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What Clothes To Bring On A Cruise


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Caril Mclendon



Embarking on a cruise vacation is an exciting and memorable experience. From stunning ocean views to exotic destinations, cruises offer a unique way to relax and explore the world. As you prepare for your upcoming cruise, one important aspect to consider is what clothes to bring along. Packing the right attire will ensure that you are comfortable, stylish, and ready for any occasion that arises during your trip.


Researching your cruise destination is the first step in determining what clothes to bring. Whether your cruise takes you to the sunny Caribbean or the chilly waters of Alaska, knowing the typical weather and climate of your destination will help you choose the appropriate clothing items. Additionally, considering the dress code of your cruise line and any specific events or activities planned onboard will ensure you are prepared for all occasions.


Choosing the right fabrics is essential for cruise clothing. Lightweight and breathable materials are ideal for warm climates, while layered clothing made from moisture-wicking materials will keep you cozy in cooler temperatures. Opting for wrinkle-resistant fabrics will also save you from spending valuable cruise time on ironing and allow you to always look your best.


In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the different types of clothing you should consider bringing on your cruise. From swimwear and casual daytime attire to evening wear and formal outfits, we will cover it all. We’ll also provide tips and tricks for packing efficiently and maximizing the space in your suitcase.


So, whether you’re embarking on a tropical adventure or a European river cruise, let’s dive in and discover what clothes to bring on your next unforgettable cruise vacation.


Researching Your Cruise Destination

Before you start packing your bags, it’s essential to take the time to research your cruise destination. The climate and weather conditions of your destination will play a significant role in determining what clothes to bring. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Temperature: Find out the average temperature range during your cruise dates. This will help you gauge whether you’ll need warm layers or lightweight clothing.
  • Season: Consider what season it will be at your destination. Is it summer, winter, or somewhere in between? This information will guide your clothing choices accordingly.
  • Humidity: The level of humidity can affect your comfort, especially in tropical destinations. High humidity may call for breathable fabrics that keep you cool.
  • Rainfall: Check if your destination is prone to rain or showers during your cruise dates. Incorporate waterproof or quick-drying items into your packing list if necessary.
  • Special Considerations: Research any specific geographic features or events at your destination. For example, if you’ll be visiting a glacier or going on a safari, you may need specialized clothing and gear.

Use reliable sources such as weather websites or cruise operator recommendations for accurate and up-to-date information. Additionally, reach out to fellow travelers who have visited the same destination or join online forums to get firsthand insights on what to expect.


By conducting thorough research, you can be confident in packing the right clothes for your cruise destination. It will save you from being unprepared and ensure that you are comfortable throughout your voyage.


Considering the Weather

The weather plays a crucial role in determining what types of clothing you should pack for your cruise. Understanding the typical weather conditions at your destination during the time of your trip will help you make informed decisions. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Temperature Range: Look into the average high and low temperatures for your destination. This will give you a general idea of whether you’ll be experiencing warm or cooler weather.
  • Seasonal Variations: Consider how the weather may vary during different seasons. For example, a Mediterranean cruise in the summer will likely have hot and sunny days, while a cruise in the fall or spring may have milder temperatures.
  • Day and Night Temperature Differences: Some destinations have significant temperature fluctuations between day and night. In these cases, layering becomes essential to adjust to changing conditions.
  • Humidity Levels: Humidity can greatly impact your comfort level. If you’re traveling to a humid destination, choose breathable fabrics that allow for better air circulation.
  • Wind and Rain: Find out if your destination experiences windy or rainy conditions. Pack appropriate outerwear, such as a lightweight rain jacket or windbreaker, to stay dry and protected.

Keep in mind that weather can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared for unexpected changes. Layering is a versatile strategy that allows you to add or remove clothing as needed to adjust to changing temperatures. It’s also advisable to pack a small travel umbrella or a waterproof cover for your bag, just in case.


By considering the weather factors and planning your clothing accordingly, you can ensure that you’ll be comfortable and ready to enjoy your cruise, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.


