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I went on a 2-week Transatlantic cruise by myself and only packed a carry-on: Here are 13 products that made it easy


Last month, I embarked on my first Transatlantic cruise sailing onboard Norwegian Epic. Preparing for this voyage felt a bit daunting at times when it came to packing. After all, I would be gone from home for 2 weeks and was planning on taking only a carry-on suitcase! 

This cruise was a 14-day sailing that embarked in Orlando, Florida and disembarked in Civitavecchia, Italy with two scheduled stops at Gibraltar, United Kingdom and Alicante, Spain. 

Because I planned to only take a carry-on suitcase, I had to be strategic when it came to my packing. One of my top tips for packing for a cruise is to start at least a week in advance. This might seem like a lot of time before a trip; however, I have found many times that the more amount of time I give myself to pack, the less stressed I am when it comes to travel logistics. Packing early also decreases the chances that I forget anything I might need. 


Packing early also helps me have plenty of time to run any last-minute errands I might need or pick up any refills on my toiletries or other items before my travels. 

Here's a list of some of my favorite things to pack for a longer cruise, as well as tips on how to travel minimally with just a carry-on, especially on a long cruise! 

Please note that we have linked Amazon items in this article, which contain an affiliate link. The affiliate link costs you nothing extra, but Cruise.Blog will make a small commission if you purchase the item through the link.

Power outlets 


This might not come as a surprise for seasoned cruisers, but surge-free power outlets and adaptors can be essential items to pack to ensure a less stressful sailing. 

Nearly all cruise lines have European power outlets in their staterooms. While some cruise lines have US outlets, European power outlets tend to be more common onboard many ships. On newer vessels, guests may be able to find USB or even USB-C outlets as well. 

I recommend packing at least one European outlet plug or, if you are traveling from the United States, a European adapter.

Cruise Cords

Having multiple options to charge devices will ensure that you're always able to keep all of your decides powered up. 

Onboard the Norwegian Epic, I stayed in one of the solo Studio Stateroom cabins designed for one guest. This room, while small, did have plenty of outlets.

Here's a non-surge power adapter available on Amazon that allows you to charge multiple devices at once. One of these power adaptors can also cut down on space and can help pack fewer electronic accessories. Because of this, this adaptor is one of my favorites when I’m trying to travel light! Since it does not have any surge protection, it's allowed on cruise ships.

Plan outfits with some flexibility 


Perhaps the most important thing when it comes to packing for a 2-week cruise in a carry-on suitcase is packing outfits with some flexibility. 

In my personal experience, I have found that when I put time into planning out outfits for a cruise, it helps me cut down on the amount of clothes I bring. I also tend to gravitate towards neutral-colored clothing and items that can be worn in different ways or more than once during my cruise voyage. 

For my 12-night cruise, I packed a few outfits to wear during the day, several dresses to change into at night for dinner, evening shows, and the entertainment onboard, one swimsuit, and a workout outfit. All these items I planned to wash and re-wear throughout my sailing. 

Standby Trip

Planning out outfits rather strictly will help decrease the amount of bulk in your suitcase, allowing you to bring a smaller bag, as well as decrease the amount of time you spend each morning figuring out what to wear. 

I did end up wearing everything I brought on my Transatlantic cruise, but I still found that if needed, I could have brought less. With the ability to wear a dinner dress more than once, as well as doing laundry onboard, it was very possible to be minimal when it comes to packing for a 2-week cruise! 

When planning what to pack for a cruise, one of the most important things to do is check the weather for the duration of your voyage. Whether it is warmer weather or cooler, knowing what to expect will ensure you are prepared and that your outfits work for you!


No matter the outside weather on your cruise, I recommend bringing at least one sweater or sweatshirt. Because all cruise ships are air-conditioned, it can become a little chilly in the evenings. A small sweater can make all the difference when catching an after-dinner show in the theater. 

