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What To Wear For A Cruise Ship


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Fifi Schuster



Welcome aboard the wonderful world of cruise ships! Whether you are a seasoned cruiser or preparing for your first voyage, one of the essential aspects to consider is what to wear during your cruise. While your attire will mainly depend on the type of cruise you are taking and the activities you have planned, there are some general guidelines that can help you navigate the fashion seas.


Before embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, it is important to do some research to understand the dress codes and expectations of the cruise line you are sailing with. While some cruises have formal dress codes for evening events, others adopt a more relaxed atmosphere where casual wear is the norm. Additionally, if you plan on participating in excursions or visiting beaches, it is crucial to pack appropriate swimwear and activewear.


In this article, we will guide you through the different types of clothing you should consider packing for your cruise, including casual wear for daytime activities, swimwear and beachwear, formal wear for evening events, activewear for excursions, footwear choices, and accessories to complete your outfits.


We will also provide helpful tips and guidelines on how to adhere to dress codes and make the most out of your clothing choices while aboard the cruise ship. Lastly, we will offer some valuable packing tips to ensure you have everything you need for a fantastic and stylish cruise experience.


So, whether you are headed to the open seas or exploring exotic ports of call, let’s dive in and discover what to wear for a cruise ship adventure!


Planning for Your Cruise

When it comes to packing for your cruise, proper planning is key. Start by considering the duration of your trip, the destinations you will be visiting, and the activities you plan on participating in. This will help you determine what type of clothing you will need to bring.


Check with your cruise line to see if they have any specific dress codes or theme nights. Some cruises have formal nights where you will be expected to dress up, while others may have casual or themed nights that require specific attire. Understanding the dress codes in advance will help you pack accordingly and avoid any last-minute wardrobe dilemmas.


Next, research the weather and climate of your cruise destinations during the time of your trip. This will give you an idea of the type of clothing you will need for both outdoor activities and exploring on land. Be sure to pack clothing that can be layered, as temperatures can vary throughout the day and in different regions.


Consider the activities and excursions you plan on participating in. If you’ll be lounging by the pool or hitting the beach, pack plenty of swimwear, cover-ups, and sunscreen. For active excursions like hiking or biking, pack comfortable activewear and sturdy footwear. If you plan on dining at specialty restaurants or attending formal events, include a few dressier outfits in your suitcase.


Think about the overall vibe and ambiance of your cruise line. Some cruise lines have a more relaxed and casual atmosphere, while others lean towards elegance and sophistication. Align your wardrobe choices with the overall style of the cruise to ensure you feel comfortable and appropriately dressed throughout your trip.


Lastly, make a list of essentials that you cannot afford to forget, such as underwear, socks, pajamas, and toiletries. Don’t forget to pack versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits, allowing you to make the most of your wardrobe options while saving space in your suitcase.


By taking the time to plan and pack accordingly, you’ll be able to enjoy your cruise to the fullest without any clothing-related stresses or regrets.


Casual Wear for Daytime

During the day, when you’re not headed to the pool or beach, casual wear is the way to go on a cruise ship. Comfort and practicality are key when choosing your daytime outfits. Here are some essentials to consider packing:

  • Lightweight tops and t-shirts: Opt for breathable materials like cotton or linen to keep you cool during the day. Choose a mix of neutral colors and fun patterns to add some variety to your outfits.
  • Shorts and skirts: Pack a few pairs of comfortable shorts or skirts for a casual and relaxed look. Make sure they are suitable for outdoor activities and excursions. Denim shorts, athletic shorts, or flowy skirts are all great options.
  • Dresses and jumpsuits: For an effortless and stylish daytime look, pack a few casual dresses or jumpsuits. Look for comfortable, loose-fitting styles that are easy to dress up or down.
  • Lightweight pants or capris: If you prefer wearing pants, opt for lightweight options like linen or cotton trousers or capris. These are versatile and can be paired with different tops for various looks.

