What to Wear on a Cruise to the Caribbean: Packing Lists

Updated on June 28, 2019
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Val Peterson writes about travel, home, and the outdoors. She earned her BA from UMass Amherst and enjoys hiking.

Caribbean Cruise Packing List. Don't Forget Your Swimsuit!
Caribbean Cruise Packing List. Don't Forget Your Swimsuit! | Source

You know everything about your upcoming vacation except what to wear! Here are your Caribbean cruise packing lists, with a week-long cruise in mind.

There are quite a few clothes and accessories to pack, but once you have been on one cruise, you will likely wear the same clothing items repeatedly, with just a few variations where desired.

Women: What to Pack


  • 14 pairs of underwear (you'll want a new pair when you change out of your swimsuit)
  • 3 bras
  • 2 pairs of pajamas
  • 8 pairs of socks

Formal and Semi-Formal Attire
Semi-Casual Wear for Non-Formal Dining Rooms
Pool/Excursion/Deck Wear
Other Items
2+ cocktail dresses
2 pairs of lightweight pants/capri pants
3 swimsuits
Workout gear, if you plan to use the ship's gym
3 pairs of pantyhose (if you wear these)
2 lightweight skirts
2 cover-ups
Wide-brim hat
1+ pair(s) of high heels/dress shoes
2 sleeveless/shell tops (but not tank tops)
2 sarongs
Appropriate bras (e.g, strapless if wearing strapless/off-the-shoulder dresses)
2 summery blouses
4 pairs of shorts
Dressy purse to match cocktail attire
3 lightweight, summery dresses
3 tank tops or t-shirts
Waterproof tote bag
3 semi-formal dresses for dinner/casino/club dancing (including maxi dresses)
1 pair of comfortable sandals
Shower shoes/sandals (if you want to cover your feet while showering in your cabin)
1 elegant, lightweight pantsuit
1 pair of comfortable walking shoes

Men: What to Pack


  • 14 pairs of underwear
  • Undershirts, if desired
  • 2 pairs of pajamas
  • 8 pairs of socks (4 casual and 4 dress)

Formal and Semi-Formal Attire
Semi-Casual Wear for Non-Formal Dining Rooms
Pool/Excursion/Deck Wear
Other Items
2+ suits with ties and dress shirts
4 pairs of lightweight pants
3 swimming shorts
Workout gear, if you plan to use the ship's gym
1 pair of leather dress shoes
4 polo shirts
4 pairs of walking shorts
1 or 2 sport jackets
1 pair of slip-on shoes
5 t-shirts
3 dress shirts
Four pairs of socks
3 short-sleeve casual button-downs (such as Hawaiian shirts)
3 pairs pants
Comfortable sandals or casual slip-ons
Shower shoes/sandals (if you want to cover your feet while showering in your cabin)
1 pair of semi-dress shoes (e.g. suede)
Walkable shoes for excursions or visiting ports
My #1 cruise must-have—a stunning swimsuit!
My #1 cruise must-have—a stunning swimsuit! | Source

4 Cruise Must-Haves for Women

Whatever you do, don't forget to take these essentials!

1. (At Least) One Stunning Swimsuit

Swimsuits should be the focus of your cruise wardrobe. I say this because life on most cruise ships is centered around the pool area, and your excursions will more than likely be to a beach or shore area. That's why it's crucial that you pack at least one stunning swimsuit.

Even if you don't think you'll be swimming on a given day, stuff a towel and extra swimsuit in your waterproof tote bag. A lot of people take planned "days off" from the pool and end up going to a hot tub or for a swim anyway.

Have fun with a 'statement swimsuit'—one that very few other people are likely to wear. Vacations are not only an opportunity to relax but also a chance to show off your impeccable style. It's your vacation, so have fun with your style!

2. A Convertible Sarong

This item is very versatile and great if you are trying to both save money and pack light. Though it appears simple, this piece of clothing has many uses.

I prefer to wear this kind of item on a cruise because I can just wrap the skirt around me after a swim to get some breakfast in the dining hall. Then, I can convert it to a shawl so I don't burn my shoulders and arms when exposed to the sun. And of course, I can wear the piece as a pareo dress for taking a walk on the deck during a day at the pool, or for a stop at an island destination.

