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What To Wear On A Sailboat Cruise


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Marga Peak



Embarking on a sailboat cruise is an exciting adventure. The gentle sway of the boat, the refreshing ocean breeze, and the panoramic views of the open sea create a sense of tranquility and freedom. Whether you’re sailing through the Caribbean, exploring the Mediterranean, or cruising in any other picturesque location, it’s important to pack the right clothing to ensure comfort and style throughout your journey.


Planning and packing for a sailboat cruise requires careful consideration of various factors. The weather conditions, duration of the cruise, and activities onboard will all influence your clothing choices. By choosing the right apparel, you can fully enjoy the unique experience of sailing without compromising on style or practicality.


In this guide, we will provide you with essential tips and advice on what to wear on a sailboat cruise. From swimwear to formal attire, we’ll cover it all to ensure you’re well-prepared for every occasion. So, let’s dive in and discover the perfect ensembles for your upcoming adventure at sea!


Planning for the Cruise

Before setting sail on your cruise, it’s crucial to gather information about the destination and the cruise itinerary. Knowing the weather conditions, activities offered onboard, and any special events or themed nights will help you plan your wardrobe accordingly.


Start by researching the average temperatures and climate of your destination during the time of your cruise. This will give you an idea of the type of clothing you’ll need. Consider factors such as humidity, wind, and the possibility of rain. This research will help you determine if you need to pack lightweight, breathable fabrics for a tropical climate or warmer layers for cooler regions.


Additionally, find out if there are any specific events or dress codes onboard. Some cruises have formal nights where guests are expected to dress up in elegant attire, while others may have themed nights, such as a beach party or a disco night. Knowing these details in advance will allow you to pack the right outfits and accessories to fully participate in these festivities.


Make a list of the activities and excursions you plan to do during the cruise. Will you be snorkeling, hiking, or exploring culturally rich cities? For each activity, consider the appropriate clothing and footwear. For example, if you plan on snorkeling, pack a swimsuit and a cover-up, along with water shoes or sandals. If you’re going on a city tour, opt for comfortable walking shoes and lightweight, breathable clothing suitable for exploring under the sun.


Finally, consider the duration of your cruise. If it’s a short trip, you can pack fewer items, focusing on versatile pieces that you can mix and match. For longer cruises, aim for more variety in your wardrobe, but still keep it practical and compact to avoid overpacking.


By thoroughly planning for your cruise and considering all the important factors, you can pack strategically and be well-prepared for any scenario that may arise during your time at sea.


Clothing Essentials

When it comes to clothing essentials for a sailboat cruise, versatility and comfort should be your guiding principles. Here are some must-have items to include in your cruise wardrobe:

  • Lightweight Tops: Pack a mix of short-sleeved and long-sleeved tops made from breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. These will keep you cool during warm days and offer some protection from the sun.
  • Bottoms: Opt for lightweight and quick-drying shorts, skirts, and pants. These will be perfect for exploring the ports of call or relaxing on the boat.
  • Dresses: Pack a couple of casual dresses that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Maxi dresses are a versatile option as they can be worn during the day or for evening events.
  • Lightweight Jackets or Sweaters: Even in warmer climates, evenings at sea can get breezy. Pack a lightweight jacket or sweater to keep you warm during cooler nights.
  • Undergarments: Don’t forget to pack enough underwear and bras to last the duration of your cruise. Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics to keep you comfortable in the heat.
  • Sleepwear: Choose lightweight and breathable sleepwear for a comfortable night’s sleep. Consider packing a robe or cover-up for additional convenience.

It’s important to note that sailboat decks can be slippery, so avoid packing clothes with delicate or slippery fabrics that may cause accidents. Stick to more practical and durable options.


Remember, packing light is key for a sailboat cruise. Aim for mix-and-match items that can be layered and versatile pieces that can be dressed up or down for various occasions. This will help you save space and ensure you have the right outfit for every situation.



One of the highlights of a sailboat cruise is enjoying the sun and sea, so packing the right swimwear is essential. Here’s what you should consider:

  • Swimsuits: Pack a few swimsuits in different styles and colors to suit your preferences. Opt for comfortable and secure-fitting options that will stay in place during water activities. One-piece swimsuits, bikinis, and tankinis are popular choices.
  • Cover-Ups: Bring lightweight cover-ups or sarongs to throw over your swimsuit when you’re out of the water. These provide extra protection from the sun and are convenient for walking around the deck or heading to the beach.
  • Rash Guards: If you plan on participating in water sports or spending extended periods in the water, consider bringing a rash guard. These long-sleeved tops provide extra sun protection and help prevent chafing.
  • Swim Trunks or Board Shorts: For male cruisers, swim trunks or board shorts are a comfortable and practical choice. Look for quick-drying fabrics and secure closures.
  • Beach Accessories: Don’t forget to pack essential beach accessories like a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a beach bag to carry your sunscreen, towels, and personal items.

Having a variety of swimwear options allows you to choose the perfect ensemble for lounging by the pool, swimming in the ocean, or participating in water activities. Plus, with stylish cover-ups and accessories, you can effortlessly transition from the beach to other onboard activities.


