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Cruise Wear for Women Over 50: What to Pack

Summer is fast approaching and that means travel. Several of my readers have asked me to share what to pack for a cruise. The answer depends on the time of year, where you’re cruising and the formality of your ship.

I never check bags when I fly so I pack versatile pieces that can be worn multiple ways. I bring fewer items than most do because I wear thing several times in different ways.

Cruise wear for women over 50 by Jennifer at A Well Styled Life
jersey dress styled for day excursion with straw hat and flat sandals

Shore excursions call for comfort and layers. Flat shoes, a straw tote and sunnies are part of my everyday wear for a cruise. A white shirt tied at the waist is great for lightweight coverage and waist definition. I can take it off and stow in my tote if it gets too hot.

What to Pack

  • 3- 4 bottoms, skirts or pants
  • 5-6 tops
  • 1-2 casual to dressy dresses
  • a wrap and a lightweight jacket for ocean breezes
  • knits and crushable fabrics
  • stick to 2 main colors for your garments, and add pizzazz with accessories
  • solid colors allow more mixing and matching and are less memorable
  • several scarves to change-up the look of tops
  • comfortable walking shoes
  • dressy flats or small heels if you like
  • a tote for shore excursions and trips to the pool aboard the ship
  • a small evening bag
  • sun hat
  • scarves of varying size and weight
  • it’s best to travel with nice costume jewelry
  • several pairs of sunglasses because they change your look instantly and you’re likely to wear them daily

A classic white shirt, worn open and tied at the waist gives lightweight coverage for sleeveless dresses.

A simple jersey dress can be invaluable. They come out of your bag unwrinkled and are easy care. Full-length ones can dress up or down and do double duty. They’re also stretchy and accommodate the several pound weight gain I always get on a cruise:).

Alternating stripes and asymetrical lines gives the illusion of a waistline, where I don't have one.

A change of shoes, bag, and jewelry transform this jersey dress for dinner and a show in the evening.

Easy wearing knits and clean lines in this resort casual look from Chico's

A knit jacket or blazer polishes many looks, It can top Bermuda shorts during the day or a jersey dress at night. I leave all my good jewelry at home and pack lots of costume pieces. Having a variety of necklaces, earrings and scarves can change the look of any outfit.

Do you have any upcoming cruises?

Have a fabulous week!




  1. No cruise planned for this year, but I did two different cruises last year. Easy care knits are a must have for cruises. Also more than one swimsuit if the weather will be warm and always a jacket of some sort. Clothes that can do double duty are essential. This summer I have two different trips planned. One is our annual camping trip to the High Sierras with 2 of my sons and that’s easy for clothes. The other trip is combination business and pleasure. One week in New Orleans for the annual Avon convention and then directly to Alabama to visit my daughter and her family. So, some business casual with one dressier outfit for the convention and then some totally casual for family visit. Knits are always my go to for traveling.

  2. Cruising is wonderful. Out of our 16 cruises, the one this February to Asia was the most challenging to pack for. It was 90 humid degrees in Singapore to snow in Japan at Mt. Fuji! Always bring a jacket. I didn’t and bought one on board in my husbands size to wear–it was warm but not my style. I’m looking forward to our next cruise in August to northern Europe and seeing St. Petersburg. I’d also recommend to always bring a cross body bag like the bagallini brand, lightweight and rfid protected…

  3. I usually take a couple of maxi skirts and one pair of knit wider leg pants (Chico’s) and different tops that can be worn with both plus a light knit jacket as ships tend to be on the cool side at night. Of course there are very elegant women present who wear evening dresses but I have never felt out of place. For day time I always take a windbreaker jacket as you just don’t know what it will be like no matter if you are in Istanbul or Buenos Aires. Have a wonderful time, Jennifer!

  4. I love The striped dress on you! The blazer was such a nice addition.
    I am going on and Alaskan cruise in 3 weeks so I will need some layers.
    Also we are thinking rain.
    I also take a selection of costume jewelry a couple of “statement” necklaces.
    Your necklace was perfect.
    Love your blog.

  5. We’re about to go on our first cruise next month and I’m so glad I found this on Pinterest today, Jennifer! Didn’t even realize it was you, then I thought, “She looks familiar!” haha! Anyway, thanks for this and your looks are awesome!

  6. Very pretty. I wear jersey maxi dresses whenever I travel. Takes you from breakfast to churches to walking around to a nice dinner. It’s very smart paired with the white shirt.

  7. I thought the photo with the tree man was showing how he was so taken with you that he had to hustle out of his truck to check you out. Stick with this theory, will you as it’s working! It’s the PERFECT backdrop set up.

  8. Anything that packs well is on my list for a cruise or any vacation. I am traveling at least once a month for the rest of the year, sometimes more than that, so I am going to be on the lookout for some Chico’s wear!

  9. I love how you have styled this striped dress in two unique ways, Jen. You have dressed it up and dressed it down just perfectly for vacation wear–whether a cruise or resort vacation. Chico’s has some fun pieces this season from what I’ve seen on their TV ads.
    I’ve only been on one cruise, but with my new travel business I see more cruising in the future. Love how you are keeping it real with the gardener. 😉
    xx, Heather
    PS-thanks for the kind words on our fire. Such a tough time. We are safe and sound though, feeling grateful. xx

    1. Your new travel business is brilliant. You always know the very best places to vacation! Glad things are calmed down!

  10. I love the dress and you are right just changing it up really changes the look. Great list but it would be perfect if it included a Haralee.Com Sleepwear pajamas set. Just saying, you need something light weight and comfy and UPF50 to sleep in or relax on your balcony!

  11. Hi Jennifer – loved the post but it made me chuckle a bit as I’m going on my 4th cruise quite soon and I will so not be putting a sun hat and sandals in my suitcase because I’m going to Norway quite soon. Actually, I could be wrong, it could be sunny and warm so will pack a tiny sun-hat, but it could also rain (very likely), it could also be cold, it could even snow right at the top of Norway. I love going to Norway (it’s a popular destination for cruisers in Europe). Actually, if anyone in the US is going anywhere Norway, even in the summer, do pack a rain coat and a warm top!

    Also all previous (3) cruises have evenings when you dress up – men in a tux and bow tie, women in a long frocks. I do not ever do casual so I take long frocks and cocktail dresses for all the evenings not just the Gala nights – for me that’s what cruising is all about! Trying hard to cut down, though, as for the first time I’m flying to the embarkation port!! I love the stripy dress above in your pics!

  12. Wonderful advice and so practical! I enjoyed all your photos, particularly the last one which shows you have a delightful sense of humor.

    1. Thanks Carol. I think I’ll share more of my bloopers. Life is too short not to. Thanks for reading.

  13. Omg! I love you for doing this! We set sail in 5 weeks and my chore for today is to assess both our wardrobes to start getting what we need. And I can always find something as Chicos!

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