Read: Wondering what to wear for a cruise? NCL's dress code 

Skip the physical books and bring a Kindle 


I am a big reader, and I tend to read more when I’m traveling. Whether it’s on the flight on my way to my cruise or by the pool during a sea day onboard, a good book can be a great way to relax during a vacation. 

However, while many readers love physical books, there is no arguing that physical books can be heavy and take up a lot of room in your bag and suitcase. For this reason during traveling and cruising, I have switched to a Kindle digital reading device. 

Kindle digital readers are very lightweight and can store thousands of books at once. Additionally, if you have a library card you can even borrow digital books for free! Bringing my Kindle allows me to bring as many books as I want on my cruise, while packing just one device that weighs less than a standard paperback book. 

Read: Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line


This is my favorite Kindle from Amazon that has served as a trusted travel parter on numerous occasions. Make sure to check with your local library about how to borrow and download free digital books!

Limit toiletries 


One of the biggest things that I have discovered through traveling and packing minimally is that one of the areas that tends to take up a lot of room in your bag is toiletries. For this reason, I am very selective with the toiletries I pack. 

For this 12-night Transatlantic sailing, I decided to bring less makeup in order to decrease on items in my toiletry bag. I also limited my skincare to the basics and essentials such as face sunscreen, moisturizer, and face wash. 

I recently discovered my all-time favorite travel shampoo and conditioner containers. I tend to not purchase travel-sized versions of shampoo and conditioner when striving to pack minimally, and instead use these travel solutions to decrease on space taken up in my bag. I love that these do not leak, unlike some of the others I have tried and hold plenty of product for my entire cruise! 

Travel blanket or blanket from home 


When traveling on a cruise, especially on a longer-length sailing, something I love to pack is a small travel blanket. 

I am one who loves when my stateroom is cozy and comfortable, and one of the ways that I achieve this is by bringing a travel blanket or blanket from home. You never know if the stateroom will be a little cooler, and a cozy blanket can always help with a good night's sleep. 

If you are packing as minimally as possible, I recommend bringing a thinner blanket that can pack down tight. 

Pack an emergency travel kit


Perhaps one of the most essential items I pack on every cruise is a small travel pharmacy and emergency kit. 

Traveling inherently means that you will be exposed to more people, as well as more germs. This means that the chances of getting sick can increase quite dramatically. 

Unfortunately for me, this was the case at the end of my 12-night sailing onboard Norwegian Epic. I caught a small cold. Thankfully, it only lasted two days. I attribute my quick recovery to the fact that I had been prepared and packed my emergency kit with me. 


In my kit, I always pack vitamin C, zinc, nasal spray, bandaids, antibiotic cream, cough drops, cold and flu medicine, bug spray, anti-itch cream, and any other medications or items that I think I could possibly need for my overall health and well-being when traveling. 

This emergency kit has saved me more times than I can count, and I never cruise without it, especially on a longer sailing. I highly recommend assembling your own version of an emergency kit for your cruisers! 

This pill organizer from Amazon is the one that I use to pack my vitamins with me on my cruise voyages. 

Laundry detergent 


Nearly all cruise ships offer laundry services to guests. However, these laundry services can be quite expensive. 

Personally, I prefer to do my own laundry onboard. Nearly all stateroom showers have a clothesline inside for guests to hang wet swimsuits or washed clothes during their cruise. 

For my 12-night Transatlantic cruise, I knew that I would need to do laundry at some point because I packed strategically, so I decided to fill one of the travel bottles with laundry detergent from home. 

This proved very successful, and I was able to wash some of my clothes in the stateroom sink with hot water and laundry detergent. Afterward, I hung the clothes in the stateroom shower. While it did take a little while for some of the items to dry, I thought this method was very successful and would try this again on future longer-length cruise voyages. 

Fellow Cruise.Blog writer Allie also uses travel-sized Tide laundry packets for washing clothes during her cruise travels. These can also be a great option if you don't have any spare travel bottles. 

