Keeping a Wardrobe to a Minimum for a 2 Week Trans-Atlantic Cruise

Last year for my Trans-Atlantic cruise I over packed. I had clothing in my suitcases that I never wore. Having all that extra weight in my suit cases when we flew to Barcelona, boarded the ship, packed to leave the ship, checked into our hotel in San Juan, and packed to fly back to the mainland ended up costing us extra money and took its toll on my back. So for my upcoming cruise, I am pairing back on the total packing. I am hoping to fit everything into one under 40 lb suitcase. Obviously all our readers don’t have the same wardrobe that I have, but I hoping that my clothing packing list will help others to figure out what their packing needs are. This trip begins in Rome for 4 days, and then will proceed with a 13 day Trans-Atlantic cruise with stops along the European Mediterranean coast. Using the lessons I learned from last year’s trip to Barcelona, followed by a Trans-Atlantic cruise, I came up with a basic but versatile wardrobe. For a more typical Caribbean cruise, shorts, sundresses, and capris might be more of the norm for day time wear, but for this year’s December Mediterranean and Trans-Atlantic cruise, I will be bringing only a few pairs of shorts and capris, and mostly long pants. The weather may be moderate, but last year we actually went to Barcelona in an unseasonal cold spell. It was cold enough to need a jacket, but thermal layers underneath were not required.

To arrive at my packing list, I listed all of the days of my travel and the dress requirements for each day. I started with my pre-cruise stay in Rome, then the 10 Smart Casual and Above evenings, 3 formal evenings, then 13 days of the cruise or excursions and then the post cruise stay in Ft. Lauderdale and flights home. I tried to figure out what basic items I had in my closet that I could bring to mix and match. My strategy is to repeat some evening items during the day further along in the cruise, and to wear mostly sharp but comfortable items when in port. Also, I plan to have a few nice things to wear to daytime events like the officer’s reception or other special day time events.

Once I had my packing list, I had to do what I call a “Test Pack”. I put all the items on my list in a suit case. That way I know it will all fit. Once it is in the suit case and zipped up, I weigh the suit case on the bathroom scale to make sure it is under airline weight limit. We are flying American, so I know that the weight limit is 50lbs. My bag weighed in at 33 lbs, so I am well with-in the limits.

I may have a few extra things tucked into a carry-on, but this is what I am planning to pack.

3 Formal Dresses:
Turquoise halter gown
Beige strapless gown
Black with gold beading gown

13 Tops:
1 Black and Green Baby Doll Top
Black scoop neck knit shirt
Blue scoop neck knit shirt
Brown and green print top
Brown sheet top with matching tank
Burnt orange knit top
Coral scoop neck knit shirt
Lime green satin sleeveless turtle neck
Lime green scoop neck shirt
Magenta tailored wrap shirt
Pink ruffled dressy shell
Pink scoop neck knit shirt
Purple satin blouse

5 Pairs of Pants:
Black Slacks
Black velvet lounge pants
Black jeans
Brown Slacks (Might bring a second pair in capri length)

5 jackets & sweaters:
Black leather over coat
Black Chanel style blazer
Olive green fitted blazer
Black sweat jacket
Black shrug type sweater

3 Casual/Smart Casual and Above Dresses:
Print Maxi Dress
Black and White Print dress
Black dress with red bow

6 Pairs of Shoes:
Black dress boots
Black walking shoes (sneakers)
Green casual sandals
Gold Dressy Sandals
Silver Dressy Sandals
Brown dress boots

Purple and Pink
Coral and Blue
Brown, Olive and Burnt Orange

1 Khaki
1 Black

3 to 4 pairs of black socks (will wash them out and reuse)

1 UV protective C-Suit (kind of like a light weight short wet suit, provides sunburn protection)
1 pink tank suit
1 brown bikini

Sweats and Work Out Clothes
1 Sweat suit
1 tank and shorts matching work out outfit
1 pair capri fitness pants
Gym shoes, space permitting

No need to list everything, but just a reminder that the ladies will need to bring specialty items like “Spanx”, tummy controllers, strapless or halter bras in addition to regular undergarments.

I hope this list helps. We invite our readers to share with us their own packing strategies, and differing points of view are helping in determining one’s own packing plan.