Remember to pack a separate bag for your wet swimwear when returning to the boat, to keep your other belongings dry and avoid any unwanted moisture in your luggage.



Choosing the right footwear for a sailboat cruise is crucial for comfort and safety. Here are some essential types of footwear to consider:

  • Boat Shoes: Boat shoes are a classic choice for sailing. These shoes are specifically designed with non-slip soles and water-resistant materials, making them perfect for exploring the boat and walking on the deck.
  • Flip Flops or Sandals: Flip flops or sandals are great for casual days onboard or when heading to the beach. Look for comfortable and sturdy options with good traction.
  • Water Shoes: If you plan on engaging in water activities or exploring rocky shores, consider packing water shoes. These closed-toe shoes provide protection and traction in wet and uneven terrains.
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: When going on excursions or exploring ports of call, opt for comfortable walking shoes. Look for lightweight and supportive options that will keep your feet comfortable throughout the day.
  • Dress Shoes/Sandals: If your cruise has formal nights or if you plan on visiting upscale restaurants or events, pack a pair of dress shoes or sandals to complement your formal attire.

It’s important to choose footwear that is comfortable, durable, and suitable for different activities. Keep in mind that some areas of the boat may have specific dress codes that require closed-toe shoes, so it’s good to have multiple options available to you.


Don’t forget to pack socks that complement your footwear choices, as well as any necessary foot care items like blister pads or orthotics if needed.


With the right footwear selection, you’ll be prepared to navigate the boat, explore onshore destinations, and enjoy your sailboat cruise to the fullest.


Protection from the Sun

When spending time outdoors on a sailboat cruise, protecting yourself from the sun’s rays is crucial. Here are some essential items and tips for sun protection:

  • Sunscreen: Make sure to pack a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF rating. Apply sunscreen generously and regularly, especially if you’ll be spending extended periods in the sun. Don’t forget to cover all exposed areas of your body, including your face, neck, arms, and legs.
  • Hats: Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face, ears, and neck from the sun. Opt for hats with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) for added sun protection.
  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing sunglasses with a high level of UV protection. Look for sunglasses that provide both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Protective Clothing: Consider packing lightweight, UPF-rated clothing that provides added sun protection. Long-sleeved shirts, pants, and skirts made with sun-safe fabrics can help cover and shield your skin from the sun’s rays.
  • Seek Shade: Take breaks from direct sun exposure and seek shade whenever possible, especially during peak hours when the sun is strongest (usually between 10 am to 4 pm).
  • Stay Hydrated: Remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration can worsen the effects of sun exposure.

Protecting yourself from the sun not only prevents painful sunburn but also reduces the risk of long-term damage to your skin. By incorporating these sun protection measures into your sailboat cruise wardrobe, you can enjoy your time in the sun with peace of mind.


Layering Options

When packing for a sailboat cruise, it’s essential to consider layering options to adapt to changing weather conditions and varying temperatures. Here are some key layering items to include in your wardrobe:

  • Lightweight Cardigans or Sweaters: Pack a few lightweight cardigans or sweaters that can be easily layered over your tops. These will provide warmth during cooler evenings or in air-conditioned areas of the boat.
  • Scarves or Wraps: A lightweight scarf or wrap is a versatile accessory that can be used for both style and functionality. It can provide an extra layer of warmth, protection from cool sea breezes, and can even double as a beach cover-up.
  • Jackets or Windbreakers: Depending on the destination and time of year, you may encounter cooler temperatures or windy conditions. Pack a lightweight jacket or windbreaker that can provide protection against wind and light rain.
  • Layering Tops: Consider bringing some light, long-sleeved tops that can be easily layered under t-shirts or dresses. This allows you to adapt to cooler weather or air-conditioned environments without the need for heavier outerwear.

Layering is key to adjusting your clothing to suit different temperatures and weather conditions. By having these layering options available, you can stay comfortable whether the sun is shining or the weather takes an unexpected turn.


Remember to keep your layering pieces lightweight and versatile, so they can easily be packed and combined with other items in your cruise wardrobe. This will ensure that you’re prepared for any variations in temperature that you may encounter during your sailboat adventure.


Dressing for Formal Nights

Many sailboat cruises include formal nights, where you have the opportunity to dress up for elegant dinners and special events. Here are some tips for dressing for formal nights on your cruise:

  • Formal Attire for Men: For formal nights, men typically wear suits, tuxedos, or a dress shirt paired with dress pants and a jacket. Consider bringing a few different options to cater to the formality of the event.
  • Formal Attire for Women: Women have more flexibility in their choices for formal nights. You can opt for a cocktail dress, an elegant evening gown, or even a dressy pantsuit. Choose a style that makes you feel confident and comfortable.
  • Accessories: Don’t forget to bring along accessories to enhance your formal ensemble. This can include jewelry, evening bags, a tie or bowtie for men, and dress shoes that match your outfit.
  • Consider the Theme: Some sailboat cruises may have themed formal nights, such as a black-tie affair or a masquerade ball. Check if there are any specific themes for formal nights and plan your attire accordingly.
  • Avoid Overpacking: While it’s important to dress appropriately for formal nights, be mindful of your luggage space. Choose versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched with different accessories to create different looks.
  • Remember Comfort: Even when dressing up for formal nights, prioritize comfort. Opt for fabrics that are not only elegant but also breathable and comfortable to wear for extended periods.

