What to Pack For Your First Cruise Vacation? A Complete Guide & Tips

Are you a last minute packer? Are you someone, who hardly gives any importance to attires while traveling? If you are going on a cruise vacation, you can’t afford to have the luxury of doing last minute packing. A cruise vacation needs meticulous planning and a close check on your wardrobe. I have just come back from one of the most luxurious cruise vacations with the Princess Cruises and I must admit that it is addictive. I had the best time exploring life at the sea on Majestic Princess Cruise. Attending various events, parties, hosted dinners, indulging in interesting activities, gaming zones, workshops, Captain’s Cocktail Party, etc. I had the most unforgettable experience on board. Each one of these events demand a variety of attires, best suited for the occasions. I am glad that my packing was appropriate for all the occasions.

Also Read : My Maiden Cruise Experience with The Princess Cruises: What I liked the most

Packing Tips for your first cruise vacation

This is the question that comes to everyone’s mind while going on their first ever vacation. I did my share of research before I started packing for my cruise holiday.The packing for a cruise is little different than your other ashore vacations, where you have the luxury of shopping and availing laundry service at your wish. Though you can avail these facilities on a cruise ship as well, it is way too expensive to even go for it. So, it is advisable to pack sensibly, depending on the itinerary, the activities and also the countries that you are going to visit during your journey. Here are the best packing tips that will help you to plan your closet before taking a vacation.

Check out the Itinerary

The packing for the cruise depends on the itinerary you have chosen for yourself. It is very important to consider your itinerary as it includes the kind of activities you are going to be indulging in, number of parties you are going attend, the formal dinners and also the destinations you are traveling to. The best part of a cruise vacation is that you don’t need to check in and check out at each destination like any other vacations. Once you land up on the cruise and you check in to your stateroom, you are hassle free for the entire duration of your journey. Everything is well taken care of by the cruise line itself. So, if you pack sensibly enough for your stay, it pretty much sorts out your journey on board.

Check out the dress code

It is always advisable to check out the dress codes of the cruise line you are traveling with. Every cruise line has their own dress codes for various occasions and the guests are expected to follow it while on board. The season cruisers are always well dressed on the cruise ship as they flaunt the dressing etiquette for each event beautifully. While I was cruising with Majestic Princess Cruise (Princess Cruises), I was amazed to see the style statements of the slightly aged people on board. From hairstyles, dresses to the shoes, everything was well synchronized. When it comes to dressing codes for evenings and dinners, The Princess Cruises has two recommendations – Smart Casuals and Formal. The smart casuals include Skirts, dresses or trousers with a shirt or blouse for ladies while for the gentlemen, it is trousers, shirts or polo shirts. Shorts and swimwear are not allowed in the restaurants whereas the Formal includes evening gown, cocktail dress or pantsuits for ladies and suits, combination or dinner jackets for the gentlemen.

Check Out the weather

It is very important to check the weather report before you start sailing. We tend to ignore this important factor while planning our vacation. But when you are cruising for days, the weather can be quite tricky and unpredictable. One should be well prepared for the unexpected weather change.

 What to wear on the cruise

The cruise vacations are more relaxing and luxurious than ashore holidays.You are literally vacationing on a floating five-star hotel with all the amenities, world class hospitalities, high standard services and a wide range of entertainment. So it is highly advisable to dress appropriately for each occasion.


During the day, it’s more of a casual attitude that makes absolute sense on the cruise. Being a traveler, I love to travel with my casual outfits that suit the best anywhere. Wearing shorts and crop tops or casual tops are the most comfortable style statement in the summer season. And if it comes to colors, the shades of whites are all time favorite of mine in any beach destination. So I preferred to dress up in white shorts, top and white sneakers. Only to make it more vivacious I wore a printed shrug to complete my look. It was absolutely perfect for all the day activities on the cruise ship. More importantly, it was super comfortable.

