Wondering what to pack for a Transatlantic cruise? We’ve got tips on how to choose your clothing, including formal nights!
What to Pack for a Transatlantic Cruise
Written By: Kate Langille
Packing for a cruise can be confusing and tricky. Perhaps when you learned there would be formal nights onboard, you had nightmarish flashbacks to ill-fitting prom tuxes and figure skater-style sequin dresses.
Don’t worry–being ultra-casual won’t be a hindrance on your cruise, and you can fit in with the formal dining nights with ease. While people certainly rock formal wear, my goal is to pack carryon only for the flights to and from the cruise terminals and to make sure my clothes are versatile as possible.
Start by reading these general tips for packing for a cruise:
- 10-Step Guide to Packing for Any Trip
- What to Pack for a Cruise Vacation
- What’s in My Carry-on Bag for a 2-Week Cruise
- What to Pack on a Cruise: 7 Things to Bring and What to Leave Behind
- Understanding the Cruise Dress Code
- 10 Unexpected Things You’ll Experience on a Cruise
Most transatlantic cruises will be a minimum of 10 nights. The Royal Caribbean Transatlantic Cruise departing Miami and arriving in Barcelona has six casual nights, two smart casual nights, and two formal nights.
Outside the formal dining room, formal attire isn’t mandatory. You won’t have to guess when to dress up since there’s a daily itinerary with dress code information.
Depending on the port of call, the weather and surroundings may demand something other than your regular everyday clothing, especially when heading east to west to a European cruise port.
While you can easily breeze through a cruise without stepping in the formal dining room once, this type of cruise gives a unique opportunity to get fancy and have fun instead of dreading whether you’re wearing the right thing.
Here’s how to start planning your clothing for a Transatlantic cruise:
- First, pick your color theme. I’m usually strictly black, white, and gray, with either silver or pale gold accents on my accessories. Use whatever color scheme you desire so everything can be worn together.
- Second, know that there’s no shame in packing like a minimalist and wearing the same outfit more than once during the cruise.
With possibly thousands of people on the ship, most people don’t care or notice if you re-wear clothing. The chances are, whatever clothes you bring along will work. Remember, your personal comfort is key!
Bringing formal wear that will fit in a carryon can be a challenge, and even more so with multiple formal nights. I conquer any uncertainty with The Little Black Pantsuit.
Little black dresses will always be a staple, but and more women embracing relics of our mothers’ fashion past to don one-piece pantsuits and rompers for formal events as a twist on a classic. I love this one-piece pantsuit with a gold belt and ankle zipper details which is surprisingly flattering, sophisticated, yet laid back.
You can transition from the breakfast buffet in sandals or flats to open-toe wedges at night and stroll posh cities at your ports of call. Any ironing you may require can be done for a fee, or just ask your cabin host to provide you with an iron.
Want versatility! Take convertible travel dresses to create more styles with less clothing!
Giant sunglasses are a must while sailing the seas. I also like an understated rose gold bling-y watch. Carry your Cabin Card in a phone wallet with a wrist strap and matching detailing. Throw on a cheeky pair of nautical-themed earrings and a colorful lacquer on your nails. Effortlessly classy!
Use these accessories and hats for a fun and stylish way to update your vacation do!
Formal Night Hair Tips
- Bring your styling tools if you normally use them. I prefer a flat iron as it smooths, adds waves, and can curl.
- Don’t forget a travel-size bottle of super-hold hairspray for the very windy days on board.
- A few bobby pins can change your look entirely with a messy low chignon bun.
- Subtle, sparkly headbands are a cute, easy, and trendy option.
Read these tips on best hair products for travelers with high maintenance manes!
“Smart Casual” is a step up from jeans and a step down from formal. You’ll feel confident wearing flowy linen pants or a midi, mini, or maxi skirt. (Choose the best skirts for travel here.)
My “feeling fancy” but relaxed pants are faux leather paired with a classic button-down shirtdress that can also be worn by itself on alternating days and nights. Choose pants and tops that are low care for non-formal wear.
Find out why shirt dresses are one of the most versatile pieces of clothing and how to wear them on vacation!
