Packing for a cruise

Girl siting on suitcase, looking through telescopeThink cruise and many of us think glamour, women in evening dresses and men in tuxedos. But the modern reality of a cruise means that this isn’t always the case.

While most cruise liners have some kind of dress code, these can range from a t-shirt at dinner being totally acceptable to a tuxedo being an absolute must.

So if you’re planning a cruise, the first thing to do is to check with your cruise liner just before you travel, to get the most up-to-date information from them about their dress code.

If you’re struggling with outfit ideas and what to pack, here are my fashion ideas and packing tips to take you from dining at the captain’s table to exploring ashore…

Fabulous fashions

Floral soft shirt

Versatile and pretty, this floral soft shirt from Next, £45, can be teamed with smart shorts or casual trousers for easy daywear or evening chic.

Dress from Next

This plunge black and white dress from Next, £22, is perfect for around the ship in the day and great to accessorise with flats sandal to wander around on the shore too!

Beaded tunic

This beaded printed tunic top from, £55, can be worn over a swimsuit round the pool or with some pretty BoHo sandals and jewellery to create a real ethnic vibe.

Knitted shift dress

This knitted shift dress from M&S, £39.50, would look fab teamed with some chunky jewellery and nice heels.

Shopping for your holiday is a great excuse to experiment with all different types of fashion. For example, spring/summer fashion this year is an explosion of floral patterns, taking in the whole spectrum from pretty pastels to bright techno colours. Be bold and go the whole way with a floral dress, or team a floral top with casual shorts or trousers.

Tribal/wanderlust-style fashions are very hot this year, too, so think about embellishments, textures and global vibes when packing for your cruise.

Monocrome is also very much on the catwalks at the moment with designers giving black and white a modern makeover. Patterns, couture detailing and intelligent design have been seen in the collections of the likes of Victoria Beckham and Alexander Wang – but don’t panic, there are plenty of high-street versions available too!

Evening wear on formal nights should be more cocktail dress or ball gown, while semi-formal nights can consist of separates, tailored trousers or a stylish dress.

Top packing tips

So that’s an idea of what to pack. Now here are some words of wisdom on how to pack:

Put the essentials in your hand luggage. As well as documents and medication, include a swimsuit and maybe a change of clothes for dinner, and any toiletries you might need. Then if there’s any delay with your suitcases being sent to your cabin, you’ll still have all you need to enjoy all the on-board activities right away. If you’re flying to your cruise ship, there’s also a chance your luggage may be lost by the airline (let’s hope not!) and could take a while to be shipped to the next port.

Leave a little room for souvenirs. One of the joys of cruising is traveling without packing every day, but it can then be a struggle to shut that suitcase lid when you are on your way home. So either don’t overfill your luggage on the way out, or take an extra bag to store these items on your return journey.

Choose your outfits wisely. A little mixing and matching goes a long way, and saves space in your cabin’s modest wardrobe. For example, bring shirts which can be worn dressed up in the evening and dressed down the following day. Different ports of call could mean very different temperatures – so going for layers works well. Dress up your evening wear with different sets of jewellery and scarves, rather than bringing several outfits. The chances are most people won’t remember if you wear the same clothes twice.

Other stuff. Packing isn’t just about clothes, and whilst some items can be purchased on board ship, you may find they are very expensive. So I also recommend you take a few extra coat hangers, plenty of sun lotion, a small medical kit, plastic bags for keeping things dry, chargers and batteries, sunglasses, and ear plugs. And remember if you are turning your phone off, you may also need an alarm clock.

And there you have it. All you need to know about packing for your cruise. Now it’s time to go shopping…

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Kirsty Fisher

About Kirsty Fisher

I’m a travel counsellor with over 12 years’ experience working in the industry, in both leisure and business. I have many customers who love to cruise – visit my website to find out more.