Home
  2. Destinations
  3. Europe
  4. 10 Must-Pack Items for a European Cruise

10 Must-Pack Items for a European Cruise

  • Europe is brimming with sights to see and things to do. Whether you're visiting the Baltic countries in the north or the Mediterranean ports of Italy, France, Spain and Greece, you must be prepared. Because these itineraries are port-intensive, it's important to have everything you'll need ashore -- from local currency to the appropriate clothing at certain attractions.

    Click through the slideshow (or click above the photo to view the list as one page) for the top 10 items to pack for a European cruise.

  • 1

    Translation Apps or Books

    To get the most out of your visit to Europe, it's nice to communicate with the locals. Instead of lugging around travel guides, buy a few for your Kindle or download translation apps to your phone before you leave. Don't worry, you can use them in airplane mode to avoid data usage and roaming charges. 

    Photo: gvictoria/Shutterstock

  • 2

    Sleep Aids

    The toughest part of a European cruise is the flight. For example, it takes 23 hours to fly from Sydney to Amsterdam to board Holland America Line's new ship, Nieuw Statendam. To get some rest, pack your hand luggage with a neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones and perhaps some sleeping medication. That way, you'll arrive fresh for the 14-day Jewels of the Baltic, covering seven spectacular countries, or the Northern Isles cruise via Iceland, Norway and the UK.

    Photo: Syda Productions/Shutterstock

  • 3

    Plug Adapter

    Be sure to take along a plug adapter to use your chargers and devices. Ships in Europe do not have Australian power points, and neither do hotels where you may stay pre- or post-cruise. Nieuw Statendam's cabins are equipped with standard 110 AC and 220 AC outlets, and only Holland America Line's provided power strips can be used. If you bring a power strip with a surge protector, there's a good chance it will be confiscated when you board.

    Photo: Ruf Photography/Shutterstock

  • 4

    Brand-specific Toiletries

    If you like to use specific kinds of shampoo, lotion or other personal hygiene products, be sure to bring your own. However, you will probably love the luxurious toiletries supplied in your stateroom. Holland America Line offers complimentary Elemis soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion, as well as towels, bath robes, slippers and hair dryers.

    Photo: Kenishirotie/Shutterstock

  • 5

    Guidebooks

    In some ports, such as remote Greenland where there are no local tours, you might want to explore independently. Instead of lugging travel books overseas, download any of these free travel apps to use offline. To save time, you can also plot out points of interest on a map to help you find your way around.

    Photo: Alfredo Ragazzoni/Shutterstock

  • 6

    Proper Attire

    Make sure you pack appropriate clothing for the activities you plan on doing in ports. Some of the historic sites in Europe, particularly churches, have strict dress codes. It's a good idea for women to come prepared with shawls, pashminas and long pants or below-the-knee skirts for visiting these kinds of places. If you head to the top of Mount Etna -- even in the summer -- bring a warm jacket, hat and gloves.

    In 2020, Nieuw Statendam calls at Taormina, the nearest port to Mount Etna, in Sicily, on its 12-day and 24-day Mediterranean Tapestry cruises.

  • 7

    Local Currency and/or an International Credit Card

    Having a credit card that charges low, or no, fees for use overseas is always a plus. But it's a good idea to have some of the local currency on hand, too. The best place to get local currency is at an onshore ATM. You're likely to get a better exchange rate there than at an exchange counter. Do be aware that most overseas ATMs require a four-digit pin for cash withdrawal. It's also a good idea to alert your bank or credit card company ahead of any travel to avoid having your card shut down due to foreign charges. Store your cards in a travel wallet with RFID blocking technology that prevents outsiders from skimming your data.

    Photo: Marian Weyo/Shutterstock

  • 8

    Supportive Shoes

    Much of Europe's sightseeing involves a lot of walking. The streets of Bergen and Old Stavenger, for example, often have cobblestones, which can quickly lead to sore feet without good shoes to wear. Hard-soled footwear and cushioned socks are ideal if you're on one of Nieuw Statendam's cruises via Norway, such as the 14-day Voyage of the Midnight Sun and the 7-day Norse Legends or Viking Sagas.  

