Going on a cruise this season? Lucky you! Here, you’ll find all of the cruise clothing essentials you will need along with ideas on what to pack for a cruise so that you can put together outfits for shore excursions and fun aboard the ship.
Rooms on board ships tend to be small with limited space. Although, the big advantage is that, even though you are traveling to multiple destinations, you only need to unpack once! Your accommodation is also your mode of transportation.
But, you will still want to plan your outfits carefully and pack pieces that you can wear in multiple ways so you don’t take up vital cabin space.
Here’s our list of what to take and wear to set sail for sunny destinations in style.
Your cruise packing list – 21 pieces including accessories
Here are some ideas for your cruise packing list:
Cruise dresses for day and night
Dresses don’t take up much space in your luggage, and are vacation workhorses.
A dress can take you from brunches and lunches on board and can easily be dressed up or down with a change of shoes.
If the weather is warm or humid, a dress can be worn alone or paired with a jacket or lightweight sweater when it turns cooler at night.
Wear your dress with comfortable gladiator sandals or stylish slip on sneakers in a metallic hue.
Pack at least one stylish maxi dress and a sundress in a shorter length.
A maxi dress can be perfectly laidback, or more formal, depending on the cruise you are going on.
Choose one which you can sling over your swimsuit after a day at the pool so that you can head to the bar for cocktails.
A floral maxi dress like the one below, worn by Abi (below) could also be a lovely option.
You may also wish to take a look at the best dresses with sleeves for women over 40.
As well as a maxi dress, you will want an easy-breezy knee-length or midi style that you can wear for days on board as well as for sightseeing excursions.
Choose a dress that you can easily pop over your swimwear, but which will also take you from day to night.
An asymmetrical wrap dress in a light fabric will be perfect. You can wear over your swimsuit, or for sightseeing with sandals. Or you can dress up with heels for evening. You can also wear over pants for a different look.
Cruise formal night
On most cruises you dress up for dinner. Depending on the cruise line, it can be anywhere from an elegant dressy affair to a more casual dinner and cocktails.
Pack two dinner outfits if your cruise is a week, so you’ll be prepared. As well as a cocktail dress, I’d be tempted to pack a jumpsuit as these can easily be dressed up or down.
What to wear on a cruise – Tops
I’d keep the tops you choose, like the rest of your cruise outfits, very versatile.
Opt for tops you can either dress down for day, or dress up with jewelry and heels for evening. Also, choose tops which you can wear either with pants or shorts, or over your swimwear as cover-ups.
A tunic top is the ideal choice as you can pop over your swimsuit for days onboard, but you can also wear over your shorts or pants for days spent ashore sightseeing.
Day to night top
Choose a top which will go with your shorts during the day, but which you can elevate at night with a statement necklace.
What to bring on a cruise – Shorts and pants
On most cruises, you’ll be going ashore to explore ports of call. Pack a pair of stylish crop pants or shorts to wear for sightseeing.
Choose pants or shorts you can move comfortably in. You probably want to avoid denim as this isn’t the coolest fabric in hot weather.
A pair of shorts are a must for casual days on the ship and for excursions. Choose a pair which are mid-length so you have enough coverage, but are also cool.
Loose cropped pants
A pair of pants will also be a hardworking staple of your cruise wardrobe. Choose a loose-fitting pair which you can wear with all of your tops.
Packing for a cruise – Swimsuits & cover-ups
Pack at least two swimsuits for your trip, so you can rotate them in case the other is wet. There’s nothing worse than having to put on a wet swimsuit.
Choose cover-ups which you can wear not just over your swimwear, but also as tops and dresses.
You will want more than one swimsuit as you will want to be in a position where you can rinse one out and leave it to dry, and wear the other one.
I’d make one of your swimsuits a classic black style as you can wear under any cover-up you choose, or you can wear with shorts or pants instead of a top.
Choose a hardworking cover-up that you can pop on over your swimsuit, or wear with your pants as a top.
