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! We’ll focus on packing for a luxury cruise in Europe in this post.
For many of us, a Mediterranean cruise involves an overseas flight, with all the usual baggage restrictions. After our first European cruise when my brother’s family’s luggage was lost in transit, we choose to pack carry-on. Or at least carry-on a bag with 2-3 days of outfits, swimwear and some basic toiletries. If your luggage is lost/delayed on a cruise vacation, it can be many days before your bag catches up with the ship. 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
Research your luxury cruise line before beginning to pack
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.
Dinner and evening wear: How formal is formal? Cocktail dresses and tuxes? or wedding chic? Note: even if there are no formal dinners, many luxury cruise lines restrict what you can wear in the dining room.
Regent Cruises – Elegant Casual: Skirt, or slacks (no jeans) with a blouse or sweater, pant suit or dress for ladies; slacks (no jeans) and collared shirt for gentlemen
Seabourn Cruise line: Elegant casual on most nights, after 6 p.m., in all restaurants and public areas. On formal nights, tuxedo or suit and jacket for men; evening gown or cocktail attire for women.
Windstar Cruise lines – evening wear is defined as “casual elegance” – but the dress code in the specialty restaurants requests no t-shirts, shorts, jeans, hats or flip-flops.
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.
Anticipate your activities in port
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. Most cruise ships will supply water for your tour, but you might bring a reusuable water bottle to save on waste.
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.
Suggestions for packing for a luxury cruise in the Mediterranean
Walking Shoes for touring days
All travelers need supportive and comfortable 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 – choose one basic color for your packing and build around that. Liven it up with colorful scarves and a couple of cheerful 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 on our Windstar cruise vacations and has NEVER worn it, but this will be mandatory on our Seabourn cruise!
Exercise gear encouraged. Sneakers, tee shirts, and shorts. There is usually a fitness room with an extraordinary view on every ship! You WILL need to work off that gelato!
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.
- Camera or high quality cell phone – We love photography so each carry a camera. 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.
- Back-up batteries
- eReader – for the overseas flight and sea days by the pool
- [optional] Binoculars – a lightweight pair of binoculars will be great for examining architecture
Extras you’ll want to pack for your trip
- Packable duffel – you WILL find some wonderful souvenirs to bring home. Pack the duffel with clothing and carry your breakable treasures in your carry-on
- Sunscreen and/or other lotions for your skin type. Most ships will have a store offering toiletries and sun protection products, but if there’s something that works well for you, then include it in your packing.
- Sun hat!!!
What I packed for our luxury 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, can be used as a swim cover-up, or as a head covering in a sacred spot
4. two pairs of shorts, (mid to bermuda length for over 50 women)
5. workout wear, merino wool tees, shorts, and exercise pants
6. two dresses, one short and one a lightweight sundress
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 packing for a luxury cruise in the Mediterranean. You might also enjoy:
Download our European Cruise Packing List
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