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’re going to have a much more enjoyable time.

The right clothes can put you in a relaxed vacation mood. Plus, knowing ahead of time how and when you are going to wear your outfits makes your trip stress free.

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

Cruise Dresses - Coral V Neck

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 a little chilly getting to and from the airport dressed in summer clothes,  but it’ll be worth it once you’re sipping Pina Coladas in the Caribbean sun. Just make sure 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 and in particular, when you’re taking advantage of the wonderful shore excursions that are available. Remember you are going to be doing things like hiking, biking, ziplining, hang gliding, shopping, exploring local beaches and sightseeing, so 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 these days things are more casual. Most cruise lines recommend cruise casual. For women, this means casual sundresses, skirts, and pants including capris. Shorts are fine as well – just 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, then you’ll want to pack something that is 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 and easy to pack and are 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 on-board 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 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 dress or little black dress will do.

Wondering What to wear on a Caribbean Cruise? Take:

Cruise outfit - White Cropped Pants

1. Cropped Pants

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

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

Cruise Shorts - White Bermuda

2.  Shorts

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 your color your hair and don’t wear a hat, your hair will get bleached out by the strong Caribbean sun

Cruise Shorts - Black

Here’s another shorts outfit that is really cute too!

cruise - Navy and White Striped SUNDRESS

3. Sundress

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

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

Cruise Dresses - Lily Pulitzer Maxi

If you are wondering what shoes to wear on a cruise, I would suggest flats or something low and more on the chunky side. Spiky heels are not very practical. A cruise ship is as long as a football field, and there’s always lots of walking across all kinds of 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.

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 the theater to catch a live show.

Cruise - Blue pattern Bathing Suit

5. Glam Bathing Suit

Life at sea cruising while from one destination to the next 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 yourself a glam bathing suit, movie star sunglasses, and a chic tote. Don’t forget a fabulous cover-up. It’s a necessity when you are 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, breezy and 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 it with a lower or flat sandal too. ! I love the circle bag. It’s a style that is really popular at the moment and 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!

Join the Conversation

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 it seems 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 great and I needed all the clothes which 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 wonderful ship. Greetings from Munich – Martina (a big fan from your!)

  4. Deborah, I wish I 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 many times I had wished I would’ve brought my white ones. I also saw many maxi dresses and wished I would’ve brought 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 not idea how to pack for that. I hear it can be cold and warm and anything inbetween. 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. Take a light weight raincoat, sweat shirt, and a t-shirt underneath for mornings and evenings. It will warm up during the day, but is usually cool mornings and evenings. We have been 3 times, once in July (80’s, very unusual) Early August (70’s) and September (50’s and rainy). It is beautiful state and I am ready to go again!!

• powered by chloédigital