Casual Days and Poolside Lounging
Whatever you wear to relax, be it jeans, leggings, trousers, a bikini, or one-piece poolside, anything will go on a cruise. I choose not to live without a pair of opaque leggings instead of jeans when I travel. Mixing sportswear and loungewear with more tailored pieces has been an ongoing trend I fully embrace!
Here are the best leggings for travel!
You might need something extra comfortable after the seemingly endless amount of food, and for that I’m obsessed with long sweatshirt dresses and t-shirt dresses that can be thrown over bikinis for a quick bite in the main dining room.
While still trendy and comfortable, I prefer most of my casual outfits to be paired with my go-to sneakers. Swap in whichever shoes you prefer. (I don’t try to kid myself that I can wear high heels or even open-toed sandals on a regular basis!)
I’ll add in high-waisted leggings for windy nights on the North Atlantic Ocean or throw on wedge sandals for smart casual evenings. Add a few tanks–I’m loving bodysuits lately–and tees to mix and match with all your outfits.
Flying Outfits, Casual Days, Smart Casual, and Port Day Beauty Tips
Make your beauty routine as simple as possible. I’m usually running late to catch the breakfast buffet and don’t have time for a full routine anyway!
Aside from regular cleansing and moisturizing, be sure to use SPF 30 on your face and exposed skin when you’re on deck. Throw some dry shampoo in your hair for texture and a quick refresh.
Here’s our roundup of useful solid toiletries for travel!
Casual and Late-for-Breakfast Face:
- Use a stick foundation such as the Maybelline Fit Me. Apply it on the center of the face outward, blending with a mini buffing brush.
- Apply some of the Maybelline Fit Me concealer under the eyes. It blends out like a dream, making it perfect for quick application.
- Use a cream highlighter, like the Clinique Chubby Stick Highlighter, on the high points of the cheekbone, rubbing the product on your fingertips then applying to the face to ensure your foundation will stay in place.
- If you do your brows, add a volumizing eyebrow mascara like Benefit’s Gimme Brow.
- Apply a lengthening and separating mascara, and you’re done.
Read the beauty junkie’s guide to a minimalist travel makeup kit!
The Do-Anything Face
- To take your makeup up a notch, choose your “perfect” nude lip that will pair with any outfit and can blend out sheer and be built up in intensity. The Nudestix Lip and Cheek pencil can be used as a cheek color. A two-in-one product is always ideal in limited space cabins.
- A cruise calls for a bronzer, and I’ve always enjoyed the long-wearing Tarte Park Avenue Princess for a subtle, cool toned and not-too-orange bronze, applied with a stippling brush.
- Apply a cream long-wearing eyeshadow. I’m fond of MAC Paint Pot in Painterly and Maybelline Color Tattoo.
- Twist-up eyeliner and eyeliner pens like Kat Von D’s Tattoo Liner allow you to leave your eyeliner brush and sharpeners at home.
Take a look at these travel makeup hacks to help you downsize products while eliminating others completely!
Formal Night Makeup
- If I’m traveling, I don’t have the patience for full glam makeup. I will put on cream eyeshadow then press on the middle of my lid with my finger using Makeup Geek’s pressed foiled shadow in a champagne shade, Starry Eyed. Use a domed blending brush with the bronzer in the crease of your eye. Intensify your upper lash line to a winged flick or smoky and smudged out.
- Half lashes are simpler to apply than a full set and bring a certain je ne sais quoi. They are sure to make you feel glamorous with only a little effort. I love Ardell’s Accent Lashes for a natural and sultry effect. Add mascara for desired intensity.
We’ve got some great tips on choosing the essentials for a capsule makeup collection!
What are your tips on what to pack for a Transatlantic cruise? Please share them below!
For more cruise packing tips, please read:
- What to Pack for the Bahamas
- What to Pack for a Mediterranean Cruise
- What to Pack for Alaska Cruise
- What to Wear on a Cruise to the South Pacific
- Caribbean Cruise Wear Essentials
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Author Bio: Kate is a small-town girl looking to explore the world on a budget with a carryon bag in hand, all while looking smugly proud of her packing skills. Traveling internationally since 2008, Kate has stayed in dive hostels to high-end hotels with every mode of travel getting her there. Kate has a passion for makeup, skin care, hair care, and is obsessed with finding the best way to take her beauty routine on the road with her.