See our informative cruise travel tips from the owner who has traveled the many waterways of the world. We offer packing, safety, and other general tips for international travel. River Cruises offer tips on gratuity, customs, packing lists, schedules, and more.
Please feel free to browse each of the countries we travel to for information::
Check our Cruise packing Tips Page for more information
General Vacation and Tour Tips
GENERAL TRAVEL INFORMATION
Vouchers: If traveling within a group or on any set program vouchers will not be required or issued. If traveling as an individual and/or deviating from the regular itinerary, we may issue vouchers for services paid for. When included, vouchers will be listed on the check-off list sent/emailed with your final documents.
Air Tickets: Whenever our company issues tickets, they will be included with your final documents.
In some instances, when tickets are issued directly by the airlines involved, they may be sent to you under separate cover – or forwarded electronically. Please consult your check-off list.
Transfers: If you have purchased your air tickets or have prepaid your arrival transfers through us, please look for our Tour Guides holding yellow triangle Global Tours & Cruises (GTC) Signs
after exiting the Customs Area of the airport!
If you have purchased land/cruise only and are arranging for your own arrival and departure transportation, the names and addresses of your hotel and the port locations will be listed on the
Contact Sheet enclosed or sent with your final documents.
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: Before leaving home, please ensure that you have your valid PASSPORT and appropriate VISA. At the time of printing, US citizens needed visas for traveling to Russia. Please make sure your US passport has a validity of at least 6 months beyond your scheduled travel dates and check for visa updates with the U.S. or the appropriate foreign consulates at least 90 days prior to your departure. If you are a foreign national – please check with your country’s consulate, as rules may be different. Remember: obtaining a visa and proper travel documents are YOUR responsibility!
BAGGAGE: Make a detailed list of everything you pack for the trip, and then leave this list at home. We cannot be responsible for lost baggage, but most airlines will make every effort to recover baggage or make proper compensation if you are able to itemize the suitcase contents. It is also a good idea to tape a piece of paper INSIDE your luggage, which shows your full name, home address and telephone number. The purchase of Travel Insurance is always strongly recommended!
BAGGAGE WEIGHT: Please remember that weight allowances vary and are lower when flying domestic, and intra-continental routes, utilizing smaller aircraft. Check your airline ticket for instructions and pack accordingly – or you may face overweight surcharges!
OUR FINAL DOCUMENTS – TRAVEL PORTFOLIOS
FREE ELECTRONIC DELIVERY: Once final payment is received all paper documents including: day by day itinerary, travel tips, airline tickets, contacts and other related information will be sent to your electronically via email. This service is free, provided we have your email address.
PHYSICAL DELIVERY OF OUR PORTFOLIO OF GIFTS & PAPER DOCUMENTS:
If you do not have email OR would prefer to receive paper documents along with our set of useful, travel related items as outlined below, these items will be sent to you approximately 2 weeks prior to your departure via registered or overnight mail. The cost of this service will be listed on your invoice.
1. LUGGAGE TAGS: Will be provided. If you would like your luggage to take the same vacation you do – please use them! Please note: The tags have been designed to allow you to list up to 6 points of travel (hotel to ship, ship to hotel, etc.). DO NOT DISCARD THEM! Simply cross out your previous location and write in your next destination (and room or cabin number if you know it).
This will help our staff and porters deliver your luggage to you in the shortest possible time!
2. SQUARE LUGGAGE STICKERS: If provided, Please stick them visibly on your suitcases when possible – the stickers will allow you, our guides and porters to recognize them quicker and get them to their destination faster!
3. BADGES: If provided, please wear the badges at all airports, transfer points, hotels, and at any time you are embarking/disembarking the ship. Not only does your badge assist us in providing adequate security on the vessel by identifying you as a group member to our guides, staff and security personnel, it also allows you to get to know your fellow passengers sooner!
NOTE: Since people go by nicknames, our badges come blank. Please print your name the way you would like to be addressed and wear them at least for the first few days.
4. PENS & TRAVEL BAGS: Our unique pens and practical travel bags are not only “good looking” but superbly designed to hold everything from your documents to cameras to water bottles! People love them- and you will too!
