Cruise wear for women Sandhya Garg Project Runway

What to wear on a Cruise- Cruise wear women

What to Wear on a CruiseShip

Cruise Ship Fashion Explained

A cruise vacation is a fun way to travel, relax and have fun with your partner, family and/or friends without worrying about or planning about what all to see, what all to do or where to eat and shop. The cruise company takes care of all the planning while you sit, relax and truly enjoy your vacation. 
Cruises blend casual entertainment with upscale dinner parties on one floating location. The mix of activities necessitates a mix of clothing styles for women that include Formal Nights on the cruise, Dinner Parties, Swimwear, and elegant casual daywear as well.
A very good idea is to Create a packing list for your cruise vacation. This will ensure you bring the correct clothes without overpacking. 


What is Cruise Wear?

Cruise wear is clothing meant to be worn when you are on a cruise ship vacation holiday. You can wear Resort Casual, which includes bright dresses, colorful clothing, sun hats, T-shirts, shorts, Fun printed clothing, Linen dresses, maxi dresses, sundresses, sandals, tote bags. Some cruise line dress codes accept a clean T-shirt and jeans as acceptable evening attire, while others require a jacket and tie if you want to dine in the main restaurant.

Here you can find advice and options on what to wear on a cruise.

What to wear on a cruise vacation?

When it comes to what to wear on a cruise vacation, it's important to consider both the activities and events you'll be participating in, as well as the weather conditions you'll encounter. Here are seven clothing items to pack for a cruise vacation:

  1. Swimwear - A swimsuit is a must-pack item for a cruise vacation, especially if you plan on spending time at the pool or beach. Bring a few different options, such as a one-piece, bikini, or tankini, to have a variety of choices.

  2. Cover-ups - A cover-up is a versatile item that can be worn over your swimsuit, as a dress or a top with shorts. Choose a light fabric cover-up that can keep you comfortable in the heat.

  3. Sundresses - Sundresses are a comfortable and stylish option for a cruise vacation. Choose a dress with a flowy silhouette and light fabric that can keep you cool in the heat.

  4. Casual Outfits - Pack comfortable, casual outfits such as shorts, t-shirts, and sandals for daytime activities on the cruise ship. Consider the dress code for each dining venue on the ship and plan your outfits accordingly.

  5. Formal Outfits - Many cruise lines have formal nights where passengers are expected to dress up for dinner. Pack at least one formal outfit, such as a cocktail dress or suit, for these events.

  6. Light Jackets - Even in warmer climates, evenings can sometimes be chilly. Pack a light jacket or sweater to stay comfortable when the temperature drops.

  7. Comfortable Shoes - Bring comfortable shoes that can be worn for walking, exploring the ports of call, and participating in onboard activities. Consider bringing a pair of dressier shoes for formal events or dinners.

Remember to pack for the specific activities and events on your cruise, and to check the dress code for each venue on the ship. With these seven items, you'll be ready to enjoy your cruise vacation in comfort and style.


A complete guide to Cruise wear Dress code.

Formal Cruise Wear Fashion

Unless otherwise indicated, a formal dinner cruise calls for full formal evening attire. For ladies, full-length evening gowns with heels, attractive jewelry and perfectly done hair and makeup are the norm. Men's formal wear includes tuxedo or dark suit with polished dress shoes -- never any khakis, polo shirts or boat shoes. Check with your cruise line beforehand if you do not have any formal wear; some lines may relax the rules, but others may refuse service.

Dressy Clothes

The evening hours on the ship typically call for attire much dressier than you wore during the day. Most cruise ships have some formal nights and some informal nights, but even on an informal dining night the cruise line might expect female guests to wear dressy slacks, a pantsuit or a casual dress. On formal nights, some cruise lines expect cocktail dresses or even more formal ballroom-style dresses. A restriction often exists stating that jeans and other casual clothing is not allowed in the formal dining facilities.

Related common questions answered-

Is there a dress code I have to follow at night on a cruise ship? How fancy do people get on formal night?

Each cruise line has its own dress code for evening attire. Nights are typically either casual or formal, but vary by line and dining venue. Some cruise lines use their own dress code terms that might be a bit confusing. For example, "smart casual," "casual elegance," "cruise casual" or "resort casual" all mean the same thing: Dress like you're going on a dinner date -- not too sloppy, but not uber-fancy either. Cruise lines will usually list outfit recommendations and restrictions for both men and women, but you'll see a variety of interpretations on your cruise ship. How dressed up you get on formal night is more of a personal preference than a requirement. Again, you'll want to check your cruise line's dress code policy. Formal evening wear can range from cocktail dresses and dark suits to show-stopping gowns and tuxedos. If you don't want to get dressed up, avoid the main dining room and specialty restaurants on formal night and stick to the buffet, room service or other casual venues that don't require formalwear.

