What to Pack on a River Cruise
If there’s one piece of travel advice I can impart on you today, it’s this: Do not forget to pack a raincoat. No matter where you’re going, be it river cruising in France or lounging on the beach in Jamaica, you will never regret packing rain gear. How do I know? Several soggy shore excursions later on my own river cruise, I vowed never to travel without one again. Here’s what you’ll want to pack on your next river cruise, rain jacket included.
Going on a River Cruise? Here’s What to Pack.
1. Carry-On and Daypack
Most river cruise lines offer laundry facilities on board. If that’s the case for your ship, there’s no need to overpack and you’d do well to bring a carry-on instead of a larger suitcase. It can be difficult to lug larger bags through European railway stations - your carry-on will easily fit in a river cruise ship’s cabin.
Reminder: If you’re river cruising overseas, choose the “international,” not “domestic” carry-on, the former of which is a tad shorter and will be allowed on European carriers. Skip the spinning wheels, which detract from the bag’s interior capacity.
That being said, bring along a daypack for activities and excursions. You won’t want to be headed off on walking tours or wine tastings lugging your carry-on with you because you neglected to bring a lighter daypack. Choose one that can be zippered or worn across your body to deter pickpockets.
2. Clothing and Accessories
European river cruises call for comfortable, casual clothing. Bring layers, as the temperatures and weather conditions can vary widely (and don’t forget that raincoat!). A packable down jacket in the shoulder months will go far in keeping you comfy. Leave the formalwear and fancy jewelry at home and instead bring a casual dress, or a collared shirt and slacks for men, for evenings on board or out to dinner in town.
Check to see if your river cruise ship has a swimming pool or hot tub and, if so, pack a bathing suit (include one, too, if you’re stopping somewhere like Budapest that has enticing thermal baths you might like to visit). Ask, too, about an onboard fitness center and bring exercise clothing as needed.
As for extras, if you have room, throw in a few scarves for dressing up an evening outfit or keeping warm, a light hat, fingerless gloves and a sun hat.
Like to check off items? Here’s a starter clothing list:
You’ll be doing a fair amount of walking and moving about when you disembark from your ship. Many of the village and historic city centers you’ll visit have uneven cobblestone streets and alleyways, so sturdy, comfortable, somewhat padded footwear is advised. Break your shoes in before you leave town to avoid blisters. Leave the fancy dress shoes and heels at home. In the spring or fall, or the Christmas market season, consider warm, weatherproof footwear or comfortable walking boots.
Pack the right tech so you’re never left without charge or the ability to take photos when you want to. Check with your river cruise company about whether or not US outlets and USB ports are on the ships. Some ships have only European plugs, so it’s a safe bet to pack an adaptor. Also ask about WiFi and check with your cell phone provider about adding international data to your plan, especially if you want to be FaceTiming with folks back home during your travels.
5. Some Essentials
A few more items to consider adding to your river cruising packing list:
Need more guidance? Let’s chat. You know I’ll recommend the raincoat first!
You’ve settled on a luxury river cruise in Europe. And with good reason - the innovative itineraries, the award-winning dining, the highly inclusive, no-worries pricing and the world-class service. The opportunity to move smoothly along Europe’s most storied rivers, visiting new cities and riverside villages, and having immersive experiences along the way - it’s priceless, really. Now that you’ve decided to go, the next big question is, “When?” Let’s take a look at the best time to take a Europe river cruise.
Where are you planning to take your Europe river cruise? Is the northern region of the continent calling, with its tulip fields and windmills and cities rich in art and architecture? Perhaps you’re drawn to the ancient villages and sun-splashed landscapes of culturally rich Portugal and Spain. Where you’d like to cruise will determine when you go. Generally speaking, the Europe river-cruising season runs from March through December, but within that span, the most optimal time is late spring (April-May) or early fall (September-October).
Europe river cruises run along the Rhine in central and northern Europe, the Danube between central and eastern Europe, the Douro, the Seine, the Rhone and the Bordeaux region of western Europe. These winding, often interconnected waterways crisscross thousands of miles and while one might expect them to run through a variety of climates, the rivers are actually around the same latitudes. That’s good news for the traveler trying to make a decision about when to travel because the temperature and climate are fairly similar for all of these river regions.
If it’s consistently sunny, warm weather you’re seeking, when blue skies promise long days of pleasant excursions and sightseeing, aim for a Europe cruise between June and August. You’ll be all but guaranteed a long list of outings, including walking, hiking and cycling, thanks to the ideal weather. On the other hand, the sunny days attract the most guests, so you’ll find bigger crowds … and often hot weather can be oppressive if you’re not used to or prepared for it.
