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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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
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
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.