TRAVEL TIPS FOR
MEDITERRANEAN CRUISERS

BEFORE YOU LEAVE

Well in advance, call your airline and confirm how many pieces of carry on and checked luggage you are allowed. In some cases you may have two pieces. However, depending if and where your transfer takes place, you may need to narrow to one piece. i.e. in the United Kingdom (Heathrow airport) we had to go to one piece and it had to be within certain size limits. If you do not meet the criteria you will have to check the carry on luggage. We saw this on several occasions. And they do make you put your bag in the box to make sure it does fit! And one piece of carryon means just that, one piece! A purse or fannypack is considered one piece!

You may want to put a change of clothes in your carry on. We heard several stories where the traveler's luggage did not arrive when they did. The shortest time frame was three days before the luggage caught up with them to not having any luggage for their entire trip. Side note: One family had a choice between a major carrier and one not so major. They chose the not so major to save about $1,000. They were the ones with no luggage for the entire trip. They admitted, the $1,000 savings sounded good in the beginning, but calculated they will be spending that and more on clothes to get through their trip.

At large international airports you can use the American Dollar to make small purchases (think drinks snacks etc.). Bring small bills for this. They will convert for you at the register but your change will not always be in dollars (I have done this in Korea and Tokyo with no problem.)

It is a good idea to have currency on hand for the country you are visiting. In most cases you can get money exchanged at the departing airport. This comes in handy if you want to purchase water or a snack, and also, for your transportation at your destination.

Don't change too much money at airports, these are not the best exchange rate, we flew over with no euro's, got a good exchange rate from caixa bank ATM right behind luggage pickup, Disney reps pointed out the machine and said caixa always seemed to have the best exchange rate.

Before leaving home, make sure you alert your bank and credit card company that you will be out of the country. We found we needed a pin number not only for our ATM/Debit card, but also for our credit cards. Make sure you ask for this pin number from your financial institution. Make sure all pin numbers are 4 digit only, larger US style pins will not work in European ATM.

Be sure you bring 800#'s for your banks and credit cards in case there is a problem. Their are special numbers you can call if you are out of the country and need to talk to them.

American Express is NOT the card of choice in Europe. Be sure to have a Visa or Master Card with you.

Bring extra zip lock bags of various sizes. This will help when returning home. Any liquid purchases made can be placed in the bags, as well as, small items you what to keep track of.

Before leaving home, stop by your local Walmart, Target, etc. and go to the camping section and purchase several rain ponchos. They cost about one dollar and are light weight in small packaging. They come in handy while you are on a tour and a sudden thunderstorm happens.

Consider renting a global phone or checking with your current carrier about international cell phone service. We rented. We wanted the phones in case of an emergency. We found we had to use it a couple of times related to work and once for fun to call home. It was well worth the rental fee.

Check with your health insurance and make sure that if a health emergency were to occur, you will be covered and what procedures you would need to implement so that you will be reimbursed. Be sure to keep a copy your trip specific insurance with you also.

Make sure you have copies of your passport, credit cards, and driver's license. However, with larger purchases, you may need to show an original passport if using a credit card.

Check out other trip reports and excursion reports, you may want to try to change your shore excursions based on these

To help avoid jet lag, set your watch to the destination time as soon as you get to the airport and start thinking of yourself being on "destination" time. Try to eat and sleep according to "destination" time. No alcohol, caffinated sodas, coffee or heavy meals on the day of departure or on the flight. Sleep on the plane if it's night by your watch. Stay awake if it "day." Deb and Linda found that they had very LITTLE jetlag from the US to Europe, however it took a good week to recover from jetlag from Europe to US.

Before you leave home, put your itinerary on a spreadsheet or Word document and bring a couple of copies with you. Ours included the day, date, port, port times, other times and activities. We added the excursion times, Palo times, spa times, lifeboat drill, wine tastings, and any other information we knew before leaving home and 2 blank lines for each day so we could add other activities. It was EXTREMELY valuable. I taped it to the bottom of the vanity mirror and it became our travel "bible."

If you don't bring a computer, sure to pack lots of extra digital media cards for your pictures. You are going to take a LOT of them!! ...and you don't want to run out of storage space.

Bring a "travel" roll of toilet paper and small wet wipes or hand sanitizer. In busy tourist areas these may not always be available. These are available at Target, Walmart etc in the travel section.

LUGGAGE

Pack "across" your suitcases. Put everyone's clothes in separate stacks and then divide all clothes "across" however many suitcases you are taking. Since there were only two of us, half my shirts went into one suitcase, half in the other. Half my pants in one, half in the other. Half my undies in one ...well, you get the idea. That way if one suitcase is lost or arrives late, you'll still have some clothes to wear. You want to be sure you can survive several days/styles no matter what bag arrives.

If at all possible, pack your own pillows from home. (Use "space bags" to make them more compact. The pillows on the ship are nice, but there's nothing like the familiarity of your own personal pillow to promote a good night's sleep.

When checking in at the Airport, ask the Airline Agent if your bags will be checked" through to your final destination. In some cases, you may need to claim your luggage at the connecting airport and re check the luggage. This is especially true if you are changing airlines.

