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What To Wear For A Caribbean Cruise


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Kathye Work



A Caribbean cruise is a dream vacation for many people. With its beautiful turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and vibrant culture, it offers an escape from the stresses of everyday life. But before you embark on your Caribbean adventure, it’s important to pack the right clothing to ensure you’re comfortable and stylish throughout your trip.


Knowing what to wear on a Caribbean cruise can be a bit of a challenge, as you’ll want to strike a balance between practicality and fashion. The tropical climate calls for lightweight and breathable clothing, while still allowing you to look your best for the various activities and events on board. Whether you’re lounging by the pool, exploring the ports of call, or dining at one of the onboard restaurants, having the right wardrobe will make all the difference.


In this article, we’ll provide you with tips and advice on packing for a Caribbean cruise, as well as a comprehensive guide to the essential clothing items you’ll need. From swimwear and casual daytime outfits to evening wear and formal nights, we’ll cover it all. Plus, we’ll give you insight into footwear options, accessories, and any dress code guidelines specific to different cruise lines.


So, whether you’re a first-time cruiser or a seasoned traveler looking to refresh your packing list, keep reading to discover everything you need to know about what to wear for a Caribbean cruise.


Packing for a Caribbean Cruise: Tips and Advice

Packing for a Caribbean cruise requires some careful planning to ensure you have everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable trip. Here are some helpful tips and advice to keep in mind as you prepare for your cruise:

  1. Check the weather forecast: Before you start packing, take a look at the weather forecast for your destination. This will give you an idea of the temperatures you can expect and help you determine the types of clothing you’ll need.
  2. Pack lightweight and breathable fabrics: The Caribbean is known for its warm and humid climate, so be sure to pack clothing made from lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. These materials will keep you cool and comfortable throughout your trip.
  3. Opt for versatile pieces: To make the most of your suitcase space, choose clothing items that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits. This way, you can pack fewer items without sacrificing style.
  4. Don’t forget the essentials: While it’s important to pack stylish clothing, don’t forget to include the essentials. This includes undergarments, socks, pajamas, and any necessary accessories like hats or sunglasses.
  5. Consider the activities and excursions: Think about the activities and excursions you have planned during your cruise. Are you going snorkeling, hiking, or exploring ancient ruins? Make sure to pack appropriate clothing and footwear for these activities.
  6. Leave room for souvenirs: Chances are you’ll want to bring back some souvenirs from your Caribbean cruise. Leave some space in your suitcase for these items or consider packing a foldable duffle bag to carry your purchases.

Remember, it’s always better to slightly overpack than to find yourself without essential items. However, try to strike a balance and avoid overloading your suitcase with unnecessary items. By following these packing tips and advice, you’ll be well-prepared for your Caribbean cruise and ready to make lasting memories in style.


Clothing Essentials for a Caribbean Cruise

When it comes to clothing essentials for a Caribbean cruise, it’s important to focus on comfort, versatility, and style. Here are the must-have items to include in your suitcase:

  1. Lightweight Tops and T-shirts: Pack a variety of lightweight tops and t-shirts in breathable fabrics. Opt for colorful prints and patterns to embrace the tropical vibes.
  2. Shorts and Skirts: Bring a few pairs of shorts and skirts that you can easily mix and match with your tops. Look for options made of lightweight materials like cotton or linen.
  3. Maxi Dresses and Sundresses: Maxi dresses and sundresses are perfect for daytime activities and can easily transition to evening wear with the right accessories.
  4. Lightweight Pants or Capris: Include a pair or two of lightweight pants or capris for cooler evenings or for when you want a break from shorts.
  5. Light Sweater or Cardigan: Evenings on a cruise ship can sometimes be cooler, so pack a lightweight sweater or cardigan to layer over your outfits.
  6. Swimsuit Cover-ups: Don’t forget to pack a few swimsuit cover-ups for lounging by the pool or heading to the beach. Choose options that are lightweight and easy to take on and off.
  7. Activewear: If you plan on exercising or participating in active excursions, pack some activewear including leggings, athletic shorts, and moisture-wicking tops.
  8. Rain Jacket or Poncho: While the Caribbean is generally sunny, it’s always good to be prepared for unexpected rain showers. Pack a lightweight rain jacket or a poncho that can easily fit in your bag.

Remember to pack enough underwear and socks to last your entire trip, as well as sleepwear for a comfortable night’s rest. Don’t forget to include a hat or visor to protect yourself from the sun, along with sunglasses and sunscreen for added protection.


By packing these essential clothing items, you’ll be well-prepared for the warm Caribbean climate and ready for any activities or events that come your way.


Swimwear and Beachwear

When it comes to a Caribbean cruise, swimwear and beachwear are essential items to pack. Whether you’re lounging by the pool onboard the ship or enjoying the pristine beaches at your ports of call, you’ll want to feel comfortable and stylish. Here are some tips for selecting the perfect swimwear and beachwear for your cruise:

  1. Swimsuits: Pack a few different swimsuits to suit your style and preferences. Whether you prefer a bikini, a one-piece, or a tankini, choose options that make you feel confident and comfortable.
  2. Cover-ups: Swimwear cover-ups are versatile and can be worn over your swimsuit when you’re not in the water. Look for lightweight and flowy cover-ups that provide sun protection and allow for easy transitions from the beach to other activities.
  3. Sarongs and Pareos: Sarongs and pareos are versatile pieces that can be tied around your waist as a skirt, draped over your shoulders as a shawl, or used as a beach blanket. They add a touch of style and can be easily packed in your beach bag.
  4. Sun Hats and Visors: Protect yourself from the sun with a wide-brimmed sun hat or a visor. Not only will it shield your face and neck from harmful UV rays, but it will also add a fashionable touch to your beach attire.
  5. Beach Bags: A spacious and sturdy beach bag is a must-have for carrying all your essentials to the beach or pool. Look for a bag with compartments to keep your belongings organized and consider a waterproof option to protect your valuables from sand and water.
  6. Beach Towels: While most cruise ships provide towels for use on the pool deck, it’s always a good idea to bring your own beach towel for shore excursions or when you want to relax on the beach.
  7. Water Shoes or Sandals: Depending on the type of beach you’re visiting, water shoes or sandals can provide comfort and protection for your feet. They are especially useful if you plan on snorkeling or exploring rocky areas.
  8. Snorkeling Gear: If you enjoy snorkeling, consider bringing your own snorkeling gear, including a mask, snorkel, and fins. While most cruise ships offer rentals, having your own gear ensures the perfect fit and allows you to explore at your own pace.

By packing a variety of swimwear and beachwear options, along with the necessary accessories, you’ll be ready to make the most of your time in the water and on the sand. Enjoy the sun, the sea, and the breathtaking beauty of the Caribbean!


Casual Daytime Outfits

During your Caribbean cruise, you’ll spend plenty of time exploring the ship, participating in onboard activities, and venturing out to explore the ports of call. Casual daytime outfits that are comfortable and stylish are a must. Here are some ideas for putting together effortless and chic looks for your daytime adventures:

  1. Summer Dresses: Pack a few lightweight and comfortable summer dresses. Opt for breezy fabrics and vibrant prints that reflect the tropical vibes of the Caribbean. Midi and maxi dresses are great options for both comfort and style.
  2. Shorts and Tops: Create easy and versatile outfits by pairing shorts with different tops. Choose from tank tops, lightweight blouses, or casual t-shirts. Add a belt to elevate the look and complete the ensemble with sandals or sneakers.
  3. Romper or Jumpsuit: Rompers and jumpsuits are perfect for a casual and trendy daytime outfit. Look for ones in light fabrics that are easy to move in. Pair them with comfortable sandals or flip-flops for a laid-back yet fashionable look.
  4. Denim or Linen Pants: If you prefer pants over skirts or shorts, pack a couple of pairs of lightweight denim or linen pants. They are versatile and can be styled with different tops, making it easy to create effortless and comfortable daytime outfits.
  5. T-shirts and Shorts: For a relaxed and effortless look, pair comfortable t-shirts with shorts. Look for breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. Add some accessories, such as a statement necklace or a colorful scarf, to elevate the outfit.
  6. Activewear: If you plan to be active during your cruise, pack some comfortable activewear. Leggings, yoga pants, or athletic shorts paired with moisture-wicking tops are perfect for exercising, walking around the ship, or participating in active shore excursions.
  7. Lightweight Cardigans or Kimonos: In case the temperatures are cooler or you want some extra coverage, pack a lightweight cardigan or a kimono. These pieces can be thrown over any outfit to add style and provide some warmth when needed.

Don’t forget to accessorize your casual daytime outfits with sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and comfortable footwear such as sandals or sneakers. Remember that the key to dressing for daytime activities on a Caribbean cruise is to keep it comfortable, stylish, and adaptable to different situations.


