Wondering what to wear on a Caribbean cruise? In this guide we will tell you exactly what to pack for a Caribbean cruise no matter the destination or length of cruise.
Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
But before we get onto to wear for a Caribbean cruise, we first will turn our attention to what non clothing items you should pack for your Caribbean cruise.
What do I need to pack for a Caribbean cruise (non clothing)?
Now no matter which ports are on your Caribbean cruise itinerary there are several things that should always be on your Caribbean cruise packing list. They are:
Passport and identification
If you are going on a Caribbean to anywhere other than just US ports and the US Virgin Islands, it is not counted as a closed loop cruise. Therefore you will need to have a passport with you to embark and disembark your cruise.
And remember that this needs to be in your embarkation day carry on bag.
Documentation including Covid 19 related paperwork
Alongside your passport and identification you will also need all other important cruise travel documents which includes but is not limited to:
- Travel insurance
- Covid Related paperwork such as vaccination certificates and PCR/Lateral Flow test results depending on your cruise line and port requirements.
- Cruise Suitcase labels – these are provided by the cruise line but are usually required to be completed and put on your suitcases before you arrive at the cruise terminal.
Your cruise cabin key is perhaps the most important thing on a cruise. Cruise cards are used as identification to get back on and off the ship, pay for things on the ship and is used for photographs, dining reservations and more.
Many people find a lanyard the best way to keep their cabin key safe and on them at all times on a cruise. The best ones are waterproof so can be used on shore excursions where you will be spending a lot of time in the water and can also be used to keep small amounts of cash and a government issued id.
Waterproof Phone Case
As well as the lanyard for your card we also recommend having a waterproof phone case. If you plan on heading in the sea it is important to keep your valuables such as your phone and wallet on you at all times so they do not get stolen or lost.
The best way to keep them safe on shore excursions where you are doing beach days and watersports is a waterproof phone case.
Universal Travel Adaptor
Depending on where you are from, who you are sailing with and where you may need to take a travel adaptor with you to ensure that all your electronics will work. Shop universal travel adaptors here.
You will also need to pack any medicationss you need in your carry on and be sure to have prescriptions with you.
As well as prescription medication some other medications you may like to travel with include:
- pain medications such as Advil, paracetamol, Tylenol and Ibuprofen
- Reflux Meds such as Gaviscon, Tums etc.
- Birth Control
Sea sickness medication or motion sickness bands
I personally have never gotten sea sick on a cruise ship. And I have never met anyone who has either and we have sailed through some really rough seas. The Caribbean Seas are not renowned for being very rough but you can encounter rough seas anywhere especially if there is a hurricane nearby.
However if you are concerned about sea sickness be sure to pack some meds with you just in case.
Although most ships provide toiletries I will always pack some on my own as I think they are better quality than those you get on board
For more information on the best toiletries to bring on a cruise check out this post.
On top of the regular travel toiletry essentials we also recommend packing bug spray, after sun / aloe vera as well as a small first aid kid including blister plasters.
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Although toiletries are usually provided you will need to bring your own tooth brush and toothpaste.
It is important to be sun safe wherever in the world you are cruising but this is especially true for the Caribbean no matter what time of year you are visiting.
Sunscreen is usually available onboard but will cost you a premium if you wait and buy on board. Therefore you should bring this with you if you can.
Again we recommend buying reef-safe sunscreen if you plan on doing any snorkeling, scuba diving or partaking in any water sports in the Caribbean to protect the reef!
The contrast between the nice weather on a warm weather cruise with the cruise ship air conditioning is the perfect recipe for dry lips.
We always recommend packing lip balm that has an SPF so your lips are protected when on beach excursions etc. Again our favorite brand is sun bum.
A beach bag or tote is another essential for a Caribbean cruise. Most excursions you will be doing involve beaches and water based activities. Therefore a beach bag is an essentual
The best thing about cruises are the port days and ports you get to visit. You definitely will want to capture your memories with a camera.
For the Caribbean we recommend packing an underwater camera to capture your underwater snorkeling and scuba diving memories.
