Cruises can be interesting places when it comes to clothes. Some cruises are very casual, but I would say the range from casual to work/dinner type clothes. I’ve seen some cruise lines label days/nights as casul, informal, and formal. So you might need a range from jeans and shorts, to something you might wear out to a nice dinner. When deciding on clothes, I take into account a suitcase, a carry on, and what I wear. Those together make up the clothes I have for a trip.

The Suitcase

I take a 22 inch suitcase. It does expand, but I do not take it expanded. I can expand it if needed on the way back. I have recently changed to a 20 inch suitcase – still works for me. It can expand, but I take it unexpanded and expand it if needed on the way home. You can take a larger suitcase, but remember – the larger the suitcase, the more you tend to fill it.


Note the heels are the ones listed above, and the pants are listed above. I take two silky jacket/shirts and two silky tanks to go under them. This is a good place to add jewelry and scarves. Also these items are kind of mix and match. These items are things you would wear out to a fine restaurant, maybe opera (if its not a real formal place). You could replace one of these tops and jackets with a dress. If you do, make sure the jacket goes well with it. Since ships tend to be well air conditioned, a cover up is often desired – use the jacket or a shawl, but something.

Some cruise lines have some sort of formal night. Most women will wear a dress, maybe a cocktail dress, long formal dress, or something you might wear to a wedding or really nice restaurant.


For informal, but not casual nights I can wear the evening pants listed above. I take a white blouse, then two other nicer tops. Think something you would wear to a nicer dinner, but not fine dining place.


I just take a variety of solid and print t-shirts. I figure take 7-9 of them. If I were going to cold weather climates, I would add in some longer sleeve tees.


I don’t wear tanks often, but if it’s a hot climate it can be nice to have a few. If you wear tanks more then tees, flip these around and take more tanks and less tees. Again solids or prints, whichever you prefer. If it were expected to be cold, I probably would not take any tanks unless they were for layering under clothes.


The staples are items I don’t do without. Staples include you undies, night clothes, socks, bras, etc. They also include those items you will need whether you know it or not. These are items experience tells you to take. One for me is a sweater, mine is cashmere. You can wear it for evenings with jewelry or a scarf, or you can just throw it over your shoulders and tie it in front. I’ve needed this sweater more times then I care to admit.

The second item is a jacket. This is for wandering around the cruise ship, in cool rooms. I like it to have pockets so I don’t have to carry a purse while on the cruise ship. Depending on your preference, it could be a knit material, cotton, more formal collared jacket, a light weight polar fleece, etc. But for evenings in the dining room its nice to have. If it were cold weather I would add or substitute a heaver jacket, maybe polar fleece.

The third are the spare pants, listed above are great to have in case of emergency. If your other pants are dirty, you can wear these. When the other pants need to be washed, you have something to wear. That’s why these can be shorts or even a skirt.


I take one pair of jeans, one pair of something I can dress up, and one “other”. These are my spare casual pants. You could substitute a skirt, shorts, or something else if you prefer. These three are actually black, but the color needs to go with the rest of your clothes. Blue jeans would work just as well. If you are going to Europe, make sure the jeans are nice looking – no holey, ratty jeans. If the weather will be warm/hot, maybe you don’t take jeans but you take linen type pants, shorts, and a skirt.


One pair is heels for formal wear, one pair is for walking (usually sneakers for me, could be sandals) and the other pair is just to throw on when your feet are tired. These are hopefully slip on shoes you can wear on the plane. I’ve been known to take keds slip ons for this pair. The other pair can be sandals or even flip flops depending on what suits your needs. One other pair you may want to consider would be water shoes, depending on if you plan on spending a lot of time in/near water.