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What To Wear On Cruise


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Bride Baier



Embarking on a cruise is an exciting and immersive experience, with endless opportunities for relaxation, exploration, and fun. Whether you’re cruising through the pristine waters of the Caribbean, the breathtaking fjords of Norway, or the culturally rich Mediterranean, choosing the right attire for your cruise is essential to ensure you feel comfortable and confident throughout your journey.


When it comes to selecting cruise attire, there are several factors to consider, including the destination, duration of the cruise, activities planned, and the onboard dress code. Understanding these factors will help you pack wisely and be prepared for any occasion that may arise during your cruise.


In this article, we will guide you through the different types of cruise attire, from daytime and evening wear to formal nights, casual nights, and themed events. We’ll also provide tips on what to wear for excursions and what accessories and footwear to pack. By the end, you’ll be well-equipped with the knowledge needed to create a stylish and practical cruise wardrobe.


So, whether you’re lounging by the pool, indulging in gourmet cuisine, or exploring exotic destinations, let’s dive into the world of cruise attire and discover how to dress to impress on your next nautical adventure.


Factors to Consider When Choosing Cruise Attire

Choosing the right cruise attire involves considering several important factors. By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that you’re appropriately dressed for the various activities and events that may take place during your cruise.


1. Destination: The destination of your cruise plays a significant role in determining your attire. For warmer and tropical destinations, lightweight and breathable fabrics, such as cotton and linen, are ideal. For cooler destinations, layering is crucial, so pack sweaters, jackets, and scarves to stay warm.


2. Duration of the cruise: If you’re going on a short weekend cruise, you may need fewer outfit options compared to a week-long or longer voyage. Consider the number of formal, casual, and theme nights and plan your wardrobe accordingly.


3. Activities on board: Think about the activities you’ll be participating in during your cruise. If you plan on lounging by the pool, pack swimwear and cover-ups. If you’re into fitness, don’t forget to bring workout clothes. And if you’ll be indulging in spa treatments or fine dining experiences, dress in elegant attire.


4. Onboard dress code: Different cruise lines have varying dress codes, ranging from casual to formal. Research the dress code policies of your cruise line to ensure you pack the appropriate attire. Some cruises may have formal night events where you can dress up in cocktail dresses or suits, while others may have a more relaxed dress code.


5. Weather conditions: Check the weather forecast for your cruise period to plan your clothing accordingly. It’s essential to be prepared for any weather changes that may occur during your trip.


By considering these factors, you can pack a versatile and suitable cruise wardrobe that will keep you comfortable and stylish throughout your journey.


Daytime Attire

During the day on a cruise, you’ll likely be engaging in various activities both on and off the ship. It’s important to have comfortable and appropriate attire for these occasions.


1. Casual Wear: During the day, casual attire is usually appropriate. Opt for lightweight and comfortable clothing such as shorts, sundresses, t-shirts, and skirts. Choose breathable fabrics like cotton and linen to stay cool. For excursions, pack comfortable walking shoes or sandals.


2. Swimwear: If you plan on lounging by the pool or soaking up the sun on the ship’s deck, don’t forget to pack swimwear. Bring a few swimsuits, cover-ups, and a beach towel. It’s also a good idea to bring a sunhat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.


3. Activewear: For those who enjoy staying active on their cruise, pack activewear such as workout pants, leggings, or athletic shorts. Don’t forget to bring athletic shoes for the onboard fitness center or outdoor activities like jogging on the deck.


4. Daytime Excursions: If you’re planning on exploring your cruise destinations through shore excursions, think about the activities you’ll be participating in. For sightseeing tours, comfortable walking shoes, lightweight pants, and breathable tops are recommended. If you’re heading to the beach, bring a bathing suit, a cover-up, and a beach bag.


Remember to dress comfortably during the day, allowing yourself the freedom to participate in various activities and enjoy the amenities on the ship.


Evening Attire

Evenings on a cruise offer opportunities to get dressed up and enjoy special events and dining experiences. The evening dress code can vary depending on the cruise line and specific night, so it’s important to be prepared for different scenarios.


