15-piece summer cruising travel capsule wardrobe | what to pack for a cruise

12 tips for how to pack and plan for your next cruise holiday

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to, Travel 21 Comments

Sponsored by Allianz Travel Insurance

I’ll be upfront with you. I’ve only ever been on one cruise – and it was a cruise to nowhere – but I plan to go on cruises in the future and I know that many of you here in the Styling You community are avid cruisers.

That one cruise sampler journey did give me a taste of just how good it could be, arriving on board, unpacking just ONCE and being in holiday mode from the get-go.

I’m also of the era when we grew up watching the Love Boat. As a nine-year-old living in a regional Queensland town, the show was a window to a magical and glamorous (floating) world where each day was “exciting and new”. I wanted to BE Julie.

Now that the Love Boat theme song is firmly in your head (you’re welcome), what I did learn on that short cruise from talking to veteran cruisers and working some things out by accident for myself, was that what you pack is essential for getting the most out of all possible activities on the cruise

I’ve also learned that when heading off on a cruise – even one that just sails to “nowhere” – travel insurance is essential. Yes, there will be medical help on board but if you require evacuation from the ship, without travel insurance that covers it, you’ll be up for some potentially big expenses.

Read on for more information, plus my 12 tips for how to pack and plan for a cruise.

12 tips for how to pack and plan for a cruise holiday

12 tips for how to pack and plan for a cruise

1. Pack for a resort escape that matches the weather for the time of year you are travelling. Most cruising out of Australia happens during the summer months but if you’re cruising in the southern part of the country, it could be cool/cold. 

2. Pack a selection of clothes that is dressier than a camping holiday but still comfortable and easy to wear. Cruise or resort wear is typically relaxed in style and structure (insert obvious jokes about the buffet here!) but is still on the side of smart casual.

3. Keep in mind you might require some evening pieces for dinners or events. There is a sense of occasion, getting ready for dinner in the dining room or one of the restaurants on a cruise ship. It’s not necessarily a black tie or formal situation but it’s definitely a case of packing some outfits that you’d feel comfortable wearing to an upmarket restaurant.

4. Some cruises will also have theme nights, so pack to fit in with those themes too. Find out what theme nights are happening on your cruise and source your costume and props before going on the cruise. Once on board, the chances of finding pieces to suit the theme will be slim.

5. Consider what activities you’ll be doing on any shore visits. Will you be walking or hiking, visiting any churches or sacred monuments? Dressing with respect for the local culture is appropriate. Having clothes and footwear suitable for walking big distances is essential.

6. Comfortable footwear is key. Leave the stilettos at home. A block heel or wedge is fine for any dressed-up dinner situations. By day, pack slides, thongs and flat sandals. There is a lot of walking to be done on board the ship and on potential shore visits. You want shoes that won’t let you down.

7. Do factor in the potential for the wind at sea to make things cooler than you’re used to – even in mid-summer. Lightweight knits and wraps are ideal.

8. If on a summer cruise, pack at least two swimsuits – and a swim/rash vest – it’s a hot sun out there in the middle of the ocean. Take your swimsuit on board with you in your carry on (if having your bags checked in). This means you won’t have to wait for your bags to get to your cabin before you can take a dip and be in the spirit of the cruise from the get go.

9. Pack a broad brimmed hat – one that fits you well and isn’t prone to flying off your head in a gust of wind.

10. Pack a universal power adaptor to use the power points in your cabin. If you pack a power board like I always do, you only have to have one adaptor. All your devices can be plugged into the board.

11. Do pack your active wear, if only for a walk around the top deck. You might also find the gym or a yoga class calling you.

12. Decide how much laundry you want to do when on your cruising holiday. Most ships offer a laundry service and/or have a self-serve laundromat on board. If it’s a short cruise, then take on board enough clothes so you don’t have to spend time doing the washing. 

15-piece cruise travel capsule wardrobe

The following travel capsule is a guide for you when planning your own trip – items featured may no longer be available (you’ll find the links on my Polyvore page). It’s the base to which you might want to add more. The great thing about cruising is that your bags are delivered on board to your room, you can unpack them and then not have to worry about re-packing until the end of the trip. I like that this gives you more liberty to pack more. (Oops, did I just say that, the Reformed Packer!

I’ve selected pieces below that can be both dressed up and down with the addition of different shoes and/or accessories. This is always the key to creating a travel capsule wardrobe that will give you more bang for your buck. Do add in pieces suggested in the tips above and also swap out longer pants for the shorts if shorts are not your thing.

15-piece summer cruising travel capsule wardrobe | what to pack for a cruise

Clothing images are suggestions only and meant as a guide – some pieces may still be available – details HERE

So, tell me, are you a cruise veteran? Going on a cruise soon? What tips can you add for us?

Why travel insurance is important when you go on a cruise

Travel insurance is important, whether you’re cruising just off the coast of Australia or in international waters. Medicare or your private health insurance won’t cover you once you’re on board a ship. Travel insurance for medical expenses, hospitalisation and medical evacuations is key. 

For me, I don’t book a holiday without first taking out travel insurance. Often the time of booking can be long before the time of travel and you can never be certain of what might happen between then and showing your passport at customs.

