Frequently Asked Questions
Where will I go on a Lisbon cruise?
This depends on your itinerary. Cruises that depart from Lisbon generally visit ports in Spain, France, Italy and Greece. Cruises operating along the Douro River often depart from Lisbon and visit ports in Portugal and Spain. Occasionally, repositioning and Transatlantic sailings are offered with stops in the Canary Islands and the Caribbean.
How long does it take to get there?
Lisbon is accessible via an eight-hour flight from New York City.
When is the best time to take a Lisbon cruise?
The cruise season stretches from March to October. Visitors can avoid summer's sizzling temperatures and surging tourist crowds by traveling during the "shoulder seasons" in spring (March and April) or fall (September and October). Temperatures are still comfortable during these months – the high in the spring is in the 60’s and even warmer in the fall -- and there's less competition for the beaches and top historic sites.
Will I need a passport or visa?
Passports are required for all international visitors.
Is English spoken?
English is not widespread but most resorts, shops and restaurants connected to the tourist trade will have some English-speaking staff. Portuguese is the official language in Lisbon, so visitors might want to learn a few basic phrases before setting sail.
What is the time difference?
Lisbon is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
What is the local currency? Where can I exchange currency?
The local currency in Portugal is the Euro. Currency exchange stations are available at most local hotels and airports, though many tourist destinations accept credit cards.
Is tipping a common practice?
Most of the time service is included in restaurant bills. If not, a tip of 10% to 15% is customary. Taxi drivers generally receive 10% and other service staff, such as maids and porters, generally receive 1 to 2 euros.
What should I wear?
Casual resort wear, including shorts and T-shirts, is the standard daytime attire for most cruises. Bring a variety of footwear, including low-heeled or rubber-soled shoes for walking on deck, sandals for beach excursions, sturdy walking shoes for guided tours and a pair of dressier shoes for formal dining. You can check your ship's dress codes for options suitable for nighttime, but most restaurants encourage slacks and nice dresses during evening meals.
Many churches and cathedrals in Lisbon, and elsewhere throughout Europe, require some degree of modest attire for visitors. You may not be permitted to enter if wearing "too short" shorts, and women may be asked to cover bare shoulders (it's a good idea to tuck a lightweight scarf into your purse or tote).
What should I pack?
Most excursions in Lisbon involve sightseeing with a minimal to moderate amount of walking, although some tours may include extensive walking or climbing of stairs. Think about the kinds of activities you will want to try -- a sightseeing tour of the city or a relaxing day at the beach, for example -- and pack accordingly. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and swimsuits if traveling in summer; protective hats, good walking shoes and windbreakers are advisable no matter when you travel. Also, remember to pack all of your medications, prescription or otherwise, in a bag you can keep with you as needed.
Is the water safe to drink?
Most resorts and restaurants filter their tap water, though bottled water is available almost everywhere.
What sort of medical precautions do I need to take?
Shots aren't usually necessary for visitors from North America, but it never hurts to check with your health care provider and discuss the countries you'll be visiting.
What types of electrical outlets are used?
U.S. cruise companies use the standard 110-volt outlets. International guests will likely need converters and adapters; these same devices come in handy for U.S. citizens who plan to overnight in hotels at some point during their vacation, as much of Europe uses the 220-volt outlet.
How do I make a telephone call from Lisbon?
Resort hotels and public phone booths offer direct dialing for international calls. Calling cards also are available for sale in tourist-friendly markets. U.S.-based cell phones might not work everywhere.
Are hotel rooms outfitted with air conditioners?
Most hotels in Lisbon have air conditioning. If recycled air is important to you, make sure to consult your travel counselor before booking a pre- or post-cruise hotel stay.
What is the shopping like? What souvenirs should I buy?
Lisbon is well-known for its array of Portuguese handicrafts for sale. Look for items such as leather goods, hand-painted tiles and ceramics, cork items, embroidered goods, gold and silver filigree jewelry and roosters, either made of ceramic or wood. Baixa is a major shopping area in downtown Lisbon, between the Rossio and the river Tagus.
How do I get around?
Lisbon is a popular destination and is full of experienced guides offering bus, boat and scooter tours. As with most European cities, Lisbon has an extensive public transportation system that includes travel by metro, bus or tram. Bicycle rentals may also be available, and many tourist areas of town are pedestrian-friendly. Shore excursions purchased through your cruise line highlight top attractions and include transportation and a guide.
Can I rent a car?
Car rental is available in Lisbon but generally is discouraged due to heavy traffic, narrow streets and lack of parking. Most sights are within walking distance of one another and most tourists rely on the city's sprawling Metro system to get around town.
What can I do there?
Lisbon has a flourishing tourism industry that includes visits to many monuments, museums, galleries, parks and gardens. Tours often include stops at the National Coach Museum, the gothic-style Jeronimos Monastery and the Belem Tower in historic Belem neighborhood. The Castle of St. George and the Monument of Discoveries are popular places of interest, as well as the Lisbon Cathedral and the Calouste Gulblenkian Museum. Venture out of town to the seaside village of Cascais for a relaxing day at the beach, or go to Fatima, where the Virgin Mary was sighted in 1917.
Do you have any photography tips for Lisbon travelers?
There's plenty of historic beauty to capture, so be sure to bring plenty of gear. Users of "point-and-shoot" digital cameras should pack rechargeable batteries, a charger, electric adaptors and high-capacity memory cards (1 gigabyte is recommended). If you're bringing a digital video camera, don't forget the long-life batteries, charger, adaptors and converter. Make sure photography is permitted before shooting in museums, churches and cathedrals; in some cases, you'll just be asked to turn off your flash.