A Mediterranean cruise packing list is necessarily different from your Caribbean one. A Mediterranean cruise is brimming with sights to see and things to do; you'll be spending more time walking the soles off your shoes than splashing around in a bathing suit. Whether you're visiting more western ports in Italy, France, Monaco and Spain or heading east to Greece and Turkey, you must be prepared for the culture and activities prevalent in Europe.
If you're wondering what to pack for a Mediterranean cruise, here are the top nine items to put on your packing list.
You won't get 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. 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 (again, look for one with RIFD-blocking technology), and also take a photo of your passport's info page with the cellphone or camera you're bringing with you.
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're well rested and have, hopefully, eased some of the effects of jet lag. Take a neck pillow, an eye mask, earplugs, noise-canceling headphones or even sleeping medication with you on the flight for a nice long nap.
You'll encounter a lot of languages on a Mediterranean cruise (French, Spanish, Italian, Greek, etc.), and it's nice to learn a few basic words to help you communicate with the locals. Bookstores sell travel books filled with common phrases in a variety of languages or you can buy a few for your Kindle to study up. If you're looking to save space in your luggage, you can also download a number of translation apps to your cellphone before you leave.
With so much to see in the Mediterranean, consulting a guidebook to make sense of it all is often helpful; some even have routes for self-guided walking tours. Instead of lugging the books overseas, you can photocopy pages of interest to take with you, take photos of them on your cellphone or download them on your tablet. Alternatively, you might want to download any of a number of travel apps ahead of time to use offline while you're away.
Europeans tend to dress stylishly, so consider packing some nicer travel clothes for your Mediterranean cruise than the Caribbean staples of shorts and touristy T-shirts. Plus, pack appropriate clothing for the activities you plan on doing in ports.
For example, 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 or light sweaters, and pants or below-the-knee skirts for visits to these kinds of places. Formal attire is required if you plan on exploring Monte Carlo's famous casino, and if you head to the top of Mount Etna -- even in the summer -- bring a warm jacket, hat and gloves.
All of the sightseeing you'll be doing in the Med involves a lot of walking and being on your feet. The streets in Europe are often constructed with cobblestones, which can make for sore feet in a hurry without good shoes to wear. Hard-soled footwear and cushioned socks are ideal (we swear by comfy brands such as Merrell and Clarks).
One of the best things to bring on a Mediterranean cruise is a day pack to stash your wallet, guidebooks, snacks, hat, sunglasses, camera and water bottle while you set off across Rome or take a bus tour to Nice. Given that pickpockets lurk on Barcelona's La Rambla and Romas, aka Gypsies, have been known to grab the wallets off unsuspecting tourists, we recommend a cross-body, theft-proof bag (such as this one from Travelon to give you peace of mind.
The Mediterranean is a great place to pick up lovely, artisanal souvenirs: a piece of Murano glass, limoncello from Italy, French perfume or ceramics with local designs. Protect fragile souvenirs by packing or bottle protector sleeves for wine or olive oil you'd love to gift. You don't want to come home from a wonderful vacation to find your clothing doused in red wine or your new bowl cracked in half.
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, where you're likely to get a better exchange rate than at an exchange counter. Do be aware that most overseas ATMs require a four-digit pin for cash withdrawal.
Store your cards in a travel wallet with RFID-blocking technology that prevents outsiders from skimming your data.
Updated November 21, 2019