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What to Wear on a Cruise

Posted by Roam Often on
What to Wear on a Cruise

Ah, cruising on the open sea. The perfect excuse for eating, drinking, and laying by the pool all day. (Of course, if you’re cruising to Alaska, you might swap out the poolside cocktail for a spiked hot cocoa and whale watching.)

Part of the appeal of a cruise is that they are re-lax-ing. The cruise does most of the planning for you by offering events and choices for you to choose from, so you don't have to stress like you would if you were planning a vacation on your own. 

The entertainment will be plentiful, and you’ll want an outfit for each activity: lounging by the pool, taking in a show, ziplining with the fam, dressing up for the buffet, exploring off-shore, and capturing your #OOTD with a magical sunset in the background (because you have to!).

That’s the big surprise with cruises. You may be in one place for most of the trip, but you’ll need outfits as if you were visiting a dozen venues. To help you out, many cruises like Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise share dress codes on their websites. But those are just the bare-minimum guidelines. You need design inspiration.

Nabeela posing on a boat


"Whenever I shop, I like to mix high and low pieces- this goes the same for my travel wardrobe. While certain items I will splurge on, such as these sunglasses I know I’ll be using for multiple trips and occasions, other parts of my outfit I won’t be repeating as often I will try to find a good bargain on - just like these $2 pants from Bali." - Nabeela (@nabeelapatail)

 Don’t worry; that’s why you’re here. Whether this is your first cruise or your fifth, consider this your failsafe guide to cruisewear essentials. Let’s get ship-shape! 


What to Wear on a Tropical Cruise

Cover-ups are the wardrobe essential for summer cruises. You’re going to want to bring a lot of these. They instantly transform your look. You may have been sweating from the sun moments before, but now you’re ready for fine dining. At night, you can swap these out for a light jacket or cardigan. The wind gets chilly at night, and cruises love to crank up the A/C indoors. Stay chic but comfortable, ladies! 

For your overall “look,” go for whites and light colors. These keep you cool and show off your tan. Plus, the white against a blue backdrop looks beautiful in photos! 

We also recommend flowy skirts and dresses—these look gorgeous when you get caught in the wind. Part of the fun of a cruise is counting how many Marilyn Monroe moments you can have. Since you’ll have your bathing suit on underneath, you can enjoy the breeze with confidence. (Looking for something a bit less revealing? Pants and shorts are great, too. Just opt for breathy materials with a bit of a stretch. Cruises are known for their buffets!)

Obviously, you’ll need a swimsuit. Pools can get crowded, so make sure you stand out with something you feel confident and sexy in. You’ll have no trouble catching your friend’s attention across deck—or that of someone else. 

Payton on a boat 

"On a boat, it's all about fun! I pack bright, airy colors and cute cover-ups for swimwear, like a crop top and shorts. And don't forget that scrunchie for tying your hair back when the breeze picks up!”
- Payton (

 Do you know what can really cramp your cruise? A sunburn. You want to sizzle figuratively, not actually. Stay golden with a broad-brimmed, beachy hat (perfect for blocking out those rays) and sunglasses (again, there is a LOT of sun).


Rony smiling on a boat in her cruise outfit

"I always pack an easy large travel hat and sunscreen. Gotta keep the sunburn away!!!" - Rony (@Yoga_By_Rony)

Now, let’s talk about shoes. For tropical cruises, you want shoes that are beach-friendly but are a step up from flip-flops. Flip-flops can get tricky when navigating narrow passageways and the sway of a moving boat. Think strappy, slide-on sandals or a cute low wedge.

Looking over your wardrobe and found you’re missing a few essentials? Check out these clothing brands for cruise-ready wear: 

  • Billabong
  • Roxy
  • Free People
  • Madewell

Outfits to (P)inspire: Follow our Pinterest boards for cruise wear inspiration!

Meet the Wanderer

What to Wear on a Cold Weather Cruise

Cold weather cruises require an entirely different wardrobe than summary sails, but you’ll still want to pack just as many options. Make sure you’ve got these on board.

Layers, layers, layers. Did we mention layers? For cold weather cruises, you truly can’t pack too many layers. It can get colder than you think, especially when the cool sea air hits your cheeks. Stay cozy out there!

Cover-ups are key for summer cruises. For winter cruises, it’s all about a solid weatherproof jacket. Trust us; it’s no fun standing on deck when you’re damp. Cruise by glaciers and brave the waterfront with a happy, dry smile on your face. 

Keep your feet warm, too. Boots, sneakers, booties, and rain boots are all great options. Just make sure they’re closed toe!

A stylish hat or beanie completes the look. Plus, it offers the practical assistance of keeping your face warm and UV-protected. 

Pants are great for braving the cooler breezes on-deck, but when you’re inside, it’s time to shine. Take those layers off. Dinners and indoor activities are your chance to get a little dolled up. Throw some fancy dresses in your suitcase.

Missing some cold-weather essentials? These clothing brands are usually on point: 

  • Land's End
  • The North Face
  • Patagonia
  • J. Crew
  • Ann Taylor
  • Gap
  • Banana Republic

Outfits to (P)inspire: Follow our Pinterest boards for cruise wear inspiration!

These outfits will keep you stylish from sea to shore—although honestly, cruises are so much fun, you may not want to leave! Whether you’re headed somewhere warm or cool, pack these cruise essentials and you’ll be Instagram-ready.

Roam often, stay stylish.

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About Roam Often

Roam Often was founded by female travelers who decided to make products that make traveling easier while keeping you feeling confident and fashionable on-the-go. Here you'll find travel jewelry cases, travel scarves, hair tie bangles, and other travel accessories. We also feature various travel, fashion, and jewelry tips on our blog. Roam often, stay stylish!


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