Day Trip

If you are traveling during summer season like I did during my cruise vacation, you must wear the most comfortable clothing for a day excursion in a new destination. Since you will be exposed to the sun, you can cover yourself from tanning by wearing a full sleeve top and slim leg pants. If you are visiting a beach, then you can opt for weekender shorts with striped tops. When I stepped out of my cruise in Abu Dhabi, I wore an olive green floral top with white jeans.

Casual Dinner

Dinner at the specialty restaurants on the cruise ship is always special. The guests are well dressed, enjoying the memorable evenings with their loved ones. The classier you look, the more attention you get while entering the restaurant. So it is important to make your own style statement in the evenings. You can opt for the printed Maxi dress with tan sandals for your casual evenings. At one of the evening dinners, I wore a classy blue dress, accessorizing it with floral kimono with my heels.

Cocktail & Formal Dinner

Cocktail parties on the cruise are fun times with your friends and loved ones. One should not miss flaunting elegant cocktail dresses while attending these superb parties on board. I wore my little black dress with pointed stilettos for the party and also to glam it up, I completed the look with a silver necklace.

Captain’s Cocktail Party

Don’t miss the Captain’s Cocktail Party on the cruise. This is the coolest party on a cruise ship, hosted by the captain of the ship. You will meet the Captain, the cruise officers and also the most important people on the ship. Everyone comes dressed in their best attire. It was for the first time I was attending the Captain’s party and I must tell you that it was magnificent. The party on the 17thdeck, by the poolside with the best of cocktails and wines was one of the most memorable moments on board. I saved the best for the last and wore this blood red cocktail dress.

What to pack for your cruise vacation?

Don’t forget these documents

  • Passport / Birth certificate
  • Travel Insurance
  • Credit Cards / Cash
  • Health Insurance
  • Cruise Documents
  • Copy of your Itinerary
  • Flight Details Documents

My Trip was arranged and well designed by Cruise Professionals

For a customized Cruise vacation, get in touch with Cruise Professionals here http://www.cruiseprofessionals.in/ 

Disclaimer :

The photographs are owned by the writer and are copyright protected. Reproduction of any of the contents, including the photographs without prior consent/permission of the writer, is strictly prohibited and a violation of the same will attract legal action.

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35 Replies to “What to Pack For Your First Cruise Vacation? A Complete Guide & Tips”

  1. I really like how you did this list, first including what to think about, then showing different outfit examples, and then finally the list. I think seeing the outfit examples actually on makes a big difference. Really cute choices, too! I have never been on a cruise so I’d have no idea what to pack. This is very helpful! Thanks

    1. Thanks a lot, Christie. You must try cruise vacation. It’s pretty unique.

  2. Some good tips about knowing the itinerary and dress code. I never remember, or am too lazy, to pack nice shoes when I travel and then I feel like I can’t go to nicer places. I might have to use this list next week when I start packing!
    Jennifer recently posted…Hiking Costa Rica’s Osa Pensinsula: Finca La TardeMy Profile

    1. I did my research prior to my vacation. It was so much fun dressing up every day, unlike my other vacations. I loved that experience. You must try to do sometimes.

  3. Ooh the captain’s cocktail party sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve never done a cruise, so this is useful to know. Who knew there was a dress code?! It seems a bit strange to me, because I can’t imagine getting all dressed up for dinner on the boat. There’s always a first time for everything!

  4. I always pack last minute! But I think in advance of what I wanna pack 😉
    I wouldn’t like to have to dress up every night for dinner , I like to be relaxed when on holiday. On the other side I’m usually road tripping or backpacking around, so I don’t think a cruise is a suitable holiday for me 😉

    1. If you like the backpacking trip, then cruise holiday is not for you. It is more of a relaxing and luxurious vacation on a floating Five Star Hotel, that is the cruise ship.

  5. I have been racking my brain on deciding what to pack to a cruise holiday. This list is a savior. I love the idea of carrying miniature toiletries and a small day bag along. Thanks for classifying the outfits according to different occasions. Cheers!! 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot. I hope that it helps you packing for your first cruise vacation.