When it comes to footwear, choose comfortable shoes that are suitable for walking and exploring. Sneakers, sandals, or boat shoes are all practical choices. Don’t forget to pack a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.


Accessorize with simple and lightweight jewelry, such as statement necklaces or hoop earrings, to add a touch of style to your casual daytime outfits. And of course, don’t forget to bring a lightweight jacket or cardigan in case the weather turns cooler.


Remember that while casual wear is acceptable during the day, it’s essential to respect any dress codes or guidelines when dining in certain restaurants or attending specific events on the ship. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the dress code for these occasions and pack appropriate attire.


Packing a mix of comfortable, versatile, and stylish casual wear will ensure that you are ready to explore and enjoy the various activities and amenities available on your cruise ship during the day!


Swimwear and Beachwear

One of the highlights of a cruise is the opportunity to relax and enjoy the sun by the pool or at beautiful beach destinations. So, it’s important to pack the right swimwear and beachwear to make the most of these experiences. Here are some essentials to consider:

  • Swimsuits: Pack a few swimsuits that make you feel confident and comfortable. Choose different styles like bikinis, one-pieces, or tankinis, depending on your preference. Consider the activities you’ll be participating in, such as swimming, sunbathing, or water sports, and select swimsuits accordingly.
  • Cover-ups: Cover-ups are essential for transitioning from the pool or beach to other areas of the ship or onshore excursions. Opt for lightweight and breathable cover-ups like sarongs, kaftans, or beach dresses. They offer protection from the sun and provide modesty when needed.
  • Beach towels: While most cruise ships provide towels for use by the pool, it’s always handy to bring your own beach towel for shore excursions or lounging on deck. Choose towels that are absorbent and quick-drying, and consider getting a fun or vibrant pattern to easily spot your towel among others.
  • Hats and sunglasses: Don’t forget to pack a wide-brimmed hat or a cap to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Sunglasses are also a must-have to shield your eyes. Look for a pair that provides UV protection and fits comfortably.
  • Beach bag: A spacious beach bag is perfect for carrying all your beach essentials, such as sunscreen, a book or e-reader, snacks, and a water bottle. Choose a bag that is sturdy, easy to clean, and has compartments to keep your belongings organized.

When it comes to footwear, opt for sandals, flip-flops, or water shoes that are easy to slip on and off. These will allow you to navigate sandy beaches or pool areas comfortably. Be sure to pack a waterproof bag or pouch to keep your valuables safe while enjoying water activities.


Remember to pack enough swimwear and beachwear to have options for different days, activities, and destinations. This will ensure that you are well-prepared to soak up the sun and make the most of your cruise’s beach and pool opportunities.


Formal Wear for Evening Events

Many cruise lines have formal nights or special evening events where dressing up is required or recommended. These occasions provide an opportunity to showcase your elegant side and indulge in a glamorous atmosphere. Here are some tips for packing formal wear for your cruise:

  • Formal Dresses: Pack at least one formal dress or gown for formal nights or upscale events. Choose a style that flatters your body shape and makes you feel confident. Classic options include floor-length evening gowns or cocktail dresses. Consider fabrics like silk or chiffon for a luxurious touch.
  • Suit or Tuxedo: A formal suit or tuxedo is essential for male cruisers on formal nights. Opt for a well-tailored suit in a timeless color such as black or navy. Ensure that it is accompanied by a pressed dress shirt, a tie or bow tie, and polished dress shoes.
  • Accessories: Enhance your formal outfit with accessories such as statement jewelry, a stylish clutch, and a shawl or wrap to keep you warm in cooler areas of the ship. A belt, cufflinks, and pocket square can add a touch of sophistication to a man’s ensemble.
  • Evening Shoes: Complete your formal look with appropriate footwear. Ladies can opt for elegant heels or dressy flats, while men should wear polished dress shoes that complement their suit.

While formal wear is required for certain nights or events, there may also be semi-formal evenings or optional dress-up nights. For these occasions, you can choose from a range of dressy attire that falls between casual and formal. This can include cocktail dresses, dress pants with a dress shirt and blazer for men, or a dressy skirt with a blouse for women.


