Top 11 Clothing Must-Haves for Every Cruiser

By Ashley Davis

Packing for a cruise? Don't forget to pack these cruise-friendly clothing options—all multifunctional and fitting for any destination. 

Light Sweater or Wrap

092316-cloth.jpg092316-sweater.jpgEven if you’re on a Caribbean cruise in the middle of summer, you WILL get chilly at some point—whether it’s feeling an evening breeze while lounging on deck or sitting in an overly air-conditioned dining room. Pack a lightweight wrap or a sweater to keep the chill to a minimum. Jackets tend to be heavy to carry and too bulky to pack.  

Tip: Ladies, wraps can also double as a bathing suit cover-up.

Multipurpose Shoes

092316-sandal_0.jpg092316-sneaker.jpgComfortable and multipurpose shoes go a long way. A pair of sneakers (like this walking shoe for men and this bright pair for women) can be worn for shore excursions and walking around your ports-of-call, as well as a morning trip to the gym on your ship. Ladies, a versatile pair of sandals can be worn poolside, for a walk along the beach and for a casual meal on the ship. 

Tip: Choose at least one pair of shoes that matches with several different outfits to avoid over-packing your suitcase with footwear. When in doubt, neutral colors are the way to go.

Casual Cap or Wide Brim Hat

092316-hat.jpg092316-cap.jpgWe recommend packing a hat for two reasons:

  1. To keep your face protected from harmful UV rays. Even if you’re sailing to not-so-sunny Alaska, the region’s unpredictable weather patterns means you may run into a sunny day or two.
  2. It’s a great way to cover post-beach or windswept hair and still look photo ready.

A nice wide brim hat provides plenty of sun protection AND looks great when you’re lounging on a beach in the Caribbean or strolling down the streets of a European city. A baseball cap, like this Nike dry-fit cap, is perfect for active shore excursions.

Tip: If you’re bringing a wide brimmed hat, wear it on embarkation day to prevent crushing it in your luggage. 

Swim Cover-Up

092316-dress-2.jpgA great swimsuit cover-up offers a quick transition from the pool to a lunch or anywhere indoors. Men can easily throw on a casual and airy button up shirt to cover up. Women, consider packing a long and lightweight maxi dress to throw over your bathing suit. 

Tip: If you're cruising to the Caribbean or Europe, these items can also double as port day outfits. 

Polarized Sunglasses

092316-sunglasses.jpg092316-sunglasses-2.jpgPolarized sunglasses that offer a high UV protection are the way to go when sailing – go ahead and ask any surfer or fisherman. Polarized glasses filter what you are seeing to avoid eyestrain, reduce glare and protect your eyes while spending time on the water. They’re especially handy if you’re spending an entire day exploring a port or on a shore excursion. Kids can even sport some UV-blocking sunglasses of their own.

Tip: If you’re planning an active shore excursion and are worried about damaging your cool sunglasses, purchase a sporty pair that’s both lightweight and suitable for high intensity activities.

Transitional Dress

092316-dress.jpgLadies, not only are dresses light and easy to pack, but they can easily transform your cruise attire from daytime lounging to evening dining. Cruising to the Caribbean? Wear your dress while strolling down the beach. And if you don’t have time to change into a different outfit for dinner (or just don’t feel like doing so—after all, anything goes when you’re on vacation), throw on some accessories and your multifunctional pair of shoes and you’re ready for some nighttime fun. 

Tip: Choose a simple dress style that can be paired with accessories (like this chunky collar necklace) for a dressier evening look.

Rain Jacket

092316-coat.jpgA rain jacket or disposable poncho isn’t always top-of-mind when it comes to packing for a cruise, but they’re definitely a must-have. Not only will they keep you from hiding-out indoors on a rainy day, but you can find a rain jacket that can easily fit into your carry on. If you're cruising to Alaska in the summer, for instance, the chances of rain increase to about 30-50%. So pack your rain jacket or poncho to stay dry while you're on shore. 

Tip: Rain ponchos and jackets can be quite pricey if purchased on board or at a port, so we suggest purchasing this before you cruise. 


092316-clutch-2.jpg092316-clutch.jpgLadies, pack a small clutch—like this neutral envelope clutch—for dinners and evenings. They hardly take up any room in your luggage and it’s an easy (yet elegant) way to carry around cash, your room card and cell phone. 

Tip: To consolidate, purchase a clutch with a removable strap that can double as a port day bag, like this black leather clutch

Cross Body Bag or Fanny Pack

092316-protector.jpg092316-bag.jpgOversized bags or purses can be a burden to carry around; they’re also not the safest way to carry your belongings. Instead, choose a comfortable cross body bag or fanny pack when cruising—something more compact that also draws less attention.

Tip: For extra light travel, try this RFID travel belt—it offers extra security for your belongings and is a versatile size for both men and women.

A Bathing Suit

Because there's always a hot tub—even on a cruise to Alaska. And the regret of walking past said hot tub and not being able to enjoy it because you lack the proper swimwear just won't do. And outdoor pools are also often heated, so feel free to take a dip if you don't mind the post-swim chill. 

Tip: If you're going on a cruise to Alaska in the summer, you'll experience some chilly days. And some warm ones. And some rainy ones. So don't rule out pool days just because the weather isn't Caribbean-standard. Dive in and enjoy that water!

Athleisure Wear for Active Shore Excursions

092316-tshirt.jpgIf you're planning on taking part in active port shore excursions (or just happen to hear of a cool one the day before you dock and want to participate), you'll need the proper clothing. Athleisure wear, such as this men's dri-fit athletic tee.

Tip: If you're going on an excursion that involves a lot of walking, now's the time to show off those comfortable sneakers. 

Here’s the ONE Thing Every Cruise Should Remember to Pack, By Destination:

Alaska: Layers! Begin with lightweight undershirts, then add hoodies and sweaters, and top it off with a jacket. During the cooler months, bring long underwear (top and bottom) to wear as your bottom layer. And if you get warm, you can always remove a few layers.

Caribbean: Linen is the way to go, because the weather is hot and you’ll appreciate the lightweight fabric. Linen is appropriate year-round in the Caribbean and is extremely comfortable to wear while exploring the islands.  

Europe: Modest clothing is always a must-have. Chances are you’ll be visiting many religious sites, and these sites require a certain dress code in order to enter. Bring clothing that covers your knees and your shoulders – even if it’s the middle of summer (just make sure it’s lightweight enough that you won’t be uncomfortable). 

Tags: Packing
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