If you’d like to avoid the larger crowds and still have nice, but not the hottest, weather, aim for the spring or fall. There are more discounts offered during these periods (shoulder seasons) and often you can find specialized river cruises, like springtime tulip sailings or fall foliage voyages.
Have you considered a wintertime river cruise? If you love the festive holiday season, you’ll want to look twice at the December cruises on the Danube and Rhine rivers. These voyages land you at the traditional European Christmas markets of central Europe that have been going on for centuries. It’s an opportunity to enjoy local traditions and food and get an immersive cultural experience as the continent prepares for the holiday. Who can resist warm mulled wine and roasted chestnuts while shopping for one-of-a-kind, handcrafted gifts from local vendors, all to the tune of live Christmas music?
River cruising takes a pause after December when the backcountry goes into a much colder season. As soon as the snow and ice in the mountains starts to thaw and the rivers flow heavier in early spring, the cruising season starts back up once again.
Have a better idea of where and when you’d like to go on your Europe river cruise? Let’s chat and start planning together.
Amsterdam has always been on my bucket list and I had the wonderful privilege to spend 3 nights in this wonderful city prior to my river cruise on the AmaSiena earlier this month. There are so many things to see and do that you could easily spend an entire week exploring. Here are my top 5!
1. Take a historical canal ride. This was definitely a highlight of our stay. The water tours of Amsterdam are some of the most desired. Since there are hundreds of canals throughout the nation that were created just for travel, there is no reason not to give this popular attraction a try. During your gentle water ride, you'll get to view some of the country's most detailed architecture and most beautiful landscapes.
2. Take a walk through the wildflowers. Amsterdam takes great pride in its bulb flowers, especially tulips. Visit the amazingly vibrant bulb flower park in Lisse if you wish to see the tulips in all their glory. If you happen to miss the tulip season, don't worry. There are plenty of bulbed flowers that grow year-round at the park.
3. Visit one of the many spectacular art museums or history museums. Check out paintings by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, or other world-renowned artists or revisit history by walking into the Anne Frank House, where you can see the secret annex where Anne hid during World War II.
4. Walk through De Wallen, the nation's red-light district. Although it's famous for some risky behavior, there is much more to the city. Try out one of the district's fine restaurants, small boutiques, or find more responsible entertainment at any of the places not lit up with red lights. For a faster way to venture through, rent a bicycle. You'll find that you can easily rent a bike, but be aware that there are bikes everywhere and you'll want to be an experienced rider if you choose to do this.
5. Last but not least, you mustn't leave the city without trying some of its authentic Dutch cuisines or experiencing one of its cannabis coffeehouses. We loved one of the Dutch pancake houses so much that we actually went back and ate there twice. The cannabis coffeehouses are everywhere and people travel all over the world to Amsterdam to encounter these coffee shops in person. In Amsterdam, marijuana is simply a way to unwind, and these coffeehouses are some of the most reputable and reliable sources to enjoy a delicious bite to eat and a puff of smoke as you dine.
Amsterdam is a perfect city to begin or end a river cruise. If you're interested in visiting this wonderful place, would like to hear more about my experience there, or my experience on the AmaSiena, please reach out by booking a consultation through the Contact Me tab. I'd love to chat!
If a hurricane rolls in...
I've got your back. Should there be a weather event, I'll reroute you to new resort at a new destination, OR help you with adjusting your travel dates to a new date.
I'm committed to you.
You're much more than a reservation number. Unlike online websites I actually care that you have an amazing trip.
I save you time and stress.
My job is to give you more time and less stress. I narrow down options so you don't spend countless hours doing research. Then I make sure the details are taken care of so you can sit back and relax.
I've got connections.
Celebrating a special event or occasion? Before you travel, I reach out to resort management staff to ensure all goes well. I'll give them a head's up and also alert them should you have any special concerns (eg. dietary or mobility needs, etc.)
You want the best room or suite?
Did you know that by using an online retailer you're not always guaranteed the best rooms? In fact, resorts typically allocate their unsold and less favorable room positions to the online retailers.
And what about COVID requirements?
No worries, I'll be your travel advocate from start to finish. And now with COVID requirements rapidly changing, you'll want someone in your corner to advocate on your behalf so you don't have to deal with the stress on vacation.
Airline details changed again? ️
Airlines frequently make changes. It could be a time change on a departure, equipment changes, etc. I monitor these details closely to ensure it won't cause you undue stress when you're traveling.
