Nothing says ‘Bucket List’ like a Mediterranean cruise vacation! Blue seas, balmy winds, and Instagram-worthy ports of call. But packing for a Mediterranean cruise can be a challenge. You’ll likely need dressy outfits for evenings on board ship, from ‘country club’ casual to formal wear, and appropriate touring outfits for intensive port days. And don’t forget the beach wear!
For most of us, this trip involves an overseas flight, with all the usual baggage restrictions. After our first Mediterranean cruise when my brother’s family’s luggage was lost in transit, we chose to pack carry-on. Or at least carry on a bag with 2-3 days of outfits. Check with your airline before packing to see what you can check and what can be carried on-board.
There are as many cruises to take as there are ports of call! Large ships are often more affordable and get you to the top destinations. Small ships may cover less ground (sea!) but allow for stops at out-of-the-way destinations. Whether you choose a budget friendly mega ship or a smaller luxury cruise line, you’ll love this trip of a lifetime!
Free packing list below
Anticipate Your Destination and Planned Activities
Before beginning your packing, think about your anticipated excursions.
Visiting religious or sacred sites? You will need appropriate clothing – women may need to have their shoulders, knees and head covered. Some mosques and churches can issue you a robe and/or head covering, but there is no guarantee of cleanliness of these shared outfits… It’s easier to dress conservatively and carry a scarf.
Hiking or exploring ancient ruins? Good footwear is a must! And wear a hat, the sun is intense in the Mediterranean.
Snorkeling, kayaking or beaching it? Remember sunscreen! You can purchase this on the ship or ashore, but your particular brands might not be available. Again, wear a hat.
Know your cruise line. Most cruise lines will have dress requirements listed on their website, but don’t hesitate to call to ask a question.
Formal evenings: How formal is formal? Cocktail dresses and tuxes? or wedding chic? Note: even if there are no formal dinners, some lines restrict what you can wear in the dining room.
Laundry services: How easy is it to get clothing cleaned? Some ships have self-serve washers and dryers, and some provide overnight delivery for a price.
Packing for a European Cruise
All travelers need good walking shoes. Sneakers will do, but will immediately identify you as a tourist. To blend in better (and not get ripped off by touts!), bring shoes that are more fashionable or subtle.
Three of my favorites (from left) –
- Ecco Damara gladiator sandals are remarkably comfortable with a cushioned footbed, yet are elegant enough for dinner in a specialty restaurant.
- Chaco Outcross is an athletic shoe, but has the advantage of being waterproof. Think hiking or kayaking!
- Teva has a wide range of shoes that work for active traveling. I like the stylish Teva Tirra.
Dave swears by his Tevas.
Note: many ships do not allow men to wear sandals in the dining rooms. Bring a casual shoe just in case.
Women: Pack a capsule wardrobe livened up with colorful scarves and one or two sundresses. (see our Capsule Wardrobe Guide or check out my list below) Don’t forget a light sweater for over air-conditioned dining rooms.
My favorite easy to pack travel clothing for women
Men: khakis, shorts, polos, all in quick-dry material, if possible. Dave always packs a sports coat and has NEVER worn it. YMMV
Most ships offer laundry services but we carry Woolite packets to do some hand washing just in case. Pack merino wool items whenever possible to cut down on luggage volume, weight and necessary washing!
Gear & Gadgets
Don’t underestimate the beauty or the architecture on this trip. We love photography so each carry a camera, with backup batteries. A high quality cellphone will work well if you’re looking to cut down on gear, but make sure you have a way of backing up photos as you travel.
Exercise gear encouraged. There is usually a fitness room with an extraordinary view on every ship! You WILL need to work of that gelato!
What I packed for our Mediterranean Cruise
1. Darby Mack camera bag, doubled as a cute purse
2. two pairs cropped pants. One pair is the Dressy Sweatpants from Encircled. These are great for the plane and convert to capris on the ship.
3. two scarves
4. two pairs of shorts
5. workout wear
6. two dresses
7. four dressy blouses (lightweight sleeveless tops are practically weightless, but great for a new look.)
8. general tees and tops – those shown in photo are cotton. I love the versatility, but now pack only merino wool tops. Merino wool is quick-drying, lightweight, and odor resistant. We recommend Icebreaker tops.
9. one or two lightweight sweaters – we recommend Smartwool merino wool sweaters.
Hope we’ve helped with your planning. You might also enjoy:
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