Since most airlines will let you check 2 suitcases per person, consider checking one or two smaller suitcases with your heavy items. We checked one suitcase full of nothing except camera chargers (not the camera!!!) and other electronic items, flashlight, extra batteries, binoculars, heavy shoes, scissors, masking tape, liquids (in individual plastic bags), power strip, extension cord, etc. By putting all the heavy stuff in one suitcase, we were able to reduce weight in the large suitcases and keep them under the airline's weight limits.

Make sure you have all contact information on one piece of paper in each piece of luggage. We had a sheet of paper with the following:

Name
Home address
Pre and Post Hotel address, phone numbers and length of stay
Cruise Line information, phone number and length of cruise
Our phone numbers, home number, cell number at home and our international cell number.

In the past we always carried our toiletry bag in our carry on. Now we put it in our checked luggage due to the 3 oz. limit on liquids. We have started putting the toiletry bag in a large zip lock bag. Deb goes one step further and places each item in a zip lock bag then places it in her toiletry bag. On my return trip my shampoo bottle exploded. Fortunately, no clothes were damage. All liquid was contained in the zip lock bag. I also place my hair spray can in a zip lock bag. This practice came as a result of the top coming off in transit and spraying all my clothes.

ON BOARD

In the stateroom there is a hook on the wall near the bathroom. You can use this to hang your lanyard on. We have had a problem remembering where we put our stateroom key. It never fails; there are several times we frantically are looking for our key. We found that if we hang the lanyard on the hook, when we enter the cabin, we immediately place our key in the holder and viola, no searching!

Remember that you can lift the foot of your bed and store suitcases under the bed.

If you bring your laptop in hopes of using the wireless connection on the ship, be prepared for a slow connection. If you are use to a high speed Internet connection at home, this will bring back the days of dial up. Plus, the connection is dropped quite often. If you encounter problems once you've paid for the service on the ship, don't hesitate to call Guest Services.

If you take a computer and have a verandah, don't leave the computer open on the vanity and the verandah door open for long periods of time. There is salt in the sea air that will land right on top of your computer, making it gritty. That salt can damage the "innards" of your computer.

If you decide to do laundry on the ship, be sure you bring quarters and detergent. Also, get up early! Everyone else will want to do laundry when you do, especially on the sea days.

You can exchange $US on the ship for Euros. There is no transaction fee for this, but the exchange rate might not be quite as good as you can get from your local bank. If you exchange money, save your receipt because you will be able to convert back to $US at the end of your trip at the same rate you originally paid for the Euros, even if the exchange rate is higher. You are NOT able to get Euros on the ship and have them charged to your KTTW card. Also, on board, the smallest Euro you can get is a 5 Euro, exchanges for change 2, 1 and lower amounts, are not available.

On your last At Sea day, bring some sliced fruit and veggies & dip back to your cabin from the "cook-out" lunch buffet. Then order the "All Hands on Deck" cheese tray from room service in the afternoon and have a mid-afternoon snack break right in your cabin while you pack your bags. We also opened a bottle of local wine to help ease the pain and sadness of our last cruise day.

If you have late seating, you might not have time for dessert if you want to go to the Sail Away Party. Skip dessert and order Mickey bars and cookies from room service when you get back to your cabin.

Remember that Disney only allows you to decorate your cabin door with magnets; no tape or stickers. So print your door decorations on sheet magnets before you leave home and bring a few extra little round magnetic disks to use to hold additional things.

IN PORT

We found the lack of public restrooms to be a problem. On the Disney excursions, the local tour guides do not allow time for bathroom breaks and you have to find them during your limited "free time". We were told to use the restrooms in the bars and restaurants. Typically these are for patrons only. There is usually a basket placed outside of the door on a table and it is customary to leave a coin. Deb spent much of her "free" time on the excursions looking for a bathroom.

Running water in the restrooms is turned on a variety of ways. Check to see if there are floor pedals, or some other method of turning the water on. Also, for flushing the toilets - some have push buttons on the walls for flushing, not on the toilet themselves, as we do in the US.

Be prepared that some toilets (especially in the "older" communities) may not have western toilets as we know them. Some only have a ditch in the floor (Les Baux for one). Ask your tour guide before you enter. In some areas they have both, you just need to know where the other one is. Restrict liquids if you can until you return to the ship.

We found that the tours left very little if no time at all to do souvenir shopping. As a result the stores on the ship were crowded. During the few times we were allotted shopping time, we spent it looking for a restroom (see above comment).

On excursion days, try to limit your morning liquid intake -- especially coffee and tea which acts as a diuretic and necessitates more bathroom stops.

Make sure everyone in your travel party is back on the bus, a couple of people got left behind in a couple of places, the tour guides were lax if any counting of the bus load.

In general, folks we know had no problem doing a couple excursions on their own, Rome. Cinque Terre (la spezia). However, do not rely on the Italian trains being on time. Leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the ship!

********

Thanks to everyone that contributed to this document!!!!!! If you have tips to add, please let us know via our feedback form.

Enjoy!