Checking the Dress Code

When going on a cruise, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the dress code specified by the cruise line. Different cruise lines have different dress codes, ranging from casual to formal, and even themed nights. Understanding the dress code will help you pack the appropriate clothing and ensure you’re dressed appropriately for each occasion. Here are some common dress codes you may encounter:

  • Casual: Casual dress codes are typically relaxed and comfortable. They are commonly seen during the day and for casual dinners. T-shirts, shorts, sundresses, and jeans are usually acceptable for casual attire.
  • Smart Casual: Smart casual dress codes are slightly more formal than casual attire. Men may wear collared shirts with dress pants or khakis, while women can opt for sundresses or blouses paired with skirts or dress pants.
  • Formal: Formal nights are more elegant affairs, usually occurring once or twice during the cruise. Men are expected to wear suits or tuxedos, while women can choose from cocktail dresses, gowns, or dressy separates.
  • Theme Nights: Some cruises feature theme nights where passengers are encouraged to dress according to a specific theme like a tropical night, 80s disco, or even a masquerade ball. Check the cruise itinerary to see if any theme nights are planned.

While checking the dress code, pay attention to any specific restrictions or requirements. For example, some cruise lines may have rules against wearing jeans or shorts in the main dining room during dinner service.


Keep in mind that dress codes may vary depending on the cruise line, the length of the trip, and the specific itinerary. It’s always a good idea to review the guidelines provided by the cruise line to avoid any surprises.


By adhering to the dress code, you’ll feel comfortable and appropriately dressed for all the activities and events on your cruise. It’s better to be aware of and prepared for the dress code in advance to avoid any last-minute uncertainties.


Choosing the Right Fabrics

When packing for your cruise, it’s essential to select the right fabrics to ensure your comfort and ease of movement. Here are some factors to consider when choosing fabrics:

  • Breathability: Opt for fabrics that allow air circulation, especially if you’ll be in a warm or humid climate. Lightweight cotton, linen, and chambray are excellent choices for their breathability.
  • Wrinkle Resistance: No one wants to spend their cruise time ironing clothes. Look for fabrics that are wrinkle-resistant, such as synthetic blends or microfiber. These fabrics help keep your clothing looking fresh and minimize the need for ironing.
  • Moisture-Wicking: If you’re planning to engage in activities that may cause perspiration, such as hiking or exercise, choose fabrics that have moisture-wicking properties. Polyester and nylon blends are good options as they draw moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry and comfortable.
  • Quick-Drying: If you’ll be near water or participating in water-based activities, it’s advisable to pack quick-drying fabrics. Nylon or polyester blends are ideal as they dry much faster than natural fibers like cotton.
  • UV Protection: Protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is important, especially during sun-filled cruises. Look for fabrics with built-in UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) for added sun protection. Additionally, consider packing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for extra defense against the sun.

It’s also worth considering the versatility of the fabrics you choose. Opt for fabrics that can be easily mixed and matched with different pieces in your wardrobe to create multiple outfit options. This allows you to pack lighter while still having a variety of clothing choices.


By selecting fabrics that prioritize breathability, comfort, and practicality, you’ll ensure that you’re prepared for the various activities and climates you may encounter on your cruise.


Essential Clothing Items to Pack

When packing for your cruise, it’s important to include essential clothing items that will cover a range of activities and occasions. Here are some must-have items to consider:

  • T-Shirts and Tops: Pack a mix of short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts to accommodate different temperatures. Opt for comfortable and versatile styles that can be dressed up or down.
  • Bottoms: Include a variety of bottoms such as shorts, skirts, and pants. Consider different lengths and styles to suit different occasions. Jeans or chinos are versatile options that can be dressed up or down.
  • Dresses: Pack a few dresses in different styles, such as a sundress for daytime activities and a dressier option for formal events. Choose fabrics that are lightweight and comfortable.
  • Swimwear: Don’t forget to pack your swimsuits or swim trunks. Bring at least two so you can rotate between them. Include a cover-up for when you’re not in the water.
  • Layering Pieces: Pack lightweight cardigans, jackets, or vests that can easily be layered over your outfits. These will come in handy for cooler evenings or air-conditioned areas.
  • Active Wear: If you plan on participating in activities like exercise classes or sports, pack appropriate active wear such as workout leggings, moisture-wicking shirts, and athletic shoes.
  • Sleepwear: Don’t forget comfortable sleepwear, such as pajamas or nightgowns, to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
  • Undergarments and Socks: Pack enough underwear and socks for the duration of your cruise. Consider packing a few pairs of moisture-wicking or cushioned socks for added comfort.
  • Accessories: Bring a variety of accessories such as scarves, belts, and jewelry to add flair to your outfits and change up your look.

