Is It Cold On A Cruise Ship?

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Embarking on a cruise offers the promise of adventure and relaxation in equal measure. Yet, there’s one question that many travellers ponder – will I need to pack a jumper alongside my swimwear?

The truth is, whilst basking under the sun by day is a given, the answer to whether it’s cold on a cruise ship is a bit more nuanced. Even on the hottest of cruises, it can be cold sometimes.

Here’s what you need to know.

Couple on cruise ship

It’s cold on deck at night

When the sun dips below the horizon, so too can the temperatures. This is especially true if you’re out on deck, savouring the nocturnal ocean vista or stargazing. The absence of city lights amplifies the celestial show but can also bring a chill to the air.

Many cruise lines are attuned to the comfort of their passengers, providing cosy blankets in outdoor areas for those wanting to soak up the sea air without shivering. You’re more likely to find this on the smaller cruise ships and river cruise ships, so don’t rely on there being one available for you.

blanket on chair

The aircon can be powerful

Modern cruise ships are a haven of comfort thanks to their air conditioning systems, which keep the interiors pleasantly cool. However, when dining in the restaurants or walking through the atrium, you might find the chill from the aircon a bit too enthusiastic.

While you’ll have full control over the air conditioning in your stateroom, the same can’t be said of public areas.

So if you’re the type of person who hates to be chilly, it’s wise to bring a cardigan, pashmina, or a lightweight sweater. These can be draped over your shoulders during a breezy evening meal or a nighttime stroll on the deck.

Cruise Mummy and her son on cruise ship

It can be cold in certain destinations

Destinations famed for their spectacular fjords and glaciers, such as Norway or Alaska, can retain their crisp air all year round. Here, the word ‘cold’ takes on a new meaning, with the majestic scenery often framed by a cool climate.

The weather here can be very unpredictable, with all four seasons in one day. So even if it’s warm enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt when you leave the ship, the weather could quickly turn, and a winter jacket could be needed that very same day!

These photos were taken before and after going for dinner on a cruise to Norway in summer…

For these cooler climes, packing warm clothing is essential. Think layers – thermal wear, fleece jackets, and insulated coats that can be added or removed as the mercury dictates. And always bring a hat, scarf and a pair of gloves.

One thing that you may notice on a cruise is how the weather gets progressively colder each day. If you’re cruising from New York to the Bahamas, for example, you may find the weather is very different at your destination! The same goes if you’re cruising from the UK to the Canary Islands.

It can be cold in winter

Even a destination synonymous with sunshine like the Caribbean can have you reaching for a sweater during the winter months. December through February can spring some cooler surprises, particularly on early mornings or late evenings.

Suggested read: The Best Cruises To Take In December

It’s prudent to pop a few warmer items into your suitcase. A cosy jumper or two will ensure the cooler weather doesn’t catch you off guard, allowing you to enjoy your cruise comfortably, irrespective of the season.

wearing coats and scarves on a cruise

I packed just one sweater for my recent Caribbean cruise. Not only was the weather much chillier than I imagined, but a lady managed to spill a ladle of salad dressing on my sleeve at the buffet… Meaning that I had to rush to get the laundry done to make my only sweatshirt wearable again!

That said, it’s not usually cold indoors on a winter cruise. When we cruised at Christmas I was able to wear this Christmas dress without tights – something that never would have been possible at home, even in the house!

Family on cruise ship

It can be cold if it’s windy

A breeze at sea can be refreshing, but it’s deceptive too. Sun worshippers be warned – a sunny day with gusty winds can lead to a cooler feel and even a sneaky sunburn if you’re not careful.

Yes, you can get sunburned even when the wind makes it cold enough for a hoodie.

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My Recommendation

In summary, the answer to ‘Is it cold on a cruise ship?’ is that it very much depends on a variety of factors, including the time of day, the ship’s air conditioning, your itinerary, and the season. On most cruises, there are some times when you may feel cold.

But with some thoughtful packing and a layer-ready approach, you can ensure that you’re prepared for every possibility and enjoy your holiday to the fullest.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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