You're working with a REAL person.
You're not contacting a call center or dealing with the frustration of an automated directory. I'll work with you one-on-one and have your travel details readily available if you ever need me.
Who doesn't like an easy payment plan?
After the deposit is paid, I accept incremental payments that you may authorize online at any hour of the day that suits you. I also monitor the final payment date and alert you in plenty of time so that a final payment never catches you off guard.
Have your itinerary on you at all times.
I offer a free itinerary app that updates in real time. I'll load in your travel details and all your confirmations. For travelers who prefer paper, I'm happy to print the full pdf file and mail that to you ahead of your departure.
I'll review your travel insurance for you.
Travel insurance is important. I'll send detailed information regarding the options so you can make an informed decision.
I know travel.
It's what I do. I'm continually updating my training and research to stay on top of everything you need to know. So save yourself some time and allow me to do the hard work for you!
These Sailings Take Cruising to The Next Level
Craving a little adventure? Then, you'll love one of these phenomenal adventure cruises — and no, these are not just the kind of cruise where you eat and drink all day. 😎
Scroll down to check them out and be sure to reach out if you have any questions!
The Galápagos Islands are home to some of the most remarkable animals! Each island is filled with discoveries that date back millions of years. In addition, Ecuador welcomes travelers with Spanish colonial architecture and dozens of fun activities! Test your snorkel skills alongside exotic sea turtles, or take a guided tour past blue-footed boobies, flamingos, penguins, and iguanas. Better grab that camera!
Desperate for a change of scenery? Then, Alaska will BLOW. YOU. AWAY! An Alaskan cruise will be sure to deliver action, exploration, and all the adventure you'll need — in one life-changing trip! From paddling and hiking, calving glaciers, Glacier Bay National Park, bears, whales, and polar plunges, you can't get much more immersive than this!
Sample Itinerary: Northern Passages and Glacier Bay
Do these adventures catch your eye?!
Then, don't wait! I recommend planning your adventure cruise over a year in advance to get the best pricing AND because they sell out quickly due to limited capacity. Shoot me a message to get started!
THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL:
Here are some trends I'm predicting in 2021!
Imagine waking up in your very own tropical villa, tucked away in paradise, with nothing but the sand and sea in the distance... sounds pretty amazing, doesn't it? I'm starting to see this travel style on the rise in 2021 - and here's why!
Okay, now you're probably thinking, "a private yacht? That's going to be pricey!" Well, think again! Private charters aren't as expensive as they seem - in fact, I've found some fabulous pricing options for 2021! Here's some other things you might like!
Another popular trend I'm seeing this year is extended stays! This allows travelers to create their plans as they go with no set schedule - because sometimes that week-long getaway just isn't enough! ;) Here are some additional perks of an extended stay:
Want To Get Away Right Now?
Here Are 5 Places You Can Go To, Today!
Craving a getaway ASAP? Below, you'll find 5 destinations you can visit today with very little travel restrictions. The best part? They're all offering some of the lowest prices I've ever seen, so be sure to take your pick before they book up!
* BUT FIRST: I HAVE SOME BREAKING NEWS *
In case you haven’t heard, last week the CDC announced a new requirement for international travel which requires ALL inbound air passengers to the United States to present a negative COVID-19 test for entry into the US, including US citizens. The test must be performed within 3 days of your inbound flight and you must have your results in hand to board the plane. This new requirement will be effective on January 26th and I'll continue to keep you posted as things continue to change. Be sure to follow along on social media for updates or feel free to email or message me if you have any questions.
Now on to the good stuff! Keep scrolling for some instant inspiration!
For an escape with consistent warm temps, cool breezes, and powdery-white sand, Aruba is your match! FUN FACT: Travelers can swim with the flamingos on a private beach! Travel Requirements: All US residents will have the option to take PCR test upon arrival. See website for full travel protocols: Aruba Tourism Authority.
Antigua is a great destination to relax, with gorgeous beaches and coral reefs to explore. FUN FACT: If you've watched Below Deck, then you might know Antigua for its incredible Donkey Sanctuary! Travel Requirements: US travelers arriving must have a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 7 days of their flight. For full travel protocols, visit: Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Board.
Turquoise water, silky sand, overwater bungalows --need I say more? FUN FACT: Bora Bora has the best Bloody Mary's at the world-famous Bloody Mary's restaurant! Travel Requirements: Travelers will need to show proof of a negative test (list of approved tests here) within 72 hours prior to departure and will need to self-test 4 days after arrival.
