What to take on a Euro­pean river cruise

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - TRAVEL WISDOM CRUISING - KERRY PAR­NELL

Un­like ocean cruises, river cruises are all about fre­quent stops with lit­tle time loung­ing around on board. That means look­ing at your lug­gage a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. Here are some tips on what to take with you.


There are so many won­der­ful sights to see – af­ter all, this is what you came for – but that means lots of walk­ing. Your most im­por­tant items will be com­fort­able shoes, from san­dals to sturdy footwear.

If you’re treat­ing your­self to a brand-new hol­i­day wardrobe, what­ever you do, make sure you break in your shoes first.

“Good walk­ing shoes are es­sen­tial on a river cruise as you’ll be ex­plor­ing vil­lages along the river each day and many old town cen­tres have cob­ble­stone streets,” says Shel­ley Davey, Aus­tralian sales man­ager at Riviera Travel.


Even in the Euro­pean sum­mer, you should pre­pare for all weather.

It can be un­sea­son­ably cold one day and bak­ing hot the next.

Bring clothes for all even­tu­al­i­ties – a warm jacket, a wa­ter­proof one, plenty of layers, a fold-up um­brella, as well as your sum­mer clothes and hat.

Un­for­tu­nately, you have to man­age all this with the limited lug­gage re­quire­ments of your air­line.

The good news is cruises of­fer laun­dry ser­vices, mak­ing it eas­ier to travel light.


Luck­ily, most of your clothes can be ca­sual, as the bulk of your time will be spent ex­plor­ing. “Europe is a great coun­try to ex­plore by foot or by bike so com­fort­able cloth­ing is a must, as there will be plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to head on­shore for sight­see­ing and ex­cur­sions,” says Scenic jour­ney de­signer Janelle Ma­her.

For the evenings, think smart ca­sual. Some cruise lines are dressier than oth­ers – check your itin­er­ary to see if it in­cludes a for­mal night or cap­tain’s din­ner, re­quir­ing some­thing a lit­tle fancier.


Don’t for­get your sun­screen and a wide-brimmed hat. You’ll be spend­ing a lot of time out­doors and it’s easy to for­get you’re ex­posed to the sun when walk­ing about. The last thing you want is a burnt neck or head. It’s handy to take travel-sized sun­screen to slip in your day­pack.


Take all med­i­ca­tion you need and think you might need, in their orig­i­nal la­belled con­tain­ers, as you will need to show them when you go through cus­toms at the air­port.

Un­like ocean cruises, the good thing is if you for­get some­thing, it’s easy to buy it in one of the Euro­pean cities, but you don’t want to waste your whole day in Vi­enna search­ing for an­ti­his­tamines, so make up your own emer­gency first-aid kit just in case. And take travel-sized bot­tles of hand sani­tiser with you.


Many river cruises now have swim­ming pools and jacuzzis, so pack your swimwear in case. They also of­fer gyms and ex­er­cise classes – if you have any en­ergy left from all that walk­ing that is.


Don’t for­get your Euro­pean adap­tor for elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances.

You can bring your lap­top, as most cruise com­pa­nies of­fer com­pli­men­tary Wi-Fi but they also have in­ter­net cafes if you don’t want to carry it all the way from Aus­tralia.


It’s worth in­vest­ing in a cam­era for your trip rather than tak­ing pho­tos on your phone. The last thing you want to do is drop it in the Danube – that would re­ally make you blue. Take your charger and spare mem­ory cards – you’ll fill a card up in no time.


You will be do­ing a lot of wan­der­ing through cities and towns and will need to take pass­ports and wal­lets when you leave the ship.

It’s vi­tal you have a se­cure bag to keep your items safe as un­for­tu­nately pick­pock­ets abound and they can spot a tourist from a kilo­me­tre away.

Don’t slip your wal­let in your pocket, or walk around with your hand­bag open.

Bags with cross-body straps are a good idea, as are zip en­clo­sures.

Also, you will need to take lo­cal cur­rency or a card with you for the many cof­fees and sou­venirs that await to tempt you.


“Take an elec­tronic copy of your travel doc­u­men­ta­tion,” says Alas­tair Fernie, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of cruisea­

“It’s even bet­ter to print out ad­di­tional copies of your pass­port, ID, credit card, driver’s li­cence, travel in­sur­ance doc­u­ments and itin­er­ary and pack them in a sep­a­rate place in your lug­gage from the orig­i­nals.”


For a seam­less trip, Janelle Ma­her rec­om­mends you take city guide­books, phrase­books and a cur­rency cal­cu­la­tor or app, which makes it eas­ier to see if that Parisian an­tique mar­ket find is re­ally the bar­gain you thought.

And don’t for­get the ear plugs – some neigh­bours can be noisy.

“Take earplugs,” says Alas­tair Fernie. “There is noth­ing worse than a poor night’s sleep when you’re sup­posed to be re­lax­ing.”


To get the most from your river cruise, pack wisely so you don’t have to spend pre­cious time on shore try­ing to find ba­sics that you could have packed at the out­set.

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