Anchors, Away! 10 Items to Pack For a Chic and Stylish Cruise Wardrobe

Believe it or not, there is an element of planning that ought to go into your packing when sailing off into the sunset on a cruise vacation.

This is especially important if you are flying to your departure port, as weight limitations on checked luggage obviously still apply. This means that even for a luxury cruise, you’ll need to be pack-savvy.

To add to this, most cruise lines carry a dress code and major temperature fluctuations between shore and ship are an important factor to consider.

Here’s what to pack for the ideal cruise wardrobe in order to not only look the part but feel comfortable too!

Onshore and Offshore Cruise Activities

In today’s day and age, cruising has become a far more casual affair, but even in saying this, cruising does carry some form of dress code expectation.

Very often, it all depends on the type of activities you’ll enjoy throughout your onshore exploration. Will you be riding a Gondola through the canals of Venice or sipping a cocktail on South Beach? For more on things to do in Miami, find out on

Here’s a quick guide on what to expect in terms of onshore and offshore activities and the wardrobe items best suited to each task…

  • Swimming costumes should only ever be worn at the pool and never in dining lounges
  • An appropriate cover-up will do for lunchtime dining
  • For daytime activities, shorts, casual skirts, and sundresses are ideal
  • For onshore activities, it depends on what you’re doing – generally, daytime attire should suffice
  • For evening dining certain dress codes apply– these range from casual, informal, resort casual and formal
  • Make sure to wear smart-casual attire for all evening dining themes except for formal evening, here you will need a formal evening dress or similar

What works best for both a comfortable yet chic cruise is a capsule wardrobe comprised of key pieces that can be used with versatility. This applies to cruises of all types- whether tropical, arctic or Mediterranean.

10 Pieces to Add to Your Capsule Cruise Wardrobe

When it comes time to begin packing for your cruise, here are 10 staple clothing items to add to your suitcase:

1. Casual Tops

This should go without saying, but packing a variety of casual tops will stand you in good stead on any type of cruise. They are perfect for layering if onshore weather is a little chilly and extremely versatile with any outfit.

Pack a few casual tops which will tie in with the rest of your wardrobe and easily match with trousers, jeans, skirts, and shorts. Simple colors such as black, grey, white, and cream are ideal. Pack a mixture of both short and long-sleeve so they can be worn at night in a more casual dining setting.

Casual tops are also great for dressing up or dressing down. Simply add a scarf, a formal cardigan, and some jewelry and you have a smart-casual evening look.

2. Formal Tops

You don’t need to pack as many of these into your capsule wardrobe, but two-three more formal tops for a week or 10-day cruise is enough.

Pick formal blouses that pair well with both dark wash jeans, trousers, or a skirt for formal, dressier evening meals.

3. A Fleece Jacket or Light Sweater

Even if you’re going on a tropical cruise, things can get a little chilly in the evenings when you’re out on the high seas and the wind is up. Additionally, ducted aircon can also make things chilly throughout the cruise ship.

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It’s wise to pack something lightweight yet versatile such as a fleece jacket for early mornings and evenings and a light sweater or two. Fleece is perfect because it packs well, doesn’t crease and weighs virtually nothing.

4. A Formal Jacket or Cardigan

This is essential for those more fancy evening meals when a formal dress code is the order of the day. A formal jacket or cardigan is a simple way of dressing up a more casual look, without having to put in too much effort.

Choose a neutral yet versatile color for your formal jacket or cardigan, such as black or beige.

5. Smart-Casual Trousers

A couple of pairs of smart-casual trousers should be a staple for any type of holiday, whether it’s a cruise or not. Smart-casual trousers classify as dark-wash denim jeans or more tailored linen pants, which are great in warm weather.

Essentially, these trousers should be comfortable enough for day-time touring, but can also be dressed up in the evening with heels and some jewelry.

6. An All-Weather Jacket

A light-weight all-weather jacket is another must-have for your cruise wardrobe, especially if you’re touring the tropics where there’s a high chance of rain.

Make sure it’s waterproof and easily packable, as you don’t want anything too heavy weighing down your suitcase. A packaway raincoat is ideal because you can layer underneath it for warmth if necessary.

7. A Smart-Casual Dress

A smart-casual dress is a must-have for your cruise as you’ll be able to dress it down during for daytime excursions and dress it up in the evenings.

A dress that can easily be dressed up with heels and some jewelry is perfect. Keep it an appropriate length too, nothing too short above the knees. A floor-length maxi dress or something below the knee is ideal.

8. A Comfortable Pair of Walking Shoes

If you’re keen to head onshore and explore at each port, then a good pair of walking shoes i.e. trainers is essential.

Closed-toe shoes are the best for long days of walking, especially if you plan on hiking or walking along dusty, muddy trials. Make sure your shoes offer great support too as being on your feet all day can be taxing!

9. Appropriate Swimwear

This is a no-brainer, but a cruise just wouldn’t be the same without some form of swimwear packed into your luggage. Even if you don’t plan on swimming in the cruise ship pools or the ocean, there are Jacuzzi spas not to be missed!

10. Poolside Accessories

Finally, poolside accessories which should find their way into your luggage too include a wide-brimmed hat for sunbathing, sunglasses, and SPF!

Bear in mind that a high-quality sunscreen is an absolute must for hotter climates in the tropics. Go for a high SPF and look for a PA rating which protects against UVA rays.

Travel Inspiration at Your Fingertips

If you’re looking for more travel inspiration, no matter where you are in the world, take some time to explore the rest of this website!

Other than cruise wardrobe tips, find out how to travel in style whether it’s in Europe, South East Asia, Australia, and more…

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