Remember to consider the specific activities and events on your cruise when selecting your clothing items. If your cruise includes formal nights or themed parties, be sure to pack the necessary attire accordingly.


By including these essential clothing items, you’ll be well-prepared for whatever activities and events come your way during your cruise vacation.


Swimwear and Beachwear

When preparing for a cruise, it’s important to pack the right swimwear and beachwear to make the most of the sun, sand, and water. Here are some key considerations when selecting swimwear and beachwear:

  • Swimsuits: Pack a few swimsuits to ensure you have options to choose from. Consider different styles like bikinis, one-pieces, or tankinis, depending on your personal preference. If you plan on being active in the water, opt for swimsuits with secure and supportive features.
  • Cover-ups: Bring a cover-up or two to wear over your swimsuit when walking around the ship or transitioning from the pool to other areas. Lightweight options like sarongs, kaftans, or beach dresses are ideal for this purpose.
  • Beach Towels: Check with your cruise line to see if they provide beach towels. If not, pack a few lightweight and quick-drying towels for your beach or pool excursions.
  • Sun Hats and Sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun’s rays with a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face and neck. Sunglasses with UV protection are also essential to protect your eyes.
  • Sunscreen: Don’t forget to pack a high SPF sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is water-resistant and apply it generously before heading out into the sun.
  • Beach Bags: Carry your essentials in a spacious beach bag. Look for one that is lightweight, sturdy, and has enough room for your towel, sunscreen, and other beach necessities.
  • Water Shoes or Sandals: If you plan on exploring rocky shorelines or participating in water sports, consider packing water shoes or sandals with good traction to protect your feet.
  • Snorkeling Gear: If you’re into snorkeling, you may want to bring your own equipment, including a mask, snorkel, and fins. Check if your cruise line offers rental options if you prefer not to bring your own.

It’s also a good idea to pack a waterproof bag or pouch to protect your electronics and valuables when near the water. Remember to bring a refillable water bottle as well to stay hydrated throughout your beach adventures.


By packing the proper swimwear and beachwear, you’ll be ready to soak up the sun, enjoy water activities, and make the most of the beautiful beaches and pools on your cruise vacation.


Casual Daytime Clothing

During your cruise, you’ll spend plenty of time exploring ports of call and enjoying the ship’s daytime activities. It’s important to pack comfortable and casual clothing that allows for easy movement and is suitable for various excursions and onboard activities. Here are some key clothing items to consider:

  • T-Shirts and Tops: Pack a selection of lightweight and breathable t-shirts, tank tops, or blouses. Opt for comfortable and versatile styles that can be paired with different bottoms.
  • Shorts and Skirts: Include a range of shorts and skirts in various lengths and styles. Choose lightweight and quick-drying fabrics for hot and humid destinations.
  • Lightweight Pants and Capris: Pack a few pairs of lightweight pants or capris for a slightly dressier option. Look for styles made from breathable fabrics like cotton or linen.
  • Maxi Dresses or Sundresses: Maxi dresses and sundresses are great options for comfortable and stylish daytime wear. Choose lightweight fabrics that allow for easy movement and breathability.
  • Swimwear: If you plan on spending time lounging by the pool or engaging in water activities, don’t forget to pack your swimsuits and cover-ups. These can also double as comfortable attire for casual daytime exploration.
  • Athletic Wear: If you enjoy jogging, yoga, or other fitness activities, consider packing workout clothes like leggings, sports bras, and moisture-wicking tops.
  • Lightweight Jackets or Cardigans: Even in warm climates, it’s helpful to have a lightweight jacket or cardigan for cooler mornings, evenings, or air-conditioned spaces onboard the ship.
  • Hats and Accessories: Protect yourself from the sun by packing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Additionally, consider bringing accessories like scarves or a small crossbody bag for added style and functionality.
  • Comfortable Shoes: Invest in a pair of comfortable walking shoes or sneakers for exploring ports of call and participating in onshore activities. Flip flops or sandals are also great for strolling around the ship or lounging by the pool.

Remember to pack clothing that suits your personal style and preferences, allowing for a comfortable and enjoyable cruising experience during the daytime.