Snorkel Masks (optional)
I love to go snorkelling in the Caribbean. And while you can rent snorkel equipment in the Caribbean you are not guaranteed of the quality. Therefore we will at least travel with a snorkel mask if not a full set with flippers.
Most new ships will have USB charging ports next to the bed however this is by no means on all ships. Don’t get caught out and take a charger with you and a spare cable.
What to wear for embarkation on a Caribbean cruise?
So now you know what to pack non clothing wise for a Caribbean cruise we will turn our attention to clothes to pack for a Caribbean cruise.
I have split the clothes into those that you should pack in your main case and those to put in your carry on bag so you can enjoy your embarkation day.
Day to night transition outfit
Embarkation day is certainly a fun day on a cruise ship. However you are unlikely to get your luggage in your stateroom until after your first dinner.
Therefore we recommend packing a day to night transition outfit that is comfortable for day times out on deck in the sun but also is suitable for the main dining room. Note: the main dining room usually operates a casual dress code on the first night but I still like to have an outfit that is a bit smarter than jeans and a t shirt.
My personal favorite Caribbean cruise outfits are usually maxi dresses.
And as the dining room can get chilly with the air con we recommend pairing this with a pashmina. I usually pick something in a neutral color to go with all my cruise capsule wardrobe outfits.
Comfortable walking shoes
And for the first day I also recommend packing a comfortable pair of shoes.
Also if you plan on using the pool on day one you may also want some flip flops and shoes for walking around the deck.
One of my favorite things about cruises in the Caribbean is using the pools and hot tubs on day one. If you want to do this then you will need to have swimwear in your carry on bag.
Note: for Caribbean cruises we recommend packing at least 2 pieces of swimwear. I would put one in the carry one bag and one in the packed luggage.
What to wear on a Caribbean Cruise
So now you know what to wear on and pack for embarkation day, we will turn our attention to what else to pack for a Caribbean Cruise.
Daytime Casual Outfits
Whether you are on the cruise ship or are out in port, you are going to need some casual day time outfits. As there are very few places on a Caribbean cruise or ports where there are dress codes, you will spend most of your time wearing casual clothes.
I tend to pack the below for my casual outfits on a cruise
Personally I love wearing a maxi dress for ports and on the ship in the Caribbean. I like to wear them as a beach cover but they can also be used in the main dining room (MDR) on smart casual evenings.
Quick Dry Shorts and T Shirts
For more active shore excursions in the Caribbean I like to wear t shirts or tank tops with quick dry shorts.
I recommend quick dry shorts as they will dry on your cruise cabin balcony quicker or while you are out, even when on the beach.
For the Caribbean we recommend packing at least 2 swimsuits with you so you can wear one and dry one.
And in the Caribbean whether you are in the Bahamas, Aruba or Jamaica you can wear a one piece or a bikini as you feel most comfortable in.
On top of your bathing we also recommend packing:
A rash guard is important to stay sun safe in the Caribbean sun where it is easy to burn while you are in the water doing things like snorkelling.
Note: unless you are serious about scuba diving it is unlikely that you will need a wet suit for a Caribbean cruise.
Even on a beach in the Caribbean it is nice to have a beach cover with you to head to bars, boardwalks and restaurants.
Useful for those spending lots of time out on the dec and on beaches. Shop sun hats here.
For more information on how to pack sun hats for travel click here.
The sun is strong in the Caribbean so sunglasses with UV protection are an essential.
What to wear on a Caribbean Cruise at night
Whenever we talk about our cruise packing lists perhaps the thing we get most questions about is cruise dress codes and what to wear on cruises at night.
Now what to wear on a cruise at night will largely depend on which cruise line you are traveling on. That is because some cruises have more formal dress codes such as Cunard and Holland America. Whereas some offer freestyle dining such as Norwegian which means there is no enforced dress codes.
