What to Pack for a Seven Night Cruise Overview

You’re going for it – you’ve finally booked your much-anticipated seven-night cruise, but you have no idea what you need to pack. To help you decide, here’s an overview of what I suggest to pack for a seven-night cruise.

Passengers' luggage stacked near the ship's elevator.
I think some people may have packed too much for a seven night cruise. (Photo: Sherry Laskin)

What to Pack for a Seven-Night Cruise

Packing for a vacation can be a time-consuming experience. Unlike me, some people begin several days in advance and leave plenty of time to repack until departure day.

In reality, packing for any vacation doesn’t have to be complicated. Though when it comes to cruises, there are a few things to keep in mind.

You’ve got seven days to cruise, so what do you pack? In this situation, one suitcase really should do just fine. Some luxury ships might harken back to a bygone age with elegant interiors and enforced dress codes.

Luckily, long gone are the days of large travel trunks filled with gowns, shoes and hats for every onboard occasion. Today, our sense of dress is a mixed bag. Casual can easily be re-jigged to be more formal and visa versa. Add a little accessory or two and you’re done.

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One of my first rules to pack for a cruise is…

Pack Light

A seven-day voyage is the perfect opportunity to practice how to travel light. Think about what you’d like to wear for three or four days, not seven. After all, it’s easy to give that favorite red top of yours a quick wash. Many ships offering self-service laundry facilities.

All ocean cruise ships have a fee-based laundry service. Sometimes they’ll run laundry wash and dry promotions in the middle of your cruise. But really, who will notice if you wear the same top twice and you get to feel fabulous all over again?

Crew member shoveling snow on the pool deck.
Yes…that’s snow. Lucky this crewman had the right clothes! Would you? (Photo: Sherry Laskin)

Consider the Itinerary

It’s really important to research the weather for your destination and ports of call. If you’re heading to the Mediterranean during the peak summer season, there’s going to be very little need for a thick sweater and gloves (always bring a lightweight sweater for the dining room).

But if you’re cruising to Alaska for example, you might need wool clothing as much as you would need a sunhat, sunscreen and sunglasses. If you’re unsure or concerned that you might require something warm (especially in the evenings) – layering is always a good option.

Remember, it’s always cooler on the water. And absolutely very cold cruising the fjords. 

Some Cruise Ships Have Dress Codes

While you’re enjoying the many daytime activities on board a ship – from pickleball, to shopping to relaxing in one of the lounges – casual attire is encouraged. What you need poolside is usually self-explanatory. Bring a cover-up if you plan to traipse in and out of the Lido Buffet from the pool.

On the more luxury cruise ships, from 6pm, things might start getting a bit more complicated. Dress codes such as “casual”, “informal”, “resort casual” and “formal” come into play in public rooms and restaurants.

People in formal wear in Crystal Cruise main dining room.
All dressed up for dinner aboard Crystal Serenity in the Main Dining Room.

Double check, but some ships have two formal or gala nights on a seven-night cruise (the rest are casual or semi-formal evenings). Some guests still love the chance to glam it up with diamond (faux!) jewelry, embroidered gowns and skyscraper heels, which can certainly be a lot of fun.

However, these days a just a black cocktail dress for a woman, and a business suit for a man will usually do. Some ships are less formal than this but check before leaving home. If there happens to be a touch of rough seas, those skyscraper heels will have to stay in your closet.

Where is Informal Clothing OK?

Shorts, bikinis, and swimsuits might work in gym areas or at the poolside. In the more casual venues and restaurants, it’s not a good look nor allowed. But it’s fine for lido lunching as long as you wear an appropriate cover.

Think about the times you’ve stayed at a hotel that has a leisure center, you’d always put a caftan or something similar on before heading back to your room – the same sort of rules apply here.

Little Extras

Most ships include a hairdryer in the stateroom, but some older ships may still have the wall-mounted type. In that case, you might want to take your own hairdryer. Most ships will not allow a flat or curling iron. Check with your cruise line before you pack it. 

Magnet clips are also very useful. You might think your cabin wall isn’t made out of metal, but it is. You can attach important paperwork such as shore excursions tickets, newsletters, dinner invitations etc., to the wall nearest to the door for easy access.

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Also, don’t forget to take a fold-up tote bag for onshore activities – to carry water, your camera, smartphone, e-reader – and all your gadgets (though be aware of roaming and internet charges).

And finally, the most useful tip to remember when packing – try rolling, not folding. Or better still, get a set of packing cubes. You can roll or fold your clothes and still be organized. This way you’ll fit more in your suitcase, meaning you can squeeze that extra outfit in without any problems.

