If you’re wondering what to wear on a cruise then you’ve come to the right place.
I love cruising and travel. As a veteran traveller, and through trial and error, I’ve learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t work when packing for a cruise.
What to Wear on a Cruise
I’m going to share with you all that I know about what to wear on a cruise, along with some tried and tested suggestions, a packing list, some cruise essentials, and my own personal tips.
The main packing list near the end of this post is all about what to pack for a world cruise, as well as other things you need for a cruise of any length.
However, if you’re booked on a shorter cruise then you can easily adapt the cruise packing list to suit.
Obviously what to pack for a 104 night world cruise around the globe will be much more than what to pack for a 7 day cruise which takes you to only one main geographical location. But the basics will be the same.
What to pack for a long voyage is tricky because although you can probably stash more than around 20kgs of luggage in your cabin or stateroom, airlines will limit your baggage weight.
So if you’re flying to your port departure point you need to be aware of the airline luggage allowance.
However, unlike a short 7 or 14 day cruise, you are not going to get away with a small suitcase of clothes if you want a little variety and choice when you’re on a long cruise.
And don’t depend on shore excursions for top-ups of clothing. I found we were far to busy having too much fun sightseeing, and had little time for clothes shopping during the cruise.
Airlines will charge you hefty amounts if you’re overweight when you check in, so don’t try to outsmart the system.
If you are going to be overweight then it pays to find out how much excess baggage you might want to take, check with the airline and pay upfront before you leave.
Best Suitcase for a cruise
Deciding what to wear on a cruise is one thing, but great packing begins with a good suitcase.
Find a suitcase that is large enough to fit in all the clothes you want to take, and one that has wheels.
I’d go for something that is extendable so that it fits neatly under your bed in the cabin but has extra room to expand if you buy items during the cruise.
We like the 4 x 4 drive variety! Check them out because smooth rolling 4 wheelers really are better than the spinner wheels you generally find on the 2 wheel variety. Also if you have the choice, I’d recommend going for a brightly coloured suitcase so that it’s easily identifiable on the airport baggage belt.
If you’re purchasing a new suitcase it often pays to buy a really good workhorse Luggage Set or perhaps a luxury luggage set, that way you can choose the larger suitcase for your world cruise packing and take the smallest case as hand carry (make sure it fits airline requirements for in the overhead cabin compartments) and then save the mid-size case for shorter cruises or travel in the future.
Once unpacked and under your bed in the cabin, the smaller hand carry case can then be stowed away neatly into your bigger case.
If you’re buying a hard shell case like a Samsonite, do make sure that it will fit under the bed in your stateroom.
Check out this post for the best luggage sets.
Cruise Packing List Code
We cruised on an around the world voyage with Princess Cruises and the uniform code was very much resort style, or country club casual.
Basically this means dressing in a comfy, smart, casual way during daytimes on the ship, and at night upping the ante a little – long smart pants and pretty tops (possibly sparkly), or long dresses on formal nights, and cocktail dresses to Captain’s Cocktail parties.
On the ship you’ll want to dress reasonably smart for meal times, but casually around the pool.
You’ll probably feel happier wearing a sarong over your swimsuit or a kaftan type cover up when walking from your stateroom to the pool, in the lifts and in the corridors for example.
For formal nights some people take their finest evening dresses, but on the other hand you probably won’t feel out of place in a nice pair of black trousers and a sparkly top.
For shore excursions you’ll always want to pay attention to the dress culture of the country you’re visiting. In Oman for instance we were aware that we should cover up, whereas in French Polynesia it was swimsuit and sarong all day long.
Cruise Must Haves
When it comes to what to wear on a cruise, particularly a world cruise, I think you should take a couple of nice evening dresses to dress up on formal nights. After all half the fun of a formal is dressing up a little.
I took two evening dresses, and two summery style long dresses which I was able to wear in a casual way and also jazz up with costume jewellery to be wear on formal nights.
Other cruise must haves are mix ‘n match separates, comfy shoes, a waterproof jacket or poncho and a comfortable day pack.
Take a look at this label for some very popular cruise wear.
Photo Gallery – Formal Wear for World Cruise
Each of these dresses had a matching, lightweight scarf/stole to put over my shoulders in the air conditioning.
I felt perfectly happy wearing my evening dresses on several occasions.