Do I have to dress up on theme nights?
Theme nights are common on mainstream cruise ships, but that doesn't mean you have to participate -- sometimes it's fun just to watch. If dressing up sounds entertaining to you, find out what theme night (if any) will be available on your cruise, so you can prepare. Some popular events include Disney Cruise Line's Pirate Night, Norwegian Cruise Line's White Hot Party, Princess Cruises' Love Boat Disco Party and Royal Caribbean's Prohibition Party. Themed outfits range from funky caps and sunglasses to head-to-toe costumes. If you missed the memo or change your mind, some ships' stores sell themed accessories, like hats or other accessories.
Related- If you are planning a Resort Vacation, Read about Resort Dress code here

Evening Attire for Nights on the Cruise Ship

"Dressy casual" clothing -- polo shirts or short-sleeve dress shirts for men and slacks, skirts, cocktail dresses and blouses for women -- usually works for most evenings on cruise ships. Men might be required to wear a jacket at dinner on some cruise lines. When packing, stick to separates that you can dress up or down, but definitely bring along some nicer outfits for formal evenings. Most ships host a captain's gala party to which men can wear tuxedos or a jacket and tie and women might dress in long dresses or cocktail attire.

Cruise Wear Maxi dress

Casual Cruise Wear Fashion 

What should you wear during the day on cruise ship?

On warm-weather cruises, loungewear and beachwear are suitable both onboard and off the ship. Pack T-shirts, tank tops and other clothes that are easy to mix and match. In cooler weather, passengers will wear hiking pants, jeans and some loungewear. Luxury ships tend to be a little more formal (i.e. smart casual during the day).

On expedition ships, rugged wear is more acceptable. In general, be mindful of any shore excursions and any country-specific dress codes when packing. For example, you might need clothes that cover your shoulders and knees to visit a mosque, or a hat, durable shoes and socks for a rainforest hike.

Factors to consider

Each cruise line sets its own dress code with specific types of clothing outlined. The dress codes typically highlight types of clothing for different times of day or activities. For example, daywear is more casual than formal nights on the ship. Check your specific cruise line's recommendations before packing.

The type of activities and your cruise destination also play roles in what you pack. You wouldn't pack the same type of clothing for an Alaskan cruise as you would for one to the Caribbean. If you plan to spend your days lounging around the ship's pool, you'll need plenty of swimwear and cover-ups. Choose clothes that are comfortable and appropriate for the activities you plan to do both on board and at ports of call.

Cruise wear for women, Resort casual blue top

Casual Cruise Wear Clothes

Casual clothing is common during the day on the ship. In addition to swimming gear, pack shorts, Capri pants, slacks, tank tops and casual shirts. Depending on your destination, jeans and a sweatshirt or raincoat also are options. If you plan to exercise on board, pack a jogging bra, exercise clothes and socks.

Fashion for Cruise ships is so much fun. Packing for a sunny break to the sea is super fun and whimsical, suitcases can be lighter (not like big mountain ski trips!). 
If your still wondering why take a cruise vacation, maybe this may help you decide-  If you have a place on your bucket list, a cruise will get you there. Cruises cover the world, taking millions of passengers each year to destinations like the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Alaska, Europe, the Mediterranean and even Antarctica. Cruise vacations offer a tremendous value, with trips that include your lodging, meals and entertainment, all rolled into one. Cruising means seeing the world while unpacking only once.

Cruises also provide a wonderful option for families, with many ships offering things like waterslides, mini-golf courses and fun clubs for kids and teens -- all inclusive. Planning is easy: Pick your destination and the right ship for you.

The cruise line makes it simple, offering packages to help you save on extras like alcohol, shore tours or even airfare. With all this pre-planned all you are left with is to think about your cute cruise outfits, that make you look gorgeous and memories that you will make. 

The life of a cruise fan can be full of surprises. But when it comes to dress codes, there are some hard and fast rules you should think twice before breaking (for everyone's sake).


vacation packing list resort wear
Having been on a few Caribbean cruises, enjoying sunny skies, turquoise waters and plenty of cruising fun.I can tell you that if you can put together a well planned cute wardrobe of cruise outfits before you step on board, you are going to have a much more fun time.Packing for any vacation can be stressful, but we are here with our vacation packing tips to share our favorite summer trends that are perfect for your cruise vacation! (You can see our packing tips here.) So let’s get to the fun part, what trends should definitely make the cut! When I travel, I make sure my clothes and accessories follow a color palette & that they can easily be worn together. There is a seamless flow in between pieces.
Thinking about your fashions way ahead of time allows you to shop wisely and pack with the utmost confidence.  When you look great, you feel great, and life is so much more fun! 
shop pink plisse dress casual resort wear dress
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. Here are some of our top tips on what to pack, and some cute outfit ideas for what to wear on a Caribbean Cruise.

