With an increasing number of river cruises spanning two and sometimes even three weeks in duration, the question we’re often asked is, “How can I do my laundry on my river cruise?”
Here’s the good news: Nearly every river cruise line offers laundry and pressing service onboard, for a fee. Depending on your river cruise line and your category of suite, laundry services might even be provided on a complimentary basis. In fact, we put together a comprehensive guide earlier this year, outlining the policies and practices for each river cruise line.
Most of this, of course, is pay-per-use. A few river cruise lines offer small laundry rooms where guests can do their own washing, but these are few and far between. When in doubt, it’s safer to assume that your river cruise ship lacks self-serve laundry facilities.
Policies vary greatly between lines, though most offer guests staying in the top-of-the-line suites the added perk of complimentary laundry service. Guests in lower-grade suites may have access to paid laundry services, or in some instances, they may not have access to them at all.
It is important to note that, as with all ships, bringing an iron onboard to take care of those bothersome wrinkles is simply not allowed. Unattended irons pose a considerable fire hazard, and fire is one of the greatest threats onboard any ship. So while irons may not be allowed, small personal travel steamers are perfectly fine to bring along.
If you absolutely must do your laundry on your river cruise, here’s a few of our tips and observations about the process that we’ve observed after numerous journeys along the rivers of the world.
It’s Going to Cost Money
There’s just no getting around it: Doing your laundry onboard your river cruise is going to cost you money. Of course, we don’t want to part with our money, but we do: there’s just no substitute for nicely pressed dress shirts and blouses. As for the rest of it, well, it’s surprising how far you can get by simply washing a few items out in the sink and hanging them to dry on the retractable clothes line that’s typically mounted in your stateroom shower.
You Don’t Have To Do It on the Ship
There is, however, an alternative to doing your laundry on the ship, particularly if you are sailing along the rivers of Europe: You can do as the locals do and take the laundry to the local laundromat.
Now, this obviously works best in towns and cities where your ship docks relatively close to the heart of the city (Amsterdam and Cologne are good candidates), but it has the disadvantage of taking up your free time which, practically speaking, is precious on vacation. Even if you’ve been there five or six times, do you really want to spend your time in Europe doing your laundry? For some, that answer is “yes” – and the option exists for those folks. It’s economical and easy, but the trade-off comes with your personal time.
The last option is to alter the way you pack. We’ve done this ourselves, and have also met other fellow travellers who have thought along similar lines.
Choose clothing that tends to resist odors and materials that aren’t as prone to wrinkling, if at all possible. For particularly long trips, you may find it makes more sense to adopt a “When-in-Rome” attitude and purchase some items of clothing along the way. We’ve done this in the past with great success. The Swedish chain clothing store H&M offers stylish low-cost clothing in many major cities in Europe.
There’s one element of expedition cruising on oceans that we’ve largely adopted for our river cruises: We pack several outfits that will just be our “off-ship” attire, and have several outfits set aside for our aboard-ship expeditions. You don’t need nearly as many clothes to get off the ship and go exploring; casual clothes will work best, and there’s no need to continually trot out a new casual outfit every day.
Onboard ship, however, you’ll want to have a decent array of clothes to cycle through. The most experienced travellers we have met, ironically, have the most paired-down wardrobes. An overly large wardrobe simply becomes a hindrance when it comes time to pack and unpack, particularly on river cruise itineraries that involve multiple hotels and flights.
Don’t Stress About It
This is our final piece of advice. If it’s possible to do your laundry on your river cruise easily, or if you’re not put off by the per-item pricing, go for it. Otherwise? Just go and have a nice time, and recognize that your fellow travellers are all in the same boat. Invest in a small portable travel steamer; it will do wonders for your clothing that wrinkles.
Do you have any travel tips for doing laundry while on a longer river cruise voyage? Let us know by using the comment form below.