You might also wish to pack a longer cover-up. Depending on your ports of call, this could be useful if you are visiting any religious sites such as temples and you need to cover your knees and shoulders.
You can also wear over your swimwear, or as a duster jacket on cooler evenings.
What to take on a cruise – Wrap & cardigans
If you are heading to a tropical destination, you may think you don’t need warm clothing. But, you are likely to want a wrap or cardigan (or both) for cooler evenings on deck, and because you will find that much of the ship is air-conditioned.
I’d take both a wrap and a cardigan. You can wear your wrap over your shoulders with your evening dress, and as a stylish summer scarf for sightseeing.
A cardigan is also a versatile option. You can wear over your dresses as well as if you have a plane journey to and from your first and final port.
4 pairs of cruise shoes to pack
It may seem like a lot, and I’d agree as I usually only pack 2 pairs of shoes for most vacations.
However, for a cruise, it’s useful to have a pair of pool shoes you don’t mind getting wet, some smarter flat sandals, a pair of comfy sneakers for walking on excursions, and a pair of low heels to go with your evening dress.
Choose a pair of stylish, yet comfy sandals which you can wear for walking around your ship and for days offshore which don’t require too much strenuous walking.
Flip flops are always handy to have, and they don’t take up very much room in your luggage at all. Slip on after your swims on the ship.
You may find that some excursions require more walking than others. Perhaps you are hiking to a waterfall, or walking up steps to get to a fabulous view. I’d pack either some comfortable canvas slip-ons or walking shoes.
Low heels for evening
Even if you don’t tend to take heels on vacation with you, when you are cruising, you are likely to find that there is an eveningwear dress code. Your heels will go well with your formal evening dress.
Make sure to opt for block heels because these are much easier to walk in while you’re at sea than thinner heels like stilettos or kitten heels.
Opt for a lower or block heel. Really high heels on a swaying boat can be difficult to walk in or dance the night away in.
You may also want to look at the most comfortable heels that look hip and are comfortable to wear.
Cruise outfits – Accessories to pack on a cruise
Accessories can make or break an outfit anywhere, and the same applies to a cruise. But, they can be even more vital on vacation.
You will want a sun hat to protect your head and face from the sun, a pair of sunglasses to add style and protect your eyes, and a crossbody bag which you can keep your purse secure in when you leave the ship for excursions.
If you’re heading to sunny climes, a hat is vital to protect your skin and your eyes. You can wear while reading your book by the pool, and for sightseeing. Choose a style with a wide brim to keep the sun off your face.
Take a small crossbody bag to hold your essentials.
Select a bag that works with your daytime casual outfits and is large enough to easily hold your cell phone, passport, money cards and sunscreen – keeping everything safe and secure if you are heading out on a shore excursion.
Your excursion bag will have to be hardworking. You want to make sure it is stylish, but that it will keep your belongings close to you.
The Travelon anti-theft messenger bag is a favorite among travelers.
Slip a small evening clutch into your luggage. It won’t take up much room but will make your outfit evening-ready. Make sure it’s large enough to hold your cellphone and lipstick.
You probably don’t want to take anything too valuable, but a few well-chosen pieces can make a big difference to your cruise outfits. Plus, they won’t take up too much room in your luggage, or your cabin.
A statement necklace or earrings can dress up an outfit to get your ready for a drink at the bar.
Just as your sunhat is an important for both protection and style, your sunglasses will protect your eyes and add some pizzazz to all of your daytime outfits.
Cruise attire – 9 cruise outfits to inspire you
Hope these outfits inspire your cruise packing list and help you experience a wonderful ship bound vacation.
Don’t forget to tell me about your own cruise clothing essentials in the comments below. What’s on your cruise packing list?
Did you like this article on cruise clothing? Share it on Pinterest.
Feature image by Abi
Want to get more articles from 40+style in your inbox, subscribe here.
Support 40+style by using the links in our articles to shop. We receive a small commission (at no cost to you) which enables us to keep creating amazing free content for you. Thanks!