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Packing for your cruise

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

1. What will the weather be like?

The ultimate question when deciding what to wear on a cruise is what will the weather be like. Cruise wear is governed by what the sun, rain and wind are doing!

Of course, you don’t have a crystal ball, but the weather forecasts should help with your cruise planning.

2. How long is the cruise?

No you know how many pairs of undies and a change of clothes you need. Be sure to consider day wear (activities-based) and evening attire (casual and more elegant evenings).

3. What type of cruise activities am I doing?

Good planning is essential for a happy cruise.

Research your cruise for the kind of activities they offer and what outfits you’ll need, not just for the boat but your on-shore excursions.

It’s more than likely you’ll be spending most of your time in a swimsuit and flip flops, which is great news for your packing.

Our simple cruise packing checklist (which you can download a free printable copy of below) will help you.

4. Who am I traveling with?

If you’re traveling as a couple you may choose to pack your sexy lingerie.

If you’re cruising with kids, the old granny ones will do, because you’re not going to have much time or space for romance.

If your’re single, you might pack more outfits for the nightclub to party with your friends.

5. What are my luggage limitations?

The luggage police are out to restrict our wardrobes. Plan carefully, you don’t want to get stuck with excess luggage fees getting to the cruise (if you fly).

Cruise luggage limits are typically 2 x 50 lbs (23kg), although they do recommend you bring only one suitcase. I also recommend that!

6. What’s my transportation to the cruise and back? (Bag drag)

If getting to the cruise departure port involves dragging your bag around, you may want to reconsider how much you pack.

If you are moving from your front door, to the car, to the cruise front door, you might feel okay with packing a little more as you won’t be lugging the luggage.

My packing list will work for any kind of cruise. It’s simplistic so you don’t over pack or over stress.

I’ve not listed quantities so you can use it for any length of cruise. I think you can easily determine how many dresses, shorts, undies and tops you need.

It all depends on the length of your cruise and your activities.


Lounging all day in swimwear is great

Okay, let’s dive into a little of the types of cruise clothing you’ll need.

Excursion outfits

What are you going to do when you are in port? This will determine what to wear.

If you are exploring the city, you might wear shorts and a tank top.

Whatever your activity, make sure you have comfortable walking shoes as the days can be long and the feet sore.

On board the ship

Your cruise wear will be multi-dimensional on board the cruise. You might put your workout gear on for early morning yoga, walks on the deck, boot camp or gym workouts.

Breakfast can be casual shorts/ skirts and tops. If you eat at the buffet, you can even walk in with your swimwear! Maybe put a kaftan over the top.

If you eat in the restaurant for breakfast or lunch then definitely wear an outfit. It can go over your swimsuit though. And make sure you wear shoes.

There are lots of activities you can do on board the ship like mini-golf, basketball, and high ropes course, which will see you more in your active gear.

Otherwise, you’ll be in your swimsuits in the water or by the pool deck. That’s when your hat, sunglasses and kaftans, and summer dresses come in handy!

It’s very laid back and casual.

Casual wear – pre-drinks before dinner in the Dining Room

Non-formal dinner wear

As mentioned in this post on how to stay healthy on a cruise ship, we chose to eat in the dining room every evening. I hate buffets and the food and service is far more enjoyable in the restaurant.

After lying around by the pool all day, or adventuring on land, it’s nice to switch into a different mode and dress up a little – well out of your swimwear at least.

Even though the restaurant sounds more elegant and formal, casual dress is acceptable. As long as you look presentable and you aren’t in your swimwear, you’ll be fine.

If you plan to attend a show afterwards, or go to the nightclub, you might dress up a little more. But still bear in mind it’s not fancy fancy.

A pair of jeans, or nice pair of pants/trousers/slacks, with a dressy top is perfect. Casual dresses also work fine. You can see in our video some of the dresses I wore to dinner.

Formal Night / Elegant Dinner

It might be a good idea to check for details with your cruising company to see if there will be any other theme night during your cruise.

We didn’t know until the day it was announced that the evening was going to be white theme.

So we didn’t have any white clothes to wear to dinner. You can wear what you like and choose not to participate, but I think it’s fun to join in on the cruise themes and festivities.

We also had a formal night or elegant dinner, which we do know about in advance. You can see the formal maxi dress I wore here.

The cruise formal wear doesn’t have to be anything like your high school formal. I have seen people on cruises wearing tuxedos and super fancy dresses. Whatever you want!

But, something like what you’d wear to a wedding is also okay.

You may even get to meet the Captain, so dress accordingly!

All cruises are different and I’m not sure if you can find out beforehand, but you can definitely plan for one elegant evening. Most cruise lines will have at least one, no matter the length of the cruise.

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