What To Pack For Your River Cruise

Congratulations! You've planned to embark on an exciting River Cruise with American Cruise Lines. The question is “What to wear?” The good news is that river cruising is much different than large ship cruising, with a more casual, laidback onboard atmosphere. There is no formal dress code, and you can do as much or as little as you choose. However, it is helpful to be prepared, and less is more.

Review The Cruise Itinerary

You'll want to consider your day-to-day activities detailed on your cruise itinerary. Daily excursions could include a Great River Outdoor Adventure or a Cajun Pride Swamp Excursion, or be more leisurely like the Civil Rights Museum or Historic Vicksburg. Regardless of the specific attire, you may need for more active activities, you will definitely want to pack your best walking shoes to get you comfortably around all of the ports we visit.

Travel Light

Plan to bring one suitcase per traveler, preferably one less than 10 inches high so that it may be stored under the bed. Also, bring a smaller purse or bag for daytime excursions. Many of the cities and towns we visit include walking or bike tours, so you'll want to be sure you have a separate bag to keep your belongings (extra clothes, water, etc.).

Dress Code: Mix, Match, & Layer

Comfort is key. During the day, dress casually and comfortably for your daily activities. For the evening cocktail hour and dinner, men may want to kick it up a notch with a jacket and/or collared shirt, and long trousers. For women, a top and slacks or casual dress is appropriate.

When packing your wardrobe, keep your color scheme simple so that you can mix and match clothing easily - whites and neutrals work well. Also, bring a few scarves to dress up an outfit.

Layering clothing will help you adjust to changing temperatures along the river, from cool breezes in the evening to the hot southern sun in the daytime. A smart traveler is always prepared for various weather conditions, so bring a jacket, sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses, as well as light rainwear and a small collapsible umbrella.

All our ships have a fitness area and sun deck, so if you plan to use these spaces, you may want to want to bring exercise apparel and/or a swimsuit.

Cruise Shoes

A pair of comfortable walking shoes with a padded footbed and sturdy insole is essential. Proper footwear is important when walking on the cobblestone streets found in the historic cities you will visit or if you decide to hike at a particular port. Also bring a pair of comfortable dress shoes for dinner or an evening on the town.

Daily Essentials: Toiletries & Personal Hygiene

Before traveling, pay attention to your daily routines to know what is essential to bring with you, such as your daily medications, ibuprofen, and/or allergy medication. Also be sure to bring contacts, solutions, and eyeglasses if required.

What To Leave At Home

If you don’t plan on working from the ship, leave your computer or other bulky technology at home. While you’ll spend some leisure time in your stateroom, the majority of your journey will be outside exploring, enjoying coffee on your private balcony, or getting to know the other passengers in common areas. No need to bring a hairdryer, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, Q-tips, cotton balls, or emery boards, as they are provided in your stateroom bathroom.

Capture The Moment

Don’t forget to pack your camera, as well as extra memory cards and batteries, so that you can share your memories with friends and family when you return home. A pair of binoculars may also enhance the journey, so you can view the incredible wildlife and scenic beauty of the various river cruise itineraries up close.

River Cruise Packing List

  • Weather appropriate clothes/accessories
  • Raincoat or jacket
  • Walking or hiking shoes
  • Purse or small bag
  • Sunglasses
  • Daily medication and other toiletries (many are provided for you, please see above)
  • Phone charger
  • Camera
  • Binoculars


Get excited for the trip of a lifetime!