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Viking River Cruise Packing List and Cruise Packing Tips (2024)

A common question for first-time river cruisers is how to pack for a cruise. We have learned a lot sailing on Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises over the years. We’ve learned that packing for a river cruise differs from what you would pack for a cruise on one of the bigger cruise lines.

With this in mind, we’ve put together our Viking River Cruise packing list. Our list is loaded with helpful cruise packing tips that help you to get ready for your river cruise.

You will find an example 7-10 day packing list at the end of the article to use as a starting point for your packing.

A viking river cruises ship sits docked at night lit up with christmas lights.

Storage in Your Cabin

One thing we love about Viking River Cruise vessels is the ample storage in the cabins. While the cabin may not be that spacious, there is plenty of drawer and cupboard space to stow your things. Empty suitcases or bags slide easily under the beds to minimize clutter.

A stateroom on a Viking river cruise showing the bed, window and dresser.

Pack Your Cruise Carry On Bag Wisely

When you set sail on a Viking river cruise, smart packing matters. Remember your essentials: a change of clothes, basic toiletries, and vital medications in your carry-on bag. Having the best wheeled underseat luggage helps you travel light and keeps you prepared for emergencies on your Viking river cruise.

If you’re using a fly-cruise package and the airline misplaces your luggage, it might arrive late or at the next port. This delay could disrupt your Viking river cruise packing plans.

While it rarely happens, if your bags do get delayed on the river cruise, you have no need to worry. Freshen up and explore the ship without waiting for your belongings during your Viking river cruise.

Related: Avoid lost luggage issues. We’ve rounded up the Best Luggage Trackers and Smart Tags to help you find lost luggage fast.

Reading and games area on a viking river cruise with shelves of books and a view of the ship's atrium in the background.

Best Time to Take a River Cruise

There are many river cruises in Europe, but there are numerous others aroudn the globe. Consider voyaging along rivers in China, Vietnam, or Egypt for a diverse experience beyond the usual European route.

When preparing your attire for a Viking River cruise, consider the chosen cruise destination and the prevailing weather conditions. Seasons play a crucial role.

Many opt for European river cruises during spring and autumn, characterized by varied weather. Europe’s summer can also be unpredictable, unlike parts of Asia where summer often brings heavy rainfall

Colourful cathedral in St. Petersburg with light snow falling.
Light snowfall in spring in St Petersburg Russia, during a Russian river cruise.  Even though it is the best time to take a River Cruise, the weather can change quickly in the spring season.

Related: Take a Look on Board Viking Ocean Cruises Viking Sea

Review the Shore Excursions

When assessing your river cruise itinerary, pay close attention to planned excursions and those you’ve already reserved.

Consider packing attire suitable for specific excursions, like versatile hiking or walking shoes for comfortable strolls.

Some activities, like the Russian Banya or Budapest’s spas, might necessitate a swimsuit, providing unique bathing experiences.

Shore excursions are pivotal in European river cruises, often offering cultural evening events such as opera or ballet. For these, consider slightly more formal attire.

Help reduce single-use plastic when you travel.

It is extremely important to incorporate eco-friendly practices into your travels. While Viking provides bottled water on excursions, using a reusable filtering water bottle is environmentally conscious, budget-friendly, and ensures safe refills anywhere.

Explore our guide for the best travel-friendly filtering and purifying water bottles that suit your preferences.

People sitting in the thermal baths in Budapest. A horse shoe shaped sitting area in the pool with the old baths building in the background.
Visiting one of Budapest’s iconic thermal spas is a highlight of the Danube Waltz Cruise – Passau to Budapest.

Best Luggage for a Cruise

What kind of luggage is best for a cruise?  The best luggage for a river cruise is sturdy, easy to maneuver through airports, and easy to stow under the bed.

We prefer a soft duffle-style bag with wheels and a telescopic handle. They are easy to pack, easy to carry, and pack flat when not in use. They are also more forgiving if you overpack a little or pick up too many souvenirs on your trip.