The Siam Secrets sarong is my favorite because of its nautical colors, long length, and easy machine-washable fabric. In addition, the fabric is cooling on those hot Caribbean days.

3. An Elegant, Lightweight Pantsuit

A lightweight pantsuit serves three purposes: to keep you cool at night, to provide modesty to women who don't want the wind blowing a skirt up, and to provide proper attire for evening dining rooms, bars, and dancing events on the ship.

This Koh Koh women's pantsuit is great for those cool walks along the upper decks at night. Feeling the Caribbean air move along the pant hems will give you that free feeling of tropical flair. I bought this outfit because it is made of breathable jersey but also has some spandex in it for stretch. On nights I had a little too much to eat at the buffet the stretch waist feature allowed me to loosen the drawstring and still be comfortable yet fashionable.

The airy slits on the side of the pant sides allow the sea air to circulate freely around your legs. And if you want to wear this outfit during the day the Ivory White, Pale Pink, and Light Brown colors help ensure the sun's rays deflect the heat off of you. The pantsuit also doubled for me back home as an outfit I wear to parties dressed up with some costume jewelry.

This pantsuit is one of my favorite pieces of cruisewear because it is easy to slip on, fuss-free, sophisticated, and highly versatile!

4. A Breezy Cover-Up

Your favorite article of clothing to wear on a cruise will likely be a swimsuit cover-up. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Convenient: Cover-ups let you go from the pool area to the casual dining area on a cruise ship without changing clothes.
  • Modest or Flirty: Depending on the coverage you're looking for, they let you conceal parts of your body that you might not feel comfortable revealing to everyone, or help show off your best features!
  • Fashionable: Doubles as summer clothing. Cover-ups let you go on island excursions, where you can walk around and enjoy the sites while wearing your swimsuit underneath.
  • Comfortable: They are cool and breezy.

I enjoy wearing cover-ups on cruises because the fabric is fast-drying. You can place it over your body after coming out of the pool, and after a few minutes under the sun, it will help wick the moisture off of your body.

Remember to Take a Waterproof Tote

Be mindful of having a safe place to pack items you need to keep dry. Having a waterproof tote bag that you can carry around on the cruise decks and island destinations will prove invaluable to you.

One of the biggest worries people have on cruises is losing access to important items like passports, medicine, room keys, cameras, camcorders, and sunblock. For those of us who like to lay poolside to relax, those crossword puzzle books, snacks, and romance novels should also be within reach!

You can also use this tote back home to protect your lunch, wallet, books, and phone from the rain.

Why Do I Need to Take so Much Along?

The reason you pack so much clothing for a cruise is that there are so many activities, and each of them requires its own set of clothes. Don't worry–you will be having fun the entire time!

How Many Times Will I Need to Change Clothes Each Day?

You will usually change about two or three times daily; between swimming, buffet attire, formal dinner and show attire, excursions, casinos, nights walking on the ship, and so on and so forth, there will be lots of opportunities to change your attire. Plus, no one likes sitting in a wet bathing suit all day! If you love dressing up, a cruise might just become your favorite kind of vacation.

Most people tend to go on their Caribbean cruises between December and March, so if your wardrobe doesn't have enough warm-weather clothing to get you through the cruise, internet shopping will provide you endless choices!

Though it can be daunting, these handy lists should have you well-versed in what to wear on a cruise. Enjoy your trip!


Questions & Answers

  • How can I press my outfits if I am not allowed to take an iron on a cruise?

    You can try hanging the clothes close to or inside the stall when you take a hot shower. You can also send your clothes down to be pressed by the professional service onboard most cruise ships (for a fee).

  • What is the weather in October in the Caribbean?

    The weather in October will depend upon which part of the Caribbean you visit. Here is a quick guide: https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/Caribbean/a...

  • Is white appropriate to wear on a western Caribbean Cruise in April?

    Yes, white is a great color for a warm weather cruise.

  • What is the weather like in the Caribbean in January?

    Since the Caribbean spans over different geographic areas, you will want to research your specific destination for the weather that month.

  • Is it warm enough to swim in December on a Caribbean cruise?

    Yes, it is warm enough in the Caribbean in December for swimming. It generally won't be sweltering, though, which is a good thing.

© 2012 Pop Culture World


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