Cruise Packing List

What should I wear on a cruise?

I confess. I am a reformed over-packer. There have been many cruise vacations where I have brought clothes (and shoes) home that never saw the light of day. Now that I have a system (pack in advance and bring mostly clothes that can be used more than once), I have extra room in my suitcase for souvenirs. Besides making sure that your passport, money, and tickets are secure, the biggest challenge for most cruisers is what to wear on a cruise (including how to dress for a formal night).

In general dress codes on the ships are liberal (anything almost goes these days) but keep the bare feet and bathing suits on the pool deck. And while we are at it, maybe walking around the ship in your robe could be kept to a minimum.

Resort Casual; Country Club Casual; Cruise Casual
Acceptable clothing options …For men, bring trousers, slacks, or khakis, golf shirts, shorts, pants, and a sport coat (not required). Women can wear dresses, skirts, shorts, capri pants, shorts, blouses.

Anything goes. Keep in mind that most cruise lines don’t allow bare feet, tanks tops, or jeans in the dining room during dinner.

Semi-formal or Elegant casual
Men can wear a jacket; Women may opt for a cocktail dress, pants suit, or dress.

Formal (there is at least one formal night on most cruise lines)
During the early days of cruising, formal wear meant a tuxedo and a ball gown. Nowadays formal wear on the ships is more relaxed. Men can wear a tux or a formal dark suit. For ladies, formal wear can include means a long evening gown (could include a long skirt). The trend these days is towards more relaxed formal wear. Ladies are showing up on the ships with a wide variety of options, which include coordinates that can serve multiple uses.

For those that want to remain casual, keep in mind that the buffet usually serves the same food found in the main dining room in the evening.

Cruise Line Dress Codes

  • Azamara Club Cruises: Resort casual. There are not any “formal nights.”
  • Carnival:  Cruise Casual Cruise Casual, which means that in the dining room men can wear sport slacks, khakis, jeans (no cut-offs), dress shorts (long), collared sport shirts; Ladies – Casual dresses, casual skirts or pants and blouses, summer dresses, Capri pants, dress shorts, jeans (no cut-offs). , Cruise Elegant, and formal nights. More info here
  • Celebrity Cruises:  Mostly casual or informal nights with a few formal evenings during a 7-day cruise.
  • Costa Cruises:  Resort casual and a couple of formal nights.
  • Crystal Cruises: Casual, informal or formal dress codes.
  • Cunard Line: Casual, elegant casual, semi-formal, and formal.
  • Disney Cruise Line: Casual, semi-formal, formal, and “pirate.”
  • Holland America: Smart-casual and formal nights are offered.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line: NCL does not have a “formal” dress code.
  • Oceania Cruises: Resort casual.
  • Princess Cruises: Smart-casual is the norm with a couple of formal evenings.
  • Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Elegant-casual after 6 pm.
  • Royal Caribbean International: guests can prepare for formal, smart-casual and casual nights. For cruises that are three, four or five-night cruises plan for one formal night A 7-night cruise will have 2 formal nights.
  • Seabourn Cruise Line: Formal, elegant-casual and casual evenings.
  • Silversea Cruises: Casual resort wear is appropriate during the day. Evenings call for casual, informal or formal attire.
  • Windstar: Although there are is no formal dress code, Windstar suggests slacks and collared shirts or polos for men and sundresses, trousers, and casual cocktail dresses for women.

Pack like a pro

When you arrive on the ship, you will give your bags to porters who will deliver your bags to your stateroom during the day and early evening. If you are traveling with kids that will want to get in the pool, make sure to bring their bathing suits in your carry-on bags.


Packing List


Be sure to pack your passport and travel documents then gather your cash. Everything else listed below might be nice to remember as well.

  • Credit cards – be sure to call credit card companies before traveling to alert them you are traveling outside your normal area
  • ATM card – make sure to activate for international use if traveling abroad
  • Another picture id – if you don’t take driver’s license
  • Pre-paid phone card or Skype credit
  • Photocopies of airline tickets, cruise tickets, passports/visas, and itinerary – leave one copy with someone at home
  • Contact numbers to report lost/stolen credit cards
  • Emergency numbers at home
  • Currency conversion chart or app
  • Meds
  • Medical insurance cards and medical history (especially if traveling alone)
  • Copy of prescriptions and list of all medicines you are taking
  • Check prescription meds to be sure you will have enough for your trip
  • If you get seasick or carsick easily, talk to your physician about remedies or use of “the patch.” Also, you might want to buy sea bands — small, elasticized bands that cover both wrists and have proven helpful in preventing nausea. You’ll find these in most drugstores
  • Medical Records. If you have significant medical problems, take along a copy of your records and tests

Technology Matters

Tip: test out all your equipment before you leave home.

