What to Wear On a Cruise During the Day

Packing for a vacation can sometimes feel daunting. If it’s your first time booking a cruise, you may be even more overwhelmed with deciding what to wear. The first step you’ll want to take is checking your ship’s dress code. Beyond that, we have plenty of cruise outfit ideas and tips and suggestions for what you should wear on your cruise.

What to Wear for Cruise Day Experiences

To determine what clothes to wear during your day experiences on your cruise, here are a few things to consider:

  • Base your choice of clothing on your port stops and the probable weather conditions.
  • For cooler climates, you’ll want to opt for long-sleeved shirts, pants and jackets made of thicker fabrics.
  • If you’ll be cruising in hotter climates, you’ll want to opt for short-sleeved shirts and shorts made of light fabrics.
  • For variable climates, choose layers that can help you cope with weather conditions as they change.
  • Choose clothing and footwear appropriate for the activities you’re planning for off the ship.
  • You’ll probably be eating a lot of delicious food while on your cruise, so you may want to select clothes that have comfortable waistbands.
  • Check if your cruise line has an evening dress code. You may be required to wear a jacket and tie or a gown on a formal night rather than your usual beachwear.
  • Don’t forget you’ll also need an outfit for traveling.

With these tips in mind, here are some suggestions for the clothing you should choose at every step of your journey.

Excursion

When you reach a port, you’ll have plenty of options for fun excursions, such as shopping, hiking, snorkeling, visiting attractions and more. When it comes to cruise outing outfit ideas, we have some recommendations.

Women

  • Casual top: Pack tops in your favorite colors that match your shorts, pants and skirts.
  • Light sweater or fleece: Breezes can be especially cool during a cruise, and the air conditioning inside can also be quite cool.
  • Light raincoat: You may also want to pack a raincoat to protect you during poor weather.

  • Casual shorts or pants: Choose your shorts and pants according to the activities on your itinerary.
  • Smart-casual pants: You can pair a casual or evening top with smart-casual pants that can work for both a comfortable daytime cruise outfit and a more formal outfit.
  • Tailored shorts or skirt: These can be worn on lazy days and for more casual evening wear.
  • Dress: A dress can be a very versatile clothing item. Accessories like jewelry, scarves and shoes can dress up an otherwise casual dress.
  • Sneakers or walking shoes: If you expect a lot of walking on your itinerary, be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes or sneakers that can support you over a variety of terrains.
  • Hat: If your cruise will take you to sunny destinations, you’ll want a hat to protect you from the sun.
  • Sunglasses: Sunglasses offer additional protection from the sun for your eyes while you’re exploring.
  • Sunscreen: For sun protection, you’ll also want sunscreen to protect your skin, on sunny and cloudy days alike.
  • Swimwear: If you’re traveling somewhere hot and sunny, don’t forget to pack swimwear. You’ll be glad to have a swimsuit when you want to lounge by the pool or on the beach.