Bon Voyage!

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  1. Hi Gail,
    Wow…you sure know how to pack! I’ve met people who do the thrift shop routine before a cruise and then leave a lot of it in the stateroom with a note for the housekeeping team to take if they’d want it. On my trip to Alaska last month, I found sink-size packets of liquid Tide – perfect! My downfall is having to carry either both hot and cold weather clothing plus my computer carryon spinner and camera equipment. Thanks for sharing your travel tips. Have a wonderful time in Italy!

  2. I pack very light. I have light stretchy nylon or poly clothing that doesn’t wrinkle. A short black skirt and a couple of dressy tops for formal nights. A couple of nylon pullover dresses for pool cover-up, daytime, or casual dinner. Light, stretch pants, shorts, a couple of tops.
    I bring a little laundry soap in a zip bag, or use their liquid soap to wash things out in the sink. Tide stain remover comes in a little pen type container and is invaluable. Also bring a tiny bottle of wrinkle remover spray, although I haven’t used mine yet due to taking all non wrinkle clothing. I wash things out in the sink. Shop the thrift stores before a cruise to get stretchy non wrinkle clothing that dries quickly. Keep clothing neutral colors that mix and match. Add a few pops of color with scarves, jewelry, or a colorful blouse that goes with everything. I am in Rome now and going on a Mediterranean cruise today. 6 weeks in Italy with a tiny carryon and a backpack.

  3. Hi Dawn,

    Thanks for your helpful comment. I think you might even be able to find packets of Wool Lite too. Have a wonderful cruise!


  4. We are taking “Wool lite” for cleaning clothes if needed. You can wash, rinse in yr cabins sink or shower then let the clothes dry over nite.

  5. Hi Amanda,
    Congrats on your upcoming first cruise! I’ve never heard of that packing tip, but it’s a good one! Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful cruise!

  6. I love these ideas! I am going on my first cruise this upcoming summer, although I have a great tip for any vacation. I always take photos of each individual item when I pack. On the last day, I delete the picture of that particular item, after it goes in the bag.

  7. Hi Elsie,
    Good idea! Especially if you’re not sure if the ship furnishes clothes detergent, if they might not refill the dispense often or if you just don’t want to use the harsh detergents that many cruise lines give for free. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Hi Theresa,
    An over-the-door shoe holder sounds like a great idea and seems to be very popular, too. I need to add that to my list to bring next time! Thank you very much for your suggestion!

  9. the over the door shoe holder,i use every cruise. put sunglasses, sunblock, bandaids, any small item that I might misplace. saves draw space also.

  10. Hi Kimberly,
    Thanks for your terrific suggestions. Wow…if I could figure out how to pack my own pillow…it would be terrific! Great idea.

  11. I have gone on about 10 cruises, and have packing down to a science. One great tip I can forward is to ask if the ship has public laundry facilities. Every cruise I’ve been on, which have all been on large ships, I’ve been able to pack for only 3 days of clothes, 1 formal outfit, bathing suit and cover, bed clothes, and a minimal amount of toiletries. I love packing those mini shampoos and conditioners, because once used you can discard them and use the space for souvenirs.

    While many 7 day cruises have 2 formal nights, I found there is no reason to pack a second formal dress, as you’re only wearing it for a couple of hours at most. It saves a lot of space to only pack one. I travel with my best mate on most cruises and we each pack 1 bag, and then pack a garment bag that we share. Just to make certain we always have enough space for purchases, I also pack a compressed nylon Totes bag, since most airlines allow 2 bags per person. If we go a little overboard on shopping, it’s easy to pack clothes in the extra bag, and use clothes to wrap our goodies for protection in our larger bags.

    The one bulky item I do pack is my own pillow. I have allergies to certain things, and packing my own pillow, the thing that’s closest to the most vulnerable part of my body for the longest amount of time has saved me from much travel related illness over the years, once I started the practice.

  12. Thanks, Opal. You’re right…many ships only have one or two US outlets in the rooms. I like the over the door shoe holder idea…especially for scraps of papers/receipts. Sherry

  13. I’ve found that there is only 1 or 2 , 120 volt plug-ins ion cruise ship rooms. I take a power cord in my checked suitcase. I also use a over the door shoe holder with plastic pockets, that my husband and I use to put on the schedules and our receipts.

  14. Great article. I love packing for cruise vacations! Your tip on magnetic clips are brilliant! I will have to remember that one. Our most current blog post on cruise packing is a great list of seven essential items that we take when we cruise. Head on over to our page and add any other suggestions and link your blog! Our readers would love your article.
    ~The Savvy Couple

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