1. Casual Evenings: On casual evenings, you can opt for resort casual attire. This typically includes dresses, skirts, trousers, or dressy jeans paired with a blouse or a nice top. Men can wear trousers or khakis with a collared shirt or a neat polo shirt. Avoid wearing t-shirts, sneakers, or shorts for these evenings.


2. Formal Nights: Some cruises have formal nights where passengers are expected to dress up for upscale events. For formal nights, women can wear elegant cocktail dresses, evening gowns, or dressy pantsuits. Men should wear suits or tuxedos. It’s always a good idea to check with your cruise line to see how formal the attire should be for these nights.


3. Semi-Formal Nights: On semi-formal nights, you can dress in attire that falls between casual and formal. Women can wear tailored dresses or pantsuits, while men can opt for a blazer or sports jacket with dress trousers.


4. Theme Nights: Some cruises have theme nights, which offer a chance to embrace a particular theme or era. Popular themes include tropical, 80s, pirates, or white parties. Check with your cruise line for specific theme night details and dress accordingly to join in the fun.


It’s essential to check the dress code policy of your cruise line and plan your evening attire accordingly. Remember to bring appropriate shoes and accessories to complete your evening look, whether it’s a casual or formal night.


Formal Nights

Formal nights on a cruise are special occasions where guests have the opportunity to dress up for elegant events. These evenings add a touch of glamour and sophistication to the overall cruise experience. Here are some tips on what to wear for formal nights:


1. Women’s Attire: Women can opt for formal evening gowns, cocktail dresses, or dressy pant suits. Choose fabrics like silk, chiffon, or satin for an elegant look. Accessorize with statement jewelry and opt for heels or dressy sandals. Consider the evening’s theme or color scheme, if any, when selecting your attire.


2. Men’s Attire: Men should wear a tuxedo or a formal suit for formal nights. If you don’t have a tuxedo, a dark suit paired with a crisp white dress shirt and a tie is appropriate. Complete the look with formal dress shoes, cufflinks, and a neatly styled haircut.


3. Hair and Makeup: For formal nights, consider styling your hair in an elegant updo or opting for a polished hairstyle. Subtle and sophisticated makeup, like a smokey eye or a bold lip, can enhance your overall look.


4. Photography Opportunities: Formal nights often include professional photography sessions, so take advantage of the opportunity to capture beautiful memories with your loved ones. Poses, smiles, and a touch of confidence can make your photos even more memorable.


Formal nights create a special atmosphere onboard and provide an opportunity to dress up and feel like royalty. The exact number of formal nights can vary depending on the length of your cruise, so be sure to check the itinerary and plan accordingly. Embrace the elegance and enjoy the enchanting ambiance of these special evenings.


Casual Nights

While formal nights add a touch of elegance to your cruise, there are also casual nights where you can dress in a more relaxed and comfortable manner. These nights provide an opportunity to unwind and enjoy a more laid-back atmosphere. Here are some tips on what to wear for casual nights on your cruise:


1. Resort Casual: Resort casual attire is typically appropriate for casual nights. For women, this can include sundresses, skirts, or dressy pants paired with a blouse or a casual top. Men can opt for trousers or khakis with a collared shirt or a neat polo shirt. It’s important to avoid wearing t-shirts, shorts, or flip-flops on casual nights.


2. Smart Casual: Smart casual is another option for casual nights. Women can wear a stylish blouse or a tailored top with dressy jeans or trousers. Men can opt for a blazer or a sports jacket with dress trousers or chinos. This dress code strikes a balance between casual and formal, allowing you to look polished and put-together without being too formal.


3. Sweater or Cardigan: Even on casual nights, it’s a good idea to bring a lightweight sweater or cardigan. The ship’s air conditioning can sometimes make public areas cooler, and having a layering option will keep you comfortable throughout the evening.


4. Comfortable Footwear: Make sure to choose comfortable yet stylish footwear for casual nights. Opt for dressy sandals, loafers, or ballet flats that will allow you to move freely and enjoy the onboard activities.


Remember, while the dress code may be more relaxed on casual nights, it’s still important to dress neatly and presentably. Embrace the opportunity to dress comfortably and enjoy a more laid-back evening atmosphere.


Theme Nights

Theme nights on a cruise are exciting events that add an extra element of fun and entertainment to your voyage. These special nights provide an opportunity for guests to embrace a specific theme or era and dress accordingly. Here are some tips on how to participate in theme nights:


1. Check the Cruise Itinerary: Before your cruise, review the itinerary to see if there are any scheduled theme nights. Popular themes can range from tropical, 80s, pirates, or white parties. Take note of the specific theme so you can prepare your outfit accordingly.


2. Plan Your Outfit: Once you know the theme, let your creativity shine and plan your outfit accordingly. Consider the colors, accessories, and styles associated with the theme. If you don’t have a ready-made costume, create a unique ensemble by combining different clothing pieces and accessories that fit the theme.


3. Accessorize: Accessories play a key role in bringing your theme night outfit to life. Add hats, wigs, glasses, jewelry, or other accessories that complement the theme. These small details can make a big difference and enhance your overall look.


4. Get Involved: Don’t be shy to fully immerse yourself in the theme night experience. Participate in onboard activities, dance the night away, and take part in any contests or games related to the theme. These interactive experiences add to the overall enjoyment of the theme night.


Theme nights are a fantastic opportunity to have fun, showcase your creativity, and meet fellow cruisers who share the same enthusiasm. Whether you fully transform into a character or simply add a few themed elements to your outfit, embrace the excitement and make the most of these entertaining events on your cruise.


Swimwear and Beach Attire

When going on a cruise, spending time at the pool or beach is a must for many travelers. Here are some tips on what to pack for swimwear and beach attire:


1. Swimsuits: Pack a variety of swimsuits to suit your personal style and comfort. Whether you prefer a one-piece, bikini, or tankini, choose designs and colors that make you feel confident. Don’t forget to include cover-ups or sarongs for when you’re not in the water.


2. Beach Dresses and Sundresses: Light and breezy beach dresses or sundresses are perfect for throwing on over your swimsuit or for a casual walk along the shore. Opt for breathable fabrics that dry quickly, such as cotton or linen.


3. Hats and Sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun’s rays by packing a wide-brimmed hat and a pair of sunglasses. Not only will they shield your face and eyes, but they also add a stylish touch to your beach attire.


4. Beach Bag: A spacious beach bag is essential for carrying your beach essentials. Look for a bag that is large enough to fit your towel, sunscreen, a book, and any other items you may need. Choose a bag that is durable and waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about sand or water damage.


5. Footwear: Flip-flops or sandals are ideal for walking around the pool or sandy beaches. Look for water-resistant options that can handle exposure to water and sand.


6. Sunscreen: Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is crucial, especially when spending time outdoors. Pack a good-quality sunscreen with a high SPF and remember to reapply regularly throughout the day.


Remember to always respect the dress code and cultural norms of the destination when wearing swimwear outside of the pool or beach areas. Be mindful of local customs and ensure you have appropriate cover-ups or clothing before leaving the beach or poolside areas.


Excursion Clothing

One of the highlights of a cruise is the opportunity to explore various destinations through exciting shore excursions. When planning your excursion clothing, consider the activities you’ll be participating in and the local weather conditions. Here are some tips on what to wear for your onshore adventures:


1. Comfortable Clothing: Choose lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton or linen for maximum comfort, especially in warmer climates. Opt for loose-fitting pants, shorts, or skirts paired with t-shirts or light blouses. Dressing in layers is also advisable to account for temperature changes throughout the day.


2. Modest Attire: When visiting religious sites or more conservative destinations, it’s important to dress modestly out of respect for local customs and traditions. Keep your shoulders and knees covered and avoid wearing revealing or offensive clothing.


3. Footwear: Comfortable walking shoes or sneakers are a must for excursions that involve sightseeing or exploring. Make sure your shoes are broken in and provide good support, as you may be walking for extended periods of time on different terrains. For beach excursions, bring sandals or water shoes.


4. Protection from the Elements: Depending on your destination, you may need to protect yourself from the sun, rain, or wind. Pack a lightweight jacket or raincoat, a hat, and sunglasses to shield yourself from the elements. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to exposed skin to prevent sunburn.


5. Swimsuit and Towel: If your excursion includes beach time or water activities, pack a swimsuit and a small towel. It’s more convenient to have your own towel rather than relying on provided ones.


6. Backpack or Day Bag: Bring a small backpack or day bag to carry your essentials, such as water, snacks, a camera, and any personal items you may need during the excursion.


Remember to check the specific requirements or recommendations for each excursion and dress accordingly. It’s always better to be prepared and comfortable to fully enjoy your exploration of the beautiful destinations you’ll be visiting.



Choosing the right footwear for your cruise is essential for overall comfort and enjoyment. From exploring the ship to participating in activities and excursions, here are some tips to help you select the appropriate footwear:


1. Comfortable Walking Shoes: Invest in a pair of comfortable walking shoes or sneakers, especially if you plan on exploring the ship or taking part in shore excursions that involve a lot of walking. Look for shoes with good arch support, cushioning, and a non-slip sole.


2. Sandals: Pack a pair of comfortable and stylish sandals. They are perfect for casual day activities, lounging by the pool, or walking along the beach. Look for sandals with adjustable straps and cushioned footbeds for added comfort.


3. Dress Shoes: For formal evenings or upscale dining experiences, consider packing a pair of dress shoes. Men can opt for polished dress shoes or loafers, while women may choose closed-toe heels or elegant flats. Make sure they are broken in and comfortable to wear for extended periods.


4. Water Shoes: If you plan on engaging in water activities, such as snorkeling or kayaking, pack a pair of water shoes. These shoes provide protection and traction on slippery surfaces and can be worn in and out of the water.


5. Flip-Flops or Sandals: Flip-flops or sandals are essential for casual outings, poolside relaxation, or accessing spa and wellness areas on the ship. They are lightweight, easy to slip on and off, and perfect for ventilation and comfort in warm weather.


6. Athletic Shoes: If you’re planning to use the onboard sports facilities, such as a gym or sports court, pack a pair of athletic shoes. These shoes provide the necessary support and stability for activities like jogging, basketball, or tennis.


Remember to break in new shoes before your cruise to avoid discomfort or blisters. Packing a variety of footwear will ensure that you’re prepared for different activities and occasions throughout your cruise journey.



Accessories are the finishing touch to any cruise outfit, adding flair, style, and functionality. Here are some essential accessories to consider packing for your cruise:


1. Jewelry: Choose a few versatile pieces of jewelry that can complement multiple outfits. Consider packing earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings that can elevate your look from day to night. Avoid bringing expensive or precious pieces to minimize the risk of loss or damage.


2. Belts: Packing a few belts can be a great way to accessorize and define your waistline or add an extra element of style to your outfit. Choose neutral-colored belts that can be easily matched to various clothing items.


3. Scarves and Wraps: Scarves and wraps are versatile accessories that can provide both style and warmth. Choose light and breathable fabrics for warmer climates and thicker, cozy materials for cooler destinations or evenings on deck.


4. Hats and Caps: Protect yourself from the sun by packing a wide-brimmed hat or a stylish cap. Not only will they shield your face from harmful UV rays, but they can also add a fashionable touch to your outfit. Consider a packable hat that won’t lose its shape in your luggage.


5. Sunglasses: A good pair of sunglasses is a must-have accessory for your cruise. They not only protect your eyes from the sun but also add a touch of style to your overall look. Opt for sunglasses with UV protection and choose a style that suits your face shape.


6. Beach Bag or Tote: A spacious and durable beach bag or tote is essential for carrying your essentials when lounging poolside or exploring ports of call. Look for a bag with sturdy handles, multiple compartments, and water-resistant material.


7. Watches: A stylish watch can add sophistication and functionality to your cruise wardrobe. Choose a water-resistant or waterproof watch, especially if you plan on participating in water activities.


8. Camera: Don’t forget to pack a camera or smartphone to capture the amazing memories and stunning scenery during your cruise. Consider a waterproof or water-resistant camera if you plan on doing water-based activities.


Accessories can elevate your outfit and complete your cruise look. However, be mindful not to overpack and bring only what you’ll truly need and enjoy during your journey.


Packing Tips for a Cruise

Packing efficiently and effectively is key to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable cruise experience. Here are some helpful tips to make the most of your packing:


1. Create a Checklist: Make a comprehensive packing checklist to ensure you don’t forget any essentials. Include clothing, toiletries, medications, travel documents, electronics, and any other necessary items. Checking items off as you pack will give you peace of mind.


2. Pack Light and Layer: Cruises often involve various activities and destinations with fluctuating temperatures. Pack light, versatile clothing that can be layered for different occasions. This allows you to mix and match outfits while conserving space in your luggage.


3. Roll Your Clothes: Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can save space and help prevent wrinkles. This technique also allows you to see all your items at a glance when unpacking, making it easier to find what you need.


4. Use Packing Cubes or Compression Bags: Packing cubes or compression bags can help maximize space in your luggage and keep items organized. They are especially useful for separating different types of clothing or for compressing bulkier items like jackets or sweaters.


5. Stick to the Essentials: Consider the ship’s amenities and the duration of your cruise when deciding what to pack. Avoid bringing items that the cruise line provides, such as towels or hairdryers. Also, leave behind unnecessary electronics or bulky items that you may not use during your trip.


6. Pack Travel-Sized Toiletries: Instead of bringing full-sized products, opt for travel-sized toiletries to save space and comply with airline regulations. Alternatively, you can use travel containers to transfer smaller amounts of your preferred products.


7. Keep Important Items in Your Carry-On: It’s wise to carry essential items such as travel documents, medications, valuables, and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag. This ensures they are readily accessible and minimizes the impact of any potential luggage delays.


8. Consider Laundry Options: If your cruise offers laundry facilities or a laundry service, take advantage of it to lighten your load. Doing laundry onboard can help you pack fewer clothes and have fresh items throughout your journey.


9. Leave Room for Souvenirs: Leave some space in your luggage to accommodate any souvenirs or items you may purchase during your cruise. Bringing an extra collapsible bag can be useful for this purpose.


Remember to check your cruise line’s specific luggage guidelines and dress codes to pack accordingly. Packing smartly will allow you to navigate your cruise comfortably and make the most of the available storage space in your cabin.



Choosing the right attire for a cruise is essential for feeling comfortable, confident, and ready to embark on a memorable journey. By considering factors such as the destination, duration of the cruise, onboard dress code, and planned activities, you can pack a well-rounded wardrobe that suits all occasions.


During the daytime, opt for casual and comfortable attire, such as lightweight clothing, swimwear, and activewear. Evening attire varies between casual nights, formal nights, and semi-formal nights, giving you the opportunity to dress up and showcase your style. Theme nights add a playful twist to the cruise experience, allowing you to participate in themed events and express your creativity through your outfit.


When it comes to accessories, choose items like jewelry, scarves, hats, and sunglasses to enhance your overall look. Proper footwear is crucial for comfort and safety, so make sure to pack a variety of shoes suitable for walking, formal events, beach outings, and outdoor activities.


When packing for a cruise, remember to create a checklist, pack light, and utilize techniques like rolling clothes and using packing cubes to maximize space. Consider the ship’s amenities, pack travel-sized toiletries, and keep essential items in your carry-on bag for easy access. Lastly, leave room in your luggage for souvenirs and consider laundry options to keep your wardrobe fresh throughout your journey.


By following these tips and guidelines, you’ll be well-prepared and ready to embark on an unforgettable cruise adventure. Enjoy your time exploring new destinations, indulging in onboard activities, and creating lifelong memories while looking stylish and feeling comfortable in your cruise attire.