My advice about what to wear on a cruise when it comes to accessories though is to bring some costume jewellery with you rather than priceless jewellery. It’s easy to add a little pazazz to an outfit with some interesting fashion jewellery.
On board, during the world cruise, we also had some fabulous jewellery sales and it was possible to buy some lovely costume jewellery at great prices, just about the stage when I was beginning to get fed up of my own!
Cruise Packing Tips
When you’re considering what to pack for a world cruise bear in mind that the climate can vary quite considerably. We took in around 37 different countries in the northern and southern hemisphere, so you’re going to need to pack for a range of weather conditions.
Always take clothes that mix ‘n match. These are the best things to take on a cruise. Then, if you haven’t had time to get your clothes laundered you’ll always have something that looks good and goes well together, rather than looking like you’re dressed to do the gardening.
Of course nautical stripes are always good for cruise clothes and they always look fresh and smart too.
Photo Gallery – Mix ‘n Match Outfits
Mix ‘n Match Separates by Vivid International and FRANKiE4 Footwear – scroll down to the end of this post to “Where to Buy” for a 30% discount code for selected online Vivid styles.
How to pack for a cruise
Before you pack your suitcase I find it helps to put everything out where I can see it.
Do this at least a week beforehand.
- Lay out everything out (that you’re considering packing) on a spare bed.
- Hang your dresses up behind the door, or in a cupboard with the door open, where they are readily visible and accessible.
- Put your shoes neatly along the floor by the bed.
- Ditto with your bags and day pack.
- Put your jewellery, scarves and hats on the bed too.
The thing is here that you want to be able to see everything you’ve chosen.
This gives you a chance to think carefully about your choices, and make sure that everything mix ‘n matches.
At this stage you have probably got too much.
Now you need to be absolutely ruthless in what you decide to take.
The chances are you probably won’t miss anything you take out now, BUT you will have room in your case to buy some nice new things either to wear on the cruise, or souvenirs to bring back home for your loved ones.
What to pack for a Cruise – Colour Schemes
Here’s my suggestions for what to pack for a world cruise when it comes to colour schemes.
Obviously the colour schemes are up to you, and you should choose what works best for you, BUT navy, black and white worked as good base colours for me, along with some show pony pieces and garments of many colours to add a little joie de vivre.
What you need to remember is that a lot of the time you’re clothes will be tightly packed in a small cupboard, so the more things that mix ‘n match the better because you won’t have to think (or search) too hard. It’s amazing how things can go missing even in a small space – I was always losing clothes that had become jumbled up at the back of a shelf!
Also aim for clothes which do not need ironing!
Cruise Packing Checklist
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, when it comes to things to bring on a cruise, I’m including cruise essentials and the best ideas for what to take on a cruise ship for a cruise of a long duration.
This cruise packing list is suitable for a world cruise, but you can adapt it for any length of cruise by reducing the amount of duplicate items, while sticking to the same mix ‘n match guidelines.
- One stretchy pair of capri style/cut off pants for long days’ sightseeing. Check out some classy pant styles here.
- One pair of smart white, long pants for around the ship.
- One pair of base colour, three quarter length pants – such as in navy, khaki or grey.
Tip: Once onboard there’s no need to iron capri pants or jeans – Just fold them neatly when dry and put them on the shelf under your other heavier clothes.
- 2 pairs of lightweight shorts – possibly knee length – or your choice.
- One pair of jeans. (I took slim leg black jeans which could double up for smart in the restaurants or for sightseeing on colder days)
- One pair of smart black pants suitable for formal nights.
- One pair easy wear, elasticated, loose, long pants – suitable for the plane journey and excursions. (Flowery print, or elephant print, boho style, easy wash ‘n wear)
- 2 short sleeve T Shirts
- 6 resort style long sleeve cotton tops that will match your pants – 4 suitable for daywear when sightseeing, and 2 for night time.
- 1 collared blouse (this should definitely go with your jeans and white pants).
- 2 tank top/vests – white, and navy
- 1 button up blouse (white) that can also be used as a light jacket/sun protection cover over tank tops.
- 2 floaty tops, or resort-style evening tops to go with the smart black pants. I love some of these styles.
- 2 long evening dresses (formal)
- 2 long or midi lightweight floaty style dresses (resort casual)
- 2 knee length cocktail dresses (formal)
- 3 easy wear summer dresses for daytime
- 1 cotton throw-type dress you can throw on over a swimsuit. Something that is quick drying and lightweight
- Two sets of exercise gear – top, pants, bras – make sure to include one long sleeved top.
