Are you looking for the best transatlantic cruise packing list? Well look no further! In this guide we well you what to wear on a transatlantic cruise for formal nights, days at sea and more as well detail dress codes alongside other transatlantic cruise essentials!
What is a Transatlantic Cruise?
A transatlantic cruise is as the name suggests a cruise that crosses the Atlantic. It typically departs from North America i.e. New York or Florida and terminates in Europe in ports such as Dover, Barcelona or Rome, or vice versa.
Transatlantic cruises are usually one way, and are also sometimes known as repositioning cruises and have few to no ports of call, and will typically take anywhere between 7 – 16 days. Though Cunard are the line that specialises most in Transatlantic voyages and is really the only line where you can get back to back Transatlantic cruises.
Typically transatlantic cruises will have few stops given the vast ocean you are crossing. But some will stop at the Atlantic Portuguese island of the Azores in Ponta Delgada or Funchal Madeira. However this does mean that you will be spending most of your time aboard which obviously affects your packing list greatly.
Both the length of a transatlantic cruise and the lack of stops to refill or purchase essentials or forgotten items means it is even more important than your usual cruise packing lists to get your packing list right.
What to Pack on a Transatlantic Cruise Tips
But before we get onto specific items that should be on your Transatlantic Cruise Packing list, we wanted to point out some key factors that will affect your cruise packing list:
Does you Cruise Ship have laundry?
Whether or not your cruise ship has laundry will greatly affect the amount of things you need to pack for your cruise.
Cunard, one of the most popular transatlantic cruise lines, has laundry facilities on board all of its ships. And on top of ship laundrettes, will have dry cleaning and other paid for laundry. Therefore you can pack a cruise capsule wardrobe and reduce how much luggage you need to take.
However some lines, which offer repositioning cruises rather than being specialists in transatlantic cruises i.e. Royal Caribbean or Norwegian for instance, do not offer self service laundries. Therefore if you do not want to pay for laundry, you will need to pack more.
How Many Nights?
As I mentioned above, the length of a transatlantic cruise varies greatly depending in the itinerary and line. You will need to calculate how many nights you have, and how many outfits you will need but I will always advise packing as lightly as you can for a cruise.
Formal Nights are on most cruise lines (with Norwegian being a notable exception). On these nights the Main dining room enforces a smart dress code (the formality changes by line).
You need to decide if you want to join in and add an outfit that is appropriate for the line you are traveling on. As transatlantic cruises have few to no stops, I always recommend getting involved in things like formal nights.
However you are likely to have 2-3 formal nights on a transatlantic cruise. But so you don’t overpack I recommend taking one dress or suit for men, that can be accessorised differently i.e. different bag and pashmina or different tie, so you can wear the same outfit but style it differently.
Remember to consider the destination and length of your post cruise trip. This can greatly affect the outfits you need even if you won’t wear them onboard the ship.
ALso we always recommend packing your cruise embarkation bag carefully so you keep your essentials that you can’t live without on your cruise i.e. medications, documents, swimwear etc with you.
For a full guide on packing your embarkation day bag check out this post.
Transatlantic Cruise Packing List
Now we have looked at the things that will affect your transatlantic cruise packing list we will give you an overview of the number and types of cruise outfits we pack for transatlantic cruises.
What to wear on a Transatlantic Cruise
Formal Outfits (2 outfits)
As you won’t have many shore days in your itinerary we recommend participating in the formal night. I personally find it t too bulky to pack 3 formal night outfits so instead I recommend 1-2 outfits that can be styled differently.
But my favorite cruise formal night outfit has to be a black cocktail dress as this is easiest to dress up and style differently.
While my husband will usually just take one suit, or tuxedo on more formal lines, with different ties or bow ties so it looks different.
Smart Casual Outfits (3 outfits)
I think 3 smart casual cruise outfits max is perfect for a transatlantic cruise. It all the items can be done using our sudoku packing method this is even better for reducing the amount of items you need to take.
Casual Outfits (3-4 outfits)
For daytimes on a transatlantic cruise you can wear whatever you feel comfortable in. It is worth having one outfit that can deal with slightly cooler weather even in summer it can get quite breezy on a transtlantic cruise in the middle of the ocean.
