14-Day Celtic Kingdoms cruise on Holland America's PrinsendamWe are sailing on Holland America Line’s 14-Day Celtic Explorer cruise on the ms Prinsendam in early June. In addition, we will be spending five days in Amsterdam before boarding the cruise ship. We’ve been working to finalize our packing list for this trip.

What to pack for this British Isles cruise that visits Wales, England and Ireland, plus Belgium and the Netherlands ?

cruising the British IslesWhenever we are thinking about packing for a cruise or any vacation, we start with four questions. 

1. What might the weather be like? What are average temperature ranges for the time of year?

  • June average temperatures and average rain days:
    • Amsterdam, the Netherlands  – High 66°F/Low 52°F Rains 9/30 days
    • Liverpool, England  – High 61°F/Low 50°F Rains 16/30 days
    • Dublin, Ireland – High 62°F/Low 50°F Rains 21/30 days
    • Galway, Ireland  – High 61°F/Low 52°F Rains 7/30 days
    • Antwerp, Belgium  – High 66°F/Low 52°F Rains 16/30 days

2. How easy will it be to do laundry or get out laundry done?

  • Laundry will be easy for us while on the Prinsendam:
    • The ship offers laundry and pressing services by the piece, by the bag or unlimited during the cruise which you can book in advance or on the cruise. (Neptune Suite guests and 4-5 Star Mariners receive complimentary laundry service.)
    • The ship also offers self-service laundry (detergent provided, bring softener sheets; get quarters from front desk.) This cruise is port-intensive with only 3 sea days, hence the laundry room will be crowded.
    • There is also a clothes line in the cabins’ bathroom for drying items you hand-wash.
    • Dry cleaning is also available on-board the ship.

3. How many bags can we check on the flight without paying extra, and what is the weight limit?

  • In general, if flying in business class between the US and Europe on United or Delta, each passenger may check two bags weighing up to 70 pounds each free of charge. For American Airlines, business class passengers can check up to 3 bags per person, weighing up to 50 pounds each.
  • In general, if flying economy between the US and Europe, each passenger may check 1 bag each free of charge, as long as it weighs less than 50 pounds.
  • In addition, each passenger flying from the US to Europe can carry-on 1 small roller bag (that fits in the overhead) plus one personal item such as a backpack or briefcase that fits under your seat. NOTE: If you are connecting to a European carrier in Europe, you may have more limited carry-on options.
  • Each airline has specific size rules for carry-on bags. For example, United Airlines:
    • Maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels.
    • Maximum dimensions for your personal item, such as a shoulder bag, backpack, laptop bag or other small item, are 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches
  • DO CHECK with your air carrier for specifics for your flight.

4. What kind of activities and/or events do we need to dress for?

  • We will pack for:
    • day time exploring in port – casual clothes, comfortable shoes and dressed in layers prepared for rain
    • evening dinners – resort wear for most nights, i.e. slacks and a collared shirt for Mr. Jones and slacks/sweaters/casual dresses for myself
    • gala nights – there will be 3 during our cruise. Mr. Jones will wear a sport coat and tie or suit; I will wear cocktail dresses or black pants with a dressy top.
    • exercise – clothing and shoes for workouts in the ship’s gym, and swimwear/cover-up/flip-flops for swimming/hot tubs and sauna/spa use on the ship
    • personal items such as under garments, pajamas, jewelry, medications
    • misc. items for communications, photography and entertainment such as iPhone, tablets, computers and associated charging cords

    suitcases for 14-Day Celtic Kingdoms cruise on Holland America's PrinsendamOur packing list for this British Isles cruise

    First, the bags we’d take:

    1. Two extra-large wheeled duffel bags, one each. Ours are from Patagonia and Eddie Bauer — we’ve traveled with these all over the world. They hold a ton of stuff, are easy to maneuver, and are light but tough. We would check these bags on flights, weighing them with our Digital Luggage Scale to make sure they are not over the 70-pound limit (this would be 50-pounds if we were in coach), either on the way over, or for the return when we invariably have acquired more stuff. To help organize items in these duffels, we use packing cubes, mesh bags, quart-size plastic bags

    2. One carry-on size roller-bag. Mr. Jones’ is from Briggs & Riley. Even though we are flying in a few days early before our cruise departure, we don’t want to get caught without a change or two of clothes if are checked bags don’t arrive with us. So we carry one roller-bag with our essentials to cover us for a few days. This bag expands, if we get crazy buying stuff and need to check it on the flight home.

    3. Our carry-on backpack and Expandable Briefcase to hold our computers, tablets, phones, charger cords, key travel documents, medicine, and for Mrs. Jones, her make-up in quart-size plastic bag and a small Cross-Body Purse.

    4. A lightweight, Stowaway Packable Daypack for carrying camera, water bottle, maps, etc during day trips and shore excursions. (I don’t want to carry a purse most places, but if I do I can stuff my cross-body purse in this daypack.)

