Updated: Nov 2
Howdy everyone! Today we are going to talk about planning, prepping, and packing for a transatlantic cruise. I have one planned in December and it's not my first rodeo going across the Atlantic. This info is also good for everyone doing any form of long cruise, transpacific, or repositioning.
I just love these long cruises. Of course, it is hard to take one of these at times due to work or being away from home for that many days. But having either lots of ports or lots of days at sea make me so happy, and with the cruise I am about to take I have plenty of both. It may seem overwhelming to you all to take this long of a cruise, but I am here to guide your way through it.
First off, planning to take this long of a cruise is an adventure itself. There are 2 types of people in this world. The ones that just look for a bargain and hope the cruise goes somewhere you have never been before. (That's me). Then the type of people who know what they want, where they want to go but still don't want to go way over budget. All in all both types of people still have to do lots of planning for a transatlantic cruise. Using a travel agent or travel advisor is recommended. They can help answer questions, even more than just cruise questions. (Promo here, lol.) Give me a yell on Tourangie.com. When I can't find you a deal, I reach out to my friend Tour Guide Dane to see if he has a better deal on that cruise.
For cruises in general you have to plan on what type of room you want. There are upgraded rooms available that even have their own decks, bars and a butler is included. Do you want or qualify for some free at sea offers (they vary by ship, and some are not really free) For example unlimited alcohol package, it's not free, you pay a certain price, and it is added into your booking rate. Most of the time if you enjoy 3 or 4 drinks a day, it will be worth it. But if you are not much of a drinker then you will save money by not purchasing it. Personally, I have done cruises both ways. and unlimited on some cruise ships, only means 15 drinks a day. There are also specialty restaurant packages, spa packages, soda packages, internet packages, and discounts on excursions. So, you really have to do some thinking as to which package will get you the best bang for your buck,
You can also start looking at the deck plans, this can help you decide which room you would like, or you can just have the cruise ship pick for you. With picking the room it will let you decide how close or how far away you want from the elevators, or what floor you would like to be on. Plus, you can easily see what bars, restaurants, activities and more are on the ship. Some people do not like to above or below the theater due to noise.
For these long cruises you have to plan for flights that tend to be longer, transportation to the cruise terminal or hotel from the airport. If you are flying in ahead of time and staying in a hotel, you will have to decide which hotel is the best plus what activities to do in your embarkation port, which also takes planning. And finally, when you get on board the ship you will have planned excursions for all your ports along the way., all in all wanting to stay on a certain budget. Whoa..... that's a lot of planning and we have just begun. This is why you should definitely use a travel advisor.
Talking with an experienced travel agent or advisor can help, but also Cruise Critic is one of my favorite places to read forums, ask questions and join the roll call for your cruise. You can get a lot of information from other people taking the same cruise as you, and a great way to meet new people once onboard the ship. is Cruise Critic roll calls usually schedule a meet and greet and other activities for the group to do. Slots Pulls, Cabin Crawls, Pub Crawls and so much more. Also look on Facebook for cruise groups, specific to your ship, and or the cruise you are taking.
So, you know where you are going, what ship, and flights. What else needs to be done? First off, make sure you have a passport, or if you have one that is still valid for at least 6 months past your cruise. With these long cruises you will leave out of one port and come into another. (usually different countries are involved). You will have to have a passport. Also do some checking if the country you are flying into or out of requires a visa.
For example, Turkey. There are cruises that leave from Turkey. Did you know as a US citizen you will need a visa? Especially if you are spending time in Turkey before jumping on your cruise ship. Always check with the embassy to find out what is needed and be sure to double check as things change with countries all the time. Right now, Turkey does not force you to have a visa if you are just flying in and going directly to a cruise ship, but in my honest opinion, get one anyways. It is a comfort to have it in case plans change or an emergency. It is only $53 right now.
Do your cruise check in online, it has to be done at least 3 days before you leave for the cruise. Make sure you have printed all your cruise documents and luggage tags (just don't put those on till after you have landed from your flight). These tags will distract or get lost while traveling on an airplane.
