Planning a European cruise can be a stressful experience. From picking a cruise line, deciding which ports of call to visit, and planning a vacation budget you can find yourself pulling your hair out with all the little details that go into planning your trip itinerary. When you finally board your cruise ship you want to be able to relax and enjoy the incredible experience without fretting that you’ve forgotten something important. With that in mind we’ve put together this handy guide detailing what you need to take with you on your European cruise. Hopefully it will help alleviate some of the stress that goes hand in hand with planning your vacation.
First and foremost you need to make a checklist. This will serve as a reference, and will help ensure you do not neglect to pack anything important. Make a separate checklist for each passenger to make things as simple as possible. This is especially important if you have kids, as, even if they are teenagers, it is unfair to rely on them to remember to pack everything they should.
Start packing early. You don’t want to be up until midnight the night before you leave, scrambling to get your luggage organized, when you’ve got to catch a 6:00 AM flight the next morning. If you get packed a week in advance then you have plenty of time to purchase any items you need that you don’t have on hand.
Get your travel documents organized, and make sure to have photocopies. Your passport, your airline tickets, your cruise ship vouchers, shore excursion confirmations, and medical documents should all be organized and tucked safely away. Take photocopies of all these crucial documents. Have one set in your carry-on luggage, one set in your stowed luggage, and leave a set with a contact at home, so they can be faxed in the event you somehow manage to lose everything. If you have access to a scanner you can also scan the documents and send them to a web-based email address like gmail, hotmail, or yahoo. This will allow you to log in and retrieve the scans anywhere you can find internet access. This might seem like too much precaution, but losing your travel documents can quickly ruin your entire vacation, so better safe than sorry.
Deciding what to wear on a cruise obviously comes down to your itinerary, what activities you plan, the formality of the cruise line you’ve booked with, and, of course, personal taste. If you are cruising the Mediterranean in summer obviously you want a lot of light, comfortable clothes. Most cruise ships have at least one formal evening, so a suit and tie or tuxedo for the gentlemen and one or more evening dresses for the ladies is a must. Bring at least one set of warm clothing in case you hit some inclement weather, and bring some sturdy walking shoes for exploring the streets of the various ports of call you will visit.
Other odds and ends include sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, camera, video camera, iPod, books and any toiletries you will need.
Most importantly, don’t overpack! Though one of the biggest perks of cruise ship travel is the ability to unpack and repack only once during your voyage you still have to worry about getting all your bags to the airport. Also, don’t forget that most airlines charge for extra bags and/or overweight luggage. These fees can be hefty even if you are only slightly over the limit. Use light accessories like scarves and jewelry to make the same outfit look different on a daily basis.
Hopefully you’ve found these tips helpful in planning your trip. Enjoy your European cruise. It truly is the vacation of a lifetime.