I then want to take off knowing that if someone in my family needs it, I’m backed up with help from my travel insurance company. For my last three trips – to EuropeHawaii and to Bali – I’ve chosen and paid for Allianz travel insurance. 

Obtaining Allianz travel insurance is a simple and easy process. I select and purchase my cover online. I’ve found that the insurance cover is competitive in price for the inclusions I select.

For me, it’s about having peace of mind when we travel. I want to know that if anything goes wrong that my family is backed up through medical help or simply help with extra accommodation or replacement belongings should something be stolen.

When our son was sick five years ago while in New York, we weren’t concerned by the potential expense should we need hospital treatment. And when I book holidays in advance, I do so with the knowledge that if unexpected cancellations occur, I’m covered.^

In short, I don’t leave home – or book a holiday – without it.

Book with Allianz Travel Insurance online HEREEnter  STYLINGYOU to receive up to 10% off International Comprehensive Travel Insurance*


*Discount based on standard premium rates and applies to International Comprehensive policies only. Please note some discounts may have already been applied to premiums when a product is purchased through a certain channel (for example, online) (Original Discount). In such a case, the greater of the discount offered under this voucher and the Original Discount will be applied. Discount applies to standard premiums only. No discount will be applied to other premium components such as pre-existing medical condition cover.

Allianz Travel Insurance is issued and managed by AWP Australia Pty Ltd ABN 52 097 227 177 AFS Licence No. 245631, trading as Allianz Global Assistance, on behalf of the insurer Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFS Licence No. 234708. Any information or advice here does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the Product Disclosure Statement available at allianz.com.au before buying this product.

^Terms, conditions, limits, and exclusions apply. Please see the Product Disclosure Statement for more information. Any information or advice here does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. If you purchase a policy, Allianz Global Assistance receives a commission which is a percentage of your premium – ask them for more details before they provide you with any services on this product.   

Want my tried and true packing formula for any escape?

My e-book, Confessions of a Reformed Over-Packer, has all the tips and tricks you need to plan and pack for ANY holiday or escape.


Comments 21

  1. Oh, I can not stress enough how important travel insurance is. We booked our first cruise just over two years ago. Exactly a week before we were sailing my son broke his leg really badly at school and the Doctor laughed at me when I asked if we could still go on the cruise. We had to cancel the cruise a week before which means the cruise company had no sympathy. Luckily we had the insurance and got all the money back. Wish us luck as we have booked another cruise, which will now be our first, and are going in July! Hopefully no broken bones this time!

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  2. Hi Nikki

    Off on two cruises back to back and was doing some reading as recalled you had posted a few cruise capsules in the past – I cant seem to find the polypore link capsule after clicking on the link button…can you point me in the right direction ? Cheers Jenny

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  3. Hi Nikki. We head off on our second family cruise next week. The last one was for 18 days to Hawaii. This one is only 9 nights and way to short in my opinion. 🙂 Best way to travel with the kids. I am starting to pack today as we leave for Melbourne first on Friday. So excited to just float and relax. My husband and I are already planning what spa treatments we will have.

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  4. We love cruising & in February are off to Sth America for 3 weeks travel before joining the longest cruise we’ve done so far – 30 days. Packing will be a challenge as we will be experiencing a huge range of temperatures. Hot & steamy in northern parts of the continent and in Central America and really, really cold down in the southern parts such as the Falklands and Patagonia. And then we have 3 weeks in Canada where it will probably be cool and wet. At least it will be easier than our trip to Africa in September when we had a 12kg limit for our safari. I think I need to sit with some bubbly and plan!!

  5. Love the post and am also packing for a beach then NZ Christmas cruise. We cruise a lot and I stick to a capsule but take dresses galore ++ as I love to dress up at night. Shoes wise I’m taking Frankie 4 Ellie’s (silver), a nude and a black pair of comfy heels and birkenstocks. So excited! Merry Christmas everyone!!

  6. Thank you for this great post, Nikki. It’s very timely as we’re off on a Christmas Cruise on Saturday! So excited! Re packing: I like options and won’t really have to carry my suitcase very far, so I think it’s ok to take extra pieces. There are three themed dress-up nights and one formal night on this cruise. And Santa will be there as well of course! Lots of fun to be had! Cheers, Kxx

  7. I’ve done several cruises, the most incredible one was to Antarctica – just the most amazing place and I’d go again in a heartbeat (might have to mortgage the house though). I enjoy the casual vibe during the day and dressing up at night and having a good bop after dinner – pretending its burning off some of the excess calories consumed during the day.

  8. This post is rather timely. I’m going on a cruise next week & I’m currently in the midst of packing. I’m sort of sticking with a capsule wardrobe, but allowing myself a little leeway to pack some extra outfits for night-time since I don’t get to wear my more dressier pieces that often. That being said I reckon I could cull at least 1 night-time outfit, but I’ll make up my mind closer to the departure date.

  9. I’ve been on one cruise a Nikki I loved it and didn’t want to come home,not sure I want to go on another just yet though!
    Great travel outfit for a cruise xx

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  10. Hi Nikki, we watch the cruise ships sailing past northwards from our front balcony. They look so pretty at night, all lit up. I would love to go on a cruise, but suffer badly from seasickness. Agree with travel insurance, we are currently in the process of negotiating refunds from our insurer. The capsule looks great, any ideas where I could get some similar earrings in red please? Happy hump day x

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