As I mentioned above, it can be quite chilly sailing the Atlantic. For this reason we recommend having a couple of light layers such as cardigans or sweaters that can be used in both casual and smart casual outfits.
The Dining rooms and air conditioning on ships is notorious for being strong. Protect yourself with a pashmina that can be used with outfits both formal and casual.
Swimwear is an essential even on a cold weather transatlantic cruise becayse even if you don’t want to swim (though many cruise lines will have an indoor solarium) there are usually hot tubs on board to use.
I recommend packing at least 2 swimsuits with you so you can wear one and dry one.
Great for in port and on deck. I would pack 2 if you are in hot weather destinations.
I don’t always out my gym wear on my cruise packing lists especially on shorter length cruises (i.e. anything between 3 to 5 days) but on a transatlantic cruise I think it is a good idea. you will be spending around 2 weeks on your cruise so you will likely want to do some exercise while onboard.
PJs and underwear
Useful for in ports but also on sea days when the sun can be dazzling.
Shoes (3 Pairs)
For a transatlantic cruise I recommend packing 2-3 pairs of shoes depending on weight in your case. These are:
- Sneakers – best for walking in.
- Sandals or Boots – I like a pair that can be good for walking and that can also be used in the main dining room depending on whether you are expecting warm or cold weather
- Heels / Smart Shoes – for use as part of your formal night outfits.
You may also want to pack flip flops or slippers for use on the pool deck too.
I don’t like to pack too much jewelry. But I do like to have some with me as it is a great way to style a formal night outfit differently without having to take up too much room in your case.
If you decide to wear real rather than costume jewellery we recommend putting it in your room safe when you are not wearing it.
Transatlantic Cruise Essentials
So now you know roughly how many outfits to pack for a transatlantic cruise we turn our attention to other cruise essentials to put on your packing list. Bear in mind, you won’t have many opportunities to refill in ports so it is important to have everything you need with you.
Passport and identification
A Passport and identification is always required regardless of the length of cruise and destination. As Transatlantic cruises are not loop cruises a passport is an essential.
Documentation including Covid 19 related paperwork
This includes visas and any vaccination documentation that you may need for your cruise and destination. Again this needs to be in your cruise carry on.
Also remember to have adequate insurance which covers you for cruise travel.
Many people find a lanyard is the best way to keep their cabin key safe and on them at all times on a cruise. You should keep your cruise card with you at all time as this acts as identification on board the ship and also as your payment method.
When looking for a cruise lanyard we think that the best ones are waterproof so you can use them in the pool and hot tubs too!
Pack any meds you need in your carry on instead of checked bag and be sure to have prescriptions with you.
As well as prescription medication some other medications you may like to travel with include:
- pain medications such as Advil, paracetamol, Tylenol and Ibuprofen
- Reflux Meds such as Gaviscon, Tums etc.
- Birth Control
And of course:
Sea sickness medication or bands
I personally have never gotten sea sick on a cruise ship. But transatlantic crossings can be rough and it is more likely to happen out in open water.
Just in case you get rough seas we recommend packing some anti- motion sickness meds and some sea sickness wristbands.
Cruise ships do provide toiletries but I find the quality differs from line to line. If I have space or I am not traveling carry on only and going on a plane at the start of my trip, I will usually pack some of my favorite toiletries and bring them with me.
This usually includes good quality shampoo and conditioner, toothbrush and toothpaste, sunscreen, lip balm and moisturiser.
On top of this I will usually have my travel makeup bag with me.
Depending on where you are from, who you are sailing with and where you may need to take a travel adaptor with you to ensure that all your electronics will work.
I personally never travel anywhere without my trusty Universal travel adaptor that works in pretty much all locations.
Most new ships will have USB charging ports next to the bed however this is by no means on all ships. Don’t get caught out and take a charger with you and a spare cable.
Depending on the line you are on, you will be permitted to Bring on board a small amount of alcohol – usually just champagne or wine.
If you are allowed to bring alcohol on board we recommend using your allowance as this will be cheaper than drinks on the ship. But be sure to check your cruise ship rules before travel so it meets current requirements.
Note – wondering if you can bring a corkscrew on a cruise ship – check out this post for more information.
There you have it, everything we think you should add to your transatlantic cruise packing list. But if you have any questions feel free to drop them in the comments below and we will do our best to answer!