Imagine gliding through crystal-clear waters, the sun sparkling off the deck as you dine al fresco or lounge beside the pool. For many, a cruise is the epitome of luxury travel – an indulgent experience that deserves equally glamorous attire.

Cruise fashion is not just about looking good; it's also about packing smartly for a variety of activities, ensuring you're ready for any social hour or adventure. If you're heading for the open seas aboard a luxury liner, here are the fashion tips you need to sail away in style.

Fashion Essentials for Different Cruise Activities

Daytime on Deck

While the days of formal daywear might be long gone, there's still a certain elegance in dressing for the daytime. Depending on where you're cruising, the weather can vary from balmy to breezy, but one rule is certain – comfort is key. Opt for a casual daytime look that's stylish yet practical:

  • Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics like linen or cotton to keep you cool under the sun. Women might favour flowy sundresses paired with wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses for that chic, sun-protected look. Men can lean towards smart casual with tailored shorts and polo shirts, complete with boat shoes that echo the nautical vibe.
  • A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for protection and a touch of Hollywood glamour. And of course, don't forget a high-SPF sunscreen to shield your skin from the relentless sun.
  • For a comfortable and secure choice, consider opting for non-slip footwear such as chic sandals or classic deck shoes, ensuring both style and practicality in your selection.
  • For an added touch of glamour, a statement piece of jewellery or a colourful scarf can elevate your daytime deck attire, ensuring you're ready for an impromptu lunch with sea views or a casual stroll around the ship.

Evening Elegance

When the sun dips below the horizon and the ship's lights begin to twinkle, evening wear comes into its own. Cruise dinners and events often call for a touch of elegance, so it's the perfect time to dress up and feel fabulous. Here are some fashion tips to ensure you dazzle during the ship's evening festivities:

  • Women might consider cocktail dresses or elegant evening gowns, paired with statement jewellery and heels. Think about fabrics like silk or chiffon that flow beautifully and catch the light as you move. A classy clutch and a shawl or bolero for cooler evenings on deck will complete the look.
  • For men, a sharp suit or a dinner jacket with well-pressed trousers will never be out of place. If the occasion calls for it, a tuxedo might be appropriate for more formal events. Pair with polished shoes, a tie or bow tie, and a pocket square for that extra touch of sophistication.
  • Don't forget about accessories. Whether it's an elegant watch, cufflinks, or a tasteful piece of costume jewellery, the right accessories can elevate your outfit from great to simply stunning.
  • Comfort should still be a consideration. Choose footwear that you can walk comfortably in, as you may wish to stroll around the ship or hit the dance floor after dinner.
  • Lastly, remember the environment you're in. Although it's an opportunity to dress up, ensure your choices are still in keeping with the overall vibe of the cruise. Some cruises may have themed nights, so it's worth checking in advance if you need to pack any specific attire.

Evening wear on a cruise is about striking that perfect balance between comfort, individual style, and the event's dress code, ensuring you enjoy every luxurious moment in style.

Shore Excursions

When the cruise ship docks and you're ready to explore the local sights and experiences, dressing appropriately for shore excursions is key to enjoying your adventures comfortably and stylishly. Whether you're wandering through quaint coastal towns, visiting historic sites, or indulging in water sports, here's how to prepare for your day onshore:

  • Light and Layered: Opt for light, breathable fabrics that can easily be layered. Mornings might start out cool and warm up quickly, so wearing items you can adjust throughout the day is wise. A light cardigan or a stylish yet functional jacket can be perfect for layering.
  • Comfortable Footwear: You’ll likely be doing a lot of walking, so comfortable shoes are a must. Choose well-cushioned, supportive shoes like sneakers or walking sandals that can handle a variety of terrains, from cobbled streets to sandy beaches.
  • Versatile Pieces: Pack clothes that can multitask. A maxi dress can be casual with sandals and a sunhat for a beach outing, or dressed up with jewellery and a belt for a nice lunch. Similarly, a pair of linen trousers can transition from a casual day of exploring to a more formal dinner setting on the shore.
  • Protection from the Elements: Don't forget accessories for protection against the sun, such as a wide-brimmed hat, UV protection sunglasses, and ample sunscreen. If your excursion involves being out in nature, consider bringing insect repellent as well.
  • Small Backpack or Crossbody Bag: For keeping your essentials like water, sunscreen, camera, and wallet secure and easily accessible, a small backpack or a crossbody bag is practical and keeps your hands free.
  • Local Customs and Considerations: Research the local culture and customs of your destinations in advance. In some places, modest dress might be required, especially when visiting religious sites. Packing a lightweight scarf or a wrap can come in handy for such occasions.