5. SURPRISE GIFT: Depending on your travel destination and time of year, we may include a surprise gift, which may be a hat, an umbrella or “cool shades”….who knows, maybe even a winning lotto ticket! (but you must promise to give us a fair share if you win )
CLOTHING SUGGESTIONS: The dress code on our cruise is INFORMAL!
So please – PACK LIGHTLY! Combine a few tee shirts, several shirts, a turtleneck with 2 wrinkle free slacks, one skirt, one sweater, a pair of shorts, a windbreaker and a sports jacket – and you are done! Leave your formal evening clothes at home; tuxedos and evening gowns are not required! The only time you may wish to “dress up” is for the Farewell Dinner aboard the ship or if going to an evening cultural performance (ballet or similar); on these occasions, a jacket and tie for gentlemen, and a cocktail dress for the ladies will be fine. But generally, the dress code is informal (and that goes for excessive jewelry too!) Remember – you are traveling to see – not to be seen! Keep it simple and you’ll thank yourself later! DO pay particular attention to footwear – you should have a good pair of comfortable walking shoes with thick rubber soles and firm arch supports. If you buy new shoes, “break them in” before the trip. Suitable footwear aboard the ship are sneakers, deck shoes, and similar rubber-soled shoes. Our cruises involve extensive walking during visits ashore, so you need to be comfortable!
PHYSICAL DISABILITIES: Please note that the majority of the passenger vessels sailing the various rivers of the world (including those featured in our programs) have limited services for the physically impaired. There are no elevators on board – steep staircases are the norm. In addition, due to their small size and shallow draft, the ships often anchor at remote undeveloped ports and stops. While this ability enhances the itineraries it also means that most of the shore excursions require quite a bit of walking! Therefore, severe walking disabilities may limit the passenger’s overall enjoyment on these programs.
Regretfully, we do not recommend these cruises to
severely disabled or wheelchair bound passengers!
ENTRY INTO THE COUNTRY:
An immigration card and Customs Form will be provided by aircraft personnel or will be available on arrival in the baggage area. Fill in both and proceed to:
IMMIGRATION: Will check your Passport, Visa and take your Immigration Card.
CUSTOMS: After retrieving your luggage proceed through either the “GREEN” or “RED” lane;
“GREEN LANE” – NOTHING TO DECLARE: If you have no high end valuables, laptops or are carrying LESS than $10,000 in cash – this is the quickest way out for most tourist visitors. NOTE however that Customs officers have a right to stop passengers and request to see their belongings.
If you are not stopped, you do not need to give your Customs Declaration.
“RED LANE” – SOMETHING TO DECLARE. If you are carrying high value items such as laptop computers, high-end camera equipment or LARGE AMOUNTS OF CASH ($10,000 or more – some or all of which you intend on taking back) you may want to declare them to avoid problems when exiting.
If taking the “RED” LANE, present your Passport and Declaration Form to the Customs officer who upon inspection of cash or goods will sign and stamp your Declaration Form and return it to you.
You MUST keep this form, as you will need to present it to Customs upon exiting the country!
CASH: Unlimited foreign currency may be taken into Russia but a maximum of $3,000 per person USD ($) may be taken OUT of Russia without any declaration forms. For amounts from $3,000 to $10,000 you may leave but with both in/out declaration forms to show amounts you brought in.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Local personnel including our Tour and Cruise Guides are NOT allowed to enter the Immigration/Customs area. If you experience a problem you may ask the officers to summon one of them to assist you in translating. Otherwise, our Guides will meet you as soon as you exit the Customs Area. They will hold our Yellow GTC Triangle Signs! (Please note: this applies only to those passengers who have booked their flights with us or have purchased transfers through us.)
EXITING THE COUNTRY:
“GREEN” LANE: Nothing to declare including cash amounts LESS than $10,000 USD.
“RED” LANE: If you are taking back high end items including cash amounts larger than allowed, fill out another Customs Declaration Form and submit it to the Customs officer along with your stamped ENTRY FORM. Upon comparing the two the officer may request to see the funds or may let you through without a check. In either case – be sure NOT TO LOSE your Entry Declaration!
