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With so many travelers heading on a cruise this season, we’ve consulted an expert to give you the best tips on what to pack for a Caribbean cruise. Michelle Faure worked for Carnival Cruise lines for 3 ½ years.
She was lucky enough to work on 4 different ships and has done a variety of cruises all over the Caribbean, taking her through Miami, St Martens, Puerto Rico, Belize, Mexico, and many more fabulous destinations!
When planning what to pack for a Caribbean cruise, follow these expert tips:
Caribbean Cruise Wear Essentials
A Caribbean cruise is one of the top destinations for sailing on the beautiful ocean. You can expect lots of sun, fun, good food, and style. Here, we’re sharing our tried and true tips for what to pack for a Caribbean cruise.
What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise for the Daytime
Daytime on a cruise is filled with tons of exciting activities for you to choose from. When deciding what to pack for a Caribbean cruise, here are some travel outfit ideas depending on your chosen activities:
- Feminine kaftans over your bikini and flip flops when lounging by the pool or a beach
- Cute sundresses and stylish sandals for cocktails at a bar
- A pair of comfortable shorts and trainers for kayaking, mountain climbing, or trekking for on shore excursions
- A comfortable pair of shoes and fun sundress or shorts and tank top for shopping and sightseeing
The ship is always air-conditioned so don’t forget to pack a shawl and two layers such as a button up top and blazer or hoodie and light jacket depending on your style.
Pack a sarong or beach towel if you want to lay out on the beach or poolside with plenty of coverage.
TRAVEL STYLIST TIP: You can also get your clothing washed on board or make use of laundry facilities on longer cruises to minimize the need to overpack.
What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise for the Nighttime
For Captain’s Dinner, you have to dress up – plan to wear a nice cocktail dress with heels, jewelry, make-up, and whatever makes you feel all dolled up. Alternatively, if you don’t like cocktail dresses you can wear a long gown or sophisticated pant suit if this is more your style.
At night time plan to dress it up with wedges or kitten heels for dinners, drinks, shows, and dancing. Avoid stilettos unless you’re super confident wearing them on a ship. You can wear flats so long as they’re dressy and not crocs or flip flops.
For regular dinner nights, you can eat at the buffet in your shorts, tee, and flip flops if you want. If you go to the dining room, do dressy casual with a feminine dress and cute flats or you can also wear jeans, a nice top, and a nice pair of wedges.
While you can dress a bit more casually for dinner on regular nights, you still want to look fab if you’re hitting a club or show afterwards. It just depends on what you plan to do.An easy evening outfit is to pair your sundresses with wedges, costume jewelry, and a blazer. Casual to chic!
For hair, the ship should have a blow dryer in your cabin so plan to pack a travel size straightener or curling iron if needed. Check out these easy travel hairstyles for heatless style ideas. You can also get your hair and makeup done in the ship’s salon. How glam!
TRAVEL STYLIST TIP: Choose neutral shoe colors that will match with all your clothing such as black, nude, ivory, beige, silver, gold, or other metallics. If you’re good with color, go with whatever makes your outfits pop!
What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise: Men’s Edition
If you’re traveling with a guy, suggest that he also brings a selection of nice clothing. For daytime, a pair of shorts and t-shirt is fine. For regular dinner, jeans and a polo or chinos and button up are great. And for the Captain’s Dinner, he’ll need a suit which he can conveniently rent on board.
Caribbean Shopping Tips
Things are expensive on the cruise ship itself. However, you can buy designer goods duty free if you’re a Prada-type gal or take advantage of the sales that take place at the end of the cruise. Also, because things have a higher cost on the cruise, make sure to bring enough toiletries.
Use these guidelines to help you travel size your items. Remember, there will be endless shopping opportunities when you stop on the islands so leave plenty of room in your suitcase for cheap finds and souvenirs.
Reader Tips on What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise
- I have done a few cruises all over the Caribbean. Rooms are tiny with very little storage so take much less that you think. Focus on fabulous costume jewelry sets – that is what everyone will see. A good black travel dress is awesome for cruises. – Noonan Rubick
- Definitely take a black dress and rent a tux to save space. – Dana Muma
- For daytime, Swimsuit with cover-up/dress that can take you indoors for lunch or breakfast though eating by the pool on board is so nice! For evening, I took two dresses and six additional pieces that were all interchangeable. Dress for comfort on excursions, and definitely take a cross body bag. Your eveningwear will take the most room in your bag, don’t over think the rest! – Lesley Carlson Poulton
- Be sure to pack something a little warmer (jean jacket, wrap, etc) for sitting on the deck at night. – Wesley Hoffmann
- Pack a pashmina for cold dining rooms. – Tania Mazur Davis
- Pack a small flashlight, sweat suit, windbreaker, and cardigan. The air conditioning is very cold. – Magaly Gazo
- Pack more than one swimsuit. Nothing’s worse than wearing the one from the day before and it’s still wet! – Ellie Kirchner
Caribbean Travel Tips
While most cruise departures are from Florida, if you’re coming from abroad, you might find cheaper flights to New York or Los Angeles (depending on your location) and then catch an internal flight down.
Alternatively, if you’re coming from the USA, keep an eye out for discount flights on budget airlines as much time in advance to coordinate with your departure date.
Where to Shop for Cruise Wear
You may be wondering where to shop for cruise appropriate clothing. The best tip is to search for ‘cruisewear’ or ‘resortwear’ on Google to see if you can find some retailers near you or better yet, shop online.
What are your tips for what to pack for a Caribbean cruise? Share with us now!
For more tips on cruise packing list, please read:
- What to Pack for a Cruise Vacation
- Ten Unexpected Things You’ll Experience On a Cruise
- Galapagos Packing List for Cruise and Island Adventures
- Cruising In Celebrity Style: Glamorous Cruise Ships
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