By dressing smartly and practically for shore excursions, you can ensure a comfortable, respectful, and enjoyable experience exploring everything your destinations have to offer, all while looking your best.

Packing Tips and Tricks

Packing for a cruise holiday is an art that strikes a balance between practicality and style. The key to a stress-free packing experience is to start early and organise intelligently. Here are some essential tips and tricks to make the most out of your suitcase space and ensure you have everything you need for a memorable cruise experience:

  • Roll, Don’t Fold: Rolling your clothes instead of folding them not only saves space but also minimises wrinkles, keeping your garments looking fresh and ready-to-wear upon arrival.
  • Use Packing Cubes: Packing cubes are a game-changer for staying organised. They allow you to categorize your belongings and easily find what you need without rummaging through your entire suitcase.
  • Pack Multipurpose Garments: Choose garments that can serve multiple purposes or be worn in different settings. For instance, a sarong can be a beach cover-up, a wrap for cooler evenings, or even a makeshift picnic blanket.
  • Limit Footwear: Shoes can take up a lot of valuable suitcase space. Limit yourself to three pairs if possible - a casual pair for walking, a formal pair for evenings, and a pair suitable for water or sports activities.
  • Remember Your Documents: Beyond clothing and toiletries, make sure to pack all necessary documents in an easily accessible part of your luggage. This includes passports, cruise documents, travel insurance, and any required visas.
  • Waterproof Your Electronics: A waterproof case for your phone and other small electronics is critical for those poolside days or shore excursions involving water activities. They not only protect against water but also against sand and dust.
  • Carry-On Essentials: Pack a small carry-on bag with essentials like medications, a change of clothes, swimsuit, and any valuables. In the event your checked luggage is delayed, you'll have what you need to start enjoying your cruise immediately.
  • Leave Some Space: It's tempting to pack your suitcase to the brim, especially with cruise holidays often calling for a variety of outfits. However, leaving a bit of space allows you to bring back souvenirs and purchases without struggling for space or exceeding luggage weight limits.
  • Check the Cruise Line’s Guidelines: Lastly, always check your specific cruise line's guidelines for luggage size, weight restrictions, and prohibited items. Being well-informed can save you a lot of hassle and last-minute surprises.

Armed with these packing tips and tricks, you're well on your way to a cruise holiday filled with adventure, relaxation, and style, without the burden of overpacked or disorganised luggage.

Fashion Do's and Don'ts

Common Cruise Packing Mistakes

When preparing for a cruise holiday, it's easy to fall into common packing traps that can dampen your experience. Here are some of the most frequent mistakes and how to avoid them:

  • Overpacking: A classic error is bringing too many clothes. Remember, most cruises offer laundry services, and it’s likely you’ll wear some outfits more than once. Aim for versatility in the items you choose and resist the urge to pack your entire wardrobe.
  • Ignoring Dress Codes: Failing to research and pack for your cruise line’s specific dress codes can leave you feeling out of place. Ensure you have appropriate attire, whether it’s a formal dinner or a themed evening.
  • Forgetting Essentials: In the excitement, don’t overlook basic necessities, such as adaptors for electrical outlets or medications. A checklist can be invaluable in ensuring you pack everything you need.
  • Neglecting Weather Research: Packing without considering the destination’s climate is a mistake. Even tropical locations can have cool evenings or unexpected rain showers, so include suitable clothing and accessories.
  • Packing Prohibited Items: Cruise lines have strict policies on what cannot be brought onboard, including certain electrical appliances, irons, and candles. Check the guidelines in advance to avoid having items confiscated.

