What to pack for a Caribbean Cruise Vacation

What to pack for a Caribbean Cruise Vacation

Wondering how and what to pack for a Caribbean cruise?

Packing doesn't have to be a stressful experience — it can actually be fun if you know what to do before you get started. If you have a plan, packing will only take a short amount of time. And all that planning will seem worthwhile once the Caribbean Sea breeze is blowing through your hair and the tropical sun is caressing your skin.

Of course, when you think of how to pack for a cruise, thoughts of swimsuits, sunscreen, and cameras come to mind. Yes, those are important items, but there's much more to consider. Let's start with the cruise essentials.

In order to plan your cruise wardrobe, you might want to first check with the cruise line you’re traveling with, but there are several general things to keep in mind no matter who you’re traveling with.

First of all, You may want to pack for the destination you are traveling to and what are your own personal preferences. Even on summer sailings or cruises to tropical destinations in the Caribbean or South Pacific, it's always a good idea to bring a warm layer for unexpectedly cool or rainy days or overly air-conditioned spaces. Like me if you are always feeling cold while traveling, then packing a few layering pieces like a light weight cardigan, light jacket or a light blanket may be a good idea. 

For Caribbean vacays I always tend towards embroidery, prints, light layers and flirty fabrics. And comfort is always queen. I prefer when pieces can overlap into day time & night. Often Lido deck cocktails can turn into steak house dinners. You can bring a cashmere wrap for when the evening winds pick up. 

Related Read - More Ideas on what outfits to wear on a Cruise Ship

Must-Haves for a Caribbean Cruise

The most important items to pack include clothing, footwear, documents, toiletries, and accessories. Everything else will comprise extras that offer additional convenience on your trip. Start by laying everything you need across your bed and sort your bag items from there. The wardrobe essentials will be such items as a few swimsuits, undergarments, casual shoes, dress shoes, shorts, T-shirts, casual skirts, slacks, sundresses, pajamas, formal wear for fine dining, workout clothes, and cover-ups for the pool or beach. When it comes to other essentials, sunscreen is important, as is a camera or camcorder. A Caribbean cruise isn't something you can do every day — so capture as many memories as you can!

Here are some of our top tips on what to pack, and some cute outfit ideas for what to wear on a Caribbean Cruise.

Clothing Recommendations and Outfit Ideas for Caribbean Cruise

You should dress for a cruise ship the same way you would for any stylish land-based resort.

Casual sportswear, including shorts, lightweight pants, sundresses, will keep you feeling fresh and looking your best while at sea and ashore in hotter climates.

I recommend you bring a sweater, a jacket or an all-weather coat for cool evenings, and for shore excursions, depending on your destination. Due to unpredictable weather, don't forget a hat or visor and a collapsible umbrella. Please be sure to bring proper clothing for visits to religious sites. You'll also want low-heeled, rubber-soled shoes for strolling on deck, as well as comfortable walking shoes or sandals to wear.

Cruise Ships make it easy to know what to pack and what to wear when you’re dining on board our spectacular ships. Most commonly, there are two designations for dress codes: Smart Casual and Formal.

Related Read- What is Resort Casual Attire

Smart Casual
Guest attire should be in keeping with what they would wear to a nice restaurant at home.

  • Skirts/dresses, trousers, blouses, and sweaters for women
  • Pants and collared shirts for men

Pool or beach attire, shorts, ball caps and casual jeans (with fraying and/or holes) are not welcomed in the dining rooms. Shoes must be worn.

When formal nights are held, please observe the dress code in the Traditional Dining and Anytime Dining venues for the enjoyment of all our guests.

  • Evening attire or cocktail dresses for women
  • Tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits with a tie for men
Always pack 2-3 outfits for special events. Whether it's a dinner party, a romantic date, a themed cocktail party in the ship or a fine dining night. Always have a few formal dresses for the event. 

Pack smart casuals for evenings at a Caribbean Cruise

If you plan to dine in one of your ship’s fine dining restaurants or dance the night away at their disco, then you’ll want to pack something that is a little more upscale than what you’d wear during the daytime. Think about a smart-looking dress or slacks and a dressy blouse. And don’t forget a little bling. Accessories are small and easy to pack and are great for transitioning an outfit from day to evening.

Footwear for a Caribbean Cruise

 Packing good walking shoes is a must to make the most of your travels. For all the adventure seekers, you need comfortable shoes for on shore excursions which may include hiking, biking, adventure sports, shopping or local sight seeing. I recommend a pair of comfy closed-toe shoes for the same. 

The right clothes and shoes can put you in a relaxed vacation mood, thanks to beautiful colors and patterns and soft fabrics and comfortable shoes. Plus, knowing ahead of time how and when you are going to wear your outfits makes your trip and packing stress free. 

For just lounging around a pair of sandals or flip flops is great. For formal night and dinner pack one or two pairs of dressy sandals or wedge heels in neutral color so you can wear them with several outfits. 