Men

  • Casual top: Keep the tops you pack simple and in your favorite colors that match your shorts and pants. Shirts with collars can be worn for both sightseeing during the day and for casual wear in the evenings.
  • Light sweater or fleece: Even if you’re expecting hotter weather, you may still want to bring a fleece or light sweater for cool breezes and air conditioning. A fleece is cozy and packs well, so even if you end up not needing it, you’ll be thankful you brought it just in case.
  • Packaway jacket: A light jacket is a good item to have in case of rain.
  • Casual shorts or pants: For practicality on days out, these should be a great option for you. Consider the activities on your itinerary. Are they more rural and active or city-based? In case of rain, select a fabric that will dry quickly. If you can find a style with detachable legs, this is a great option for variable temperatures. In hotter climates, you might decide to pack shorts. However, pants offer protection from insects and the sun.
  • Smart-casual pants: A pair of smart-casual pants will be comfortable for day wear but can be dressed up for dinner as well. A dark wash should work well. You may also want to choose a lighter style for warmer weather. Some ships require that men wear long pants during the evenings.
  • Tailored shorts: If you’re anticipating warmer weather during your voyage, consider adding another pair of shorts.
  • Sneakers or walking shoes: For walking on shore, you’ll want a pair of active shoes. For trekking dusty roads, select closed-toe shoes. If you’ll be venturing off the beaten path, choose shoes that are sturdy and well-suited to navigating that terrain.
  • Hat: A hat is vital for sun protection or keeping out wet and cold conditions in cooler weather. Traveling by sea is usually windy, so you may want to pack a hat that will stay on your head securely or includes a chin strap.
  • Sunglasses: When traveling on a cruise, you’ll definitely want to pack a pair of sunglasses, as the reflection of the sun’s rays off the water can be very bright. If you plan on admiring the view, sunglasses are a necessity.
  • Sunscreen: You can burn on both sunny and cloudy days, so bring sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • Swimwear: There will likely be plenty of opportunities to sunbathe or visit the pool or beach.
  • Day sack: For your sightseeing essentials, bring a lightweight bag. Bring one that is roomy and easy to carry.

If you’re planning to hang out on the beach, you may just want to wear your swimsuit and a shirt and bring your sun protection items. If you’ll be doing a lot of walking, however, don’t wear sandals or flip-flops that will cause blisters.

Onboard

We also have some recommendations for clothing options you can wear onboard.

Women

  • Casual top: Bring tops that coordinate with your bottoms. For more formal evenings, you can pair a top with a necklace or scarf.
  • Light sweater or fleece: The air conditioning inside a cruise ship can be quite cool, so you may want to pack a sweater that will keep you warm.
  • Casual shorts or pants: Choose pants or shorts that will keep you comfortable while you’re onboard.
  • Sandals or deck shoes: Pack non-slip shoes that you can wear on the deck or during casual nights. Depending on their look, they may be appropriate for formal nights as well.
  • Hat: If you plan on booking a cruise in warm, sunny weather, you’ll want a hat for sun protection.
  • Sunglasses: Sunglasses offer additional protection from the sun for your eyes. They’ll also make taking in the views much easier on your eyes from the deck of the ship.
  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the sun daily.
  • Swimsuit: If your cruise has a pool onboard, you’ll want a swimsuit.

Men

  • Casual top: Keep your shirts comfortable for your daily wear on your cruise.
  • Hawaiian shirts: Hawaiian shirts with flower prints are fun and match just about everything. They pair well with shorts or swim trunks.
  • Fleece sweater: Even for hotter climates, you may want a fleece for cool breezes and air conditioning.
  • Casual shorts or pants: Onboard, you’ll want comfortable shorts you can wear around the ship and pants that will keep you warm in chillier climates or when you’re exposed to a cool breeze. Choose shorts made from breathable fabrics, such as cotton or linen. Cargo styles look great while also having plenty of pocket space for cards and keys.
  • Deck shoes: For daytime wear on the deck, you may want to pack comfortable shoes that have non-slip soles.
  • Hat: To protect you from the sun’s rays on board, you’ll want to pack a hat. Keep in mind that traveling by sea is usually windy, so be sure your hat will be secure.
  • Sunglasses: When traveling on a cruise, you’ll want a pair of sunglasses that will protect your eyes from the sun’s reflection off the water.
  • Sunscreen: You can burn even during cloudy days, so be sure to pack sunscreen to protect your skin.
  • Swimsuit: For a tropical vacation, don’t forget to pack a swimsuit you can wear when you want to take a dip onboard.

Getting Food

Cruises typically have three types of dinner dress codes — casual dinner, smart casual and formal. We have clothing ideas for each type of dinner dress code.