For packing, we think about the clothing and shoes we will need by how we will be spending our days. 

  • 1. Day-time active wear: clothes to wear each day as we are exploring in ports.
  • For June in the British Isles we will follow the adage to “Dress like an onion – in  layers so you can add-on or peel off as the weather of the moment dictates.” We’ll plan for three layers that can mix and match:
      • A t-shirt or light top (take 7-10)
      • A sweater, sweatshirt, hoodie, a button-down type shirt and/or a vest. (take 5-7 to rotate)

    • A waterproof jacket, shell or raincoat with a hood (take 1)
    • A rain hat and umbrella.

    With these toppers we would wear jeans, khakis, or other comfortable, casual pants. Perhaps throw in 1-2 pairs of walking shorts.  (We’d take 4-6 pairs each.)

    2. Evening dinner wear which we would get laundered/pressed as need as rotate during the 14 days:

    • I would take 6-7 dresses and 2 pair of black dress slacks with 3-4 tops. At least three outfits would be suitable for formal nights.
    • For Mr. Jones, we would pack a dark suit and/or sport coat and trouser, 2 dress shirts and ties, 3-4 pair of dress slacks or khakis, 3-4 long-sleeved button-down shirts and 3-4 polo shirts.

    3. Other Clothing/Toiletries/Electronics/Misc.:

      • Exercise wear for workout on the ship
      • My Fitbit, with charger cord and alternate wristbands
      • Underwear, hosiery, sleepwear (the Prinsendam provides robes in each cabin)
      • Belts, jewelry
      • 1 swimming suit each, plus a cover-up and flip-flops or other shoes to wear to the pool/hot tub.
      • Sunglasses
      • Packets of sunscreen, Insect Repellent Towelettes, and sanitizing hand wipes (by carrying the kind in foil packets, they are lighter and don’t count as liquids in your flight carry-on bag)
      • Foil packets of Shout Wipes to remove stains
      • A Travel Power Strip with USB Charging Ports as the plugs are limited in the cabin, and we need to charge our phones/cameras/tablets/computers overnight. (Be sure to bring a power strip that does not have a built-in surge protector – the ship’s don’t allow those.
      • Two Dual Port Travel Power Adapter that allows you to charge to devices with a single electric outlet
      • Two Collapsible Travel Trays (we each have one to keep items such our keys, jewelry, etc. organized in one place.)
      • Travel size packets of tissue and cloth handkerchiefs for Mr. Jones
      • Each of us packs our laptop computers, mouse, computer power cord, iPad and iPhone and dual charge cord — we tend to keep up on work even when traveling
      • For camera’s we use our iPhone but if you take a camera be sure to include chargers, back-up batteries and photo cards.
      • We used to carry books, puzzle books, DVDs for entertainment on flights, buses and trains. Now, we load our iPads with games, movies/television shows from Apple and Amazon Prime. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial we access our favorite guidebooks and other books we’ve bought via our Kindle app. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can try Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days with this link:Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

    • We each take two sets of tiny inexpensive, earbud headphones . (We find this item easy to lose or misplace so we keep one with our phone and one spare packed in our carry-on bag.)

    4. Shoes

    I have a hard time limiting my shoes. I would take these:

      • 2 pair dress shoes
      • 1 pair of dress sandals
      • 1 pair of black flats (wear on plane)
      • 1 pair of tennis shoes suitable for gym /exercise

    If either of our bags are overweight, this is where I will edit.

    Mr. Jones is a shoe minimalist.

    What would you pack for a 14-day British Isles cruise in June? 

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The flag of the Netherlands.

In anticipation of an upcoming trip to Amsterdam, we wanted to learn a little more background about the Netherlands, also commonly referred to as Holland.

18 Interesting Facts to Know About The Netherlands (aka Holland)

1. The Netherlands is a densely populated country of 17 million people located in Western Europe with three island territories in the Caribbean. The country’s official name is the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The European part of the Netherlands borders Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest. On the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, the Netherlands shares a border with France.

Map of The Netherlands (including the special municipalities of Saba, Saint Eustatius and Bonaire; the Caribbean Netherlands)-created by Alphathon.

This map details the 12 provinces of The Netherlands, and shows the special municipalities of Saba, Saint Eustatius and Bonaire; the Caribbean Netherlands. Map created by Alphathon.

2. The Netherlands is made up of 12 provinces. (See map above.)

3. While the Netherlands are often informally referred to as Holland, the Netherlands is the correct name. The name “Holland” is properly used when referring to two specific provinces of the Netherlands: Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland. In other words, the name “Holland” actually refers only to the parts of the Netherlands in the North Holland and South Holland provinces.