  6. your outfits look amazing and it seem like the cruise was an amazing experience. I’ll def bookmark this if and when I should do a cruise trip. That interior looks amazing too.

    1. I have to admit it that cruise vacation is addictive. I loved my first cruise vacation and can’t wait to go back again.

  7. There are some really good tips for what to pack on a cruise. I too am addicted to Princess cruises! I love the food the cruise ports and of course formal night. You chose some very elegant dresses for your formal nights!

    1. I am so much in love with Princess Cruises. It’s grand, luxurious and it has super exciting entertainment on board. I can’t wait to go on a new cruise holiday again.

  8. How exciting! You chose some lovely outfits for your cruise adventure. We always pack very light and outfits have to do double duty. BUT we took a Disney cruise last year and did have room for a few extra things (like outfits for pirate night) because we weren’t schlepping luggage from one spot to another. Great list!

    1. Thank Natalie. That’s why it’s important to check the Itinerary and dress codes of the cruise line is important before packing. I hope that this guide helps you next time.

  9. Hi,
    very good articale thanks for sharing keep up the good work

  10. Good tips on paying attention to the dress code of the restaurant! I guess it is a good idea to pack a mix of formal and casual outfit so you’re set for the activities on the land and on the cruise. I haven’t been on a cruise, but hopefully one day soon!

    1. The cruise vacation is quite unique and addictive at the same time. One must experience at least once. I hope that one day you will go on a cruise vacation. Do share the experience whenever you sail on a cruise ship.

  11. I am a last minute packer too but I understand the importance of packing for a trip like this. You have listed some really good points here.

    1. I agree. It’s need a well-planned packing.

  12. I’ve never been on a cruise but plan to do so one day. I am usually the one who packs lightly and never bother much about my dresses as I prefer comfortable on vacations. But going on cruise looks like no less than a party. I think I’m going to seriously consider your tips about wardrobe packing. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Cruise vacation really needs packing guide. I did my share of research before I headed for it. You much check the points I have mentioned in the post. Do go for a cruise vacation. It’s one of its kinds experience.

  13. I’ve only ever been on one cruise in my lifetime, and I do wish that I had such a great packing guide as this one! My friend went on a cruise not that long ago and I was able to help her decide what to bring. I think that some people over-pack and bring the wrong outfits. I agree with you: check the types of events going on during your cruise so you can make sure to pack the appropriate outfits!

    1. Thank you, Rachelle. Its very important to check the route, Itinerary and dress code of the cruise line before one starts packing for their cruise vacation.

  14. These are great packing tips for a cruise. A lot of the little things you mention can make a big difference. A good plan like yours will definitely help us find the sweet spot between over packing and under packing.
    The Travel Ninjas recently posted…3 Best (Legit) Saigon SpasMy Profile

    1. Thank you. Happy to know that its helpful for you.

  15. I have never been on a cruise before but when we do experience it, this post is a massive help! I love seeing what other packing tips like this ! Thank you for some great tips and advise!

  16. You know, I’ve never really stopped and thought about the packing difficulties you face on a cruise. Now I think about it, though, I guess it’s a lot harder than packing for your typical destination holiday seeing as you can’t be sure about the weather AND you’d need clothes for inside too. I didn’t realise there was so much call for formal attire on a cruise!

    1. You really need to consider a few things before you start packing for your cruise vacation. It demands time and attention for cruise trip as its different from ashore vacation.

  17. I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise. Your outfits you put together look really great! This list is helpful to help people like me look more put together. If I book a cruise, I will look into the dress code for sure! I wouldn’t want to miss a cool dinner or party because I didn’t have the right clothes!

    1. The dress code of the cruise line is one of the essential things one should check before the cruise vacation. Yes, Its fun to dress up appropriately for each occasion.

  18. Thanks for the tip!!!! Good work.

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