Keep in mind that it is always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed for formal events on a cruise. Remember to check the specific dress code guidelines provided by your cruise line, as they may have additional requirements or restrictions.


Formal nights onboard a cruise ship offer a chance to embrace elegance and sophistication. By packing the right formalwear, you’ll be ready to enjoy these special evenings in style!


Activewear for Excursions

One of the thrills of going on a cruise is exploring different destinations and participating in various excursions. Whether it’s hiking through lush rainforests, snorkeling in crystal-clear waters, or exploring historical landmarks, having the appropriate activewear is essential for comfort and functionality. Here’s what to pack for your active adventures:

  • Moisture-Wicking Clothing: Opt for activewear made from moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep you dry and comfortable during physical activities. Look for materials like polyester or nylon blends that draw sweat away from the body.
  • Quick-Drying Shorts or Pants: Choose lightweight shorts or pants that are quick-drying and breathable. These will come in handy for activities like hiking, cycling, or zip-lining. Cargo shorts with plenty of pockets can be convenient for storing small essentials.
  • Performance Tops: Pack athletic tops or t-shirts that allow for unrestricted movement and provide good ventilation. Consider tops with built-in UPF protection to shield your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, especially if you’re engaging in outdoor activities for long periods.
  • Sports Bras and Supportive Undergarments: For female travelers, a comfortable and supportive sports bra is a must for active adventures. This will ensure optimal comfort and minimize discomfort during physical activities.
  • Swimsuit and Rash Guard: If water activities like snorkeling or paddleboarding are on your itinerary, don’t forget to pack a swimsuit and a rash guard for added sun protection. Look for a rash guard made with SPF fabric for extra sun defense.
  • Sturdy Athletic Shoes: Invest in a pair of sturdy and comfortable athletic shoes suitable for the activities you have planned. If you’re hiking or walking long distances, opt for hiking shoes or trail runners. For water activities, choose water shoes or aqua socks with a good grip.
  • Socks and Compression Sleeves: Bring along moisture-wicking socks that provide cushioning and support. Compression sleeves or socks can also be beneficial, particularly for activities involving long periods of standing or walking.

Don’t forget to pack proper accessories like a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with UV protection, and a lightweight rain jacket or windbreaker in case of unpredictable weather conditions. It’s also a good idea to bring a small backpack or daypack to carry any essentials like water bottles, sunscreen, snacks, and a camera.


By packing the right activewear, you’ll be prepared and comfortable for your exciting excursions and outdoor adventures during your cruise!


Footwear Choices

Choosing the right footwear for your cruise is crucial for comfort and enjoyment throughout your trip. Different activities and destinations may require specific types of footwear. Here are some footwear options to consider packing for your cruise:

  • Sneakers or Athletic Shoes: Sneakers are a versatile option that can be worn for various activities, such as exploring the ship, going on excursions, or working out in the onboard gym. Opt for lightweight and breathable sneakers that provide good support and cushioning.
  • Sandals: Pack a comfortable pair of sandals for casual outings around the ship or when strolling on the beach. Look for sandals with adjustable straps and good arch support. Avoid flat flip-flops as they may not provide sufficient support for long walks.
  • Water Shoes: If you plan on engaging in water-based activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, or water sports, consider bringing water shoes. These provide grip and protection for your feet, minimizing the risk of slipping or injury on slippery surfaces.
  • Dress Shoes: For formal events or upscale dining on the cruise ship, it’s essential to have suitable dress shoes. Men should pack polished dress shoes, while women can opt for elegant heels or dressy flats to complete their formal attire.
  • Hiking Boots or Trail Shoes: If you plan on participating in hiking or walking excursions, consider bringing a pair of sturdy hiking boots or trail shoes. These will provide ankle support, stability, and traction on uneven terrain.
  • Slippers or Comfy Indoor Shoes: When you’re relaxing in your cabin or moving around the ship indoors, having a pair of slippers or comfortable indoor shoes can provide much-needed rest for your feet. Look for lightweight and cushioned options that will give your feet a break from more structured footwear.

When selecting your footwear, consider the specific activities, destinations, and dress codes of your cruise. It’s also important to ensure that the shoes you choose fit properly and are broken in to avoid discomfort or blisters during your trip. Remember to pack multiple pairs to accommodate different activities and to have backup options in case of any unexpected shoe mishaps.


By having a variety of footwear choices, you’ll be prepared for any situation on your cruise, ensuring comfort and style throughout your journey.


Accessories to Pack

Packing the right accessories for your cruise can elevate your outfits and enhance your overall vacation experience. From practical items to stylish finishing touches, here are some accessories to consider packing:

  • Jewelry: Bring a selection of versatile jewelry pieces that complement different outfits. Consider packing statement necklaces, earrings, and bracelets that can add a touch of elegance or fun to your looks.
  • Belts: Pack a few belts to accessorize and define your waist when wearing dresses, skirts, or pants. Belts not only provide a stylish touch, but they can also help create a more polished and put-together look.
  • Scarves: Scarves are versatile accessories that can be worn around your neck, tied on your bag, or used as a cover-up. They can add a pop of color or pattern to your outfits while also offering a layer of warmth when needed.
  • Hats: Don’t forget to bring a hat or two to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Wide-brimmed hats provide excellent shade and style, while baseball caps are perfect for more casual outings or excursions.
  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from the sun with a stylish pair of sunglasses that provide UV protection. Consider bringing a few different styles to match various outfits and activities.
  • Bags: Pack a variety of bags to suit different purposes. A small crossbody bag is perfect for carrying essentials when exploring, while a beach bag or tote can hold your beach towels, books, and snacks. A clutch or evening bag is essential for formal events or upscale dinners.
  • Watches: A classic timepiece can not only add a touch of sophistication to your outfits but also help you keep track of time during your cruise. Choose a watch that is waterproof or water-resistant if you plan on participating in water activities.
  • Travel Wallet or Organizer: Keep important travel documents, passports, credit cards, and cash secure and organized with a travel wallet or organizer. This will ensure easy access and peace of mind throughout your journey.

Remember to pack accessories that align with the activities and destinations on your cruise. For example, if you plan on visiting religious sites, pack a scarf or shawl to cover your shoulders, and if you’re going on active excursions, choose accessories that are functional and won’t easily get in the way.


By packing the right accessories, you’ll have the perfect finishing touches to complete your outfits and make a stylish statement during your cruise vacation.


Dress Code Tips and Guidelines

Understanding and adhering to the dress codes onboard your cruise ship is essential to ensure you are appropriately dressed for each occasion. Here are some dress code tips and guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Formal Nights: Some cruise lines have formal nights where passengers are expected to dress up in formal attire. Typically, this means wearing elegant dresses, gowns, or suits and ties. It’s important to check the specific dress code requirements for formal nights on your cruise and plan accordingly.
  • Semi-Formal or Smart Casual: On nights when formal attire is not required, the dress code may be categorized as semi-formal or smart casual. This allows for a slightly more relaxed but still sophisticated dress code. Women can opt for cocktail dresses, skirts or dress pants paired with blouses. Men can wear dress shirts with slacks and dress shoes.
  • Casual Wear: During the day and in casual dining areas, most cruise ships maintain a relaxed dress code. This means you can wear casual and comfortable clothing such as shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses. However, it’s always a good idea to check for specific dress requirements in certain dining venues or on specific days.
  • Theme Nights: Some cruises offer themed nights, where passengers are encouraged to dress up according to a specific theme, such as tropical night or 70s disco party. These theme nights can be a fun opportunity to get creative with your outfits and accessories, so pack accordingly and embrace the festive spirit.
  • Footwear Restrictions: Some dining areas or specialty restaurants may have specific requirements for footwear, such as no flip-flops or sandals. Make sure to check the dress code guidelines to avoid any surprises and to be well-prepared with appropriate footwear options.
  • Modesty Guidelines: When visiting religious sites or culturally sensitive destinations during shore excursions, it’s important to respect local customs and adhere to modesty guidelines. This may mean covering your shoulders and knees, so pack a scarf or shawl to use as a cover-up when needed.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the dress code guidelines provided by your cruise line prior to departure. This will ensure that you are prepared with the appropriate attire for each occasion and venue. And remember, while it’s important to adhere to dress codes, it’s also essential to focus on feeling comfortable and confident in your chosen outfits.