    Photo: Blazej Lyjak/Shutterstock

  • 9

    Camera and Extra Memory Cards or Cellphone with Enough Space

    You'll want to make sure you're properly equipped to capture the memories from your cruise. If you're using an actual camera, be sure to pack extra memory cards. If you're using your phone to snap photos, be sure to clear some space for pictures ahead of time if you're in danger of running out. Tip: Back up your photos on a laptop at the end of each day. That way if you lose your camera or phone, you've only lost that day's shots.

    Photo: Poprotskiy Alexey/Shutterstock

  • 10

    Passport Copies

    You won't get far without your passport, but it's a good idea to have backups in case it is misplaced or stolen. We recommend making two copies of your passport and giving a copy to your travel companion. Carry the other copy with you in a money belt, and also take a photo of your passport's info page with the phone or camera you're bringing with you.

    Photo: Wollertz/Shutterstock

Find a Cruise

Popular on Cruise Critic

Onboard Credit: How to Get It, Where to Spend It
Free. Money. Are there two more beautiful words in the English language? While money doesn't grow on trees, increasingly it can be found somewhere else -- on the high seas. Call it an incentive, call it a bonus; whatever you want to call it, onboard credit lets you spend more freely with less guilt. You've paid your cruise fare, and now you can splurge on those enticing extras -- Swedish massage, specialty restaurant, an excursion to swim with the dolphins -- without busting your budget. Not many need convincing as to why onboard credit -- money automatically deposited into your onboard account-- rocks, but finding out exactly how to get it and where you can spend it is a bit trickier. We found eight ways to hit the OBC jackpot (some more preferable than others) and offer even more suggestions on how to burn through it, although you probably have your own ideas already.
6 Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid
You might expect loud noises, close quarters and crazy maneuvers in the dance club onboard your cruise ship -- but not in your cabin. Even if you don't plan to spend much time there, it should be a restful and private place so you can maintain that much-needed vacation stamina. To help you do so, we've compiled a list of cabins you'll want to avoid booking if closet-like dimensions or scraping chair sounds overhead aren't appealing to you. Heed our advice, and you might be feeling a bit less claustrophobic and a tad more refreshed come disembarkation.
How To Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks It's the permutations (size, view, location, amenities and price, for example) of the four basic cabin types that can make choosing difficult. In addition to knowing your cabin options, you need to know yourself: Do you tend to get seasick? Do you prefer to nest peaceably on your balcony rather than hanging with the crowd around the pool area? Conversely, is your idea of a stateroom simply a place to flop into bed at 1 a.m. -- no fancy notions necessary? Are there certain amenities you are willing to splurge on, or can you simply not justify paying for unnecessary perks? The answers will help guide you toward selecting the best stateroom for your money. If you're feeling overwhelmed by choice, we'll help you get started with this guide to choosing the best cruise cabins for you and your travel party.
8 Best Luxury Cruise Ships
The moment you step aboard a luxury cruise ship, a hostess is at your arm proffering a glass of bubbly while a capable room steward offers to heft your carry-on as he escorts you to what will be your home-away-from-home for the next few days. You stow your things (likely in a walk-in closet) and then emerge from your suite to get the lay of the ship. As you walk the decks, friendly crew members greet you ... by name. How can that be? You just set foot onboard! First-class, personalized service is just one of the hallmarks of luxury cruise lines. You can also expect exotic itineraries, varying degrees of inclusivity in pricing, fine wines and gourmet cuisine as well as universally high crew-to-passenger ratios. That being the case, you might think any old luxury cruise ship will do, but that's not quite true. Like people, cruise ships have their own unique personalities -- and some will be more suited to your vacation style than others. Lines like SeaDream might not offer the most spacious suites, but their intimate yachts can stealthily visit ports that large ships can't manage. Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises are owned by the same parent company but Regent offers a completely inclusive vacation experience, while Oceania draws travelers with a more independent streak. Take a look at Cruise Critic's list of best luxury cruise lines and ships to see which one resonates with you.