Samsonite Wheeled Duffel

Samsonite Ripstop Wheeled Rolling Duffel Bag, Blue, 26-Inch
Samsonite Ripstop Wheeled Rolling Duffel Bag, Blue, 26-Inch
Check Price

We like the Samsonite wheeled duffel bags because they are lightweight, easy to carry and with changeable packing options, are so easy to pack. They also come in different sizes depending on your requirement. Perfect for cruises.

Cruise Luggage Tips

  • If you are traveling as a couple, we recommend taking one large suitcase or bag between you for a cruise and one carry-on bag each.
  • You maximize the room in your cabin this way and only have to worry about one case while traveling.
  • With this in mind, consider baggage weight allowances if your river cruise includes domestic flights within the country.

Best Bags for Cruise Excursions

The ideal bag for shore excursions should prioritize comfort, practicality, and anti-theft features while avoiding excessive bulkiness.

For women, consider opting for anti-theft crossbody purses over large shoulder totes. These practical, stylish alternatives prevent overfilling for comfort, blend in discreetly, and offer security.

Given the extensive walking during river cruise town explorations, prioritize comfort to avoid pickpocketing incidents

Anti Theft Fanny Packs

Discover the resurgence of trendy fanny packs, the perfect lightweight companion for day excursions during your river cruise or leisurely days on board.

We have reviewed some of the best and most stylish fanny packs for travel here, but these are a few of our favorites. Some even transition beautifully from day to evening.

Daypacks for Cruise Excursions

When you choose a travel daypack, prioritize features like hidden pockets, secure zippers, and adaptable designs that remain snug against your back. Make sure you can easily shift your bag to the front in crowded settings.

You can avoid the risk of pickpocketing if you opt for a sling bag. These types of bags provide added security. You can explore our curated collection of Sling Backpacks for men & women.

Read Our Complete Guide to Buying an Anti-Theft Backpack

Best Cruise Purse for Evening Excursions and Onboard

If you want to bring an additional purse for evening excursions or evenings on board, consider a handbag for travel with a small anti-theft wristlet or clutch for evenings. Or, pack a separate anti-theft clutch that won’t take up much room in your bag.

Perfect for carrying your phone, lipstick, room card, and money without having to pack an extra purse.

Travelon: Anti-Theft Boho Clutch Crossbody Bag - Black

Travelon Anti-Theft Boho Clutch Crossbody Bag

Example Viking River Cruise Packing List

Below is a packing list that will give you all the essentials you need. Continue reading beyond this list to understand the best reasons why you should bring these specific clothing items. This cruise packing list is for a seven to ten-day cruise. You may want to increase some clothing items depending on the type and duration of the cruise.


  • 5 – 7 Tops to mix and match with bottoms.
  • 1-2 Dressier tops for special evenings.
  • 3-4 Bottoms to mix and match with tops.
  • 1  Dressier pant/skirt/dress for special evenings.
  • 1-2 Long sleeved sweaters depending on the season.
  • Lightweight jacket/cardigan for cooler days.
  • Scarf/stole – either lightweight for summer or woollen for winter.
  • Pajamas.
  • Underwear for the duration of your trip.
  • Socks for the duration (including compression socks for the flight).
  • Swimsuit if the itinerary or excursions call for it.
  • Travel umbrella.
  • Lightweight rain jacket or poncho.
  • Sunglasses and reading glasses.
  • Sunhat.

Seasonal Additions

  • Winter jacket – Lightweight, packable puffy down jacket for travel.
  • Warm winter hat.
  • Pair of gloves.
  • Winterweight scarf/woolen stole.
  • Pair winter shoes – opt for lightweight over heavy boots.
  • Sun hat for summer


  • 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes.
  • 1 pair of day shoes for around the boat or casual evenings.
  • 1 pair of dressy shoes for special evenings.
  • 1 pair of flip-flops or similar for relaxing in your cabin.