Another thing you can do for prep is research on ports cities you are visiting. This will help you plan more of those excursions I mentioned before. If you are not taking excursions from the cruise ship, always check Viator. They tend to have better prices than the cruise ship, just make sure you are done with the excursion and back on board the ship before it leaves. I love using Viator. Also, research weather and temperatures for the month you are traveling. Usually there is a difference between where you live and where you are traveling to. Old mother nature still might surprise you (it has surprised me from time to time on transatlantic and other cruises). So be prepared. Usually, I pack items where I can dress in layers.
Make sure you have all your luggage so if you are packing last minute like I always do. That your luggage still zips. (I had an issue with this years ago, I was packing the night before a cruise and my zipper was broken.) I had to run out and buy a new piece of luggage at 8 pm the night before I left. Not fun, so always check it in advance so that way if you need new luggage, you can get what you want, instead of what's available at the last minute.
This is where checking what the weather is like in these other countries will help out. As I mentioned before, dress in layers. Some short sleeve and long sleeve shirts, light jackets and even having one heavy jacket might be nice to have. I will have to say, sometimes when cruising the Atlantic Ocean in December, the wind can make it really cold. So, this usually means that I will not be jumping in a pool, a hot tub could still happen.
Remember to not overpack. Yes, you might be on vacation for 19 days, but laundry can be done on the ship. Usually at some point the cruise line will offer a half price day for a bag of laundry, or if you have traveled this cruise line before you may get discounts for laundry. So don't try to pack 19 outfits, that is outrageous. Just get your laundry done on the ship.
This is my travel list for my upcoming 15 days cruise with 4 days in Rome before embarkation.
7 shirts, a mix of long and short sleeves.
2 light jackets (one of which I am wearing on the plane so it will not be in suitcase)
1 heavy jacket- (every time I pack this it was not used, but I still do)
10 pairs of socks, and undergarments.
4 blue jeans (I am a blue jean girl)
1 pair of dress pants
2 dress shirts and my cardigan.
1 pair of flip flops. (I will also use these as shoes for the dressy dinners on board the ship) I will be wearing the only pair of sneakers I am bringing.
3 or 4 sleepwear sets, no more. There is a comfy robe onboard in your room you can wear.
Using travel cubes can be quite helpful in packing also, I have used them in the past. Of course, always remember to bring your medicines and get your refills before you leave since this is a long trip you will have to make sure you have enough of a supply.
As for toiletries, the cruise ship supplies shampoos, body wash and conditioner, but if you are anything like me you still have to pack a few items just in case you don't like what they supply. I have never been disappointed with Norwegian on their supplies though.
As for things to not bring.....
Do not bring tons of jewelry or expensive jewelry, I don't bring any when traveling, the less you pack the better off you are.
Makeup bags are fine. I have one myself, but don't bring tons of makeup from home.
Do not bring a book. There is a library onboard. (some people will disagree with me on that)
Always pack you a small carry-on for the ship. Your luggage will take a while before it gets to your room, just in case you need something before the luggage arrives. One time mine did not show up at my room till 8pm and I was on board at 1pm, so I was so grateful I had what I needed in my backpack.
Speaking of the carry-on/backpack. I always keep my cell phone charging cord, tablet, or laptop with me. I never have it in my suitcase. I will also keep my medicines with me. along with a change of clothes and some toiletries.
Now here I am talking about not packing some items, but I pack some items that most people will not. As long as you have not opened up packaging on food or drink items, you can pack them in your suitcase. The ship offers a great variety of food options, and drinks. But for me on this vacation I am not doing soda or alcohol packages. I have developed a love of tea though. So, I plan on bringing my hot and cold water insulated tumblers. The hot one to make tea, and the cold one to make sure I drink plenty of water. I am also bringing crystal light to add to the water. Water, coffee, tea, juices and other things are included, but when I gave up soda earlier this year, crystal light and other water additives are what saved me from jumping right back into those unhealthy sodas.
Some people bring snacks they like, just to save paying the price in the cruise shop on board, and you are allowed to just as long as it is sealed and not opened. Also, some people bring wine, but there usually is a corking fee for it.
I hope I have helped you figure out what to plan, prep, and pack for a long cruise, like a transatlantic cruise. I will have more posts in the future about my adventures on my cruise in December.