Evening Wear and Formal Attire

On your cruise, you’ll likely have evenings that call for a more formal or dressy attire. It’s important to pack appropriate evening wear to dress up for elegant dinners and special events. Here are some essentials to consider for your evening wardrobe:

  • Cocktail Dresses: Pack a few cocktail dresses that are versatile and suitable for both formal and semi-formal occasions. Choose classic styles that flatter your figure and can be accessorized differently to create different looks.
  • Evening Gowns: If your cruise includes formal nights or formal events, pack one or two evening gowns. Opt for timeless silhouettes and elegant designs.
  • Suits or Tuxedos: Men may need to pack a suit or tuxedo for formal evenings. Check with your cruise line to determine the specific dress code requirements regarding formal attire for men.
  • Dress Shirts: Men should pack a few dress shirts that can be paired with pants or suits. Choose neutral colors or patterns that can be easily coordinated.
  • Dress Pants or Slacks: Men should also include a few pairs of dress pants or slacks to pair with their dress shirts.
  • Accessories: To elevate your evening outfits, pack accessories like statement jewelry, ties, bowties, belts, and cufflinks. These small touches can make a big difference in your overall look.
  • Dress Shoes: Both men and women should pack a pair of dress shoes that complement their formal attire. Men may need polished dress shoes or loafers, while women can opt for heels or dressy flats.

For evenings that are not designated as formal, you can still opt for smart casual attire. This may include dress pants or skirts paired with a blouse or a nice shirt for men. Refer to the cruise line’s dress code guidelines to ensure you’re appropriately dressed for each evening occasion.


Remember to pack clothing that makes you feel confident and comfortable, allowing you to enjoy the special evenings and events on your cruise.


Outerwear and Accessories

Packing the right outerwear and accessories is essential to ensure you’re prepared for various weather conditions and to add style and functionality to your cruise wardrobe. Here are some key items to consider:

  • Lightweight Jacket or Cardigan: Include a lightweight jacket or cardigan that can be easily layered over your daytime outfits or evening attire. This is particularly useful in case of cooler temperatures or air-conditioned spaces onboard the ship.
  • Waterproof or Packable Rain Jacket: It’s always a good idea to have a compact and waterproof rain jacket or poncho handy, especially if you’ll be visiting destinations prone to rain showers. This will keep you dry while exploring port cities.
  • Scarves and Shawls: Pack a few scarves or shawls that can add a pop of color to your outfits and also provide warmth when needed. Consider lightweight options for warmer climates and heavier options for cooler destinations.
  • Hats: In addition to a sun hat for protection during the daytime, pack a stylish hat that complements your evening attire. A chic fedora or a classic brimmed hat can elevate your look.
  • Gloves and Ear Warmers: If you’re cruising to colder destinations, include gloves and ear warmers to keep you cozy during chilly weather or outdoor activities.
  • Belts: Bring a few belts to accessorize your outfits and cinch dresses or tops at the waist for a more polished look.
  • Travel Umbrella: It’s always a good idea to pack a compact, lightweight travel umbrella to be prepared for unexpected rain showers or to shield yourself from the sun.
  • Jewelry and Accessories: Don’t forget to pack a selection of jewelry to complement your outfits. Opt for versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched. Additionally, consider bringing a small clutch or evening bag to carry your essentials during evening events.
  • Electronics and Chargers: Remember to pack any necessary electronics, such as your phone, camera, or e-reader, along with their chargers and adapters for international travel.

Outerwear and accessories not only provide practical benefits but also allow you to express your personal style and enhance your overall cruise experience. Choose items that reflect your preferences and add that extra touch of flair to your outfits.


Footwear for Different Occasions

Choosing the right footwear for your cruise is crucial for comfort, style, and suitability for different occasions and activities. Here are some important types of footwear to consider packing:

  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: A pair of comfortable walking shoes is essential for shore excursions and exploring port cities. Look for supportive footwear with cushioning and good arch support.
  • Sandals or Flip Flops: Pack a pair of sandals or flip flops for lounging by the pool, strolling on the deck, or visiting the beach. Opt for comfortable and water-resistant options.
  • Dress Shoes: Plan to bring a pair of dress shoes for formal and elegant evenings. Men should pack polished dress shoes or loafers, while women can opt for heels or dressy flats.
  • Athletic Shoes: If you plan on participating in sports activities or using the onboard gym, bring athletic shoes suitable for exercise.
  • Water Shoes: If your itinerary includes activities like snorkeling, kayaking, or water sports, consider packing water shoes for protection and traction on slippery surfaces.
  • Comfortable Slippers: Pack a pair of comfortable slippers to wear in your cabin or around the ship for added relaxation and comfort.
  • Lightweight Hiking Shoes or Boots: If you’ll be embarking on hiking or nature-based excursions, pack lightweight hiking shoes or boots for better stability and grip on uneven terrain.

