Cruises can be a great way to explore a certain region while relaxing on the ship in between port stops. You can find many packages at a good value, meet new people, and unwind from the stresses of daily life aboard a ship. Of course, attire is one thing some cruise-goers wonder about. What you wear can vary depending on the type of cruise, the locations, and the specific activities and events planned.

Type of Cruise

The cruise line may have guidelines or even a dress code for some occasions or events. For example, a few cruise lines host formal nights and encourage guests to dress up in cocktail dresses, suits, or formal wear. Check with your cruise line about any dress code policy.

If you plan to take advantage of your ship’s gym or pool, dress as you would back home. In other words, wear gym clothes to the gym and swimsuits to the pool. If you visit the spa, the cruise line typically provides the robe to you.


What you wear on an Alaska cruise won’t be the same as what you wear on a Caribbean cruise. For example, when visiting Alaska, cruise goers should pack short- and long-sleeved shirts, a vest or two, a lightweight jacket, and a waterproof rain jacket.

Base layers, scarves, and wool socks can be critical for shore excursions, too. If you are traveling during July and August (the hottest months of the season), you might love having convertible zip pants that transform into shorts. Mornings in Alaska can start at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and climb to 60 degrees or even higher by lunchtime.

For a Caribbean cruise, you would probably be OK packing swimsuits, a rash guard, beach and pool attire, casual clothing, and maybe a sweater or two for these chillier nights. A scarf can help you dress up for dinner and keep you a bit warmer, too. Formal clothing might be necessary, too. For shore excursions, activewear could be a great help.

Daytime Attire

Most cruises are in reasonably warm places, so you can follow general guidelines for daytime wear unless you are going someplace such as Alaska. These guidelines call for casual and comfortable clothing such as shorts, T-shirts, sundresses, and sandals. Swimwear is OK for the pool and beach areas.

For cruises in colder destinations, think about wicking tops, lightweight fleeces, and convertible zip pants.

Nighttime Attire

Check with the cruise line about any dressy events you might like to go to. Otherwise, you should be fine with a smart casual dress code. This could mean slacks, khakis with a collared shirt, dresses, or skirts.

Some areas of your ship such as the main restaurant or specialty eateries may be off-limits in the evening to anyone wearing robes, T-shirts, tank tops, and baseball caps. Guests who are barefoot or in pool wear probably won’t be allowed in, either.

Attire for Excursions

Sign up for excursions ahead of time so you can pack appropriately. Activewear, tennis shoes, and hiking boots are good for active excursions such as hiking or rock climbing.

Shoes and Footwear

Comfortable shoes are a must because you may do a lot of walking and climbing stairs. Bring a pair of athletic shoes for walking or exercising, sandals or flip-flops for the beach or pool, and dress shoes for formal occasions.


Accessories may be small, but they can make or break your cruise experience. Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a beach bag for daytime activities. For formal nights, consider a clutch purse, jewelry, and a wrap or jacket to keep warm in the air-conditioned dining rooms.

In lush or rainy areas, wear a waterproof jacket that folds small. Bring a waterproof cover for your camera, too.

When you’re unsure what to wear on your cruise, check with the cruise line for any specific policies and recommendations. Look at the weather forecast, too. Otherwise, you should be fine with a mix of casual and dressy outfits to cover all bases.

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