What to pack for a transatlantic cruise

Your transatlantic packing guide.

If the best part of your cruise is the time you spend on board, a Transatlantic Crossing is definitely the cruise for you. 

When sailing transatlantic, it’s so important to double check you’ve packed everything you need - and that anything not permitted in your luggage gets left at home.

Transatlantic cruise packing essentials

The best place to begin when packing for a transatlantic cruise (or any cruise for that matter) is with the essentials, by which we mean the things that are an absolute must-have to bring with you.

  • Printed boarding passes for everyone in your travelling group.
  • Travel insurance documentation.
  • Your passport.
  • Any daily medications you take.
  • Any visa paperwork you need to present on arrival.
  • Any fit-to-travel documentation needed to sail.
  • International health cards that qualify you for medical care abroad.
  • Relevant flight information and documentation (should you be taking any flights).
  • Driver’s licence and any relevant paperwork (should you plan to hire a car on shore).

Transatlantic cruise clothing guide

Once you’ve checked off the essentials, it’s time to start thinking about the clothes you’ll need. Sailing transatlantic means you’ll be spending the entirety of your cruise on your ship, and even though there’ll be some clothing shops on board, it’s still a good idea to pack for all occasions.

Transatlantic cruise daywear

No matter what activity takes your fancy (even if it's just relaxing with a good book) you'll want to be comfy, so packing supportive shoes that are easy to walk in and relaxed clothing is a must. There's no dress code during the day, so anything from jeans and leggings to jersey dresses, shorts, capri pants, cardigans and polos goes. It's really up to you.

Transatlantic cruise eveningwear and Gala Evenings

While most evenings you’ll be free to dress as you please, on two nights of your cruise, we’ll throw a signature Cunard Gala Evening, inviting you to put on your finest eveningwear.

Formal dresses

Floor-length dresses in sumptuous silks. Ball gowns encrusted with jewels. And off-the-shoulder cocktail dresses that kiss every curve. When it comes to formal nights on board (we call them Gala Evenings ) our guests really do dress to impress.

We theme these evenings to add even more of a sense of glamour to the occasion, and we communicate this in advance ( via My Cunard ) so you can pack accordingly. Popular themes include Black and White, Roaring Twenties, and Red and Gold. Whether you simply nod to the theme with an accessory or decide to go all out is entirely up to you.

Formal suits

Formal suits are only required on board a transatlantic cruise on Gala Evenings and, even then, there’s no pressure to dress up if you don’t want to. Most of our guests, however, relish the opportunity to put on a tuxedo for one night and channel their James Bond alter-ego.

A formal suit, shirt, and tie of any colour will also do just fine for Gala Evenings. And if you want to embrace the theme in your outfit choice, you’re more than welcome to do that too. We’ve had many gentlemen on board who’ve given their partners a run for their money when it comes to their Gala Evening attire.

Transatlantic cruise accessory packing list

When it comes to accessories, it’s important to think about daytime and evenings on board, as well as the types of activities you might want to take part in.

You may wish to add a little sparkle to your outfit in the evening with some jewellery or switch to a clutch bag at night to hold your lipstick, room key, and your Daily Programme.

A bow tie or tie will be required on Gala Evenings, so make sure you pack at least one of these. Braces or a belt may also come in handy, and if you want to add a little splash of colour or a touch of pizzazz on Gala Evenings, a pocket square is a great way to go about this.

Transatlantic toiletries cruise packing list

Find a selection of luxury Penhaligon toiletries in your suite or stateroom (including hand soap, shampoo, and bath or shower gel).

Conditioner however isn’t provided, so you may wish to bring your own as well as any body lotions or moisturisers you use as part of your regular skincare routine.

Something else you’ll need to remember is toothpaste and your toothbrush, although there are shops on board should you forget these.

You can also find fragrances and cosmetics for sale in Queen Mary 2’s shopping boulevard, as well as beauty and grooming products in your ship’s spa and salon.

In the Mareel salon , an on board manicurist is available to give your nails a professionally painted. And if you forget your beard trimmers you can always make an appointment with the barbers, who offer a range of men’s grooming treatments and products to take away.

What not to pack for a cruise

There are certain things that aren’t permitted on board a cruise ship. For Cunard cruises, these include everyday items you use at home such as irons and extension cables, but also extend to things such as pool inflatables, compressed gas tanks, drones, and balloons.

As we security scan all luggage at the terminal, any prohibited items found will need to be removed from your suitcases or carry-on bags prior to boarding.

We highly recommend familiarising yourself with our list of prohibited cruise items before packing for your cruise.

Transatlantic cruise climates: how to pack for every season

Summer (June - August)

Be sure to bring your swimwear, sunglasses, and sandals, as well as some lotion as the UV at sea can be a lot higher when spending time outside. Summer wear such as shorts, t-shirts, skirts and dresses are all fine to pack for the daytime. In the evenings, linen shirts, chinos, co-ords, and a wrap are all fine for non-formal nights on board.

Winter (October - March)

Sailing in winter means shorter, colder, and darker days, so packing cosy and warm layers is a must. Gloves, hats, and scarves, as well as a good winter coat, are essential if sailing at this time of year, particularly if you want to brave the elements out on deck. Fleeces, cardigans, and jumpers are also perfect winterwear.

Packing for a transatlantic cruise: your questions answered