  • Will your cell phone work on the ship? Call your provider and familiarize yourself with the fees. Contact your cell phone provider for destination packages, activate international plan if applicable. Make sure to include a stop date if you are adding an additional international plan.
  • Taking your laptop? check ywireless plan and learn how to stay connected at sea, including the fees.
  • Chargers
  • Tablet and cords
  • laptop
  • video equipment, tripod, lenses for cameras
  • extension cord/power strip with multiple plug-ins
  • plug adaptor and converter
  • disposable underwater camera – for snorkeling or beach days
  • headphones
  • small travel alarm clock – battery operated
  • lighted dial clock for cruise ship cabin
  • small flashlight
  • Reading Material and Necessities

Reading Material and Necessities

  • glasses, contacts, contact cleaner
  • extra reading glasses
  • sunglasses
  • maps, guidebooks and other ports of call information
  • foreign language phrase book or dictionary
  • reading material – books to read while on the plane or lounging by the pool
  • business cards with an email address to give out to new friends

Other “Necessities

  • sunscreen
  • small first aid kit (bandages, q-tips, Vaseline, Dramamine, antibiotic cream)
  • aspirin, Tylenol, Advil
  • anti-germicidal hand cleaner
  • handi-wipes (for cleaning hands when ashore)
  • hand lo
  • rubbing alcohol or foot lotion
  • bug spray
  • duct tape or strapping tape
  • zip bags of all sizes and garbage/laundry bags
  • corkscrew (be sure to put in checked luggage)
  • small umbrella
  • collapsible travel pillow for long airplane flights
  • sports gear snorkeling gear
  • travel-sized Woolite
  • clothes pins
  • empty folding tote bag – for souvenirs or the beach
  • hats/caps/visors
  • insulated large coffee mugs

Women’s Cruise Clothing Packing List

  • undergarments
  • lingerie/nightgown/pajamas/robe
  • compression stockings (for airplane flight to prevent swollen ankles)
  • exercise/walking socks
  • pantyhose, tights, or leggings
  • purses (day and evening)
  • belts
  • scarves
  • gloves and cap
  • walking shoes
  • walking sandals
  • rubber sandals
  • evening shoes
  • jewelry and extra watch
  • swimsuit
  • swimsuit cover-up
  • work out clothes
  • dress/outfit for informal nights on the ship
  • dress/outfit for formal nights
  • dress/outfit for casual nights
  • shorts
  • tops of all types (sleeveless, short-sleeved, long-sleeved)
  • capri pants
  • slacks
  • windbreaker jacket
  • sweatshirt
  • evening sweater
  • raincoat with hood

Women’s Sundries and Miscellaneous

  • comb/brush
  • hair gel
  • hairspray (non-aerosol)
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • shower cap
  • bar soap in a container
  • deodorant
  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • mouthwash
  • tweezers
  • make-up/make-up remover
  • cleanser
  • moisturizer
  • nail polish and remover
  • nail clippers and file (be sure to pack in checked luggage)
  • razor and shaving cream

Men’s Cruise Clothing Packing List

  • underwear
  • undershirts
  • pajamas and robe
  • compression socks
  • exercise/walking socks
  • black dress socks
  • belts
  • gloves and cap stocking cap
  • walking shoes
  • walking sandals
  • rubber sandals
  • evening or dress shoes
  • casual shoes
  • tuxedo jacket and pants (or dark suit)
  • tuxedo tie, suspenders, cummerbund
  • tuxedo cufflinks/studs
  • sport jacket
  • regular ties
  • tuxedo shirt, dress shirts
  • suit swim
  • work out clothes
  • t-shirts
  • shorts
  • casual shirts
  • slacks (casual and dress)
  • windbreaker or raincoat with hood
  • sweatshirt
  • Men’s Sundries and Miscellaneous
  • comb/brush
  • shampoo and hair products
  • bar soap in a plastic container
  • deodorant
  • toothbrush/toothpaste, dental floss mouthwash
  • tweezers
  • nail clippers and file (be sure to pack in checked luggage)
  • razor and shaving supplies