By following these dress code tips and guidelines, you’ll be ready to look your best and enjoy every event and dining experience onboard your cruise!


Packing Tips for Cruise Ship Travel

Packing efficiently and thoughtfully can greatly enhance your cruise ship travel experience. Here are some valuable tips to help you make the most of your luggage space and ensure you have everything you need:

  • Check the Weather: Before packing, research the weather of your cruise destinations during the time of your trip. This will help you determine the types of clothing to bring, whether it’s swimwear and lightweight clothing for warm destinations or layers and jackets for cooler climates.
  • Create a Packing List: Make a detailed packing list to ensure you don’t forget any essential items. Divide your list into categories like clothing, toiletries, electronics, and documents, and refer to it while packing to stay organized.
  • Roll Your Clothes: Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can save space and help minimize wrinkles. This technique also makes it easier to see everything you have packed without having to dig through your suitcase.
  • Maximize Your Carry-On: Pack essentials like medications, travel documents, a change of clothes, and important valuables in your carry-on bag. This way, if your checked luggage gets delayed or misplaced, you’ll have important items with you.
  • Use Packing Cubes or Compression Bags: Packing cubes or compression bags can be a game-changer when it comes to maximizing space and keeping your suitcase organized. These tools allow you to separate and compress your clothing, making it easier to find what you need and fit more into your luggage.
  • Don’t Forget Essentials: Apart from clothing, remember to pack essential items such as sunscreen, toiletries, chargers for your electronic devices, a travel adapter, a reusable water bottle, and any necessary medications.
  • Avoid Overpacking: It can be tempting to pack way more than you actually need, but try to resist overpacking. Stick to the essentials and mix and match versatile pieces to maximize your outfit options. Most cruise ships have laundry facilities available if you need to do some mid-trip washing.
  • Pack for Versatility: Look for items that can serve multiple purposes or be easily dressed up or down. Choose pieces that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits, allowing you to make the most of your wardrobe options without overpacking.
  • Leave Room for Souvenirs: Make sure to leave some empty space in your luggage for souvenirs or any new items you might acquire during your trip. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you have to buy an additional bag to bring back your treasures.

Remember to check any specific packing guidelines from your cruise line related to dress codes, luggage size, and restricted items. By following these packing tips, you’ll be well-prepared, efficient, and ready to enjoy your cruise ship travel to the fullest!



Preparing and packing for a cruise ship vacation is an exciting part of the journey. By considering the various dress codes, activities, and destinations, you can ensure that your wardrobe is well-equipped for each occasion. From casual daytime wear to formal evening events, swimwear for beach days, activewear for excursions, and the right selection of footwear and accessories, you can create a well-rounded and versatile wardrobe to meet all your needs.


Remember to research and adhere to any specific dress codes or guidelines provided by your cruise line. By doing so, you’ll be able to enjoy all the onboard amenities, dining experiences, and entertainment options without any wardrobe-related concerns.


Efficient and thoughtful packing is also crucial for a smooth and enjoyable cruise experience. Take into account the weather, create a packing list, utilize space-saving techniques like rolling clothes and using packing cubes or compression bags, and focus on packing essentials while avoiding overpacking.


Whether you’re sailing the open seas, exploring vibrant ports of call, or simply relaxing by the pool, having the right clothing and accessories will help you make the most of your cruise ship adventure. So, pack smart, dress comfortably, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey!