Cruise Clothing: How to pack for a cruise

Picking an array of cruise clothing is part of the fun when getting ready for your seafarer adventure. I used to start packing weeks in advance before a trip but now, I’m so used to it, that I can happily pack my bags just a few hours prior to my travels. Selecting what to pack for a cruise can be a daunting task so why not check out our FREE printable cruise packing list below, to make sure you don’t forget any essentials.

There are several things you need to consider when picking your cruise clothing: for how long will you be on your cruise ship and where will your cruise take you? Whilst on a Carribean cruise you can happily get away with a lighter suitcase filled with summer clothing, however, on an Alaskan cruise, you will need everything from a bathing suit to a fleece jacket.

Cruise Clothing for Her

Daytime on a cruise is filled with awesome activities. You should have cute sundresses and stylish sandals, as well as bathing suits and kaftans. I suggest having a comfortable pair of shoes for when you stop in ports and go exploring. Cruises are air-conditioned so best to pack a shawl, a cardigan, blazer or hoodie. A light jacket is also recommended. Make sure you have a large beach towel so you can lay out on the beach or poolside.

Travel cruise clothing tip: No need to over pack! You can make use of the laundry facilities on board and have your clothes washed.

Shorts are usually kept for the pool deck and fitness centre. Swimming suits are limited to the pool or beachside. In general, walking shorts, jeans, casual shirts and dresses are great. Pack a few t-shirts as well for when you leave the ship to explore.

When you are on shore, your own rules apply. Casual clothing is appropriate. Depending on your destination, you might want to bring your snorkelling gear with you.

Picking the right cruise clothing for evenings can be a little trickier. Cruise ships can assign daily dress codes and it usually takes effect in public rooms after 6 pm. As a general rule, on seven-night trips, you can expect around two formal nights. For formal nights, wear a nice dress, as if you would go to a nice restaurant, theatre or classical music concert.

You can wear a cocktail dress with heels, some nice jewellery and makeup. If dresses are not your thing, a long gown or a more sophisticated silky trouser can be a great alternative.

Travel cruise clothing tip: Pick neutral shoe colours to ensure you can easily match it with your clothing whatever the colour of your dress or tops.

For regular dinner nights, you can go totally casual, even in flip flops if you wish. Casual dresses, cute flats, jeans and tops are all perfectly acceptable.

Cruise Clothing for Him

For daytime activities, you can pack chinos, shorts and a few polo shirts. Casual shirts and t-shirts are also a must. For general day to day, deck shoes are a great and comfortable solution. A pair of sleek trainers are good for exploring the ports.

On shores, you should stick to casual smart as most ports don’t appreciate tank tops and scruffy bottoms. Dress comfortable but nice.

Cruise clothing for evenings requires a few sophisticated choices. A tuxedo can be a great addition to your cruise packing list, although business suits are also fine. Make sure you don’t forget a tie and a pair of nice shoes to complete your look. On non-formal nights, long chinos with a shirt and matching shoes are perfect.

General cruise clothing for both

Sweaters and jackets are a must, even if you plan to embark on a Carribean cruise. Get a rain jacket and don’t forget to pack a set of thermals. Thermals are breathable and great for chilly evenings and essential for cold nights which require several layers. Instead of bringing clothes for a range of temperatures, it’s best to bring layers so you are always prepared.

Hats and caps are also absolutely essential. You can wear a hat when it’s super sunny or protect your ears from the freezing cold when visiting a glacier. Make sure not to forget your sun glasses.

If you are anything like me, you will probably want to pack several pairs of shoes. As I suggested before, try to bring shoes which suit several purposes. Bring a pair of flip flops, a pair of sandals which work for both casual and smart outfits. Pack trainers which can be used at the gym as well as for long walks around the shores. Don’t forget a pair of shoes to go with a cocktail dress or a suit.

General cruise packing list

A backpack or a tote can be used for cameras, books, sunscreen, water bottles and other essential electronic devices. You will need several gadgets: your phone, camera, GoPro, tablet, laptop and book reader. If you need to use the internet during your travels, make sure to enquire about prices before you connect to the cruise WIFI.

If you are an avid reader, I suggest bringing a Kindle as opposed to traditional books. This will save a lot of space in your luggage.

Cruise ships provide you with necessities such as shampoo, conditioner and body wash. You can usually find an in-cabin hair dryer as well. Of course, you can bring these with you if you are picky.
In general, things are expensive on the ship itself. Some cruises allow you to bring your own water and soda but most of them don’t allow you to bring your own alcoholic beverages. You can take advantage of the duty-free or simply wait until the sales which tend to take place at the end of the cruise.

Cruise Packing List Tips

You might need to take a plane before arriving at the designated port for your cruising adventure. Here are a few tips on how to make your cruise packing easier.

Make sure to have enough essentials in your carry on

In case the airline misplaces your luggage you will still have a change of clothes with you. It can take a long time before you recover your luggage so at least you will have a bathing suit and a dinner attire on hand. Pack all your valuable items such as laptops, cameras and electronic devices in your carry on. Your jewellery and prescription medicine should also go in your carry on to ensure they don’t get lost.

Familiarise yourself with the cruise dress code

Each cruise will have their own dress codes for various activities and parts of the ship. Make sure you double check these before packing your suitcase. As a general rule, you will need some smart casual clothing as well as at least one cocktail wear.

Pack for your destination

Pack with your destination in mind and don’t forget to account for your in-port activities. Flip flops are great for the beach, whilst a pair of comfortable shoes are more desirable for sightseeing. If you stop in religious sites or places with strong attire rules, make sure you have clothing which covers your shoulders and knees.

Save space in your suitcase

Don’t forget that you might want to buy a few souvenirs to take home with you, so make sure you leave some room in your bag. You can get a nice carry-on specifically for this. You can check airline suitcase sizes before deciding how to better pack your cruise clothing.

Bonus Cruise Packing List: Cruise Dresses

I personally think that packing cruise dresses to save space in your luggage. They can be worn as different outfits when accessorised with a cardigan, a different pair of shoes and even a scarf. You will, of course, want to feel glamorous for the Captain’s Dinner when everyone is going to wear fancy clothing. I selected a few options to give you ideas on what type of dresses you should add to your cruise packing list.

It’s your turn now. Are you excited about your upcoming cruise adventure? Tell me all about your cruising destinations in the comments section below.

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Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory Varga is a licensed travel agent and published travel writer. Her main expertise is writing about Japan, where she happily lives with her husband.
Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan and wants to share more about the local customs with the rest of the world.
While Cory has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries, Japan remains her favorite place to live and write about. Cory is multilingual.


One response to “Cruise Clothing: How to pack for a cruise”

  1. Jignov Avatar

    Your blog was great. Thankyou for posting this blog and sharing this useful information.

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