By steering clear of these common pitfalls, you can ensure your cruise packing is both strategic and stress-free, leaving more time to enjoy the unparalleled excitement and relaxation a cruise holiday offers.

Dressing for Onboard Events

When sailing the high seas on a magnificent cruise, the onboard events are a highlight, offering a splendid opportunity to don your finest attire and mingle. Whether it's the captain's dinner, live shows, or themed parties, knowing what to wear can enhance your experience manifold.

  • Captain's Dinner: This is often the most formal event on a cruise. Gentlemen could opt for a tuxedo or a dark suit and tie, while ladies might consider a formal gown or an elegant cocktail dress. Remember, the aim is class and elegance.
  • Live Shows and Theater Nights: While not as formal as the captain's dinner, these events still call for smart attire. A smart casual approach works well - think dress shirts and trousers for men, and stylish dresses or dressy casual outfits for women.
  • Themed Parties: Many cruises host themed nights such as '70s disco, white night, or pirate evening. These are your chance to have fun and get creative with your attire. Check your cruise itinerary in advance to pack suitable costumes or themed outfits.
  • Daytime Seminars and Workshops: If your cruise offers daytime learning sessions, comfort combined with a touch of sophistication is key. Smart casual wear, like polo shirts, blouses, skirts, or khakis, is appropriate.
  • Poolside Leisure: For lounging by the pool or participating in deck games, ensure your swimwear is comfortable yet tasteful. Cover-ups for transitioning to indoor areas are also advisable.

The Importance of Accessories

When it comes to cruise fashion, the devil is in the details. Accessories can make or break an outfit, and they play a crucial role in refining your look:

  • Statement jewellery to add interest to simple outfits.
  • Belts to cinch dresses or tops and creates a more structured silhouette.
  • Scarves to shield from the breeze, accessorise, or serve as a beach wrap.
  • High-quality hats and handbags that serve both a functional and fashionable purpose.

Remember, while dressing up for onboard events is a significant part of the cruise experience, comfort should never be compromised. Choosing outfits that look great but also allow you to enjoy the festivities to the fullest is crucial.

The Essentiality of Travel Insurance for Your Wardrobe

Travel insurance plays a pivotal role in safeguarding your fashion investments, especially when you're cruising. While the open sea offers unrivalled opportunities for showcasing your style, it also presents unique risks to your wardrobe. A specialist cruise insurance policy is not just a safety net for unforeseen medical expenses or travel interruptions; it’s a guardian for your fashion essentials too.

Loss or damage to evening wear, for instance, can put a damper on your onboard experience, especially if you’ve packed designer outfits or bespoke suits for those glamorous captain's dinners and formal events. Imagine the inconvenience of finding your carefully selected, high-end outfit irreparably damaged or lost. This is where a comprehensive travel insurance policy shines, offering coverage for such mishaps, and ensuring you’re not out of pocket.

In addition to covering loss or damage to clothing, a good policy can assist with delayed luggage situations. If your suitcase full of outfits arrives late, insurance may cover the cost of necessary replacements to keep you looking your best until your luggage catches up. In essence, travel insurance ensures that even if the unexpected happens, your cruise fashion experience remains as elegant and enjoyable as planned.


Packing for a cruise is a unique and somewhat challenging fashion assignment. The key is to strike a balance between flair and functionality, ensuring you're prepared for any occasion while maintaining the effortless charm of a seafaring traveller. With these tips and a keen eye for detail, you'll be sure to turn heads on the high seas. Bon voyage!

For more detailed guidance or personal shopping advice, consider consulting with a travel and style professional who can tailor recommendations to your precise voyage and personal preferences. Remember, your cruise wardrobe is a reflection of the unforgettable memories you'll create, so make every piece count.

Get a quote

Making Insurance a Cruise

Our cruise insurance comparisons make waves, not headaches.


Fast & Efficient
Quotes quicker than you can say 'anchors aweigh'!


Save Money
We've rounded up the best deals from our panel.


Smooth Sailing
All of our quotes include cruise cover as standard.

Get On-Board!

Subscribe to our newsletter for a regular dose of the latest news, expert advice, travel tips, and inspiring destinations, exclusively tailored for cruise enthusiasts.