New  Helpful Cruise Notes
See also FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

1. Cabins on the ship:
Standard cabin: Cabins are small but well desgned with ample storage space but limited number of hangers. The bathrooms have an unusual but eminently sensible design. The entire bathroom becomes a shower! Just remember to draw the curtain in front of the toilet and door. Pick up the mat on the floor before you shower to keep it dry. Each cabin has 2 electrical outlets, all European sockets so adaptors are needed.

Deluxe and Junior Suites: Larger and with bathroom arrangement having a separate shower stall. There are 4 electrical outlets, all European sockets so adaptors are needed.  

All cabins have heating and air conditioning. Windows are large and can be opened.
Towels are not of North American quality but are changed every 2nd day and sheets changed every 4th day. Bring your own soap, shampoo, flat rubber stopper for the sink and hairdryer. Laundry can be done for you by request. Articles to be laundered are placed on your bed and will be returned within 2 days. There is a small charge. Services such as this are considered personal and you might want to (additionally) tip the maid. The ship has a room for ironing.

2. Security and Assistance:
Your rooms are safe: excursions are well organized. Our resource leaders and guides will make sure you are present and cared for on excursions. Security on the MS Dnieper Princess is good. There is a safe in the ship’s office behind the front desk. You will each have a key to your cabin. This key should be left at the front desk when you leave the ship. This serves several purposes:
a) You won’t lose the key
b) The staff knows you are off the ship so they can clean your room
c)  Very important when the time comes for the ship to sail. A key in the mail box says to us you are NOT on board. The ship has very strict embarkation (leaving port) protocols.

3. Water, Medical, Health, Food Issues:
There are no special shots required to travel to Ukraine. However, do not drink the tap water. There will be a half litre bottle of water per passenger in your cabin daily. Extra water called Voda can be bought at street kiosks.
Coffee and tea are included at mealtimes. Bring tea bags and instant coffee if you wish to drink something hot at night.You can get fee hot water from reception or at the bar. There is a water purifcation system on the ship but not of North American standards. Distilled water can be bought at small and larger supermarkets on shore and at some gas/petrol stations along highways.

Restaurants on the ship
Breakfast - water, juice, coffee and tea free of charge
Lunch - coffee and tea only free of charge
Dinner - coffee and tea only free of charge

If you buy water in the bar or dining room at lunch or dinner the cost is 
0.5 litres $1.80US
1 litre $3.60US

The ship supplies three meals a day. The locally grown fruit and vegetables are very fine and you will find the ship restaurant reliable. Bottled water, soft drinks and wines will be an additional charge at mealtime and can be charged to your room to be paid at the end of the cruise and can be paid by VISA or MASTERCARD. You will receive bag lunches with bottled water on your 3 day bus excusions to the Mennonite villages. Bring a sanaitizer like Purell or tiny wet towelettes. If you need to snack between meals  you might want to pack your own treats such as energy bars, dried fruits and nuts, etc

There is a ships’ doctor on board. The passenger list includes madical specialists and many experienced nurses. Bring plenty of imodium tablets. It may be a new country for you and your digestive system may need to adjust. The excursions are not strenuous but there is some walking involved. Bring comfortable shoes.

4. Weather and Suitable Clothing
The cruise takes place in the summer and the weather will probably be hot. You will want to protect yourself with sunblock lotion, sunglasses and a hat. The ship is air-conditioned so you may need a light sweater and/or a shawl. Bring a light shell to protect from any wind while sailing or possible rain. We ask you not to wear shorts the days we are visiting orthodox churches. The cruise is informal. There is no special dress code for dinner. The dressiest occasions will be the capain’s dinner and perhaps a concert at the Odessa Opera House.  We will not know if there is a performance at the opera until the end of June. Both these occasions are “dressy casual”.

5. Things to buy:
If you see something you really like, buy it. You may not see it again. Street purchases can generally be made in US dollars or Euros. Since you will want to bring home some souvenirs and small gifts of quality, some shopping opportunities are included in the itinerary. You will find treasures in the shops and street markets of Odessa, Zaporizhia, Dnipro and Kiev. There is a gift shop on the ship with quality souvenirs which we recommend.

6. Currency
Ukrainian currency is called Hryvnia (pronounced grieve-nah). The currency code name is UAH. The name dates back to the currency of the Kievan Rus a millenium ago. Originally it referred to a silver or gold pendant of a particular weight worn by women. You can only exchange for Hryvnia in Ukraine.  They are not offered in U.S. and Canadian banks.

Passengers will not need a lot of Hryvnia on the cruise however store purchases will require the local currency. At the end of the cruise bar bills can be paid by VISA or MASTERCARD.  US and EU paper currency can be easily exchanged everywhere at banks and street kiosks. The rates are all controlled and clearly marked. Canadian dollars can be changed in banks.

Services such as private trips are paid in cash in US dollars.

7. Tipping on the Cruise:
Most tipping is done for you. We have tried to help by including tipping fees in your cruise package. All the boat-related tips are handled directly by Marina and Walter. The cruise excursion- related tips (to guides & drivers) will be handled by our resource leaders.
Exceptions: On services you incur yourself, such as private trips, bar bills, laundry or special requests of ship’s staff, tipping is expected. For private excursions you are on your own for cab costs, museum entrance fees, tipping etc.

8. Humanitarian Aid and the Cruise
During our first cruise back in 1995, the passengers were deeply moved by the needs of many of the people they met, especially in the former Mennonite villages:”We wish we had known what we coiuld bring along.” And so, over the years, a cruise humantitarian aid dimension was developed. Passengers brought a second checked bag with aid. Bag and contents were left in Ukraine. This is now generally not possible with new luggage restrictions.

We now suggest that you acquaint yourself with needs you identify wiith while on the cruise. You may want to think of a family project. Resource leader George Dyck is also the treasurer of the Friends of The Mennonite Centre in Ukraine. Most of you will visit the Center headquarters in Halbstadt/Molochansk. You can visit the Centre Newsletter
Copy  into your browser and then hit Return.

There is usually a moment on your tour to a village, when you would like to hand a gift to someone you encounter. Some suggestions for handouts include personal hygiene items, easy to pack in your suitcase such as soaps, lotions, toothbrushes, combs, mirrors, pins, pens, erasers, postcards of your country etc. We have found that cruise passengers tend to be delightfully  inovative with regard to the gifts they bring. 

Marina and Walter Unger

Links to
Home page of site
About the Cruise
Remembering Paul Toews
Cabins and Suites
12 Day Sailing Program
Quotes from passengers
Reading List
Frequently Asked Questions
Bus and Private Trips
North American Team
Ukrainian Team