What to Wear on a Caribbean Cruise Ship

Having been on a few Caribbean cruises, I know that if you can put together a few cute outfits before you step onboard, you will have a much more enjoyable time.

The right clothes can put you in a relaxed vacation mood. Plus, knowing how and when you will wear your outfits makes your trip stress free.

You feel great when you look great, and life is much more fun! Here’s what to pack and some cute outfit ideas for what to wear on a Caribbean Cruise.

What To Pack for A Caribbean Cruise

Acceptable attire may depend, in part, on the cruise line you’re traveling with, but there are several general things to keep in mind no matter who you’re traveling with:

Pack for Your Destination

You may be chilly getting dressed in summer clothes and from the airport,  but it’ll be worth it once you’re sipping Pina Coladas in the Caribbean sun. Ensure you include one or two layering pieces in your suitcase to keep you warm while strolling the deck in the evening or if you find the ship’s air conditioning a little too cold.

Good Walking Shoes

Comfortable walking shoes are a must to pack when you’re on a cruise, particularly when taking advantage of the beautiful shore excursions available. Remember you will be doing things like hiking, biking, ziplining, hang gliding, shopping, exploring local beaches, and sightseeing. To keep your feet safe and protected, I recommend a pair of comfy closed-toe shoes.

Cruise Pants - Blue

Pack Cruise Casual for Day

At one time, women’s cruise wear was always dressy, but things are more casual these days. Most cruise lines recommend cruise casual. This means casual sundresses, skirts, and pants, including capris for women. Shorts are also acceptable – make sure your ‘assets’ are covered.

Smart Casual for Most Evenings

If you plan to dine in one of your ship’s fine dining restaurants or dance the night away at their disco, you’ll want to pack something a little more upscale than what you’d wear during the daytime. Think about a smart-looking dress or slacks and a dressy blouse. And don’t forget a little bling. Accessories are small, easy to pack, and great for transitioning an outfit from day to evening.

A Couple of Outfits for Special Events

Part of the fun of a cruise is the special onboard events for guests. Whether it’s a cocktail party with the Captain or a special fine-dining night, there is always something going on, so make sure you have one or two dressier outfits that are a little extra special.

Check with your cruise line about how dressy you should pack. Some ships require dressier outfits like long gowns and fancy cocktail dresses. Others are a little less formal, and a maxi or a little black dress will do.

Wondering What to wear on a Caribbean Cruise? Take:

Cruise outfit - White Cropped Pants

Cropped Pants

I always take a pair of shorts on a cruise, but I usually end up wearing cropped pants and white denim.

They look so fresh, calm, and classy and go with everything. Choose lightweight fabric like cotton or linen.


Cruise Shorts - White Bermuda


Here’s a cute daytime outfit that is right on for your cruise. You can’t go wrong with a pair of crisp white shorts and a striped linen top. Add some sleek white slip-on sandals and a cute, colorful bag, and you are island ready.

Don’t forget a cute pair of sunglasses. You might also think about taking a hat. Not only does it keep the sun away, but if you color your hair and don’t wear a hat, your hair will bleached out by the solid Caribbean sun.

Cruise Shorts - Black

Here’s another shorts outfit that is cute too!


Shirtdress | Sandals | Bag | Earrings | Bracelet

shop the look

A Causal White Dress

Simple classic styles like this white belted shirtdress are timeless and  ageless and always look great on a cruise.  Add summery accessories like sea pearl earrings, cute sandals and an artsy straw tote. Strappy, flat slides enhance the relaxed feel of this outfit, and exotic, beaded earrings play up that vacation feeling. 


Cruise Dresses - Coral V Neck

A Colorful Sundress

I’m a big believer in packing a few easy-breezy sundresses. They look good, keep you cool, and are an excellent way for your legs to get a bit of sun. This relaxed shift dress has a fun, go-anywhere feel to it. It would be best if you also worried about eating an extra bun at dinner with this dress. It camouflages your tummy perfectly.

The best dresses on a cruise ship have a cute neckline, such as lace-up,  halter style, off-the-shoulder, or keyhole neckline. Fun details like exotic beading or embroidery will make you look more relaxed and vacation ready. Bright, happy prints in tropical colors to simple neutrals help set the mood.

