Style Advice Q & A

What Shoes To Wear on A Cruise

Dear Deborah,

What shoes should I pack for a Caribbean cruise?  There will be formal nights and casual nights onboard the ship, and I’ll need shoes for land excursions.  I don’t want to pack too many shoes, but I want to make sure I have the right shoes for my outfits and the different activities. What shoes should I wear on my cruise and how many should I bring?  Thanks, Sandra

Hi Sandra,

Knowing what shoes to pack for a cruise can feel overwhelming for sure, but don’t worry because I’m going to break it down for you.  First of all, no matter what shoe you bring, follow these guidelines to get it right.

For a cruise you will want to bring shoes that are:

Summary: It may be freezing where you are right now, but it’s going to be super hot and balmy on your Caribbean cruise. Pack shoes that are light, open, and airy. Nothing heavy or “northern.”

Comfy: Cruises involve a lot of walking.. around the ship (which is typically four football fields long and 16 stories high) and in port shopping and sightseeing. Make sure your shoes have some padding and are not stiff. Above all, be sure to work them in at home before you step on board!

Easy to walk in: In addition to being comfy, make sure your shoes are easy to walk in. I’m talking about any high heels you might feel compelled to bring for a formal dinner night. High heels are not the easiest to walk in, period, and on a big ship with varying surfaces ranging from wooden decks to busy narrow carpeted hallways, it’s really awkward. Think about lower heels, block heels or wedges.

Versatile: No one wants to lug a suitcase full of shoes onboard. Make sure the shoes you bring go (in terms of color and style), with a few of your outfits- not just one. 

Fun: You’re on holiday! Please don’t bring anything too serious or business-like. Choose shoes that are more flirty and playful and show off your personality.

Tropical: Warm weather means brighter and lighter colors and even island touches on shoes like rope, cork, and raffia details. You can’t go wrong with a shoe with a tropical feel on a Caribbean cruise.

Trending: A cruise is like a floating party or a floating city. It feels special. Don’t settle for bringing your two-year-old sandals that don’t really look that modern anymore. Treat yourself to something new and hip to look and feel special on this fabulous trip that will give you memories to last a lifetime!

Now let’s break down the four types of shoes you will need

  • comfy walking shoe, casual sandal, casually smart sandal, & sexy shoe (optional)


Cruise Shoes - Shorts


1. Comfortable Walking Shoes

Whether you are getting some morning exercise motoring around the ship or pounding the pavement in an ancient city, you will need some very comfy walking shoes. This doesn’t mean big clunky white jogging shoes with zero styles. There are many sleek, stylish and foot-friendly walking shoes out there.

Some of the most popular types in the last few years have been slip-on sneakers, lace-up statement sneakers, sporty Mary Janes, and canvas or cloth-type walking shoes with sporty rope trimmed soles.

Another option if you prefer a slightly dressier walking shoe is a cushioned ballet flat. These look great with sundresses and skinny cropped pants, and capris. Check out this post on the best walking shoes to get a complete look at what is available.

Whatever you choose to keep in mind that ship decks can be wet and slippery, so your best is a shoe that has a rubber sole and is low-heeled or flat for extra traction.

Cruise Shoes - Bathing Suit and Cover Up


2.  Easy To Slip-On Casual Sandals

As I mentioned, there is a ton of walking on cruise ships from the room to the pool, the pool to the dining room, and everywhere in between. You are going to be traipsing through a lot of long hallways to get to where you want to go, so even if you are running out for a moment, you need a pair of comfortable walking sandals you can slip on and go.

Some kind of flat flip-flop, sporty slide, or pretty no-fuss sandal is perfect for this and does double-duty around the slippery pool decks, and is great for sightseeing in port. Sporty slides are trendy, as are wedge rope slides. If you prefer something a bit more elegant, a gladiator-style with a bit of embellishment is a cute option.

Cruise Shoes - Sundress


3. A Casually Smart Wedge or a Low Block Heel Sandal

There are many times on board when you will wear a cute sundress or a maxi dress, and you will want some height, but you don’t want a high heel, so I suggest a low, chunky block heel shoe or a wedge. “Low,” meaning anywhere from an inch to 2.5 inches. It just depends on what you are used to.  Low block heels or wedges also look great with wide-leg palazzo pants and cropped skinny pants, and even shorts too.

4. Sexy Strappy Shoe 

The other kind of shoe some of you may want to tuck in your suitcase is a sexy high sandal. For some gals, a 2″ heel is plenty. For others, 4 inches feel right. It doesn’t matter so long as the shoe looks slim and sexy. (A slightly thicker heel is more practical than a skinny stiletto).

A sexy shoe works for formal ship dinners when you want to get all glammed up or add an edge to a less formal dress or dress pants look. If you are confused about which color to take, choose a neutral color like black, nude, or metallic because it works with everything.

The other alternative is a strappy-looking block heel or wedge for a fancier dinner. This is totally acceptable, too, so; please don’t feel the need to bring high heels. Most cruises these days are quite casual. Check your particular cruise’s dress code online before you pack.

So there you go! You’ve got your footwear covered. Three pairs of shoes, minimum  (sexy is optional depending on how dressed up you are going to get). I usually bring two versions of a casual shoe, one a little higher than the other with some embellishment to give me an extra option to wear with sundresses and shorts.

Now, what outfits do you pack for a cruise?  I have some cruise fashion ideas for you.


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2 thoughts on “What Shoes To Wear on A Cruise

  1. Thanks for this timely article! I am going to Mexico next month, and these tips are great. I wish I had seen this during the summer; I’m not sure where to find a summery maxi dress. Good information, though!

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