Formal nights are a chance to showcase your style and enjoy a special evening onboard. By dressing appropriately and adding some elegant touches, you’ll create lasting memories of these glamorous events on your sailboat cruise.



Accessorizing is key to completing your sailboat cruise outfits and adding a touch of personal style. Here are some essential accessories to consider packing:

  • Jewelry: Bring a selection of versatile pieces such as earrings, necklaces, and bracelets that can complement different outfits. Opt for lightweight and easy-to-wear jewelry that won’t hinder your movements.
  • Belts: Pack a few stylish belts that can change the look of your outfits and add definition to your waistline. Choose belts that can be easily paired with dresses, skirts, and pants.
  • Scarves: Scarves are not only a great layering option but also a versatile accessory. They can be worn around the neck, tied around the head, or draped over the shoulders for added style.
  • Sunglasses: Aside from their practical purpose, sunglasses add a fashionable touch to your cruise attire. Choose sunglasses that suit your face shape and provide adequate UV protection.
  • Hats and Headwear: Along with a wide-brimmed sun hat, consider packing a variety of headwear options such as caps, visors, or headbands. These accessories not only protect you from the sun but also add a trendy element to your outfits.
  • Beach Bag: A spacious beach bag is essential for carrying your essentials to and from the beach or pool. Look for a bag that is sturdy, waterproof, and has enough compartments to keep your belongings organized.
  • Watches: A watch is both a practical and stylish accessory. Choose a watch that is water-resistant, durable, and suits your personal style.
  • Handbags: Depending on your preference, bring a selection of handbags suitable for different occasions. A small crossbody bag is convenient for onshore excursions, while a clutch or shoulder bag can complete your evening attire for formal events.

Remember that accessories have the power to elevate your outfits and express your personality. Choose accessories that complement your clothing choices and make you feel confident and comfortable during your sailboat cruise.


Packing Tips

Packing efficiently and thoughtfully for your sailboat cruise can make a world of difference in ensuring a stress-free and enjoyable experience. Here are some useful packing tips to consider:

  • Create a Checklist: Before you start packing, make a checklist of all the essential items you will need. This will help you stay organized and ensure you don’t forget anything important.
  • Roll Your Clothes: To maximize space and reduce wrinkles, roll your clothes instead of folding them. This technique also allows for easier organization within your luggage.
  • Use Packing Cubes: Invest in packing cubes to compartmentalize and separate different types of clothing and accessories. They will help keep your items organized and make unpacking a breeze once onboard.
  • Utilize Ziploc Bags: Use Ziploc bags to pack smaller items such as socks, undergarments, and toiletries. They can also be used to protect electronics or store wet swimwear.
  • Leave Room for Souvenirs: If you plan on purchasing souvenirs or local items during your cruise, leave some extra space in your luggage to accommodate them on your return journey.
  • Check the Cruise Line’s Dress Code: Familiarize yourself with the cruise line’s dress code policies to ensure you pack suitable attire for various occasions and activities.
  • Bring Travel-Sized Toiletries: To save space and comply with airline regulations, pack travel-sized toiletries or transfer your favorite products into smaller containers.
  • Consider Laundry Options: Check if your sailboat cruise offers laundry facilities or services. This can allow you to pack fewer items and plan for laundry during your trip.
  • Pack Important Documents: Keep all essential travel documents such as passports, cruise tickets, and identification in a secure and easily accessible location.
  • Don’t Overpack: As tempting as it may be to bring your entire wardrobe, resist the urge to overpack. Stick to versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched, and consider the limitations of cabin storage space.

By following these packing tips, you’ll be able to pack efficiently, stay organized, and ensure you have everything you need for a smooth and enjoyable sailboat cruise experience.



Preparing the right clothing and accessories for a sailboat cruise is essential for both comfort and style. By selecting the appropriate attire, you can fully enjoy the adventure of sailing while looking your best.


When planning for your cruise, consider factors such as the weather conditions, duration of the trip, and any special events onboard. This will help you determine the appropriate clothing essentials, including lightweight tops and bottoms, swimwear, footwear, and sun protection. It’s also important to pack layers for varying temperatures, prepare for formal nights, and accessorize to enhance your outfits.


As you pack for your cruise, follow practical tips such as creating a checklist, rolling your clothes, and utilizing packing cubes and Ziploc bags. Stay mindful of any dress codes and leave room for souvenirs. Remember to pack important documents and avoid overpacking.


With the right clothing and accessories, you’ll be prepared for any adventure that awaits on your sailboat cruise. So, pack wisely, embrace the excitement of sailing, and create unforgettable memories on the open seas!