Packing for a cruise ship holiday is always tricky. You will be gone to sea for a week so there’s no way you can add stuff while away. But that doesn’t mean you pack in everything. Carrying all your outfits for the vacation is completely impractical. You need a plan whether you are visiting Greece or island hopping in the Caribbean.

Plan to have outfits for every occasion – the right dress to relax on-board, a swimsuit for the pool, casual outfits for exploring the cruise liner, the right clothing for those day-trips or shore excursions, and you must also plan for the captain’s official dinner.

cruise outfit ideas

For Girls

Daytime – For indoor activities, you need slacks, shorts, casual skirts, jeans, and sundresses. For some glorious deck time, carry your swimsuit, jeans or shorts, and t-shirt. Shorts are best for the fitness center and pool. Limit the use of bathing suits on at the swimming pool. Cover up for the more formal places.

what to wear to a cruise

For activities, wear casual clothing if you are going to be snorkeling or kayaking. But if you are heading to the town, especially in Europe or Asia, then you will need a more casual dress.

Evening – Many cruise ships have daily dress codes. It is resort casual, informal, or formal for the restaurants and public rooms. Usually for a 7-night cruise, there will be 2 formal nights, 2 casual evenings, and 3-4 semi-formal occasions. Check the dress code of your liner to be sure.

Resort casual will do well for the formal evenings. Wear elegant clothing. A flowing silk or cotton dress with a pant outfit that you can wear to a symphony or a nice restaurant would do well.

For Men

cruise outfits for men

Daytime – Shorts are perfectly OK. You can wear casual khakis and jeans as well. You need to wear something on top unless you are at the pool. Sports shirts and t-shirts are good everywhere. It is best to avoid scruffy jeans and tank tops in some ports of call. And of course, you will be more welcome at the restaurant if you are dressed nicely. Ultra-casual is good on the beach.

cruise ship evening wear

Evening – You can wear a navy sport coat and khakis with a t-shirt or polo shirt. This will do for everywhere on the ship except the formal dinner night. Wear a tuxedo for the elegant evening. Alternatively, you can also wear a jacket or suit, and slacks. Tuxedos are available on rent in some ships. Best, you pack at least a suit.

For Everyone

cruise ship packing list

Hats and shoes are a must, and also sunglasses. You will need the hat for both sunny weather and for glacier cruising. Scarves and bandanas will also be useful.

Also pack a rain jacket for a Hawaii or Caribbean cruise. Ladies need a few shoes for the formal evenings, beach days, shore excursions, and to wear on the deck. Men can do with just 3 – a sandal, formal shoe, and a good pair of walking shoe.