For more information on cruise lines dress codes check out the below posts:
- Carnival Cruise Line Dress Code
- Celebrity Cruises Dress Code
- Disney Cruise Line Dress Code
- Holland America Dress code
- MSC Cruises Dress Code
- Norwegian Dress Code (NCL)
- Princess Cruises Dress Code
- Royal Caribbean Dress Code
Personally I would normally pack 1 more formal wear outfit, no matter the cruise line because I like to dress up at least one night on every cruise. For women this is usually cocktail dresses and for men a combination of chinos and shirt, or even tux if you want to go all out.
On top of this I would pack at least 2 smart casual outfits for evenings otherwise. All items in this category will be interchangeable as a capsule wardrobe and I may partner a top from a dinner with different bottoms for a casual shore excursion look.
For me this usually consists of some smart trousers and some blouses, or a dress or maxi skirt of and top.
Now I don’t like to bring too much jewelry with me on cruises as I don’t wear it on shore excursions. However if you want to bring some with you for formal nights be sure to take in your carry on and put in your safe once in your stateroom.
Best Shoe for a Caribbean Cruise
So now you know what clothes to pack for a Caribbean cruise we will look at the best shoes for a Caribbean Cruise.
When I cruise to the Caribbean I always pack:
Although no matter the time of year you are cruising the Caribbean it is always hot. However I still recommend a sneaker.
They are the best type of shoes for walking around the Caribbean cities and historical sites and can go on beaches.
But be sure you pick a lightweight pair that can deal with the Caribbean heat. At the minute my go to hot weather shoe is an All Birds Tree Runner however select the pair you are most comfortable in. I also like a white sneaker as they are the most versatile. My go to at the minute is the Addidas Cloud Foam.
Note: if you plan on doing any longer length hikes then you may need hiking sandals.
And remember to pack sneaker socks so your sneakers don’t smell in your stateroom at the end of a long day.
Of course no Caribbean capsule wardrobe is complete without sandals. Sandals are breathable and are good in the heat. We just recommend you picking one with arch support.
Flip Flops (Optional)
Flip flops are not good for walking however I always take them for a Caribbean cruise. They take up very little space in your case so don’t really cause overpacking. And they are great on beaches and for using on the pool deck.
Water Shoes (optional)
Water shoes are optional depending on where you are going on your Caribbean cruise and the excursions you plan on doing. We recommend checking whether you are visiting rocky or sandy beaches and if you are heading to a rocky one a watershed is a must.
For more information on what to wear in certain cruise ports check out the below posts:
- What to wear in the Bahamas
- What to wear on a Bermuda Cruise
- What to wear in BVI
- What to wear in Grand Cayman
- What to wear in USVI
Other Cruise Wear Essentials
Note: the above has dealt with a women’s Caribbean cruise packing list. However for men’s cruise wear essentials check out this post.
One set for a week.
I will also have underwear enough for the cruise and a few spares.
What to pack for a CAribbean cruise (Optional)
You will only need workout wear if you plan to use the gym on board your cruise ship.
FAQs about what to wear on a Caribbean Cruise
How many outfits should I pack for a Caribbean cruise?
All of the above are items that we would include on our Caribbean cruise packing list. However the number you require will depend on how many days your cruise is.
For this reason we have created packing list for specific number of day cruises:
- 3 day cruise packing list
- 4 day cruise packing list
- 5 day cruise packing list
- 7 day cruise packing list
- 10 day cruise packing list
- 14 day cruise packing list.
And it will depend on the dress codes aboard the line you are sailing with as well as whether or not you want to do laundry or pay for the laundry service on your cruise.
What to wear on a Caribbean Cruise in hurricane season?
One of the things I love about Caribbean cruises is that it is a warm weather cruise. You don’t need to worry about packing for cold weather (unless there is some weird weather in the 7 day weather forecast).
However what you might need to consider is what to pack if you are sailing in hurricane season. Hurricane season in the Caribbean tends to run from June to November. And peak hurricane season is usually classified as August and September.
If you are traveling during this time you may get rainy days and stronger winds. Therefore we recommend adding a light jacket that has some waterproofing.
Do you have any other questions about what to wear on a Caribbean cruise? Leave us a comment below and we will do our best to answer.
And if you are traveling to other parts of the world on a cruise ship be sure to check out our other cruise destination guides: