How to pack for a European cruise

The Viking Aegir / Viking River Cruises

The Viking Aegir / Viking River Cruises

Are you thinking of taking a cruise in Europe?  Itineraries for cruises in Europe are so varied, you could go back year after year and not see the same port twice.

Europe’s cruising smörgåsbord

Whether you want to sail on Greece’s ferry system or take a Mediterranean ocean cruise, float down Europe’s inland waterways or barge along its canals, sail a yacht along Croatia’s coastline or experience Norway’s fjords on a passenger ship, your choices seem nearly endless.

Many of these vessels, however, are not as large and roomy as ocean going ships, so it’s important to think carefully about what you pack.

Type of luggage

The main thing to consider when choosing luggage for a cruise is space.  If you’ll be on a mid-size to large ocean-going vessel it’s not an issue, however, space will be limited on smaller ships.

When choosing your luggage note that wheelie bags can be difficult to manage on Europe’s cobbled streets and uneven docks.  A better choice would be a duffel bag:  it’s portable and can be easily stuffed beneath seats and in cabin corners.  It also substitutes as a seat, cushion or pillow if needed.

Look for a duffel bag zip-out backpack straps.

Essential things to pack

Of course each person has their own needs when it comes to what to pack.  However, here’s what we consider essentials:

  • A pile of euros – some of Europe’s smaller islands may not have ATMs.  You’ll want enough local currency to get by during your visit.
  • A light, waterproof jacket.  If it’s windproof, that’s an added bonus.  After all, you’ll want to be up on deck to take in the vast, starry skies, and even in summer it can be chilly – or rainy.  Especially if you’re taking a Baltic cruise or anything in the North.  And even in Greece you’ll want protection against the meltemi, a notorious wind that blows north to northwest across the Aegean Sea.
  • Waterproof shoes are a must.   You may be scrambling down wet, slippery jetties.  They should be shoes that will stay on your feet, not flip-flops, tempted as you may be.  Save them for your next Caribbean cruise.

Tip:  Rubbery water shoes are especially helpful in Croatia, where the beaches are home to spiny sea urchins.  Don’t have any?  You’ll find them for sale in most Croatian coastal villages.

If you’re looking for a great packing guide, one of the best I’ve seen is Lonely Planet’s How to Pack for any Trip, which I credit for some of the ideas above.

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About Melody Moser

Melody Moser is a Travel Expert & Travel Writer specializing in Europe, river cruises and romantic travel. Based in southern New Jersey, she spends her time traveling the world, writing about it, and helping others fulfill their travel dreams.