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You just booked your lifetime dream (dance) cruise? Now what to pack? Here are the major points to consider what to pack for a cruise.


  1. Fascination of Cruises
  2. It’s a Vacation, not a Move, Limit What You Pack
  3. How to Be Prepared for Baggage Mishaps
  4. Outfit Inspirations for a Cruise Vacation
  5. What to Consider When Packing for a Cruise
    • Pack Clothes for Exercise/Dancing
    • Plan for Attire for Events on Board
    • What Is the Itinerary and Medium Range Weather Forecast?
    • Don’t Forget What You Need for Your Health and Well Being
  6. Caribbean and Tropical Cruises
  7. Essential Items What to Pack for a Cruise


Updated: 7/21/2022

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.


Fascination of cruises

Ever since the German TV series “Traumschiff” (Dream Ship) in the 70s, I was fascinated by cruise-ships. Cruise-ships often permit to reach places that can’t be reached by car like Glacier Bay, for instance, or adventures like an Arctic cruise thru the Northwest passage.

Back in the 70s, cruises were for the Rich only. Lately, some cruises have become affordable for middle class people who saved for a once-in-a-lifetime memorable cruise. Wedding anniversaries, turning 50 or entering retirement are often the occasions for a memorable cruise to a scenic destination. Or a last chance tourism tour of environmentally concerned citizens.


over 50 years old style blogger in dance cruise outfit for exploring the harbor
Outfit idea to explore a port town on a windy day.


fashion blogger in silver pleated skirt with floral bomber land going outfit
Outfit details: ZR&ZR pleated skirt, Rebecca Taylor floral bomber jacket, Prada bag, Festina watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Via Spiga patent leather sling backs and charm bracelet (all own). The bomber can serve as wind breaker, the skirt can do double-duty for sightseeing on shore with the bomber, and dressed-up for social dances on board in the evening


It’s a Vacation, not a Move, Limit What You Ppack

Don’t stress out about what to pack. It’s a cruise ship. This means there are shops. Moreover, the cruise-ship will berth here and there. You will pack  what you wear for sightseeing. Thus, you can browse the cities’ stores when you absolutely want something you didn’t think of when packing for your vacation.

Be aware of the space limitations of the small closets in cruise-ship cabins. When you fly a leg of your cruise vacation take into account that airlines limit the weight and number of free baggage. You best bet is to pick items from your closet that can do double duty, i.e. serve for more than one purpose. Go for color coordinated pieces. Plan outfits ahead and pack accordingly.


Stylist tip: For a cruise pack clothes that work for more than one purpose.


The outfit below uses pieces from the look above. The wind jacket of the above look is repeated in the jeans and jacket look shown in the outfit inspirations later is this post.


style blogger in silver accordion pleats skirt with denim jacket and pumps perfect for the dance floor
Star denim jacket, ZR&ZR silver pleated skirt, August Silk V-neck top, and black pumps


Be Prepared for Baggage Mishaps

Having the right clothes for your cruise saves you money. It also permits feeling your best from the very first day on board. Delays or erroneously shipping your baggage on another trip can ruin your vacation when you have to spend the first hours on board finding some suitable essential items. You may end up with clothes that are not a great flattering fit and/or color, that are not so you and/or clothes that you will never wear again.

Thus, wear essential clothes on your travel to the port-of-call and/or have them in your carry-on baggage.

In case of a dance cruise, pack a wrinkle-free dress, swimwear, a coverup for your poolside entrance, extra socks, bra, and a set of underwear in your carry-on. When it comes to what to wear on the travel to the port, wear jeans or casual pants, T-shirt or sweater and a jacket. See the example outfit with jeans and a floral bomber jacket.


Outfit Inspirations for a Cruise Vacation

style book author in dance cruise outfit in fit-and-flare wrinkle-free dress
Star denim jacket over Karina Dresses wrinkle-free dress styled with smoky quartz statement necklace, Gucci belt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Ray Ban aviator sunglasses, Chanel quilted bag, Leiza Musse&Cloud sandals c/o coolway and wood watch c/o JORD. The dress can be worn for sightseeing on shore as shown, without jacket for dancing, and styled with pearls for dinner.


woman in leopard print leggings gym outfit for exercising on board
Leopard print cotton leggings c/o No nonsense and own sequin top under printed T-shirt with Dansz House dance shoes. The sequin top can also be worn at dinner and for social dancing. The leggings can be worn with a tunic for sightseeing in warm destinations.

