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What to wear on cruise embarkation day outfit inspiration

What to wear on cruise embarkation day outfit inspiration

Are you wondering what to wear on cruise embarkation days? Looking for the best cruise embarkation day outfit inspiration? In this guide we will round up out best embarkation day tips alongside the best outfits for embarkation day that will see you from port to dinner.

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. 

What happens on embarkation day

What to pack in your carry on bag for cruises
What to pack in your carry on bag for cruises

For those first time cruisers embarkation day is the day you start you cruise and board your vessel. Embarkation days are exceptionally busy days. It takes time to board a cruise, so be sure to have all of your documentation ready to show the staff and your luggage labels sorted to make the process as quick and smooth as possible.

Have all your documentation printed before you arrive at the port. Also please note: this post is concerned specifically on embarkation day outfits, for more information on what to put in your cruise carry on on embarkation day be sure to check out this post.

For more information on what you will need for a 7 day cruise check out this post. And we have a 14 day cruise packing list here.

And for a shorter cruise check out our 4 day cruise packing list.

What to wear on cruise embarkation day considerations

What not to pack for a cruise (prohibited items)
What not to pack for a cruise (prohibited items)

When you arrive at the port your luggage will in most instances be taken from you in the terminal building by a porter to be taken onboard the ship.

This is good because you don’t have to lug your own luggage onboard small gangways but does mean you won’t have your luggage back maybe until the first evening or maybe even after dinner on the first night.

This means you will need to pack your hand luggage very effectively with everything you need such as swimwear if you want to go in the hot tub, and a change of clothes or smart clothes if you want them for dinner.

You will also need to pack essentials such as medication in your embarkation day hand luggage too.

However if you don’t plan on changing you will need an embarkation day outfit that transitions from day to night because although the first night dress code in the main restaurant tends to be casual for those people who have not got their luggage back. However you will still want an embarkation day outfit that works for day time on a cruise and for your first night dinner.

Saying that, some lines will be dressier than others even on embarkation day. You can expect people boarding on Cunard, SilverSea, Regent and Crystal to be dressier than those on more mainstream cruise lines. However even then I would say the dress code is more smart casual Than formal.

However I would say for all other cruise lines resort wear and casual clothing is fine but below is what I recommend and have felt most comfortable in on embarkation day.

As you will be in your embarkation day outfit for most of the day you will want to make sure you feel comfortable. One way to ensure this is to make sure you are dressed for the weather as you will spend a lot of time on deck for the sailaway.

Also it is worth remembering that while the first night dinner in the main dining room dress code is more relaxed than other nights you still don’t want to feel underdressed. Having an outfit that is day to night transition appropriate is best. 

If you are going on a Caribbean cruise or packing for a South Pacific cruise you will want to make sure you dress for hot weather but for a Fjords cruise or a cold to hot weather cruise you will need yo make sure you have enough laters for embarkation day.

Cruise embarkation day outfit inspiration

How to pack the ULTIMATE Cruise Capsule Wardrobe for women
How to pack the ULTIMATE Cruise Capsule Wardrobe for women

MAxi Dress

A Maxi Dress is my go to for cruise embarkation days especially on hot weather cruises. I find them cool for the day and look smart in the evenings.

If you think your ship may be at capacity and there is a risk your luggage won’t be in your state room before dinner then this is a great choice as it will still look nice if you want to eat in the main dining room on embarkation day evening.


Wedges are a great shoe for embarkation day. AS they are wedges instead of a shoe with a thin heel, it makes them a safer and more practical choice for walking on gangways etc as you embark onto your ship.

They are also perfect smarter shoes to wear in the main dining room on your first evening.


But if you are worried about your feet getting sore in something with a bit of height then I would recommend choosing a flat pair of shoes, i.e. sandals for warm weather cruises or some flat boots on cold weather cruises.

This will look smart in the dining room if you don’t get your luggage back before dinner and will be really comfortable for exploring the ship and doing your embarkation day muster drill.


However, if you like me prefer to go more casual on embarkation day then there isn’t a problem wearing sneakers on embarkation day.

Although sneakers aren’t recommended for wearing in the main dining room on cruises, you will find the dress code relaxed on embarkation day so you will be fine wearing these.

Chinos and Blouse

If you aren’t a dress person then I recommend either chinos or chino shorts and a blouse for embarkation day. This is smart for travel and won’t look casual in the main dining room.


While I love exploring the ship on embarkation day, I also always head to the pool or hot tub for a quick dip after dinner.

If you plan to do this (and I heartily recommend it) then be sure to pack your hand luggage otherwise you may be disappointed if your luggage isn’t put in your state room early.

Beach cover

Or if you are planning on sunbathing on embarkation day you may want to add a beach cover to your hand luggage for when going up to the outdoor bar.

Please note: you do not need to bring a towel on board a cruise ship with you as all cruises provide beach towels for use on the pool deck.


I also like to wear any sentimental pieces of jewelry on embarkation day rather than leaving them in checked luggage. I then put anything important in the stateroom safe as soon as it is ready.


You will be spending a lot of time outside on deck on embarkation day, from exploring the pool deck to being outside to watch the sailaway.

The sun on the sea can become dazzling. Be sure to have your eyes protected by having your sunglasses with you at all times on embarkation day

Sun Hat

You may or may not need your sun hat for embarkation day but I always wear mine on as part of my embarkation day outfit simply because it saves your hat getting squished and out of shape being packed in your main luggage. This is more important on a hot weather cruise than on a winter or cold weather cruise.

How to Style your Cruise Outfit

Woman on cruise ship - What to wear on cruise embarkation day outfit inspiration
What to wear on cruise embarkation day outfit inspiration

You may also be wondering about the style of your cruise outfits for embarkation. I would say that the most important thing is that you dress comfortably and in your style.

However having said that you will notice that many people will chose to have some nautical fashion nods in their outfits.

For instance I find that many people choose to go with blue and white color palettes and lots of stripes on embarkation day. However don’t feel like you need to do this if it isn’t your style

Next Reads: Looking for more cruise related wardrobe and packing advice? Be sure to check out our cruise packing list guides:

What is your favorite embarkation day outfit? Let us know if the comments below.