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Cruise ships in the Mediterranean (Photo: Ravil Sayfullin/
Cruise ships in the Mediterranean (Photo: Ravil Sayfullin/

The Ultimate Mediterranean Cruise Packing List

Cruise ships in the Mediterranean (Photo: Ravil Sayfullin/
Cruise ships in the Mediterranean (Photo: Ravil Sayfullin/
Kim Karis
Marissa Wright

Last updated
Apr 2, 2024

Read time
5 min read

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 ten items to put on your packing list.

1. A Travel Essential for All Cruisers: Passport

Passport and Travel Documents (Photo: Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock)
Passport and Travel Documents (Photo: Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock)

This one’s a given for many travelers because you won't get far without this all-important item. In addition to bringing it with you, it's a good idea to have scanned copies of your passport in case it’s misplaced or stolen.

We recommend making two copies of your passport and giving one to your travel companion, if applicable. Carry the other copy with you in a money belt (look for one with RFID-blocking technology), and take a photo of your passport's info page with the cell phone or camera you're bringing.

2. Local Currency and a Credit Card that Can Be Used Internationally

Having a credit card that charges low or no fees for use overseas is always a plus and having some local currency on hand is also a good idea. 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.

We recommend checking out popular travel credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees or cards that pay back ATM fees.

3. Sleep Aids for Better Sleep and Transitioning to New Timezones

Editor's Picks: Best Western Mediterranean Cruises (Photo: Oceania Cruises)
Editor's Picks: Best Western Mediterranean Cruises (Photo: Oceania Cruises)

Depending on where you depart from, flights to Europe take about six hours at minimum. Many travelers like to use that time to sleep, so when they arrive for their cruises, they're well-rested and hopefully have eased some of the effects of jet lag. Take a neck pillow, an eye mask, earplugs, noise-canceling headphones and/or even sleeping medication with you on the flight.

The best sleep aids are items you feel comfortable using. We recommend adding a few sleep aid items to your carry-on luggage for easy access.

4. Proper Attire for Historic Sites and Outdoor Activities

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.

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.

Formal attire is required if you plan on exploring Monte Carlo's famous casino (no flip-flops or open-toe shoes), and if you head to the top of Mount Etna -- even in the summer -- bring a warm jacket, hat and gloves.

5. Supportive Sneakers for Walking in the Mediterranean

Norwegian Getaway in Santorini, Greece
Norwegian Getaway in Santorini, Greece (Photo: NCL)

All of the sightseeing you'll be doing in the Mediterranean 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 without supportive shoes.

Hard-soled footwear and cushioned socks are ideal (we swear by comfortable brands such as Merrell and Clarks). Pack comfortable walking shoes for your next cruise in Europe.

6. Secure Day Pack for Exploring New Destinations

Yes, you can pack carryon only for your cruise (Photo: Colleen McDaniel)
Yes, you can pack carryon only for your cruise (Photo: Colleen McDaniel)

One of the best things to bring on a Mediterranean cruise is a day pack to stash your wallet, rain gear, snacks, hat, sunglasses, camera and water bottle while you set off across Rome or take a bus tour to Nice.

Given that pickpockets notoriously lurk on Barcelona's La Rambla, we recommend a cross-body, theft-proof bag there especially and, really, anywhere just to be safe.

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7. Rain Gear, Especially During Low Season

We recommend adding rain gear to your Mediterranean packing list. While the Mediterranean is known for its clear, sunny days and bright waters during the summer, it also experiences rainfall during cooler months. Cruisers traveling during the low or shoulder season in the Mediterranean (between early October and late March) should pack a raincoat and umbrella.

8. Lighten Your Luggage with an E-reader or Tablet

To save on bag space (and make your luggage easier to carry), bring an e-reader instead of individual books. Load your e-reader with guidebooks or language books to help you practice common phrases for countries you’ll soon visit as well. You can also download a number of translation apps to your cell phone before you leave.

9. Pack Your Guidebooks for Self-Guided Tours

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 cell phone, or download them on your device. Alternatively, you can download some travel apps ahead of time to use offline.


10. Bubble Wrap for Souvenirs

The Mediterranean is a great place to pick up artisanal souvenirs: a piece of Murano glass, limoncello from Italy, French perfume or ceramics with local designs. Protect fragile souvenirs by packing bubble wrap or bottle protector sleeves.

This added layer of protection can prevent breakage and keep your valuables safe. You don't want to come home to find your clothing doused in red wine or your new bowl cracked in half.

Publish date November 21, 2019
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