Gym outfit.

dress for upscale dinning on a cruise ship
Tea-length dress for upscale dining on board


cruise outfit suggestion with floral bomber and flared jeans for windy days
Rebecca Taylor floral bomber with Brook Brothers top layered over sequin top, DIY necklace, Loft flared jeans, Coach bag, Hermes collier de chien bangle, and L.K. Bennett wedge pumps. The sequin top can be worn for a fancy dinner on board of the cruise-ship and social dancing. The jeans can serve for travel and sightseeing on cloudy/rainy days.


style blogger in posh summer dress
Sundress c/o Needham Lane with own Ray Ban Jackie O. sunglasses, and Dr. Scholl wedge sandal to enjoying the view sitting on the deck in the Sun or sightseeing on a hot day


stylist looking chic in a LBD with zipper details
You can never go wrong with a LBD. Ellen Tracy LBD with zipper details, Madonna True or Dare floral pumps, Dolce and Gabbana Madonna sunglasses, Hermes enamel and collier de chien bangles.


style blogger in maxi dress, sandals and straw hat for strolling in port town24/7 Frenzy multicolor maxi dress for onshore exploration on Tropical cruises.


What to Consider when Packing for a Cruise

On the ocean or sea, there is always a breeze. This fact translates into the need of a wind jacket. The splashes from waves ask for one that is permeable for moisture from the inside, but doesn’t let the water in from the outside.


Pack Clothes for Exercise/Dancing

When you take dance lessons, you need casual dance attire. To test the new moves in the evening on the dance floor, pack upscale social dance attire. If there is a final dance or even ball, you need a party or cocktail dress.

Fit-and-flare skirts and dresses like shown in the outfit inspirations work for the classes, and styled up with accessories for social dance events. Go for wrinkle-free dresses skirts and dresses. They twirl nicely and they can do triple-duty on land for sight-seeing, and for a casual dinner on board.


midlife blogger in a dress styled for sightseeing when on a cruise
Karina Dresses wrinkle-free dress styled with sun hat, Chanel bag, and Gloria Vanderbilt open toe pumps. A fit-and-flare dress can be styled for dance lessons, and on shore sightseeing or walk, and dinner by swapping the accessories.


Plan for Attire for Events on Board

What – besides dancing – will you do on board? When you like to exercise, visit the spa, swim in the pool, tan or read at the pool. Pack what you need for whatever activities you intend to do to spend some of your cruise time. Thus, ask yourself whether you need gym wear, a robe and flip-flops for a spa visit, swimwear coverup for your poolside entrance, you get the idea. More outfit ideas for going out dancing.


What Is the Itinerary and Medium Range Weather Forecast?

Google what kind of attire the cruise-line company recommends for your destination. Check the medium range forecast, and pack accordingly. On an Alaska cruise to Glacier Bay, or other glacier-viewing destinations like Tracy Arm, you need cold weather gear (sturdy shoes, jeans, sweater, waterproof windbreaker, hat, sunglasses as glaciers may glare) for glacier and wildlife viewing on board. Southeast Alaska is often humid, windy and rainy even in summer. More on what to wear in the Pacific Northwest.


Don’t Forget What You Need for Your Health and Well Being

No matter what is in the forecast make sure you pack sunscreen, sunglasses, reading glasses, a first aid kit, pain killer, nausea medication, antihistamines when you are allergic, and your prescription medicine.


Caribbean and Tropical Cruises

When you are on a Caribbean cruise, swimwear, sunglasses, sundresses, a coverup for chilly evenings on board and at land, sandals, and flip-flops are on your list. Resort style also works for these cruises.


mature woman in beach dress for a Tropical cruise
Sun dress c/o Hawaiian Tropic with own Coach shoulder bag, Hermes collier de chien bangle, and Dr. Scholl wedges for comfortable strolling on land when taking a Tropical cruise



Essential Items What to Pack for a Cruise

Don’t forget these pieces:

  • Casual clothes like preppy style pants, jeans, or Bermuda shorts suitable for the destination
  • A pair of chic comfortable walking shoes, dance shoes, and/or sandals for on shore and onboard activities
  • Two bikinis or bathing suits or a bikini and bathing suit. Over the ocean, items take longer to dry than in Interior Alaska or the Utah desert because of the higher humidity of the air.
  • Casual and fancy tops for exploring on land and dancing, respectively.
  • Fit-and-flare dresses for dance lessons and social dances, party dress or festive attire for the ball at the end of the cruise. Check the journey description whether there is a dress code or theme.
  • Stockings, socks, lingerie, (multi function adjustable) bras
  • Cover-ups like a jacket, coat, as needed depending on the destination
  • Sunglasses, hats, scarf, a clutch for dances in the evening and dinner, a cross-body bag for sightseeing on land, accessories to style a fit-and-flare dress from casual to feminine to glam
  • Sunscreen, beauty items, medicine, reading glasses


Are you interested in such tips for other dressing situations? If your answer is yes, you may also want to get my book “How to Dress for Success in Midlife”. Buy your copy now.


Photos: G. Kramm

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