Women

  • Summer dress: For a casual dinner, you can wear a summer dress. You can also wear a summer dress if you’d rather eat at the ship’s buffet than the dining room.
  • Smart cardigan: A cardigan can dress up an evening outfit and can be an extra layer if you start to feel cold. Select colors that complement your dresses or tops.
  • Dark jeans and a blouse: For smart-casual dinner, opt for a darker wash pair of jeans with a nice top.
  • Evening top: Don’t forget to pack a few tops that will work well for more formal evening wear.
  • Evening gown: For formal nights, you can break out one of your fancy cocktail dresses, a formal maxi or an evening gown.
  • Jewelry: Jewelry that makes a statement can enhance an outfit and doesn’t take up much room in your suitcase. If you prefer to leave your more expensive valuables at home, costume jewelry will also work.
  • Scarf: Scarves are particularly versatile items that can cover your shoulders, dress up an outfit and fend off a chill breeze.
  • Smart heels: You may want to pack a pair of heels for a formal evening or an extra touch of glamor, but be cautious of heels that are especially high, as they may make navigating a rocky ship trickier.

Men

  • Tailored shorts: Tailored shorts can be a great option for more casual evening wear if that is permitted on your ship.
  • Smart shirts: Another style of shirt you may want to bring is a smart shirt that you can either dress up with nice pants or dress down with jeans. While short sleeves are acceptable in warmer weather, you may also want to pack a dress shirt that you can pair with a suit or tuxedo.
  • Sports jacket: Depending on the cruise, you may have a dress code for casual and formal wear. During formal evenings, you may be required to wear a sports jacket. You may also choose to wear this item during casual nights as well.
  • Suit or tuxedo: A tuxedo is normally suggested for formal nights. If you’d rather not pack one, you may be able to find one on board. You can also opt for an acceptable dark suit instead. If you’d prefer not to dress up, you can choose to dine in a buffet restaurant. Be aware that not dressing up may also limit your access to other areas of the ship. Check with your cruise ship before departing.
  • Cufflinks and tie: Along with a formal shirt and suit, make sure to pack your tie, cufflinks and any additional accessories.
  • Smart shoes: Footwear is another important consideration. When you’re packing, include a formal pair that will go with your tuxedo or suit. For warm evenings, select comfortable, lightweight shoes.

Watersports

Lastly, if you plan on doing any swimming, surfing, water skiing or paddleboarding, we have recommendations for clothes you can wear.

Women

  • Goggles: Avoid goggles with really tight straps that may cause headaches. Select a pair that has an adjustable nose bridge and are made for women.
  • Swimsuit: You can choose either a one-piece or a two-piece that is advertised to stay put even in tough conditions with a lot of movement.
  • Wetsuit: If it’s going to be especially cold, you might want a wetsuit.
  • Boyshort bottoms: If you’re planning on waterskiing or engaging in another high-speed sport, wear boyshorts and a no-slip bikini top. You can also put on board shorts when you’re back on shore.
  • Paddleboard shoes: Paddleboard shoes are extra-grippy and dry quickly. You can paddleboard barefoot, but in cold water or rocky bottoms, you’ll be glad you have extra protection.

Men

  • Goggles: Get goggles with adjustable straps. You may also want polarized lenses.
  • Swimsuit: In exceptionally warm places, you can get by with just a swimsuit. Choose shorts that you can move in easily.
  • Wetsuit: Unless it’s too warm, you’ll want to pack a wetsuit to wear during your fun in the water.
  • Paddleboard shoes: While paddleboarding barefoot is doable, in colder waters, you’ll be grateful for another layer. They can pass for sneakers online, but they’re made of drainable, quick-dry material with a high-grip sole that will work well for you in the water and on a board.

Everyone who is planning on spending the day in the sun needs sun protection. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen that isn’t harmful to coral and other marine life, and reapply every two hours. You’ll also likely want a pair of sunglasses with a floating buoy to make them easy to recover if they fall in the water.

Book a Cruise With Windstar

You shouldn’t have to feel overwhelmed in deciding what to pack for your cruise vacation, and now with our suggestions for every aspect of your cruise experience, you don’t have to. But if you still want a little more help, you can speak with one of our planners today about packing for your upcoming Windstar vacation.

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