Let’s face it: everyone forgets something when they travel – even experienced cruisers. And while, we could give you a basic check list of the must haves like your toothbrush and passport, this is about the often forgotten items that will make your river cruise even better.
We can’t stress this enough: bringing a travel guide with you, however small, can really enhance the enjoyment of your river cruise. Not only do they have maps (handy for figuring out where you are and what is around you), travel guides are also great for providing you with some history, a small selection of must-see sights, and some hotel and restaurant recommendations.
Since river cruises visit multiple destinations, it’s a good idea to either buy a small overview book that focuses on Europe, or to purchase one that specializes in the country you’ll be visiting most (say, Germany or Austria for Danube-based river voyages.)
Luckily, Viking River Cruises provides incredible pre-cruise documentation with mini-guides that might be all you need.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people leave this at home. And why not? Newer river cruise ships like Viking’s have North American-style power outlets. Some ships even have USB connectors for charging your electronic devices.
So why do you need a two-pronged, European-style power adapter? Easy: hotels for those overnight land stays or anything on-land, for that matter will be exclusively European. Having a European power adapter allows you to plug your phone in pretty much anywhere, regardless of whether you can find a USB-style charger. It also allows you to utilize the European outlets in your stateroom, saving the North American ones for other electronic devices to effectively double your charging capacity.
Do you need a converter? If you intend to plug in something like a hair dryer, then yes, you most likely do. If you just want to plug in your laptop or charge your iPhone or camera batteries, chances are good you just need the less-expensive adapter: most large electronic items come with power converters as a matter of course. Still, it’s always good to double-check your device first before you plug it in!
These are probably the two most-important things you can bring with you: a backpack and a reusable water bottle.
The backpack is convenient for storing things you might need during your day, particularly on a long excursion. You can put sunscreen, an umbrella, a hat, a camera, and some souvenirs in a single pack, freeing up your hands for more important tasks.
Most reusable water bottles will keep your water cold for longer than the standard plastic bottle, and many water bottles can be clipped to the aforementioned backpack, thereby further freeing up your hands.
Don’t want to lug the backpack around with you? No problem – most tours will let you leave the backpack on the coach while you step off to get that postcard-perfect photo or take a short walking tour.
We’re not necessarily talking about prescription medications – though those are very important, too. Instead, we’re talking about over-the-counter medications that you might rely on to cure headaches, heartburn, allergies, and the like.
Why do you want to stock up and bring these from home? A few reasons. First, you probably only know your drug of choice – say, for headaches – by its commercial name: Advil. But in Europe, that drug might trade under a completely different name that you’ve probably never heard of before. Trying to find the medication that works for you can be a real challenge in Europe if you don’t know exactly what is in it.
The other reason is more practical: pharmacies in Europe operate on odd hours, particularly in Germany, where they close around Noon on Saturdays and don’t reopen until mid-morning on Monday. Need some fast heartburn relief on a Sunday afternoon in Nuremberg? Too bad: you’re out of luck until Monday.
We found ourselves in that situation once. And only once. When you need something and have no way of purchasing it, you learn really quickly to stock up on anything you might need long before you set out for the airport.
Another great practical thing to bring with you on your river cruise is a personal or corporate business card. Why? It’s a great way to give your contact information to newly-met friends, as opposed to scribbling it (probably illegibly) on a cocktail napkin after those evening drinks by the pool have kicked in.