Pack comfortable shoes 


Along with planning outfits strategically, the same can be applied to the shoes that you pack for a cruise when bringing only a carry-on bag. 

For my 12-night cruise, I packed three pairs of shoes. A pair of what is called fashion tennis shoes, a pair of flats to wear with my dresses during the evenings onboard, and a pair of workout tennis shoes for the days I planned to visit the gym.

These three pairs of shoes proved to be the right amount for my sailing, and I wore all three of them extensively during my cruise. Packing comfortable shoes you know you like will help ensure that you wear them often and that you do not pack any unnecessary footwear.

Additionally, packing shoes you know are comfortable will help prevent any painful blisters from forming while spending long days exploring an exciting port of call. 

Download movies and entertainment 

ncl epic

A 12-night or two-week cruise is a long sailing, especially when traveling by yourself, as I did. I decided to pre-download some movies, TV shows, and music on my phone and iPad for the travel.

This was great for my long flight home from Rome, Italy and during evenings onboard when I was getting ready for bed in my stateroom. Sometimes there’s nothing better than enjoying a dessert in your room while watching a movie snuggled in bed!

In total, I brought five electronic devices for my cruise onboard Norwegian Epic: my phone, laptop, noise-canceling headphones, iPad mini, and Kindle. 

Water bottle and snacks for the flights to and from your cruise


A Transatlantic cruise often means that you will be flying either to or from your cruise, or sometimes both! 

For this reason, it can be important to pack a reusable water bottle and snacks for traveling. Having water and snacks on hand can come in handy in case you experience any flight delays, long flights, or simply need a pick-me-up while traveling. 

One of my favorite water bottles to travel with is this one from Larq. It is able to kill any bacteria that is in the water and is a sleek and small size which makes it great for travel.  

External battery 


Another essential travel item for me is an external battery to charge your phone and devices. 

Smartphones are nowadays completely essential for travel. Whether it’s your boarding passes, tickets, pictures, or hotel reservations, having a charged phone when traveling can be very important. 

In order to never be caught with a dead phone, I recommend investing in a portable charger. This one is one of my favorites and offers a USB outlet and USB-C outlet to charge your devices, and even multiple devices at once. I also appreciate its small size. 

Passport, printouts of documents, and travel insurance 

NCL star

It may be obvious, but it never hurts to mention and recommend that travelers pack their passports and travel documents first thing when packing for a cruise. 

For a longer-length cruise sailing, I even recommend printing out physical forms of all your travel documents just to be extra safe. 

One of my favorite ways to keep my travel documents organized and together is a passport holder. Passport holders also make for a great place to store a copy of your travel insurance and other important documents you might want to take with you. 

NCL encore

Additionally, make sure to check that your passport does not expire close to when you travel. Some countries do not allow travelers to enter their country if their passport expires close to their travel dates. A good recommendation is to make sure that your passport does not expire fewer than 6 months or less before traveling. 

Packing cubes and organizers 


The item that comes the most in handy for me when it comes to packing minimally for a long cruise is packing cubes. 

I have been using packing cubes since high school and have found that they not only help consolidate clothes and items when packing, but they are super helpful when it comes to keeping your stateroom organized while on your cruise. 

On every cruise sailing I’ve been on, I unpack my suitcase. This helps the stateroom to feel more homey during my vacation and travels, and keeping some of my shirts, pants, and other clothing inside the packing cubes means I can easily put items into drawers without items getting disorganized. 


Some of my favorite packing cubes I have found at Target, but these versions from Amazon are also a great choice for your upcoming cruise sailing. 

Packing for a 2-week cruise with only a carry-on suitcase can seem challenging; however, with some forethought and strategic packing, it can be done! 


You may even discover that packing minimally leads to less travel stress during your next cruise vacation! With a few key items, packing in only a carry-on suitcase can be possible for your next cruise, whether it's a short 3-night getaway or a longer Transatlantic voyage. 

Read: 15 things I loved and hated about Norwegian Epic

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