What to wear on a Mediterranean cruise
For those who have never sailed the Mediterranean or traveled to Europe before, packing for a Mediterranean cruise can seem stressful.
Whether it’s bringing clothes that are comfortable enough to stroll through historic cities, modest enough to wear to churches, and dressed enough to dine in fancy restaurants, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
In reality, however, there are only a few key differences to note between packaging for a beach-centric Caribbean cruise and a Mediterranean cruise. From swapping flip-flops for trainers to whipping up more stylish and fashionable outfits, here are our top tips and tricks to remember while cruising the Mediterranean.
Comfortable walking shoes
Cruising to the Mediterranean can involve a lot of walking. It is not uncommon for customers to walk several miles a day while exploring their ports of call. Therefore, packing a pair of trainers or other comfortable footwear is essential to ensure you don’t get painful blisters.
When it comes to closed-toe shoes, there’s no need to pack bulky tennis shoes you’d wear to the gym. Instead, casual but comfortable shoes are recommended. Slip-on shoes, such as Toms, are comfortable enough for walking all day, yet still stylish enough to fit into a variety of destinations on your wearing day, like restaurants, museums, and even the beach.
If you’re traveling to Europe in the height of summer, you might prefer sandals. Choose your sandals wisely, as it is important to have a durable pair of sandals for a trip to Europe. Many streets in the Mediterranean are made of cobblestones, and walking in loose flip-flops or thin sandals can easily become uncomfortable during the day. Look for sandals with a durable sole and ankle strap for maximum comfort and reliability.
If you’re buying a brand new pair of shoes for your Mediterranean cruise, whether trainers or sandals, be sure to walk around in them for a day or two before your cruise to ensure they’re comfortable .
What shoes NOT to wear: Although you can see European women strolling the cobbled streets in heels, they are not the most comfortable shoes to wear for a full day of exploring the port.
Lightweight and breathable fabrics
The weather in Mediterranean ports, especially in the height of summer, can get quite hot. Cotton, linen and other breathable fabrics are recommended. As a rule of thumb, if an item of clothing is comfortable to wear in the height of summer at home, it will probably be good to pack for a Mediterranean cruise.
Sundresses, rompers and flowy shorts tend to be comfortable yet fashionable pieces of clothing for women exploring the Mediterranean. Men may want to pack light shorts or pants as well as T-shirts and light button-down shirts.
Casual but nice clothes
Europeans pride themselves on dressing well, with a sense of fashion that is, on average, more formal than what visitors from places like the United States or Canada may be used to, especially those with used to sailing in the Caribbean.
Standard attire at Caribbean cruise ports tends to be extremely casual. Shorts, flip-flops and a tie-dye t-shirt from home are normal and acceptable. On a Mediterranean cruise, however, it’s a good idea to dress a little more neatly.
During your day in port in the Mediterranean, you can find yourself in a variety of settings, all with varying dress codes. From churches and restaurants to museums and the beach, it pays to be prepared with the right outfit.
Men may want to wear nice, well-fitting t-shirts or short-sleeved button-up shirts rather than baggy, old-fashioned shirts. Instead of athletic shorts, opt for a nicer pair.
Women have a little more flexibility in terms of casual yet fashionable clothing. Light summer dresses, patterned shorts with a plain shirt, capris, a fitted t-shirt and summer jumpsuits can all be great outfits on a Mediterranean cruise.
A great way to plan outfit ideas is to think about what you would wear to a semi-formal summer house party. If you wouldn’t wear a crinkle tie-dye t-shirt over stretchy gym shorts, that’s probably not the best outfit for a cruise in Europe either.
Pack appropriately if you plan to visit churches
Mediterranean churches tend to have their own dress codes.
Those visiting Vatican City, for example, must have their shoulders and knees covered at all times during the visit. Offensive tattoos or clothing with slogans must not be visible and hats and caps must be removed before entry. As a general rule, shorts, dresses and skirts are allowed as long as they reach at least to the knees.
A good rule of thumb is to wear what you would wear to church at home. If a crop top, flip flops, and booty shorts aren’t allowed in your local church, don’t wear them in a church in Europe either.
You can always put a change of clothes in your backpack if you’re worried it might be too hot to walk around in the same clothes you wear to churches.
Handbags and backpacks
Port days in the Mediterranean tend to be long, so it’s useful to have a nice backpack or handbag to carry your things throughout the day. Picking the perfect bag, however, requires a few more considerations than just choosing the first backpack you see.
While Europe is a safe destination for travellers, pickpocketing is not unheard of in major tourist areas, like any other destination in the world. Be careful when putting your phone or wallet in your back pocket and choose a day bag wisely.
For women, consider a crossbody bag that you can carry from one shoulder to the opposite hip. It’s a secure handbag because it can’t easily fall off your body, and you can even place your hand on the shoulder bag in busy environments like markets or the subway for added security.
If you prefer a larger backpack, consider a backpack with a “secret” back pocket. This is a backpack that has a zippered pocket on the back of the bag. As this pocket is against your back when you walk, your valuables (passport, wallet, etc.) stay safe.
As well as packing the perfect outfits to wear in port, it’s important to remember to also pack for your time on board. Dress on board a Mediterranean cruise will be similar to any other cruise, with casual dress during the day and nicer outfits for the evening.
The Mediterranean weather should remain fairly comfortable throughout the summer, although it’s a good idea to pack a light jacket or cardigan in case of chilly morning and evening weather on board. Likewise, those traveling to the Mediterranean in the shoulder season will want to pack more warm clothing like pants, long-sleeved shirts, and jackets.
Find out more about the weather for a Mediterranean cruise month by month here.
What not to wear
Now that you have an idea of what to wear on a Mediterranean cruise, what clothes should you avoid?
Truth be told, there’s no item of clothing you should necessarily avoid wearing on a Europe cruise that you would wear at home. There may be some unusual items to wear among Europeans and clothing that will make you stand out as being from a certain place, but whether or not this matters to you is a personal choice.
You’ll stand out as a tourist when you wear items not typically worn by Europeans, including clothing with American sports team logos, American flags, camouflage-patterned clothing, baseball caps and workout clothes such as leggings.
That doesn’t mean you can’t wear these items, and you’ll see many tourists dressed like that, but it will make you stand out a lot more than wearing more neutral and neat clothes.
You might hear that Europeans don’t wear shorts or sneakers, but that’s generally misinformation. You will see many Europeans wearing shorts, especially in towns near the coast. Trainers are also common, with brands like Adidas, Reebok and Nike popular with Europeans across the Mediterranean.
Learn more about the Mediterranean