If you are wondering what shoes to wear on a cruise, I suggest flats or something low and chunky. Spiky heels are not very practical. A cruise ship is as long as a football field, and there’s always lots of walking across changing surfaces. If you feel you must take a heel, make sure it is something you feel very comfortable walking in, like a kitten heel. Wedges are good, and so are sandals with block heels.


Nic and Zoe - print Maxis


4. Maxi Dress

Blowing sea breezes, hot, hazy days strolling around the ship…A cruise is the perfect setting to wear a maxi dress. Choose something fun and tropical. Wear it by day with flats and a big floppy hat, or dress it up at night with sexy evening sandals, then head off to the theater to catch a live show.

Cruise - Blue pattern Bathing Suit


5. Glam Bathing Suit

Life at sea cruising from one destination to the following means lots of time spent lounging by the pool…darling!!! A swimsuit is one item you will probably want to splurge on (even if you never plan to set foot in the water).

Go all out and tell your fashion story. Find a glam bathing suit, movie star sunglasses, and a chic tote. Don’t forget a fabulous cover-up. It’s necessary when running off to the buffet or the spa in between sun tanning and dips in the pool.

Cruise Pants - Beige Linen

6. Flowy Pants

Cruises are easy, and breezy, so a pair of wide, flowy linen pants. These comfy drawstring pants are perfect for a sun and sea vacation.

Cruise Pants - Pink Jumpsuits


7. Jumpsuit

If you can’t find any flowy pants you like, then a jumpsuit is another option. The shoes make it a bit dressy for dinner, but you could wear them with a pair of lower or flat sandals too. ! I love the circle bag. It’s a popular style and an easy way to show everyone that you are on top of your fashion game!

Want to see more cruisewear for women? Check out these other ideas for what to wear on a cruise ship. Bon Voyage!

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19 thoughts on “What to Wear on a Caribbean Cruise Ship

  1. Thank goodness I typed “what to wear on a cruise” into the search bar. I am now looking forward to going on our first cruise, I was stressing out about what to take along, but after reading your advice, I’ve got it right, here’s hoping! Thank you, I love the site, and the images look fab, keep up this kind of info for us more mature girls.

  2. I’m a size 14, going on an 18-night, 19-day cruise. We’ll be hitting ports in Mexico through the Panama Canal to Ft. Lauderdale. What to wear? I’m 71.

  3. Great post! I love to cruise – I just came back from a trip on the Canarias over Christmas. The wheater was excellent, and I needed all the clothes you mentioned in your post. But never forget a long dress with flowers and a nice decolette – you can wear it with a jacket, a scarf or a blazer. Over Easter, I’ll make my next tour with a great ship. Greetings from Munich – Martina (a big fan of yours!)

  4. Deborah, I wish I had read this article before my Caribbean cruise! I had never been on a cruise before and didn’t know what to pack. I love your list! I brought black crop pants, and I had often wished I would’ve brought my white ones. I also saw many maxi dresses and hoped I would’ve got one too. Oh well…it was a lot of fun, and now I have your list for my next cruise!

  5. Deborah, it’s so funny you would say, “even if you have no plans to get in the water.” Hehe, that’s my reputation with my family. I will go out and sit, but I never intend to get wet…it just seems like too much trouble ;) You highlighted my favorite style of swimsuit. It is super flattering, and it protects the chest area from getting burned.


  6. I love this post. My family is going on a cruise to Alaska in early July. I have no idea how to pack for that. I hear it can be cold and warm and anything in between. Would you do a cold-weather cruise? What to pack?

    1. For Alaska, take layers. Alaska is very casual, so jeans are seen a lot. Use a lightweight raincoat, sweatshirt, and t-shirt for the mornings and evenings. It will warm up during the day but is usually cool mornings and evenings. We have has been three times, once in July (80’s, very unusual), in Early August (70’s), and in September (50’s). It is a beautiful state, and I am ready to go again!!

        1. This is my first cruise, and I’m very excited your choices are plentiful. I will use this info.

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