Tech and Accessories

  • Camera
  • Extra SD cards for the camera
  • Smartphone
  • Headphones
  • External phone charger
  • Kindle or E-Reader
  • Batteries and chargers for all devices
  • Travel adapters (if you need them)
  • A power strip (if you think you need one)

Personal Items

  • Toiletries and all medications – (quality shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, soap, and body wash are provided onboard.)
  • Hair straightener or curler if you use one – You DO NOT NEED a hairdryer
  • Electric shaver if you use one
  • Sunscreen

What to Wear on a River Cruise

How Should I Dress for a Viking Cruise?

Viking has a well-earned reputation for delivering an upscale river cruise experience. While this is undoubtedly true, many equate this with the need to dress up during the cruise.

Usually, this is not the case. While a certain level of dress is expected and always appreciated, on a Viking River Cruise, you will not find the need for formal wear as you might on a big cruise line.

How to Pack for a Cruise

To avoid overpacking for your cruise, choose clothing that will work for multiple combinations so you can mix and match outfits.

Start with a predominantly neutral color scheme -black, white, beige, tan, and grey. Depending on your style, you can highlight this with one or two pastels or brighter accent colors.

See our top five best women’s travel pants that are stylish, comfortable, and versatile – perfect for river cruising.

See our guide to the must-have travel essentials for women for more travel packing list tips for ladies.

Cruise Packing Tips

  • If you are creating a packing list for a seven-day cruise, select five to seven tops to compliment three to four bottoms.
  • A brightly colored scarf, shawl, or jacket will give you additional options for each combination and can be used to dress up any outfit.
  • You may wish to choose one additional dressier outfit or elegant top to dress up one of your mix-and-match combinations.
  • You may want to increase this accordingly for each additional week you are traveling.

See the end of the article for a complete example river cruise packing list.

Always keep comfort in mind when choosing clothing for a cruise. Easy care, wrinkle-free, breathable fabrics are best.

Layer Your Outfits

Depending on the season and destination, the weather could be changeable from port to port. Layering is the best way to combat changeable conditions when traveling even from morning to night or when transiting in airports.


Allow for one heavier, windproof jacket, although leave overly bulky or heavy clothing at home. They can become cumbersome when on the move. You can find our top-rated women’s travel jackets and men’s travel jackets with hidden pockets here.


Pack some long-sleeved sweaters or cardigans as well as short and long-sleeved tops and shirts. This way, you can be warm in the cooler mornings and evenings and shed easy-to-carry layers as required during the day.

Scarves and Shawls

A nice scarf or pashmina is the perfect travel accessory for layering when it gets a little cool. It can also dress up an outfit for evenings.

A lightweight scarf also makes great layering for sun protection and as a shoulder and head cover for entering places of worship.

Dalle Piane Cashmere - Stole 100% cashmere - Made in Italy, Color: Light blue, One size

Dalle Piane Cashmere Stole

Cruise Day Wear

True to the ethos of destination-focused cruising, you will have plenty of time ashore exploring independently or on one of the many included and optional shore excursions.  So comfortable, casual wear will make up the majority of your wardrobe.

  • Comfortable trousers or jeans are best, or shorts or skirts are also appropriate if the weather calls for it.
  • Lightweight, breathable tops. Both long and short-sleeved.
  • A lightweight jacket or sweater for cooler weather. (a packable down puffy jacket is good for cold or winter weather)
  • Comfortable walking shoes.
  • Hat and sunglasses

Consider any places of worship you may be visiting where respectful dress is required. You may be denied entry if you are considered to be inappropriately dressed.

Another good reason to always carry a lightweight travel scarf.

Looking for practical and stylish travel wear?

Read our Buying Guide to the Best Pickpocket Proof Clothing for Travel.

We’ve put together a collection of the most stylish anti-theft hidden pocket clothing for travel for both men and women.

