What to Wear on a Transatlantic Voyage Aboard the Queen Mary 2: A Minimalist Packing List
As soon as my booking for the Transatlantic voyage on the Queen Mary 2 was confirmed, I started thinking about what to pack, and more specifically what I would wear. When I think of traveling by ship, my thoughts naturally gravitate towards old-world, Titanic-style glamour (perhaps yours do too?). Admittedly, it was slightly overwhelming at first to plan what to wear for this jeans-and-t-shirt girl.
Additionally, I learned that Cunard, the company which owns the QM2, prides itself on offering a different type of on board vibe than run of the mill cruise lines. For example, each evening after 6 pm jeans and casual wear are not permitted to be worn in most public areas of the ship (out of respect to fellow guests).
As the voyage date approached, knowing these guidelines I challenged myself to pack only my Osprey Farpoint 55L backpack for the entire trip, which would not only serve me for the voyage but also for a few days of sightseeing in the start and end ports, London and New York City. All in all, I think I did pretty well, using everything I packed at least once.
In the hopes of making your packing process a little bit smoother, I want to share my experience of traveling minimally (and lightly) on board the Queen Mary 2. Read on below for the details!
What do passengers wear on board the Queen Mary 2?
On board the Queen Mary 2, the dress code throughout the day is casual. Jeans and t-shirts are more than acceptable (even in the dining rooms for breakfast and lunch) and I found the vast majority of passengers to be dressed comfortably. There were a few exceptions of course, where some passengers chose not only to dress up but to dress in a new outfit for each and every time of day on the ship. I was in awe of these passengers and couldn't even begin to imagine how much luggage they brought on board, but to each their own.
Everyday by around 5 pm the public areas on the ship grew quiet. Passengers had gone back to their cabins to prepare for dinner and to dress accordingly to one of two dress codes. On informal evenings, ladies are asked to wear either a cocktail dress or fancy separates while gentlemen are asked to wear a suit with jacket (the tie is optional). For formal evenings, either an evening dress, cocktail dress, or pant suit is applicable for ladies and a dark suit (with neck wear) or a tuxedo for gentlemen.
What to pack for a voyage on the Queen Mary 2
The delicate thing to master about packing for any trip is to put together pieces of clothing that will work in harmony with each other. I'm certainly not perfect at this yet, but with this trip I did learn quite a bit and definitely feel more confident about it.
You see, the real trick is to stick to one color palette. I normally gravitate towards darker colors and neutrals so this wasn't too much of a stretch for me, but I also didn't want to only be wearing black, grey, and dark blue every day. While I did add a few touches of color throughout, the basis of my Queen Mary 2 wardrobe was neutral tones. To give you a more comprehensive look at some of the daytime and evening outfits I wore, I've broken them down for you here:
Casual Everyday Outfit #1
As I mentioned earlier, jeans and a t-shirt are what I find myself reaching for day in and day out. However, for this voyage I decided to bring along a few different colors of this cotton Henley shirt which is made by an ethical brand that I happen to love, Tradlands (I've written about them before, here and here).
For jeans, I only packed two pairs. Seen here are my Yoga Jeans which are super stretchy and comfortable (the brand claims you can do yoga in them, hence the name). Because of their comfort level I ended up wearing these almost every single day.
For casual everyday shoes to take me around the ship I stuck with my Mammut sneakers.
What I wore:
Tradlands The Murphy (I also packed this shirt in the Gold and Shell colors)
Yoga Jeans in Italy Wash (similar here)
Casual Everyday Outfit #2
Transatlantic voyages cross the North Atlantic Ocean, which can have unpredictable and cool weather even in the summer so it's imperative to pack at least a waterproof jacket even if you think you won't be spending much time outside.
One of the great things about the Queen Mary 2 is that she has a deck that loops around the entire vessel, perfect for getting exercise at sea in the form of walking or jogging.
During my voyage in October the majority of the days were grey and cold and I definitely needed my jacket, a longer, waterproof style from the North Face.
For walking outdoors I used my urban-style Merrell hiking boots (not pictured) to keep my feet warm.
What I wore:
Everlane High-Rise Skinny Jean (ankle length)
Merrell Eventyr Bluff Ankle Boots (not pictured)
Formal outfit #1
With limited packing space but several formal evenings, I wanted to pack something simple but striking that could be worn several times in different ways.
The choice was a simple one: a dress from Mimetik.
I was already familiar with this brand from Barcelona when I chose to purchase one of their extremely versatile Frida wrap dresses in this bright red color. The fabric is soft, luxurious, and flows beautifully when you move. Plus, you can get away with most any shoe as the dress is floor length.
And the price point? At $170 CAD for a gala dress, I really can't complain. Not to mention, I can see this dress being useful for all kinds of occasions in the future.
For all the various ways you can wear this dress, check out Mimetik's tutorial here.
What I Wore:
Formal Outfit #2
The other formal outfit I packed was a wrap cocktail dress by Issa which I wore for formal nights, but could also have worn on informal nights if I had wanted to dress up. Unfortunately, I think the brand no longer exists but you can probably still find some of their dresses being sold online.
For formal shoes I only packed one pair of black heels that would match anything even if I wanted to wear them with jeans for a more casual look.
What I wore:
Issa Wrap Dress (similar here)
As a former chronic over packer, shoes are still my downfall when it comes to packing. I just can't resist taking several pairs along knowing that in regards to footwear I'll be prepared for any situation I find myself in.
For my voyage on the Queen Mary 2, I managed to restrict myself to (only) four pairs. I did wear all of them, but in the future I could get by without the clogs as I really only wore these occasionally during the day around the ship.
Here's what I brought:
Mammut Approach Shoes for casual everyday wear around the ship. This was my most worn shoe on the voyage.
Merrell Eventyr Bluff Ankle Boots mainly for walking on the outside decks when the weather was cold.
Sandgrens Tokyo Clogs for casual everyday wear when I didn't want to be in sneakers (ie. for lunch in the dining room or afternoon tea).
Donald J Pliner Katya Heels for formal evenings.
A few things to note when packing
Passengers of the Queen Mary 2 can take advantage of free self-serve launderettes which means you don't need to pack for every day of the voyage! The launderettes include free laundry detergent and ironing boards and are located on almost every deck.
The other thing that made traveling with only a backpack possible on the Queen Mary 2 is the genius invention that is a packing cube (this set is the one I've been traveling with for over a year), a rectangular fabric container that holds clothing. I find rolling my clothes into a few different packing cubes keeps everything organized and relatively wrinkle free. I don't think I would have been able to fit everything (including the four pairs of shoes I brought along plus my toiletries) into my backpack otherwise.
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