What to Pack For a Cruise

If you’re one of the lucky ones who will be going on a southern cruise this winter, you’re probably starting to wonder what to pack. I’ve pulled together some outfit options to keep you looking your best morning to night, so you can stop wondering what to wear and start thinking about more important things, like relaxing, soaking up some sun, sightseeing, and eating fantastic food!

White Cover up Pink Bathinsuit


Lounging by the Pool

Lounging by the pool with a good book and pina colada nearby is one of my favorite things to do. (I can almost smell the coconut-scented sunscreen now!) I like to stay covered up. It protects me from the sun and discreetly covers the ‘wobbly bits at the same time. I really like this white coverup with sheer striping. It’s high enough to cover the décolletage, and the long sleeves protect your arms and keep them covered, but it’s still very airy and light.

If you decide to jump in for a swim, this figure-flattering bathing suit is perfect for an over-40 gal. The criss-cross ruching is slimming and helps hide an over-40 tummy.

Here’s another fabulous option:

Floral Cover up Teal Bathingsuit NL



White Shorts Pattern Top

Sight-Seeing or a Casual Day On-Board

A cruise is one of the most relaxing vacations you can take, but relaxing doesn’t mean being frumpy. For days on the ship when you’re cruising or if you stop for an excursion, you’ll look chic, cool, and pulled together in a pair of shorts, sandals, and a little sleeveless blouse.

White and Gold Dress

Cocktails or Casual Dinner

Depending on your cruise line, what’s appropriate for dinner attire may be wide-ranging. This metallic palm print tunic dress by Lilly Pulitzer is a perfect piece to bring. With gold metallic sandals and earrings, it dresses up nicely for a smart casual dinner. It’s also an incredibly chic option when you’re enjoying a sunset cocktail on deck.

Black Floral Maxi


Dressed Up For Evening

You’re going to want to pack at least one dress to get you through dressier events like the Captain’s dinner, New Year’s Eve on board the ship, or some other special evening. For a Caribbean cruise, I gravitate towards dresses that, while formal, aren’t too over-the-top. This black floral maxi is a good example.

The playful floral pattern echoes a Caribbean vibe that is balanced by a longer length, side slit, and classic style keep. The black sandals are a little dressy, but the block heel keeps them super comfy. Keep your accessories simple and unfussy. I absolutely love these drop earrings by Kendra Scott. They come in lots of different colors too.

Related post

What to wear on a Caribbean cruise ship


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9 thoughts on “What to Pack For a Cruise

  1. Hi
    I cannot wear heels unless they’re roughly 1″ or lower.
    What are the best flats to wear with a long gown, cocktail dresses, or palazzo pants?
    I’m thinking in general terms as well as formal wear
    Any help for us plus-size gals is welcome
    Thanks much

    1. Hi Monica, When looking for flat evening shoes, choose one that is feminine and dressy. The best type of flats would be a pointy toe style which is more chic and dressy than the round toe. Also, for evening or formal occasions, try to find a pair with some embellishment, like a rhinestone buckle or something, to dress things up. A low vamp is sexier/more glam than a high vamp, and slingbacks are dressier. Check in the evening shoe section of your department stores to look for shoes in evening materials like satin, velvet, and metallic.

      By day I also like a more feminine flat with a pointy toe. It makes the shoe look more like a pump and more sophisticated with dresses and pants than a round toe. I hope that helps. Do check out this site that just emailed me about their shoes. They look good.

  2. I am 82 and fabulous. I am going on my first cruise in December to the Caribbean. I would like to know what you suggest I pack to wear; I want my arms covered in cool weather. I do wear jeans and shorts; I heard I should take an evening gown for the Captain’s dinner and take a hat. Is this true? I don’t want to over or underdress.

    1. The Captain’s dinner is a formal night of the cruise. It will depend on which cruise line you go on, as some are more formal than others. It can range from Cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts, and blouses; ladies may also wish to wear an evening gown on standard cruises.

      1. Deborah is spot on with the ‘depends on the cruise line’ statement. Most Florida women pack one(wrinkle-free) pair of black pants & a couple of fabulous tops to mix it up for the duration of the cruise. Even a simple tunic-length 3/4 sleeve tee with some sparkly jewelry and dressy flats will get you through the evening. Every dinner isn’t going to be uber-dressy. The HAT would be for the sun and wide-brimmed, with good coverage, sunscreen, and sunglasses! Bring your fancy gown if you like, but it’s not de rigor on most ships any longer.

  3. Hi… your site is fabulous!!! I get most of my style queries solved!!
    I am traveling to the east coast –NY, Boston, DC, and Florida, for about three weeks, in July, and of course, in a dilemma as to what to wear. I need help. Can you please guide me?
    I dont usually wear shorts and am 45, 5 ft 7, relatively thin. Eagerly awaiting your reply!!

    1. Hi Sharmila,
      That’s a huge question. All those places have different temperatures (i.e., Florida is extremely hot in July), and you probably have many outings, so you need clothes for all those places. My best advice if you don’t wear shorts is to pack lots of sundresses and cropped pants that end just above the ankle + tops. If you like colored jeans, throw in a pair too. Add a casual jacket to dress things up when you want to, and also a sweater or wrap for chilly nights. Have fun!

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