What to wear on a cruise

Your guide to being the fashion queen of the seven seas.
what to wear on a cruise

So, you’ve booked your cruise (or you’re planning to; may we suggest Viking Cruises?), marked off the days in your calendar, and now you’re staring at an empty suitcase and wondering what to wear on a cruise. Cruise wear should be breezy, effortless yet stylish. And it’s also an excuse to pack things you may normally not have the chance to wear.

Here’s a rundown of cruise fashion from shoes to swimwear.


A dress is an essential wardrobe item to pack in your suitcase. Cruise dresses should be relaxed yet stylish, midi or maxi length, and ideally in breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen. 

Not only are dresses a complete outfit in themselves – making them a no-fuss option – they can also double as day and nightwear with a few accessory adjustments.

Formal wear

A typical rule of thumb is that week-long cruises will have two formal nights and more if your cruise is longer. So, a couple of formal dresses are a must in your suitcase. 

Whilst traditionally people gravitate towards maxi-length formal dresses for their cruise, don’t be afraid to venture out and pick bright colours, different cuts and interesting fabrics when packing. 


You’ll need a range of shoes for different activities during your cruise. First and foremost, a pair of thongs for beach and pool visits are essential. A good pair of sneakers should also go into your luggage for your day trips. 

A comfortable and relaxed ‘deck’ shoe for when you’re lounging around is another suitcase essential – think loafers or Birkenstocks. Lastly, pack a pair of heels for the formal nights on your cruise to match your formalwear.

Co-ord sets

Co-ord sets are really four outfits in one – making them perfect for a cruise. The set can be worn together as well as with different tops and bottoms. 

Overall, the last thing you want to be preoccupied with on a cruise is curating an outfit each day. Co-ord sets are a quick and chic way to save baggage space and still look stylish.

Swimming costume

From water slides to Jacuzzis, pools and beaches – you’re bound to do a fair bit of swimming on your cruise. It’s best to pack two sets of swimmers for your trip to have in rotation for your various swimming activities.

Kaftan or sarong

For those times where you’re not quite swimming and not quite ready to be in your everyday clothes, pack a sarong or a kaftan (or both!). Not only do these take up relatively little space in your bags, but they’re super versatile and stylish for trotting around the cruise decks or sitting on your balcony.

 what to wear on a cruise

Day wear basics

Whether you’re on deck or out on a day trip, basics for day wear will make up the majority of your cruise luggage. Comfy and relaxed clothes are best for day wear. Think linen trousers, singlet tops, shorts and other low-effort pieces.

If you find you’re already packing heavy, take a capsule wardrobe approach to your day wear choices to maximise luggage space.

 what to wear on a cruise

Dinner and evening attire

In the evenings you’ll be at dinner, watching a show or another on-board event. Don’t forget to pack evening attire for these occasions.

From slinky skirts to cute dresses, make sure to pack those fun items in your wardrobe that you don’t always get a chance to wear.

 what to wear on a cruise

Hats and other headwear

Whether you’re on the ship or on a beach, you’ll have the sun beating down on you for a good portion of your holiday. Make sure to pack a hat for those extra sunny days.

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