Tourists standing in an alleyway on a Viking River cruise excursion in Norway

Cruise Evening Wear

Except for a few evening experiences such as the ballet, an evening at the orchestra or opera, most evenings will be spent dining on board.

While the restaurants offer a fine dining experience, the dress code is optional. Of course, you may choose to dress up, but many passengers will opt for “elegant casual”. There are no “formal nights” on a river cruise.

For ladies – Dresses, skirts, or pants with a blouse or sweater are appropriate.

For men – Trousers and collared shirts are acceptable. Ties and jackets are a personal choice.

Look for easy-care, wrinkle-free dress shirts you can wash and not worry about ironing like this travel range from Bluffworks.

A river cruise schedule can be quite busy. So much so, some days will barely allow time to change before dinner.

Think about your mix and match. A smart dress shirt or polo can quickly dress up a casual look for men, and a lovely shawl and change of shoes can quickly transform a casual outfit for ladies.

There is no need to bring any fancy jewelry. It will only be something for you to worry about on the cruise.

Pack for the Conditions

Cold and Wet Weather

If you are cruising in the shoulder season or taking a winter river cruise, such as a Christmas market river cruise, you may want to prepare for cold and wet weather.

  • A pair of lightweight gloves and hat that can slip easily into your daypack or handbag.
  • A scarf or shawl is great for layering in minor changes in weather and a must if cruising in the winter months.
  • A lightweight rain jacket or quality rain poncho. Consider a jacket that can double as your day-to-day jacket for cooler days, or choose a waterproof jacket that will fold down for easy storage and carrying.
  • All river cruises offer complimentary umbrellas on board as just one of the thoughtful cruise accessories on offer. However, they are quite large, so they are not always ideal for taking out for a full day of sightseeing. A small, quality travel umbrella is perfect for keeping in your daypack or handbag, and you always have it in case of an unexpected downpour.

Sun and Hot Weather

If cruising in the warmer months, don’t get caught without sun protection. There is nothing worse than a sunburn on your holiday.

Too many people forget about sun protection when sightseeing around cities and local attractions. Even in the shoulder seasons, the sun can be very harmful, so always be prepared with at least the basics.

  • Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses
  • Lightweight, long-sleeved shirts are perfect for hot sunny days. Collared shirts are always better.
  • A travel umbrella works equally as well as a sun parasol.
  • A lightweight travel scarf is great for additional sun protection on the neck and shoulders and comes in handy when visiting places of worship. They are also good if visiting dusty areas to cover your face.

Best Shoes for a River Cruise

Shoes take up the most room in our luggage and can sometimes add the most weight – See our tips on how to pack shoes to solve these issues. Especially when considering some men’s shoes. In saying that, consider carefully what shoes you will pack for a river cruise.

Comfortable Walking Shoes

While many consider cruising to be quite a relaxed or even sedentary way to travel, river cruises are quite the opposite. At each port, you will have numerous shore activities and excursions to choose from, including lots of free walking tours.

You will be doing a considerable amount of walking and even some easy-to-moderate hikes on some excursions. 

Comfortable walking shoes will be very important. Also, choose shoes with a good grip. Walking around Europe on the cobblestones can sometimes be perilous, especially in the wet.

See our guide to the best travel sneakers for comfy, grippy, cobblestone-proof footwear.

Thankfully today, you can find some very stylish, practical, and, more importantly, lightweight walking shoes on the market.

Tip: Break in your walking shoes before you leave on your cruise

Additional Day and Evening Shoes

You may like to take a second pair of day shoes for around the ship that can transition to evening and one pair of dressier shoes for evening excursions.

We always like to take a pair of flip-flops or a similar comfortable sandal for relaxing in the cabin or making those quick trips to the snack and coffee station.

The bar on a viking river cruise. The bar is lines with fancy glasses and top shelf liquor

Fly – Cruise Tip

If taking a fly-cruise package and you have a long-haul flight before your cruise, consider wearing compression socks on the flight over. Swollen feet from flying are bad at the best of times.

