What to Bring for Cruises to Mexico & Caribbean
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
What should women bring for warm weather cruises? Here are packing tips for eveningwear for cruises to places like the Caribbean, Mexico, the Panama Canal, or Hawaii.
Many women want to know what to bring for a cruise to a warm weather destination. Well, a lot depends on the cruise line and the specific ship, however here are my suggestions for dinners and evenings on cruise ships.
Warm Weather Cruises
Once upon a time, all cruise ships had explicit and precise dress codes. However, these days, most cruise lines are quite informal. And, while I love having lots of options, knowing what to pack has become a little bit trickier because of all these new "rules". And, to muddy things up even more, every cruise line has different standards and every ship has different levels of enforcement.
Here are some general ideas to keep in mind when you're trying to pack enough, but not too much, for a warm weather cruise to a place like the Caribbean, Mexico, or the Panama Canal.
Comfort, comfort, comfort, comfort, comfort. You should ONLY pack clothing and shoes that are comfortable. A cruise is a vacation. You should strive for comfort on your vacation. That being said, comfort does not mean ugly and sloppy.
The weather on your cruise will be hot and tropical, so cotton, silk, lightweight denim, microfiber, and natural-fiber blends (which are wrinkle-free, breathable, and lightweight) are the fabrics of choice. You WILL be able to find something chic and simple in your closet or online. It does not take a lot of money to dress well, but it does take a bit of thought, innovation, and taste.
You're on vacation... you're not going to a funeral. So, a cruise is a good time to wear all those fun, floral, colorful, happy things in your closet. Sure, black is slimming... but most women on cruises are not a size zero.
Have a little fun. Be playful. Wear colorful jewelry that might be a bit too gaudy for work... hey, you're not going to be in Kansas... you're going to be in a tropical country where it's okay to wear hot pink or bright turquoise or every bright color you can think of all mixed together into one vibrant print. If everyone else is wearing black... feel sorry for them.
How Much to Bring?
Packing for a cruise is totally different than packing for a multi-city land tour. And, one of the biggest joys of cruising is that you only need to unpack once. As you know, on a regular tour, you only take out a few things each night, but on a cruise ship, you get to unpack EVERYTHING in your bag as soon as you settle in.
And, when your cruise is over, all you have to do is throw all your stuff back into your bag. It's that easy.
Your Vacation Comes to You
Instead of going from hotel to hotel, like a regular tour, when you travel by sea, all kinds of interesting cities come to you… as your moving hotel drifts from place to place. This makes it so much easier to bring a bigger suitcase and to pack more outfits, shoes, accessories, hats, makeup, and everything else that makes you feel comfortable and happy.
Well, that’s a very good thing because you are going to be seeing many of the same cruise mates over and over. Still, most cruise ships are no fashion show... so opt for casual comfort over insincere glam.
New cruisers often fret about what to wear to dinner. Here’s a general guideline, though Disney cruises are going to be different from high-end luxe liners.
Main Dining Room: Most women wear a casual dress or a cute top and smart slacks ensemble (sometimes with a lightweight jacket). You can wear any outfit you would wear to a good restaurant in your hometown or you can be a bit more festive... it just depends on your mood.
Formal Nights: Many ships have one or two formal nights, where you have a chance to get all dolled up in a dressy outfit and wear a bunch of fun jewelry (either faux or real) to add a festive note to your cruise adventure.
Casual Options: Almost every ship has other options if you don’t want to get dressed up for the main dining room:
- Room Service
- Pizza/Hamburger/Hotdog Joint on the deck near the pool
Shoes for Your Cruise Dinners
Sandals are best but remember that it is sometimes tricky to wear heels while a ship is rocking and rolling on the high seas, so pack some back-up flats or low heels. High heels are fine for females who have good balance during minor tsunamis. However, you should not pack every shoe you own because there is limited storage space in cabins.
Also, most ships have a small store for clothing and other forgotten necessities or you can pick up things along the trip. All ports north of Ushuaia have good shopping... believe me... they are set up to accommodate touristas.
Most Important Tip: Have Fun
Have fun. Get out in the sun. Wear a hat to keep wrinkles off your face, but everyone needs some vitamin D every now and then. And, don’t worry too much about what to pack, but make sure that your shoes and clothing fit or you will be uncomfortable… and then you won’t have as much fun on your cruise. I’ve been on a ton of cruises even though I get seasick, because my husband likes the luxury and simplicity of cruising… and he’s paying, so how can I say, “No,” to that? Besides... the food is good.
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