Packing for a Cruise to Europe: 10 Things to Remember

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Woman exploring a European port

Since a cruise to Europe may involve a little more commuting and preparation than, say, departing from a port in the U.S, you'll need to make sure you have certain items on-hand before you start your journey overseas. Here are some items you should remember when packing for a Europe cruise.

Sleeping aids

If you’re flying to your departure port in Europe, you’re looking at no less than a 6 hour flight. Pack a comfortable neck pillow to get some quality rest and ease the effects of dreaded jet lag. For sleepers who need white noise to get a good night's rest (and fight off that jet lag), consider packing a noise machine that you can plug in your stateroom at night. A pair of noise-drowning earplugs will also help provide uninterrupted sleep while in flight.

Travelrest Therapeutic Memory Foam Neck Pillow

Pressure Reducing Ear Plugs


Comfortable walking shoes

Whether you’re parading around the canals in Venice, Italy or hunting for the best grilled seafood in Santorini, you’re going to do a lot of walking no matter where you go in Europe. Make sure you have a comfortable pair of sneakers for long hours of sightseeing.

New Balance Men's Walking Shoes

New Balance Women's Walking Shoes

A plug adapter

Cruise lines will usually provide the proper plugs, but if you’re staying at a hotel before or after your cruise, you may be out of luck without one.

LOOP® Worldwide Travel Adapter

A camera with extra memory cards and battery pack

You’re going to want to snap photos left and right when exploring Europe’s beautiful destinations. Make sure you pack a light, compact camera with an extra camera battery and a few memory cards. While the idea of buying one memory card with a ton of memory seems like the logical approach, using more than one memory card will keep you (somewhat) covered in the event that your camera gets lost or stolen (losing some pictures is certainly better than losing them all).

Sony DSCW800/B 20.1 MP Digital Camera

Weather appropriate clothing

If you’re cruising to Europe in the summer: Pack light-material clothing for on-shore sightseeing. Also, don't forget a sun hat and bathing suit, since most ports in the Mediterranean will have a beach and the weather will call for a bit of heat relief. Pack a pair of sunglasses to complete your Euro-cruiser look

If you’re cruising to Europe in the fall/winter: Long sleeve shirts and pants are the way to go when dressing for a day of Euro sightseeing. Also pack a scarf (light for fall, a warmer one for winter) and beanie to shield yourself from the chill while you hang out on the deck or stroll through the city.

Certain churches/mosques in Europe adhere to a conservative dress code (mostly clothing that's not too revealing). Women should pack a shawl or light cardigan to cover the shoulders and legs before entering the venue.

The North Face Beanie

Z&S Unisex Soft Knit Infinity Scarf

A watch

Your phone will most likely be on airplane mode during your cruise. Plus, you'll need to be on ship time (you won't want to be left behind during your cruise). 

Armitron Sport Unisex Chronograph Digital Watch

A backpack

Cruising to Europe isn't the same as cruising to the Caribbean, where you can always walk back to the ship if you need or forgot something. Some cities are as far as two hours away from the cruise terminal (ex: Civitavecchia, Rome's cruise terminal, is an 80-minute drive away from Rome), so you'll need to pack all of your sightseeing essentials before stepping on shore.

Timbuk2 TSA-Friendly Backpack

RFID Blocking Fanny Pack

No, this isn't the most fashion-forward item to pack--but these things keep prying eyes from stealing information off of your credit cards. One style in particular lays close to your body and can be put under your clothes. And you can also carry any extra euros, your credit cards and your passport in here.

Pacsafe Coversafe X100 Anti-Theft RFID Blocking Waist Wallet

A trusty language translator and map app

Ok, so you can’t really pack an app. But they definitely come in handy when exploring an overseas destination.

Downloading a translator app such as Google Translate and iTranslate (both available for Apple and Android phones) will help you communicate with locals at port in their native tongue. Plus, both apps come with voice command (although you’ll have to download the $5 premium version to get it on iTranslate) so you can speak the word into your microphone and find it in the app.

The Google Maps app is also a handy (and safe) app to have if you’re planning on exploring your port of call. This app has an “offline mode” that allows you to download a city’s map and navigate to any venue within that city without a wifi signal. So, if you suddenly find yourself sans signal, you can still find your way back to the port (or hotel, or nearest meet-up spot if you’re staying there before or after your cruise).

Download Google Maps for Apple

Download Google Maps for Android

Your travel documents and local currency

You won’t get very far without them, but it’s always best to double-check that you’ve packed:

  • Your passport and driver’s license (you'll need the latter if you're planning on renting a scooter at port a la European)
  • Euros. Exchanging at your local bank at home is much easier (and cheaper) than doing so abroad.

Make a copy of each one to keep in your suitcase on board in case you happen to lose either of these documents while on shore. This will help expedite the replacement process. Also, be mindful of your passport's expiration date. Some ships and countries won't allow you entry if your passport expires within six months of traveling.

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