Cruise dress vacation dress california


Cruise wear plus size cruise wear women maxi dress


Cruise wear dress for women, casual resort dress


Shop Beach tote bag



Fashion for Cruises

Cruise ships offer numerous activities for travelers: swimming pools, casinos, gala banquets, theater nights and nightclubs might be just a few of the amenities offered by your vacation cruise line. These activities could create problems for packing since you’ll be expected to be properly attired at these venues. Dressing norms can vary depending on the cruise line, but chances are that you’ll want to look respectable for vacation photos. Understanding some basics about fashion for cruises will help you pack more effectively.


I always take a pair of shorts on a cruise, but I usually end up wearing cropped pants or jeans. They look so fresh, cool and classy, and they go with everything.

Here’s an outfit that would be great for around the ship or if you went onshore to do a little shopping or sightseeing. These cropped pants are made from linen, so they are fresh and cool to wear. I love the side buttons which give them a nautical feel. Pair them with a pretty tee in a pink or coral to bring out your tan and don’t forget a cute pair of strappy sandals. These are nice and flat ( read comfy) the lace-up straps that tie around the ankle give them real style!

You really don’t need a very big bag when you are cruising, but it helps if it has a strap so you can go hands-free. This white woven bag is very cute and just big enough to carry your passport, money, and your sunscreen. I like it because it is casual enough for day, but dressy enough for night, and the raffia makes it feel tropical.  

Casual cruise wear look for women


Here’s a cute, daytime outfit that is right on for your cruise. You can’t go wrong with a pair of crisp white shorts and a striped linen top.  Add some sleek white slip-on sandals and a cute, colorful bag and you are island ready.

Don’t forget a cute pair of sunglasses. You might also think about taking a hat.  Not only does it keep the sun away, but if your color your hair and don’t wear a hat, your hair will get bleached out by the strong Caribbean sun

Here’s another shorts outfit that is really cute too!


I’m a big believer in packing a few easy-breezy sundresses. They look good, they keep you cool, and they are a nice way for your legs to get a bit of sun. This relaxed shift dress has a fun, go-anywhere feel to it. There’s also need to worry about eating an extra bun at dinner with this dress. It camouflages your tummy perfectly.

The best dresses to wear on a cruise ship have a cute neckline such as lace-up,  halter style, off the shoulder or a keyhole neckline.  Fun details like a bit of exotic beading or embroidery will make you look more relaxed and vacation ready. Bright, happy prints in tropical colors to relaxed neutrals help set the mood.

Shop Blue Sundress, casual resort attire

If you are wondering what shoes to wear on a cruise, I would suggest flats or something low and more on the chunky side. Spiky heels are not very practical. A cruise ship is as long as a football field, and there’s always lots of walking across all kinds of changing surfaces. If you feel you must take a heel, make sure it is something you feel very comfortable walking in, like a kitten heel. Wedges are good, and so are sandals with block heels.


Blowing sea breezes, hot, hazy days strolling around the ship….A cruise is the perfect setting to wear a maxi dress. Choose something fun and tropical. Wear it by day with flats and a big floppy hat or dress it up at night with sexy evening sandals then head off the theater to catch a live show.

Cruise wear maxi dress, evening resort wear dress

5. GLAM BATHING SUIT and The Cover Up

Swimwear is perfectly acceptable by the swimming pools and spas, but don’t make the mistake of trying to wear your bikini or swim trunks all over the cruise ship. Instead, make a fashion statement by wearing a sophisticated, comfortable cover-up that doubles as a dress so that you can transition from the pool deck to a casual bistro or retail shop without having to return to your stateroom. Outside of the swimming areas, men are expected to wear shirts. Packing a well-made, long-sleeve button-up shirt helps you achieve a classic leisure look if you roll up the sleeves and leave a few buttons undone.

Life at sea cruising while from one destination to the next means lots of time spent lounging by the pool…darling!!!  A swimsuit is one item you will probably want to splurge on (even if you never plan to set foot in the water).

Go all out and tell your fashion story. Find yourself a glam bathing suit, movie star sunglasses, and a chic tote. Don’t forget a fabulous cover-up. It’s a necessity when you are running off to the buffet or the spa in between sun tanning and dips in the pool.

Cruise wear swim coverup women


Cruises are easy, breezy and so a pair of wide flowy linen pants. These comfy drawstring pants are perfect for a sun and sea vacation.

Cruise wear palazzo pants


If you can’t find any flowy pants you like, then a jumpsuit is another option.  The shoes make it a bit dressy for dinner but you could wear it with a lower or flat sandal too. ! I love the circle bag. It’s a style that is really popular at the moment and easy way to show everyone that you are on top of your fashion game!

