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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. Be prepared for baggage mishaps
  4. Outfit inspirations for a cruise vacation
  5. Aspects 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

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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 touristism tour of environmentaly concerned citizens.

over 50 years old style blogger in dance cruise outfit

style blogger in wind proof bomber style jacket and skirt for land going

fashion blogger over 50 donning trendy silver pleated skirt with floral bomber
Outfit details: ZR&ZR pleated skirt, Rebecca Taylor floral bomber jacket, Prada bag, Festina watch, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Via Spiga patent leather slingbacks 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 pack

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.

For a cruise pack clothes that work for more than one purpose. #travel Click To Tweet

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 over 50 featuring a 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 (all own)

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.

Wear your essential clothes for your cruise on your travel to the port. #travelStyle Click To Tweet

In case of a dance cruise, pack a wrinkle-free dress, swimwear, 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 (all own), 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 travel style with chic leopard print cotton leggings gym outfit Gym outfit. 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

fashion blogger at the Fairbanks potato festival Tea-length dress for upscale dining on board

cruise outfit suggestion with floral bomber and flared jeans 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 (all own). 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 (all own)

style blogger in maxi dress in deep autumn winter colors, sandals and straw hat 24/7 Frenzy multicolor maxi dress for onshore exploration on Tropical cruises

Like these outfit ideas? If so, please feel free to pin them to your own Pinterest board.

Aspects 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 and test the new moves in the evening on the dance floor, you need casual dance attire for the classes and upscale social dance attire for the evening social dances. 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 this post are great options for the classes and styled up with accessories for social dance events. Go for items that won’t wrinkle easily. I like these skirts and dresses and bought several of them for dancing. 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 (all own). A fit-and-flare dress can be styled for dance lessons, and on shore sightseeing or walk, and dinner by swapping the accessories.


When going on a cruise also pack something for sightseeing. #traveadvice Click To Tweet

Ships have to stop in harbors for various reasons. These stops provide opportunities for sightseeing. Thus, pack a sightseeing outfit too.

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, you get the idea. For some dance outfit ideas with items that can do double duty on land or for dinner see my post on what to wear for going out dancing or this style inspiration for a social dance outfit mined from my closet.

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.

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 cover-up for chilly evenings on board and at land, sandals, and flip-flops are on your list. You get the idea. Resort style is always a good item for these type of cruises. See the post at the link for outfit ideas.

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

Have you been on a dance cruise or cruise before? Are you planning to do a cruise? Where would you go? What are your style challenges? Just curious.

When you found this post helpful please tell your friends about it. See this packing list for cruise vacation. #travel #cruise Click To Tweet

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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