CAUTIONS FOR EXPORTING & SHOPPING
NO ART / ANTIQUES: Works of art such as paintings, sculpture and old ICONS cannot be taken out of the country. Antiques (anything older than 50 years) such as old coins, weapons, books published before 1945, furniture, samovars and musical instruments can be taken out only if you have a permit from the Ministry of Culture. These items are subject to 100% duty.
YES Items such as coats, caviar (in reasonable quantities), carpets, jewelry and crystal purchased at legitimate shops can be taken out of the country and NO custom fees are applicable.
SOUVENIRS: Any type of handicraft is usually of the highest quality. Hand painted “Matryoshka” dolls and lacquer boxes are world famous – but make sure they are originals and not fake copies.
Photography: Please do not photograph people without asking their permission to do so. Do not take photographs of airports, military bases, or installations. Remember to bring all the film/memory cards you will need, because Russian and Ukrainian film/memory cards may not be of the same quality.
VIDEO CAMERAS: Please remember that European Countries utilize a different standard (PAL/SECAM) than the United States (NTSC). THEY ARE NOT COMPATIBLE! Remember to bring enough blank tapes and if purchasing tapes locally, make sure they are marked NTSC!
NOTE: On our ship we allow an independent company to sail and film the cruise for the benefit of our passengers who may wish to purchase a VHS or DVD copy for their own use. Important: These DVDs are encoded differently from US DVD. If you purchase a DVD, even if it is without a Region code, you may only be able to play it in laptop computers but not your DVD player.
Note: Most museums, galleries and concert halls either charge a fee for photos or videos (anywhere from 5 – 8 Euros depending on the institution) or may not allow photography at all.
HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS (when applicable)
HOTELS: On some of our tours and cruise packages, in order to conform to airline schedules, we add pre/post-cruise stays at hotels in various cities (check your itinerary). In all such cases we use First Class (4*) properties, or best available and breakfast is usually included (for further information consult your vouchers or itinerary). Other meals are provided as specified in your tour itineraries. In all cases, hotels are carefully selected to provide the best combination of location, comfort and value, but please remember – the quality and service levels of these hotels may still lag behind what we are used to in the West! For actual hotels used on your particular departure, please check the “Contact List” included with your final documents.
Cruise Like a Pro: Tips for Smooth Sailing
A cruise is a perfect opportunity to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Knowing a few tricks of the trade allows vacationers to sail smart and maximize adventure by being prepared for a journey’s challenges while avoiding unnecessary delays.
Before stepping out the door and onto the open seas, take a few precautions to prepare for adventure. Square away travel arrangements. If flying to the vessel’s port of call, allow for ample time to meet the vessel, and consider possibilities like airline delays. If traveling to a foreign country on your cruise, double-check passport and visa requirements and secure any necessary documentation well ahead of your cruise dates. Inform staff about dietary restrictions and accessibility concerns before you cruise.
On the day of departure, arrive at your cruise early to avoid long check-in lines. During check in, expect to produce required documents, including passports and visas. In many instances, you will also have an opportunity to use a credit card to open a convenient on-board charge account. Also, keep your luggage well-marked with appropriate tags and stickers. During the check-in process, your luggage will be loaded onto the boat by the crew and will later arrive in your cabin. Keep essentials in your carry-on bag.
Keep small bills handy for tipping porters and cruise staff. Familiarize yourself with on-board and local tipping and gratuity customs. Be aware of currency restrictions at cruise destinations, including maximum amounts allowed in and out of different countries. Credit cards are easy ways to open on-board charge accounts and provide options for protecting the livelihood of vacationers.
Don’t tempt thieves. Leave expensive jewelry and electronics at home. Keep a list at home of your luggage contents in case you need to later make an insurance claim. Do not bring towels, valuables or bulky clothing. Instead, pack lightly. Bring easy clothing layering options, comfortable shoes, a hat, sunscreen, swimwear, one wrinkle-free dress-up outfit, toiletries, a lanyard for your room key, extra plastic bags for storage, a tote, necessary medications and lightweight gear for inclement weather.
Keep an Open Mind
Enrich your adventure experience by avoiding expectations that things will be done exactly as they are back home. Different cultures often provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to learn about the unique ways of life and the fascinating histories of local people.