Evening Wear and Formal Nights

One of the highlights of a Caribbean cruise is getting dressed up for the evening events and formal nights on board. While the dress code may vary depending on the cruise line, here are some general guidelines and outfit ideas for evening wear:

  1. Cocktail Dresses: For a semi-formal evening, a cocktail dress is a classic and elegant choice. Opt for a knee-length or midi dress in a sophisticated fabric such as satin or silk. Choose a style that flatters your body shape and complements your personal style.
  2. Formal Gowns: On formal nights, a floor-length formal gown is appropriate. Look for dresses with elegant details like sequins, lace, or beading. Choose a color that suits your complexion and makes you feel glamorous.
  3. Suit or Dress Pants with Blouse: If dresses aren’t your preference, a suit or dress pants paired with a blouse can create a polished and sophisticated look. Opt for tailored pants in a neutral color and pair them with a stylish blouse or top.
  4. Black Tie Optional: If your cruise has a black-tie optional dress code, consider wearing a formal gown or a black-tie appropriate cocktail dress. Men can opt for a tuxedo or a dark suit paired with a formal dress shirt and a bowtie.
  5. Accessories: Enhance your evening outfit with statement jewelry, such as a necklace, earrings, or bracelet. Choose accessories that complement your attire without overpowering it. Don’t forget to wear comfortable yet stylish shoes to complete your look.
  6. Men’s Evening Attire: Men should pack dress shirts, trousers, and a blazer or suit for the evenings. For formal nights, opt for a tuxedo or a dark suit with a formal shirt and tie. Add a pocket square or cufflinks for a sophisticated touch.
  7. Keep It Versatile: To make the most of your suitcase space, choose evening wear that can be mixed and matched or dressed up or down with accessories. This way, you can create different looks without packing multiple formal outfits.

It’s important to check the dress code specific to your cruise line and plan accordingly. Some cruise lines may have themed nights, such as tropical or white parties, which would require different attire. By following the dress code guidelines and adding your personal touch, you’ll be ready to enjoy the glamorous evenings and formal nights on your Caribbean cruise.


Footwear for a Caribbean Cruise

Choosing the right footwear for a Caribbean cruise is crucial to ensure both comfort and style throughout your trip. Here are some essential footwear options to pack for your cruise:

  1. Sandals: Sandals are a versatile and essential item for a Caribbean cruise. Opt for comfortable and supportive sandals that can be worn during the day for exploring the ship or walking around the ports. Look for options with adjustable straps and cushioned insoles for added comfort.
  2. Flip-Flops: Flip-flops are perfect for casual beach days or hanging out by the pool. They are lightweight, easy to slip on and off, and can handle sand and water with ease. Pack a pair or two in different colors to coordinate with your swimwear.
  3. Walking Shoes: For shore excursions or days when you plan on doing a lot of walking, pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes or sneakers. Look for lightweight and breathable options with good arch support and cushioning.
  4. Water Shoes: If you plan on snorkeling, kayaking, or participating in water sports, consider bringing water shoes. These protective and quick-drying shoes are designed to provide grip on wet surfaces and protect your feet from rocks or coral.
  5. Dress Shoes: For formal evenings or special events onboard, pack a pair of dress shoes such as heels for women or dress shoes for men. Choose a style that complements your formal attire and is comfortable enough to wear for an extended period.
  6. Casual Shoes: Alongside your sandals, it’s a good idea to bring a pair of comfortable casual shoes that can be worn with your daytime outfits. This could be canvas shoes, boat shoes, or slip-on shoes that offer both style and comfort.
  7. Athletic Shoes: If you plan on using the gym or participating in any fitness classes, bring a pair of athletic shoes specifically designed for exercise. These shoes provide the necessary support and stability for physical activities.
  8. Extra Considerations: Don’t forget to pack a few pairs of socks to go with your sneakers or walking shoes. Additionally, if you have any specific needs, such as orthopedic shoes or inserts, be sure to include them to ensure maximum comfort throughout your cruise.

Remember to pack a variety of footwear options to cater to different activities and occasions. Having the right footwear will not only keep your feet comfortable but also allow you to fully enjoy all the adventures and experiences that your Caribbean cruise has to offer.


Accessories and Extras to Consider

When packing for a Caribbean cruise, it’s important to consider the accessories and extras that can enhance your overall experience. These items can add functionality, style, and convenience to your trip. Here are some accessories and extras to consider including in your suitcase:

