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  • Writer's pictureConnie George

The 5 Essential Pairs of Shoes You Need for Your Cruise

Updated: Apr 4, 2022

bed with white sheets, white and brown dog pulling sneaker shoestring tug-of-war with woman's hand

The less you pack, the happier you will be toting that luggage through the airport and when storing your stuff in your cabin. Those shoes can make up for a lot of space and weight in your luggage! Mishandling the packing of your “foot apparel” can cost you comfort and extra baggage fees.

Are you a first-time cruiser or still relatively new at packing for a cruise? Or maybe you have a bad shoe habit and know you need an intervention? If any of those are true, this blog was written for you!

I was part of a group on a cruise and struck up a friendship with two sisters who were also part of the group. During the cruise, I stopped by their cabin with them on the way to an event one night. There was a LINEUP of shoes along the one wall, all belonging to only one of them. Holy cow! She had to be traveling with one suitcase just for shoes. Sure, we JOKE about such things, but I didn’t think about anyone actually doing that.

You may be thinking, “Connie, what’s wrong with that? I like my shoes!” Friend, if you are happy lugging lots of shoes, I’m not going to try to stop you. BUT if you are trying to become a “lighter packer,” let me try to help you. These are the shoes you need to pack for your cruise.

The 5 Essential Shoes Needed for Most Cruises

With few exceptions, you need to pack only 4-5 pairs of shoes for your cruise.

1. A pair of comfortable walking shoes.

woman's hands with blue nail polish tying pink shoelaces of a blue, pink and white sneaker
Pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes like sneakers.

In my case, that’s a pair of sneakers. (Tennis shoes or gym shoes depending on where you live.) If you’ll be walking a lot in ports-of-call or on a large ship, you’ll appreciate having comfortable shoes. Especially if you’ll be walking a lot more than you do at home.

2. A pair of flip-flops or sandals.

blue ocean, pair of blue flip flops sticking up out of white sand
Flip-flops or sandals come in handy on most cruises.

These can be interchanged with your “walking shoes” when you want a change and worn on the beach. Plus, if you are someone who doesn’t like to be barefoot, they can double as “slippers” in your ship cabin or hotel room.

3. A pair of versatile casual shoes that can work with shorts by day and casual evening clothes.

green canvas shoes and striped shirts and shorts laying on a light wood floor
A pair of nice casual shoes can match with shorts by day and casual pants, capris or skirt/sundress at night..

For women, these can be flats, low heels or wedges. For men, something like boat shoes, casual loafers, or slip-ons.

4. A pair of dress shoes for dressier or formal outfits.

on left are brown dress shoes with laces and brown belt, on right are two caucasian and one black woman with legs crossed sitting together wearing skirts and dress shoes
One pair of dress shoes is usually enough for a cruise.

I’ve never been on a cruise (up to 10 days long) for which I needed more than one pair of dress shoes. If this suggestion is causing you to break out into a sweat, we may compromise. Give the thought some time. (My previously mentioned cruise friend, who I think the world of, would probably be gasping for air right now.) If it’s still upsetting, add one more pair of dress shoes.

Limiting your dress shoes is much easier if you bring shoes in a neutral color (i.e. black, tan, navy) and have coordinated your clothing to stay within a color palette.

Also, I suggest that women stick with sensible dress shoes. On a moving ship isn’t the best time to break out your stilettos.

If your cruise is aboard an expedition ship or sailing yacht, you might swap out your “dress shoes” for a second pair of casual shoes that can carry you through the evenings. Or travel with one less pair of shoes.

5. Your fifth pair is a bit of a wildcard based on where you’re cruising and the type of activities you’ll be taking part in.

feet in gray and black snow boots and black jeans on legs walking through snow
Depending on your cruise destination, you could need a pair of shoes that fit activities such as hiking boots, snow boots or water shoes.

For instance, if you’ll be hiking in Iceland, bring hiking boots. If you will be walking on a glacier in Alaska, consider waterproof hiking boots or snow boots. For wet landings off a zodiac on a Galápagos cruise, you’ll need water shoes, water sandals, or deck shoes. Tevas and Chacos are popular water sandals among travelers needing water shoes that they also want to hike in.

How to Pack Your Shoes

brown boots sitting on top of old brown suitcase in front of wood paneling and beige carpet
Remember not to pack the pair of shoes that make the most sense for you to wear to your cruise.

  • Of the five pairs of shoes you bring, you will wear one pair and pack the other four pairs in your luggage. Yes, your five sets of shoes include the pair on your feet.

  • Be sure your shoes are cleaned from obvious dirt.

  • You can make some extra space by rolling socks and belts and putting them into the shoes.

  • Put each pair into a plastic bag like a grocery store bag or into a shoe bag to protect your clothing. For large, bulkier shoes, you may wish to put each shoe into a separate bag so you can stuff your shoes into empty corners of your suitcase or between piles of clothing.


Visiting the Galápagos Islands?


Additional Tips

caucasian woman putting bandaids on her heals, wearing yellow flat shoes on light wood floor
Always wear in your shoes before a trip. But also pack moleskin, bandaids and antibiotic ointment, too.
  • It goes without saying that these should all be shoes that you have already broken in. Don’t risk your feet over new shoes. You don’t want to be miserable, and neither do you want an infected sore.

  • Even worn-in shoes can cause a nasty blister when doing a lot more walking in them than usual. I suggest bringing some moleskin “just in case” you have difficulty. You can click here to learn a lot more about how to use moleskin. And your travel first aid kit should always include bandaids and a small tube of antibiotic ointment or Neosporin.

Now you know the answer to the question, "What shoes do I need for my cruise?" As a new expert on packing shoes, where would you like to go on your cruise? I hope we get the opportunity to help you plan your next ocean or river cruise vacation. We have many more travel tips for you!

Happy Traveling!


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