What to Wear on a Cruise Vacation

What to Wear on a Cruise Vacation

Sunny skies and endless seas await you on your dream cruise. Cruising is a great way to travel since you'll be able to see so many different destinations in a short amount of time. Not to mention, a set itinerary means you won't have to do any stressful planning. Before you set sail, make sure you have a packing list that suits your activities, personal style, and destinations. This list of what clothing to take on a cruise vacation can keep you organized and looking fabulous.

Which Clothes to Take for a Cruise?

Take items that suit your activities. Start by making a list of what you're doing and what you'll need. Next, choose outfits that make you feel your best self. Create a matching color palette so clothing can easily be worn more than once.

Casual for the Daytime

The most important part of any cruise wear is the casual clothing you wear every day. Don't forget to pack at least two of your favorite swimsuits and your favorite beach cover-ups to match. Pack everything, from your favorite one-piece swimsuit to that tankini you really love.

If you don't have a lot of swimwear, don't worry; you can always pick up a cute sarong, bathing suit cover-up, and other accessories along the way. You just want to make sure you have at least two bathing suits so you don't have to worry about wearing a cold, wet suit the next morning.

For topside attire, anything goes. Pair your favorite women’s Bermuda shorts with that wonderful scoop-neck tank for a relaxed fit that’s both beachy and beautiful. Cotton sundresses are another popular option for cruises since they let the sea breeze in while protecting you from the sun. Don't forget a pair of jeans, skirts, blouses, and any of your other favorite outfits.

To stay cool, opt to wear linens, loose-fitting clothing, and cotton blends to beat the heat. UPF-rated sun shirts are always a great idea. These T-shirts are typically long-sleeved, but they are designed to be breathable and protect you from the sun's harsh rays. Some even come with a hood, which is a must-have for any beach locale.

For footwear, flip-flops and trendy sandals are always a cute option to complete any outfit. Don't forget your wide-brimmed hat for those fabulous and Insta-worthy beach moments. Beach bags keep you organized for whatever the day may bring.

Outfits for Evenings

During the evenings, it's time to get dressed up for those wonderful cruise ship dinners. Pack a few cute maxi dresses for women with a pair of wedge heels for an effortless look that's both vacation-ready and a little formal.

If you don't like dresses, consider wearing capri pants and a beautiful flowy blouse with floral prints and bright colors.

More sultry looks include your favorite little black dress and a cute pair of heels or dresses with more plunging necklines and long flowy skirts. Don't be afraid to get creative and show off your more flirtatious side as you dine in the open air under the stars.

While packing, make sure you either bring a garment bag or choose clothing that isn't prone to wrinkling. That way, you don't have to spend your time ironing during your vacation. Remember, you only need a couple of outfits for the evening. Be sure to mix and match to create countless combinations for whatever the night may throw your way.

Outfits for Special Events

Are you going to be attending a wedding? Don't forget to pack your best cocktail dress for the special event. Before you go, think about other things that may be considered special events. For example, you always want to make sure you're prepared for poor weather by packing a rain jacket or a cozy women’s fleece jacket.

Adventurous outings, such as hikes, sports, and other exciting activities, sometimes require special clothing. Read up on the required dress before you set out on your cruise.

For example, if you're going scuba diving or taking a surf lesson, pack your favorite rash guard for women along with any other equipment you may need. For hikes and other physical activities, be sure to bring along workout clothes with appropriate coverage to protect against the sun, biting bugs, and any other challenges along the way.

Comfortable footwear is a must for any cruise activity. Be sure to pack your favorite tennis shoes or hiking shoes to ensure you have a pleasant excursion while on the shore. Don't forget to bring a good backpack to carry all of your essentials while you're off the ship and exploring your destinations. You can always check with your activity coordinator for any items that may be rented or any particular clothing that may be required before setting out.

Sleep Soundly

Lastly, don't forget your favorite set of pajamas. On warm-weather cruises, you may want to consider wearing sleep shorts and a T-shirt instead of your favorite flannels. Remember, you can always ask for more blankets or open windows to let that gentle sea breeze through.

Additional Packing List for Cruise

Aside from the above clothing items, you want to pack a few extra items for your cruise. Sure, there's always a store on board, but it's best to be prepared to save a little extra money and bring the things you love the most.


Try not to pack too many expensive items, such as luxury jewelry or pricey watches on your cruise. Instead, bring items that have a little less value, so that way, if they get lost, you're not losing your grandma’s favorite ring. Silicone wedding bands are all the rage right now and provide an awesome way to still show your commitment to each other without bringing that expensive diamond.

Keep other jewelry simple or buy some as a souvenir throughout your stay. A watch is always a handy item to take with you on a cruise since you'll have to embark and debark the ship during certain times. Cell phones can die (and change time zones unannounced), but watch batteries tend to last longer. Just don't forget to adjust to cruise ship time before you head out.

Back to Basics

Always be sure to pack enough basics, such as socks, underwear, and bras, for your cruise. Sports bras are always a great idea so you can exercise while on the boat or wear them during adventurous activities. Bring enough underwear to last your entire cruise, or plan on doing laundry while you're out. For the more adventurous cruiser, you may want to consider getting quick-dry underwear, especially for humid climates. These specialty pieces avoid unwanted chafing. Socks are another must-have item. Select both crew, low, and ankle-length socks so you have a variety to choose from. Synthetic stocks tend to wick moisture faster and don't stink as easily, so you can wear them more than once.

You also want to bring plenty of basic women’s cotton tank tops as well as T-shirts. Choose colors that go with the rest of your wardrobe so you can easily mix and match for multiple outfits and save space in your luggage. These basics also act as an extra layer in case it's a little chilly on the deck or during the morning hours when the temperatures are cooler.

Consider doing laundry while you're on board, but keep in mind, this can be expensive. If you can, plan to only do one load, or wash some of your basic items in the sink.

For footwear, you'll need at least one pair of sandals, one pair of nice shoes — think flats, heels, or wedges — and one pair of athletic shoes. Additional footwear to consider might be water shoes, especially if you plan on diving, snorkeling, surfing, or spending a lot of time on a rocky beach.

Other Items

Lastly, you want to think about other essential items to wear. These items tend to be things that are highly functional, such as hats, a light scarf, your favorite sarong, or sunglasses. Try not to overpack here, but instead, bring items that go with the rest of your wardrobe. The key to packing successfully for a cruise is to choose a color palette or style theme to stick with throughout your trip.

You also want to have a bag — either a purse, a canvas tote bag, or a backpack — to handle all the day's activities. You'll likely be carrying around a beach towel, sunscreen, a camera, a water bottle, a hat, a small first aid kit, and any other essentials you'll need for your excursions. Look for a bag with a small zipper on the inside to carry highly personal items, such as your passport, cash, and credit cards. Zippered bags work best since it's more difficult for people to grab something or for items to fall out. Keep an eye on your bag at all times to avoid any unwanted incidents with petty theft.

When it comes to what to wear on a cruise, the key is to be comfortable, protect yourself from the sun, and wear clothing that makes you smile. Always pack your favorite outfits and bring something that makes you feel like your most relaxed self. This helps you quickly get into vacation mode so you can make the most of your getaway and enjoy the best of cruise life.


Related Articles