Day Time Casual Wear for a Caribbean Cruise 

For cruise casual wear outfits for day time, cute bikinis and swimsuits are essential, but so are flowy cover ups or kaftans for when the sun is too strong or when it ducks behind the clouds. A swimsuit with cutouts - When it comes to fashion this year, cutouts were the biggest statement maker, so it is no surprise the swimsuit designers took notice as well. I am in my early thirties and a mother of two so it’s definitely time I embrace the one-piece, but I am not ready to completely throw in the towel, either. I love all the trendy cut-out one piece bathing suits that let you feel stylish, yet conservative and appropriate at the same time.

Pack colorful cruise casual wear for the day. Once upon a time, women’s cruise wear was always dressy, but these days things are more casual. Most cruise lines recommend cruise casual.

For women, cruise casual means casual sundresses, skirts, and pants including capris. The key when you cruise is to relax in style. Outfits should easily be mixed and matched.

I prefer looser styles to tighter ones when the weather is hot. Dresses, playsuits and rompers are super cute & comfy.

I also bring a PJ type lounge set. Makeup should be light and sun kissed. There is nothing worse than makeup that melts all over your face in the heat. Keep colors light and shimmery.

 A Breezy Kaftan

There is just something so chic and timeless about a caftan (or kaftan). They are certainly not a new concept, but they have made a major comeback in the last few years. And, in my opinion, there isn’t a better occasion to try one than by a pool or on a beach. They are perfect for throwing on over your swimsuit to explore the local town or to head in for lunch. I personally love styles that balance the volumes shape with a deep V-neck and slits on either side.

Cruise wear wrap, casual wrap dress, silk kimono

Easy Pack Straw Hat

I always pack a crushable straw hat for the sun as well. There are plenty of travel friendly & fashionable hats these days, they are not too expensive and look great on the pool deck. Accessories are important too. I love comfortable pieces that can be worn both day and night. A pop of color here and there is fun too. A day tote bag is essential for my camera, towel, change of clothes (for off ship excursions) sunscreen and magazines. For the evening I pack a small clutch, metallic is always a favorite. It helps to dress up the simplest of outfits. If you are planning any upcoming cruises be sure to check the Cruise line website to plan out. A versatile tote bag. When traveling, you always want to downsize your handbag. I also recommend packing a neutral one like this on-trend woven bag that will go with every outfit in your suitcase. I prefer the cross-body strap that can be tucked in for optimal versatility. This bag had me covered from the pool deck to the dining room.

Nautical Stripes are always a Good Idea

 Nautical stripes, When you are packing for a cruise ship, how can you not want to look the nautical part? I love this flowy striped maxi dress paired with a yellow sun hat. 

Striped nautical maxi dress plus size, cruise wear

Statement T-shirts 

Wear gorgeous bright t-shirts with white pants, shorts or joggers. You can never go wrong and also just be comfy casual in this ath-leisure looks.


cruise wear women

10. Pack a few outfits for special events- Part of the fun of a cruise is the special on-board events for guests. Whether it’s a cocktail party with the Captain or a special fine-dining night, there is always something going on so make sure you have one or two dressier outfits that are a little extra special. Check with your cruise line how dressy you should pack. Some ships require dressier outfits like long gowns and fancy cocktail dresses. Others are a little less formal, and a maxi dress or little black dress will do.

11. Travel journal- To keep a record on your memories.

shop travel journal

Packing for your Cruise

Follow these important luggage reminders:

  • Essential medicines, travel documents, valuables and breakables should be hand carried in your possession at all times.
  • Many domestic airline carriers now impose excess baggage fees for one or more bags and bags weighing over 50 lbs., so check with your carrier regarding weight restrictions.
  • Most Cruises will make every effort to assist you in safeguarding your belongings. But remember, you are responsible for your things at all times. Most Cruises are not responsible for money, jewelry, cameras, binoculars, documents or any other articles you retain in your personal control.
  • All luggage should have a sturdy personal identification tag that will not be lost or damaged in the course of typical airport and trucked luggage handling.
  • On journeys including air travel, luggage will be subject to a considerable amount of handling and we would recommend that your luggage be of sturdy construction.
  • Most cruises recommend that your travel protection is adequate enough to cover any possible loss or damage which may occur. 
Sandhya Garg is a Project Runway fashion dsandhya garg project runway lifetime tv making the cut amazon primeesigner. She studied and specialized in women's fashion at London College of Fashion, UK and has worked at Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Liberty London, Alice Temperley to name a few. She has her own successful resort wear, vacation dresses, special occasion dresses, wedding guest looks, swim coverups label. While on Project Runway Season 13, she won 2 challenges and was fortunate to show her collection at Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week. The brand has been featured in Marie Claire US, Workshop at Macy's, Ftv.com, Elle Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Vogue online to name a few. 

She designs limited edition high end printed spring dresses, casual resort attire, wearable art clothing, and swim coverups. Beautiful prints are inspired from around the world to be worn during travel, resort stay or cruise holidays.
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