4. The confusion with the name of the country goes back to 1795 when the Republic of Seven United Netherlands was conquered by French troops and became the Batavian Republic. In 1806, Napoleon turned the country into a kingdom and appointed his brother Louis as king. The Netherlands remained a kingdom after Napoleon’s defeat in the 1813 Battle of Leipzig. At that time, the area called “Holland” made the biggest contribution to the entire nation’s economy, and therefore became commonly used to indicate the entire country.

Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands since 2013. Photo by Holger Motzkau and edited by César. 

Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands since 2013. Photo by Holger Motzkau and edited by César.

5. The Netherlands is both a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. Since 2013, King Willem-Alexander is the head of state. In addition to his royal duties, King Willem-Alexander has been a “guest co-pilot” for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for years. For more than a decade, the 50-year-old Dutch King has worked as co-pilot on KLM flights about twice a month.

Mark Rutte is Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Photo by Nick van Ormondt.

Mark Rutte, Dutch politician and leader of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, is Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Photo by Nick van Ormondt.

6. The Prime Minister of the Netherlands leads the government. Mark Rutte has been Prime Minister since October 2010.

7. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, but the country’s government resides in The Hague.

The Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, which is the seat of the International Court of Justice.

The Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, which is the seat of the International Court of Justice.

8. Opened in August, 1913, the Peace Palace is an international law administrative building in The Hague. The building houses the International Court of Justice (the principal judicial body of the United Nations), the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law and the Peace Palace Library. Scottish-American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie contributed US$1.5 million ($40 million in current dollars) to build the Peace Palace.

9.  Dutch is the language of the Netherlands, which is why citizens of the Netherlands are referred to as the “Dutch” in English. However, it’s important to note that residents of the Netherlands consider themselves “Nederlanders” rather than Dutch. People who live in one of the two Holland provinces are called “Hollanders.”

10. The Netherlands covers an area of approximately 1o.2 million acres, slightly larger than the combined size of New Jersey and Massachusetts.

11. A relatively flat country, the word “Netherlands” literally means “lower countries.” About 26 percent of the Netherlands is located below sea level, and only about 50 percent of its land is more than three feet above sea level. Most of the areas below sea have been reclaimed from the sea and lakes. Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is entirely below sea level with the lowest point sitting 11 feet below sea level.

A scale measuring the water level in a polder near Zoetermeer, Netherlands. This location is roughly 18 feet below sea level. Photo by Vincent van Zeijst.

A scale measuring the water level in a polder near Zoetermeer, Netherlands. This location is roughly 18 feet below sea level. Photo by Vincent van Zeijst.

12. The Dutch have a long history of developing techniques to drain wetlands and make them usable for agriculture and other development. The Netherlands is frequently associated with polders — a low-lying tract of land, reclaimed from the sea or other body of water and protected by dikes. The Netherlands’ first polders date to the 11th century; today the country has more than 3,ooo of them.

The Oosterschelde Storm Surge Barrier, part of the Netherland's Delta Works. Photo by Job van de Sande.

The Oosterschelde Storm Surge Barrier, part of the Netherland’s massive Delta Works. Photo by Job van de Sande.

13. Following the North Sea flood in 1953 that killed more than 1,800 people, the Dutch government instituted the largest flood protection system in the world.  Constructed over 30 years, the “Delta Works” are comprehensive set of dikes throughout the Dutch coast created to reduce flood risk in South Holland and Zeeland to once per 10,000 years. This project raised 1,864 miles of outer sea-dikes and 6,214 miles of inner, canal, and river dikes, and closed off the sea estuaries of the Zeeland province. The American Society of Civil Engineers consider the Delta Works as one of the seven wonders of the modern world

The Port of Rotterdam. Photo by Joris

The Port of Rotterdam. Photo by Joris.

14. The Netherlands is home to two of Europe’s five largest ports. The Port of Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port and one of the world’s largest. The Port of Amsterdam is Europe’s fourth largest port.

15. On average, men from the Netherlands are the world’s tallest. The average Dutch man is 6 feet tall, a higher average height for men than in any other country.

16. The Netherlands exports two-thirds of the world’s total fresh-cut plants, flowers, and flower bulbs.

There are approximately 1 million more bicycles than people in the Netherlands. Photo by Bèrto 'd Sèra, taken in Utrecht.

There are approximately 1 million more bicycles than people in the Netherlands. Photo by Bèrto ‘d Sèra, taken in Utrecht.

17. There are at least 18 million bicycles in the Netherlands, more than the country’s 17 million residents. The country has twice as many bicycles as motor vehicles on the road, and 36 percent of Dutch residents list the bike as their most frequent mode of transport on a typical day.

18. People in the Netherlands have a tradition of learning foreign languages; 90 percent of the total population can converse in English, 70 percent in German, and nearly 30 percent in French.

Learn more about the Netherlands with these resources:

Why the Dutch are Different: A Journey into the Hidden Heart of the Netherlands

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: The Netherlands

What fun fact can you add about the Netherlands? 

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