On a river cruise, you will launch straight into tours and excursions; there would be nothing worse than squeezing swollen feet into shoes for a walking tour.

Personal Items, Adapters & Chargers

Toiletries and Personal Products

Embarking on a river cruise grants you ample shore time to easily grab any toiletries you need along the way. With Viking River Cruises, skip packing basic toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap, or body lotion—unless you have specific preferences.

They offer an exclusive, luxurious range by Freyja, supplied in generously sized, refillable bottles, sidestepping leaks and the burden of tiny containers. These premium products are replenished daily or upon request, ensuring you’re always catered to.

Plus, there’s a convenient onboard shop for any urgent needs.


Don’t forget any medicines you might need for the duration of your cruise, plus additional just in case of any delays.

Tip for Travelling with Medications

Check any travel advice for the countries you will be traveling to regarding prohibited medication lists. If your medication appears on a banned medications list for that country, ensure you have the appropriate paperwork and approvals before leaving home.

Additional Handy Toiletries We Recommend

Don’t forget to carry some hand sanitizer with you. We find the ones that clip to your bag are the best as you never leave them behind and are easy to access when needed.

PURELL Advanced Hand Sanitizer Variety Pack, Naturals and Refreshing Gel, 1 Fl Oz Travel Size Flip-Cap Bottle with Jelly Wrap Carrier (Pack of 8) - 3900-09-ECSC

Hand Sanitizer Travel Sized Pump Bottle

One of the less desirable aspects of travel is having to use public conveniences, something you will often do on a river cruise. We always keep some of these handy wipes in our bags. Whether at an airport or on a shore excursion, throw a few in your bag, and you will never get caught out.

Stall Mates: Flushable, individually wrapped wipes for travel. Unscented with Vitamin-E & Aloe, 100% Biodegradable (30 on-the-go singles)

Flushable, individually wrapped wipes for travel.

Adapters and Chargers

Travel Adapters

Viking longships have 110 / 220-volt outlets and USB ports in every cabin, so you shouldn’t need a power adapter unless you have hotel stays included in your cruise itinerary or either side of the cruise. (Not every cruise company will have this, so you should check in advance if cruising with a different company)

You will find power points next to the bed and near the desk, which will likely be ample for most travelers.

If you find you need more charging space for cameras, phones, or even a laptop, we recommend bringing a power strip from your home country. We always travel with one, just in case.

Cruise Excursion Tip

Bring your headphones – I find the earpieces issued with the audio devices for tours very uncomfortable and difficult to attach to my ear.

I have found the plug-in headphones you would typically use with your smartphone are compatible with the audio devices on board. They are much more comfortable to wear for long periods and produce better sound.

Charging Bank

A quality, fast charging bank is great for travel days and essential for full-day shore excursions, especially for anyone who uses their phone as their primary camera. They are not expensive and can be a lifesaver when you really need that bit of extra battery.

DANDELION Travel Adapter Outlet Adapter Traveler Accessory Universal Wall Charger 2 USB Ports (UK, USA, AU, Europe, Asia) International Power Plug Adaptor for Multiple Socket Type C, A, I, G (Gold)

Dandelion Travel Adapter with 2 USB Ports

Belkin 3-Outlet USB Surge Protector, Rotating Plug (918 Joules)

Power strip with 3 AC Outlets, 2 USB Ports

Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger, One of The Smallest and Lightest 10000mAh Power Bank, Ultra-Compact Battery Pack, High-Speed Charging Technology Phone Charger for iPhone, Samsung and More.

The Smallest and Lightest High-Speed Power Bank

Do You Have All Your Chargers and Cords?

Always do a final check of all your devices, cameras, and electronic equipment to make sure you have all the right cords, batteries, and chargers. You may not be able to get a replacement should you forget one.

People walking down a shopping esplanade with a church steeple in the background and diners eating alfresco along the way.