How to Best Enjoy a River Cruise: What Not to Pack Tidbits and Seasonal Advice
Most of the cruise ships traveling up and down the great rivers of Europe have pretty much the same room layouts, with limited storage space under the bed. As a seasoned traveler I’ve learned to travel lean under every circumstance, and my Viking River Cruise was no exception. This report on the “how-to“ of river cruise travel is based on my recent Danube cruise, which was outstanding due to good planning.
Those of us who began traveling in the sixties, with our five pieces of Hartmann luggage, including a hat box, find travel today a bit restrictive. However, if you want to travel trouble free and insure having your wardrobe arrive with you, keeping it light is absolutely key. On my recent trip I took a small sized roller suitcase, and a medium carry-on bag that allowed me everything I needed for my ten day trip. I also now wear a travel vest, with pockets that hold my small camera, passport, sun glasses, wallet, ear phones, eye shades and more. This keeps things I need handy and makes my carry-on a bit lighter.
Leave the basic products at home,lovely soap, skin lotion, hair products and a hair dryer are provided in your bathroom on board ship, and products are replaced as needed. I did bring a tiny electric hair curler along with my personal cosmetic items.
Travel insurance is very affordable today, and with the unexpected changes in air travel, and unpredictable weather conditions that may affect your individual travel plan it is often prudent to select some advance protection. AAA offers some good travel insurance programs, as well as a variety of additional companies. Try a little comparison shopping and find a plan that works for your individual budget.
Keeping outfits simple and color coordinated, with sweaters or a warm shall for cooler days and evenings, along with dress up scarves and jewelry for dinner gets the job done. Most ships only have one ‘dress up’ night on board, and a lovely scarf with jewelry over a simple top and pants worked perfectly for me. Bringing one nice pair of sandals or flats for dress is a good idea if you are planning to go to shore for dinner or a theatre performance. For every day use a good pair of walking shoes is imperative. A quick dry washable nightgown, which can be found in travel stores, is all you need for sleeping on board. Viking provides lovely robes and slippers to guests who make a request in advance, and they will be in your room when you arrive. You may need a warm jacket and hat. It can be cool in the evening and while touring so I recommend wearing your warm jacket and a hat on the plane to save room in your luggage.
Prior to departure I purchased a rain poncho that came in a small pocket sized case that I kept with me at all times and it was a life saver when unexpected showers happened. I also brought a small umbrella, however, Viking provides umbrella’s for guests to take on tours, as well as bottled water. I always bring a small case with meds and over the counter solutions for things like upset stomach, headaches, sleeping, motion sickness, etc. to be ready for any emergency. Viking has a store on board to purchase Viking logo rain jackets, sweatshirts, and t-shirts.
Communication on board ship is often spotty, and I don’t recommend bringing a laptop unless it’s imperative. There are several computers for guest use to check emails quickly, but the daily schedule does not allow much time to get this accomplished. Most guest are staying at hotels in advance of their trip or at the end of their trip and these hotels provide internet access. Regarding advance or post stays on Viking cruises I would advise doing a pre cruise stay to ensure you will be in the departure city in advance. Cutting flights to close could be a nightmare if for some reason a flight is delayed. It’s best to be aware and make sure you have plenty of time to get to your ship between flight arrival and ship departure. I stayed in Budapest for a few days at the end of my trip, which worked quite well for me, but you must know that you are financially responsible to get yourself to your hotel and to the airport for your return flight.
I was told it is a good idea to go to the bank in advance of my trip to order the money I would need in countries I was visiting, which worked out very well for me. I had mostly euros, but it really helped to have forints in advance when arriving in Hungary. Don’t forget to let your banker put an alert on your account listing the countries you will be visiting to insure your credit cards are accepted. Many people were caught by surprise when their strip cards were not accepted in numerous places in Europe because some business owners are now only accepting the new chip cards.
If you are looking for gifts to bring home be sure to check what is necessary to transport them and any charges attached. It can be costly to bring things like wine home, and you can eliminate any surprises by investigating costs in advance. Going through customs was simple and easy for my trip, and although I was concerned about traveling through Charles De Gaulle in Paris it was for naught. If you must change flights during your trip make sure you are on the same carrier on both flights, this may make things very smooth, and will probably ensure your bags will go all the way through to your final destination.
I can honestly say I traveled without any “should have” regrets, and that the time I spent doing advance planning was time well spent. I’m hoping my report will answer some question you may have regarding river cruising, and I’m wishing you a wonderful, well planned and memorable trip. For detailed cruise information visit: www.vikingcruiselines.com.
About Bonnie Carroll:
Bonnie Carroll is publisher & Editor-in-Chief of Bonnie Carroll’s Life Bites News, a Travel/Lifestyle online monthly magazine founded in 2005. She contributes to a bevy of food, beverage, travel, lifestyle magazines and is a travel reporter for KZSB1290 radio and CRN radio. Contact her at email@example.com