Answering some common Cruise wear Questions here-

Am I allowed to walk around in my bathing suit?
Yes, but keep a change of clothes or cover-up handy. Swimsuits aren't allowed in most public spaces, including some outdoor dining venues. Buffets are usually more lenient; you can dine in your swimsuit in the outdoor seating area, but should wear something over it when standing in line for food.
Swim coverup resort wear, casual cruise wear

Smooth Seas, Starry Nights

Cruise ships often set evening dress codes that take effect after 6 p.m. Most nights will be “resort casual,” when fashion dictates bright sundresses or khaki blazers. However, on formal nights you’ll feel more comfortable in a tuxedo, suit and tie, and evening gown. Some cruise lines offer tuxedo rentals if you decide to go formal last-minute. Because sea breezes can be chilly even on balmy nights, pack a silk scarf or light shawl to keep warm.

Are shorts and jeans allowed in the main dining room?

Many cruise lines allow jeans for casual nights in the main dining room, while shorts are more universally prohibited. (Carnival and Norwegian are two of the few cruise lines that allow shorts in the main dining room for dinner.) Breakfast and lunch are more lax; you can usually wear shorts in the main dining room before 6 p.m.

Resort Casual

Can I buy clothing on the cruise if I accidentally leave something at home?

Most cruise ships have shops onboard, where you can purchase clothing, shoes (typically sandals and flip flops) or accessories you forgot to bring. The options are limited, so if you're picky, wait until you're in port to shop around.

Can I do laundry onboard so I don't have to bring as many clothes?

If you're a light packer or want to reuse some of your clothing items during the cruise, most cruise lines -- including luxury and river -- offer laundry services onboard. Prices are typically based on single articles of clothing and fluctuate depending on the cruise line. Expect to pay roughly between $2 to $8 per shirt or blouse, unless you're in a suite or loyalty program that includes laundry service. Some cruise lines even put self-serve launderettes on their cruise ships, if you want to save money and wash your own clothes -- a cheaper but more time-consuming option.

How many different outfits should I pack?

It really depends on your personal preference -- whether you'd rather pack light and re-wear some items, or have fun with new outfits every day. You can get away with packing less by bringing tops and bottoms that are easy to mix and match, or shirts that can be dressed up at night and worn more casually the next day.  It's always a good idea to overpack necessities such as undergarments. Bring more than one swimsuit if you plan to swim on consecutive days, as it will give one time to dry while you wear the other. To play it even safer, pack an extra evening outfit or two, as you might change your mind about the way something looks once you're onboard.

How can I find out more about what to wear on a cruise?

You might also like the following articles:

  • Cruise Line Dress Codes

Want to see more cruise wear for women? Check out these other ideas for what to wear on a cruise ship.  

If you are still wondering- 

What to Bring & Wear on a Cruise?

Although you might associate a cruise with glitzy evening wear and specialty attire, cruise clothing today can be as formal or informal as you want. Many cruise lines do have gala nights, masquerade balls and evening dress codes, but many also have more casual meal options like buffets or pizzerias where virtually anything goes. Check your cruise line's dress code for specific clothing recommendations.

Warm-Weather Essentials

Warm-weather destination cruises mean spending most of your days wearing shorts, khakis, T-shirts and bathing suits. Bring along at least two bathing suits so you will have one to wear while the other dries. Pack lightweight clothing made of breathable fabrics, such as cotton, to keep you comfortable in warm, humid environments. Most cruise lines do not allow bathing suits in the dining areas or public rooms so bring along some cover-ups. Evenings on the ship can be chilly, even in the tropics, so bring along a lightweight sweater or jacket.

Cold-Weather Cruising

If your ship will visit colder climates, such as Alaska or Scandinavia, bring lightweight layers that will help keep you warm and dry. Pack at least two sweaters or fleece pullovers, or one pullover and one vest, which you can pile on over your T-shirt to add warmth. Top off your attire with a lightweight, waterproof jacket, a warm hat and gloves. Don't forget a sun hat and sunscreen -- you can get too much sun even in colder northern climates. On May or September Alaskan cruises, bring along a pair of long underwear.

Tips and Suggestions

A sturdy pair of rubber-soled sandals or walking shoes is a cruise essential for warm- or cold-weather cruises. Other handy items include a pair of sunglasses, a foldable tote bag, plastic bags to carry wet bathing suits and towels and flip-flops for walking around the pool area. Decide on shore excursions before leaving so you can bring along necessary items, such as wetsuits, snorkeling equipment, horseback riding attire or hiking boots.

Bon Voyage!

Shop more cruise finds

Sandhya Garg is a Project Runway 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,, Elle Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Vogue online to name a few. 

She designs limited edition high end printed spring dresses, casual resort attire 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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About the

Sandhya Garg is a Project Runway fashion designer. 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,, Elle Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Vogue online to name a few. 

She designs limited edition high end printed spring dresses, casual resort attire 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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