- 2 swimsuits – As I’m not a sun worshipper any more, I like to take one swimsuit with long sleeves (sun protection) and one with an attached skirt which hides all manner of sins.
- A floaty kaftan, cover up, to go over swimsuits
- 1 sarong
- Fashion scarves to accessorise outfits; to match evening dresses, and also to wear in cooler climates. You could also include a pashmina.
- 3 pairs of sandals : One pair of walking sandals that are comfortable and durable for walking long distances. Two that are pretty and can be worn around the ship or at nighttime with dresses.
- 1 pair of evening shoes. I took high silver wedges, and as I had silver jewellery and a silver evening bag with me, these shoes saw me through all the formal evenings.
- 1 pair of smallish comfy heels to go with dresses you wear onboard. I chose nude wedges.
- 1 pair black or brown ankle boots. Small heel. Smart but also suitable for walking in cooler weather conditions. I wore mine on the plane to and from the cruise and then on a couple of Baltic country excursions.
- 1 pair of sneakers (if they are super comfortable you could take these instead of a second pair of trainers.)
- 2 pairs of trainers – one for the gym and walking on the ship, and one pair for shore excursions.
- 2 fleecey sweaters (they are lightweight)
- 1 fashion sweater or sweatshirt (I bought a striped sweatshirt on board)
- 2 light-ish long sleeve cardigans – one in black or navy and one in white (or otherwise to match your colour scheme)
- 2 short, elbow length bolero cardigans to match your dresses.
- 1 light sports jacket – I had a lightweight colourful Reebok jacket that didn’t crease and went with most of my wardrobe for cooler days when I wanted something I could wrap around my waist on shore excursions.
- 1 lightweight resort style jacket to mix n match with your pants and tops.
- 1 cheap waterproof poncho that will scrunch up small in your handbag.
- 1 lightweight rain jacket (that will squish up into your day pack if necessary)
- 2 sun hats (choose hats that can be scrunched up into your handbag or daypack.)
- 1 sports cap – with side panels to protect face from sun on shore excursions with lots of walking
- Pants and socks and bras. I took 7 pairs of pants, 4 pairs of socks, 2 sports bras, a white bra, a nude bra and a black bra.
- A tote bag to carry your towel, book, iPad, phone etc around the ship.
- An evening bag.
- A day pack suitable for shore excursions
- A small crossover body handbag
What I wish I’d packed for the World Cruise, but didn’t
I’ve now included these items in the packing list above.
Long black evening pants and a selection of floaty blouses to go with them.
Knee length shorts
Pair of sneakers
What I packed but didn’t wear much, and could have left behind
I haven’t included these items in the packing list above
- A pink fluffy angora bolero that I thought would be suitable for evening wear – it wasn’t, and I didn’t really like wearing it.
- A collared jade blouse with sleeves.
What I wore, but only in the days before I boarded the ship, and when we finally disembarked
I could have left these items behind … A lightweight navy trench coat and an orange jacket which matched an orange long pair of stretch pants (that I wore a lot.)
Photo Gallery – Dresses, active wear, accessories
Where to buy the best cruise clothes and accessories
For a fabulous range of mix ‘n match separates, like many of the ones I’m wearing in the images, you can’t go wrong with the reasonable prices and pretty designs at Vivid International. For 30% discount use the code LFSTAKE30 at checkout.
Joseph Ribkoff is a very popular label when it comes to smart, versatile and non-crease cruisewear. Check out some Joseph Ribkoff dress styles here and Joseph Ribkoff pants here.
I love the luxury handbags, crossbody bags and rucksacks at Travel & Living Collection – for limited time you can get 25% discount on bags over $150 using the code Summer25
For comfy and stylish travel shoes like the sandals and sneakers I’m wearing in some of the images above I don’t think you can beat FRANKie4. Designed by a podiatrist they support your feet in all the right places. They are well designed and because they are really good quality, they last and last.
A Wrinkle Remover is a really handy addition to your cabin for getting the creases out of clothes. Also helps with odours too.
Check out these posts for more cruise packing tips and cruise information
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Cruise Fashion Video – What to Pack
What are your cruise packing tips? Please share with us in the comments section below.
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