River cruises are much more casual with more excursions than the usual ocean cruises so you can pack a lot less, and differently. Here’s some tips, but not by any means an exclusive list.
1. If it is in the shoulder season, think layers rather than bulky jackets and coats. That way each sweater or top can do double duty. Do bring a hat and gloves.
2. Ladies, pack one or two dressier tops and a pair of slacks or skirt. Leave your cocktail dresses, gowns and expensive jewelry at home. Gentlemen, you get the idea. No tuxes please or ties required unless you want to pack a tie as it takes little space. Exception: if you are opting for an excursion to the opera or similar, then a dressy outfit may be required.
Wear comfortable shoes!
3. Leave your short shorts and skimpy tops at home too because this type of dress is frowned upon in many places, and especially if you are going to visit historic cathedrals, mosques or museums.
4. Pack comfortable walking shoes, flat soled. Most older sections of cities and towns – and that’s where you will visit most often – have cobblestones.
5. If you like to bike, pack comfortable riding gear and shoes.
6. Rain jacket …!
7. Depending on the countries you will be visiting, a money belt or pouch for your valuables while on shore is a good precaution. Personally I leave everything valuable in the room safe and just take the bare minimum with me.
8. Most times there will be an electricity converter available at the desk which you can sign out but just in case, make sure you take one with you to power your tablet, computer and other devices.
Bring a rain jacket – just in case – so you don’t miss out on any excursions.
9. Libraries aren’t that huge on these ships – it could be one bookcase – so if you are an avid reader, pick up a best seller en route that you can read on board – that is, if you have time!
10. Take some device that takes photos – a cell phone is a good choice. ( But don’t forget to turn off roaming unless you are prepared with a package.) You won’t believe the beautiful scenery that passes by every minute you sail, and the unusual and exotic that hides around every corner on land. A lot of attractions frown on selfie sticks now so consider, is it worth the space?
11. Take a collapsed empty bag (or two) to carry back your treasures – crafts, watches, jewelry, clothes, trinkets and toys for the kids or grandkids. (But don’t forget you pay luggage fees.)
12. Carry a credit card – you may not need it on board as these cruises are fairly inclusive but it’s difficult to resist shopping in Europe! Be sure to let your credit card bank know you are travelling – just call the 1-800 number on the reverse of your card.
Shari Marsh is a river cruise professional who has been on many river cruise itineraries including those in Europe. She is able to advise you on not only what to pack (and not to pack!) but on all other aspects of your next river cruise vacation. Sit back, relax and let Shari handle all the details.