Europe is packed with sights to see and things to do. Whether you're visiting the Mediterranean ports of Italy, France, Spain and Greece or plan to cruise farther north and sail the Norwegian fjords, you must be prepared. Because the itineraries are often very port-intensive, it's important to have everything you'll need ashore -- from local currency to buy mementos to the clothing you'll need to meet dress codes at certain attractions.
In a poll on the Cruise Critic Message Boards, we asked members -- many who've already experienced sailing in the region -- to vote for the most important things to remember to take for a cruise to Europe. The results are in, and we've compiled a list of the top 10 things you can't leave home without. For anyone planning to cross the pond and take in the many historic gems that Europe offers, be sure these top 10 must-pack items make it into your suitcase for the trip.
Take a look as we count down the top 10 must-pack items for a Europe cruise.
To get the most out of your visit to a foreign country, it's nice to be able to communicate with the locals. Bookstores sell travelers' books for travelers filled with common phrases and translations for several languages. Cruise Critic member seagoingJLW has a more compact idea of how to get that information to Europe with you: "We didn't actually take a book. I make little pamphlets for Italy, France and Spain with common phrases on them."
Depending on where you depart from, flights to Europe take about six hours at the least. Many travelers like to use that time to sleep, so when they arrive for their cruises they are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and have, hopefully, eased some of the effects of the tremendous jet lag. Take a neck pillow, an eye mask, ear plugs or even sleeping medication with you on the flight for a nice long nap. One member, UUNetBill likes to take "a white noise/sound generator or noise canceling headphones for the flights over and back."
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Be sure to take along a plug adapter to utilize chargers or small appliances with which you may travel. Member sparkle56 advises, "the ships usually have the right kind of plugs, but hotels [on pre- or post-cruise visits] do not." And Omnefos suggests packing, "a small power strip with a short cord. Most ships have only one electrical outlet available." Members also pack cheap extension cords or three-in-one adapters, which make charging everything easy.
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If you use specific kinds of shampoo, lotion or other personal hygiene products and aren't keen on switching during the trip, be sure to bring your own, since many name-brands can be difficult to find in Europe. Other must-pack items that would fit into this category are toilet paper (or wipes) -- dj127 says, "not all places have these items when in need," -- and face cloths. Many members on the Cruise Critic Message Boards recommend packing disposal face cloths for travel in Europe.
With so much to see in Europe, consulting a guidebook to make sense of it all is often helpful. Instead of lugging the books overseas, you can photocopy pages of interest from the guidebooks to take with you -- member ldog takes "a binder with all of [his] research for each port." Also a space-saver, Cruise Junky suggests using the guidebooks to create a detailed map of cities you'll be visiting and marking everything you'd like to see.
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One item that garnered a lot of votes for what to pack was appropriate clothing. Some of the historic sights in Europe, particularly churches, have strict dress codes. It's a good idea for women to come prepared with shawls or light sweaters and pants or skirts for visits to these kinds of places. And make sure you check the dress codes of the places you plan to visit before you go, so you can pack accordingly.
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Local Currency and/or an International Credit Card
Having a credit card that charges very few, if any, fees for usage overseas is always a plus. But, it's a good idea to have some of the local currency on hand. SusieKay points out that, "Travelers should be aware that frequently many small shops and restaurants in Europe do not accept credit cards, especially if one likes to get off the beaten path and out of the main tourist areas." Mumsyo offers, "It is wise to take a few euro with you before you get to a foreign country. You never know if you will need them or not, but be prepared just in case."
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All of the sightseeing you'll be doing involves a lot of walking and being on your feet. And the streets in Europe are filled with cobblestones, which can make for sore feet in a hurry without good shoes to wear. ACA Jester suggests getting, "not just comfortable shoes, but hard-soled comfortable shoes. Those cobblestones wear on you feet after walking on them all day."
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Camera and Extra Memory Cards
You'll want to make sure you're properly equipped to capture the memories from your cruise. It's a good idea, as TahoeSierra suggests, to pack an "extra camera battery and the camera charger." And Romeosc covers all the bases by taking "one [memory card] per day. If the camera is stolen or lost, you only loose that one day's pictures...not the entire cruise!"
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You won't get very far at all without this all-important item. But, aside from bringing it with you, it's a good idea to have backups in case your passport is misplaced or stolen. Romeosc says to "make two copies of the passports. Give a copy to your spouse [or travel companion, and vice versa] and carry them with you in your money belt. If one of you loses them, the other has a copy!"
Here are a few other items that members suggested on the Cruise Critic Message Boards.
Live-to-travel-er: An umbrella
Romeosc: A folding suitcase/backpack for dirty laundry and souvenirs
Court's DH: Your driver's license for scooter rentals
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