  1. Hats and Visors: Protect yourself from the sun by packing a wide-brimmed hat or a visor. Not only do they shield your face and neck from harmful UV rays, but they also add a fashionable touch to your outfits.
  2. Sunglasses: Don’t forget to bring a pair of stylish sunglasses to protect your eyes from the bright sun. Look for sunglasses with UV protection to ensure optimal eye safety.
  3. Scarves and Wraps: Scarves and lightweight wraps are versatile accessories that can be used to add warmth on cooler evenings, cover your shoulders in places of worship, or simply add a pop of color to your outfits.
  4. Jewelry: Pack a selection of jewelry pieces to enhance your outfits. Statement necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings can elevate your look and add a touch of elegance to both casual and formal ensembles.
  5. Reusable Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is essential during your Caribbean cruise. Bring a reusable water bottle to fill up and carry with you throughout the day. It’s an eco-friendly choice and will help you save money on purchasing single-use plastic bottles.
  6. Travel Adapter and Power Strip: Ensure you have the necessary adapters to charge all your electronic devices. A power strip can also come in handy since cabins often have limited outlets.
  7. Day Bag or Backpack: Invest in a lightweight and durable day bag or backpack for exploring ports of call or carrying essentials during your excursions. Look for one with multiple compartments and comfortable straps for convenience.
  8. Medications and First Aid Kit: Pack any necessary medications and a small first aid kit that includes essentials like band-aids, pain relievers, and motion sickness medication. It’s better to be prepared for unexpected situations.
  9. Electronics: Don’t forget to pack your camera or smartphone for capturing memorable moments. Additionally, consider bringing a portable charger to ensure your devices stay powered up throughout the day.
  10. Books or E-Readers: If you enjoy reading, bring a book or an e-reader to keep yourself entertained during downtime or while lounging by the pool.

These accessories and extras can enhance your Caribbean cruise experience, making your trip more convenient, stylish, and enjoyable. Remember to pack them alongside your clothing essentials and other travel necessities for a well-rounded and unforgettable vacation.


Dress Code Guidelines for Different Cruise Lines

When packing for a Caribbean cruise, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the dress code guidelines specific to your cruise line. While the dress codes may vary, here are some general guidelines for popular cruise lines:


1. Carnival Cruise Line: Carnival is known for its relaxed and casual vibe, with most nights being “Cruise Casual.” This typically means resort-style attire, such as sundresses, khakis, polos, or nice jeans. However, Carnival also has some “Cruise Elegant” nights, where passengers have the option to dress up in formal attire or opt for cocktail dresses and suits.


2. Royal Caribbean International: Royal Caribbean has a mix of casual, smart casual, and formal nights. Casual attire includes resort wear, shorts, and t-shirts. Smart casual nights call for dresses, skirts or pants paired with blouses for women, and slacks with collared shirts for men. On formal nights, passengers can dress in formal gowns, cocktail dresses, or suits and ties.


3. Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line follows a “Freestyle Cruising” concept, offering guests the freedom to dress as they please. Casual attire is the norm, with resort wear, shorts, and t-shirts. Smart casual attire is suggested for specialty dining restaurants, while formal nights are optional and allow passengers to dress up if they choose.


4. Princess Cruises: Princess Cruises has a smart casual dress code most evenings, with resort wear, dresses, skirts, or slacks with blouses for women and collared shirts with slacks for men. They also have formal nights, where passengers can wear cocktail dresses, gowns, or suits.


5. Holland America Line: Holland America Line has a formal, smart casual, and casual dress code. Formal nights call for cocktail dresses or gowns for women and tuxedos or suits for men. Smart casual attire includes skirts or slacks with blouses for women and collared shirts with slacks for men. Casual nights allow for resort wear, jeans, and t-shirts.


It is essential to review the dress code guidelines provided by your cruise line before your trip to ensure that you pack the appropriate clothing for each evening. Some cruise lines may have specific themed nights or events, so it’s worth checking for any additional wardrobe considerations.


Remember that while it’s important to adhere to the dress code, comfort is key. Choose fabrics that are lightweight and breathable, and select clothing options that make you feel confident and at ease. By packing accordingly, you’ll be ready to embrace the different dress codes and enjoy every evening of your Caribbean cruise.



As you embark on your Caribbean cruise adventure, packing the right clothing is essential for a comfortable and stylish experience. By following the tips and advice provided in this article, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the various activities and events that await you on board and at the ports of call.


From swimwear and beachwear to casual daytime outfits and evening wear, ensure you pack a versatile and well-curated wardrobe. Choose lightweight and breathable fabrics that will keep you cool in the tropical climate, and opt for pieces that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits.


Don’t forget to include the necessary accessories and extras to complete your look and enhance your overall cruise experience. Consider items like hats, sunglasses, scarves, and jewelry to add style and protection from the sun. Also, remember to pack essentials like a water bottle, travel adapters, and a day bag to make your days on board and ashore more convenient.


Lastly, familiarize yourself with the specific dress code guidelines for your cruise line. Whether it’s casual, smart casual, or formal attire, knowing the expectations will ensure you’re appropriately dressed for each occasion, whether it be a casual dinner or an elegant evening affair.


By packing thoughtfully and incorporating these recommendations, you’ll be ready to enjoy your Caribbean cruise in style, comfort, and confidence. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to make unforgettable memories amidst the beautiful turquoise waters and tropical paradise that awaits you on your Caribbean voyage.