When selecting footwear, consider the comfort and functionality they offer. Ensure they are suitable for the activities you have planned and the destinations you’ll be exploring. It’s also a good idea to break in new shoes before your cruise to avoid discomfort during your vacation.


Remember to pack enough socks for the duration of your cruise and consider moisture-wicking or cushioned options for added comfort. Bring shoe bags to keep your footwear organized and separate from your clothing in your suitcase.


By including a selection of footwear for different occasions, you’ll be prepared to tackle any activity or event that comes your way during your cruise vacation.


Packing Tips and Tricks

Packing efficiently is key when preparing for your cruise. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your suitcase space and ensure a well-organized and stress-free packing experience:

  • Create a Packing List: Before you start packing, make a comprehensive list of all the clothing items, accessories, toiletries, and other essentials you’ll need. This will help you stay organized and ensure you don’t forget anything.
  • Roll Your Clothes: Instead of folding your clothes traditionally, roll them. This method helps save space and prevents wrinkles. It also allows you to see all your clothing options at a glance.
  • Use Packing Cubes or Compression Bags: Invest in packing cubes or compression bags to separate and compress your clothes. They not only save space but also keep your suitcase organized and make it easier to locate specific items.
  • Maximize Empty Spaces: Utilize empty spaces in your suitcase, such as stuffing socks or small items inside shoes, or placing belts and accessories in the gaps between larger items.
  • Limit the Number of Shoes: Shoes can take up a lot of space, so limit the number of pairs you bring. Choose versatile shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits and opt for collapsible or foldable options if possible.
  • Consider Laundry Facilities: Check if your cruise ship offers laundry facilities or laundry services. This allows you to pack fewer clothes and do laundry during your trip.
  • Take Advantage of Carry-Ons: If your cruise line allows it, use a carry-on bag to pack essential items and fragile belongings, as well as any necessary medications, important documents, and valuables.
  • Double-check Weight and Size Restrictions: Familiarize yourself with the weight and size restrictions imposed by your cruise line for both checked baggage and carry-ons. This will help you avoid any last-minute surprises or additional fees.
  • Leave Room for Souvenirs: Consider leaving some empty space in your suitcase to accommodate any souvenirs or items you might purchase during your cruise.
  • Use Travel-Sized Toiletries: Opt for travel-sized toiletries or transfer them into smaller containers to save space. Alternatively, check if your cruise line provides complimentary toiletries.

Remember to pack any necessary medication, travel adapters, and electronic chargers. It’s also advisable to pack a small first aid kit with essentials like band-aids and pain relievers.


By implementing these packing tips and tricks, you’ll be able to pack efficiently, stay organized, and make the most of your available luggage space for a smooth and enjoyable cruise vacation.



Properly packing your clothing for a cruise is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable vacation. By considering factors such as the weather, dress code, and activities, you can ensure that you have the right clothes for every occasion and destination.


Researching your cruise destination and understanding the typical weather conditions will help you make informed decisions about what to pack. Checking the dress code provided by your cruise line ensures that you are appropriately dressed for formal evenings and themed events.


Choosing the right fabrics is crucial for comfort and versatility. Look for breathable and wrinkle-resistant materials that suit the climate of your destination. Lightweight layering pieces also allow you to adjust to changing temperatures.


When packing clothes, consider essential items such as swimwear, casual daytime clothing, evening wear, and outerwear. Don’t forget to pack appropriate footwear for different occasions and activities. Utilizing packing tips and tricks like rolling clothes, using packing cubes, and maximizing empty spaces will help you pack efficiently and make the most of your suitcase space.


In conclusion, a well-planned and organized approach to packing will ensure that you have everything you need for your cruise while maximizing comfort and style. By paying attention to weather conditions, dress codes, fabric choices, and essential clothing items, you can pack with confidence and enjoy a seamless cruise vacation.