St. Lucia has some of the most dramatic views in the Caribbean. FUN FACT: The gorgeous island is all about their chocolate - from chocolate spa treatments, chocolate martinis --and even a hotel called, "Chocolat." Travel Requirements: US passengers must have a negative result no more than 7 days prior to arrival and complete the following form.
Turks & Caicos
Turks & Caicos has a number of stunning boutique hotels scattered along the pristine, unspoiled coast. FUN FACT: If you're a fish fry fan, you can snag a bite every Thursday at the beach park! Travel Requirements: Visitors must provide a negative Covid-19 test result within five days before arrival. Travelers must also complete an online health questionnaire and have medical insurance to cover any Covid-19-related costs. More info: Turks & Caicos.
Private Experiences are the Island Trend!
In 2021, private experiences are expected to be the island trend! Some favorite examples I've seen so far include:
There’s no doubt about it, 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us and this year has been an unprecedented one for my business. Many of my clients had their travel plans interrupted and it's been my pleasure to manage those changes, cancellations and rebookings. This is the first year since I became a travel advisor that I too didn't get on a plane.
I wouldn't be able to do what I do without my clients. Sending people to see and visit places they've dreamed of is what makes me happy each and every day, and I'm looking forward to returning to that in the coming months.
The highlight of my year was the birth of my first grandchild in April. The plan of being at the hospital to welcome the little guy into the world unfortunately didn't happen, but I'm thankful every day for the medical team that helped my daughter with her delivery.
From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your day is filled with laughter and love!
What exactly is Day of the Dead and why is it celebrated?
As many people prepare to head out Trick or Treating tonight, I thought I'd take a moment and share some insight into exactly what is Day of the Dead.
We all know that various cultures have different ways of mourning a loss or celebrating the life of a loved one after they have passed. Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that is celebrated throughout Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage throughout the rest of the world. It encompasses three days in actuality, October 31, November 1 and November 2. Since the celebration coincides with Halloween many people have confusion over what exactly the difference is.
The tradition behind Halloween is to dress up in costumes with ancient belief that this would ward off ghosts. Day of the Dead is very different from that in that on October 31st the celebration begins with welcoming the children spirits back for a visit. This is followed by November 1st when the adult spirits are welcomed, and November 2nd is when families will traditionally go to the cemetery to decorate the graves. Altars may be built and offerings made. Flowers are believed to attract the souls and the bright colors and scents may help the souls find their way to their families.
The traditions vary depending on location and here in the United States the celebrations will also vary depending on what town or city they take place in. One thing that is universal is that this celebration is a time for family, food, bright colors of flowers and costumes, and wonderful makeup.
During my recent trip to Mexico, I was able to enjoy much of the Day of the Dead artistry. I visited a wedding venue at Unico 2087 with this theme and I've shared some pictures here. They were in the process of setting it up for a very large reception that was happening later that day. I love that I was able to get a behind the scenes sneak peak look to share.
What is the REAL-ID Act?
Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, but many US travelers have never heard of it and aren’t aware that very shortly the rules for air travel are going to change. Enforcement of the REAL ID Act has been postponed many times, but the final deadline is October 1, 2020. What this means is that you’ll no longer be able to take a domestic flight with a “regular” driver’s license. Different states have enacted this on different dates, but shortly it is going to affect everyone.
In order to comply, the TSA will be requiring travelers to produce either a passport, enhanced license (available in certain states), or a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license. A Michigan REAL ID-compliant driver’s license will have a yellow star in the upper right hand corner (other states may look different, but will still have the star). If you do not have one of these three forms of ID, you’ll be denied boarding for your flight.
If you have a current enhanced driver’s license, you will automatically be compliant without the yellow star. Upon renewal of your license, it will be issued with the yellow star without any interaction on your part.
How do you make your ID or driver's license ID REAL-ID compliant?
You’ll need to present in person to a Michigan Secretary of State (or your local DMV) office to apply. You’ll need either your US passport or your certified birth certificate with the raised seal along with your current driver’s license or other accepted form of ID. This can typically be your Social Security card or another form of government issued ID and proof of residency. Please visit michigan.gov/sos or your state DMV site for other options.
If your name has changed from the name that is on your birth certificate, you’ll also need to present certified documents that show the legal name change, such as a marriage certificate or court order. You may need multiple documents to show the legal changes from your birth certificate to your current name. Once the paperwork is processed, your new ID/driver’s license will arrive in the mail as usual.
Even though this won’t be enacted for another year, I highly recommend not procrastinating as the processing times are only going to get longer from this point on. You never know when you might need to take that last minute flight!