Shoes to PAck for a Cruise vacation.
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The Shoes to Pack for a Cruise Vacation for the Entire Family

One of the perks of cruising is that you can, within reason, pack as much as you like. Ships have no luggage weight restrictions or overweight fees, so you can bring that extra evening dress, three hardcover books, and multiple jackets. As long as you can manage the luggage on your flight to port, you’re golden! Still, that doesn’t mean you should pack indiscriminately, especially when it comes to the notoriously space-hogging category of footwear. Read on for our picks of the best shoes for your cruise vacation, whether it’s a weekend jaunt to the Bahamas or a grand European tour.

See recent posts by Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon

The Best Cruise Shoes for Women

Cruise Destination: The Caribbean

You could opt for basic flip-flops for your island itinerary, but the durable rubber of Birkenstock’s Gizeh slides offers arch support, perfect for promenading along the (often slippery) pool deck, as well as for onshore excursions. Going kayaking, tubing, or climbing Jamaica’s Dunn’s River Falls? Native’s perforated vegan slip-on sneakers are grippy and infinitely more attractive than those mesh sock-like things from the dollar store. In the evenings, these studded snakeskins flats from Steve Madden will keep you grounded—even during swelling seas—without sacrificing style.

Cruise Destination: Alaska

Exploring the last frontier? Better come prepared. Start with trail sneakers like Merrell’s Antora Rainbow, which have an anti-microbial lining, cushioning at the heel and forefoot for comfort on uneven terrain, and a plate to protect your feet from rocks. Bonus: the showstopping colors mean you’ll stand out on misty trails. For trekking over glaciers in Juneau, make sure you pack a pair of sturdy hiking boots. Columbia’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped is a classic ankle-height leather and suede boot that’s waterproof yet breathable, with a padded tongue and collar for all-day comfort. And when it’s time to retire, bring some sparkle to your stateroom in Uggs’ slippers, which combine the practical (slip-on styling and warm sheepskin lining) with the pretty (just look at all that glitter!)

Cruise Destination: Europe/River Cruise

Finally going on that bucket-list cruise to the Mediterranean or Northern Europe? To appear Continental chic when you’re spending hours traipsing along cobblestone streets, you’ll want walking shoes that offer orthopedic-level comfort but don’t look like they do. Vionic’s Desiree ballet flats are made of butter-soft leather and come with a removable molded insole for excellent arch support. Their quilted uppers and patent toe-caps recall a certain Chanel classic. The brand’s Kani slip-on sneaker is also a good pick for active days, with the same removable footbed and sleek styling that’s equally suitable on board as in town. For dinner and dressier outings, we’re partial to these glam Loeffler Randall block heels in an evening-appropriate metallic.

RELATED: The One Perfect Outfit to Wear to Dinner on a Cruise

The Best Cruise Shoes for Men

Cruise Destination: The Caribbean

When it comes to Caribbean cruising, flip-flops are go-to shoes for guys, too. So pick a pair like these OluKai thong sandals, which have a smooth leather footbed and straps, as well as non-marking soles so you can wear them on deck if you opt for a catamaran cruise excursion. Sneakers will come in handy for the onboard gym, horseback riding tours, and just looking cool on deck. This breathable two-tone Adidas sneaks work in all three venues and at casual dinners, too. For formal night, however, you’ll want to raise your game with shoes like these leather Ecco derbies, which will go perfectly with your spiffiest get-up. Need water shoes? These lightweight Speedos dry quickly and have bungee laces to keep them snug to your feet on even the slipperiest surfaces.

Cruise Destination: Alaska

Since you’ll be spending so much time in the great outdoors, now’s your moment to upgrade your athletic shoes to a pair that can handle more than city streets. We like this Under Armour shoe, which has all the utility of a hiking boot (think cushioning, flexibility, and traction) combined with the look of a sneaker. Planning to traverse more technical terrain? Consider Salomon’s hiking boots, which have a mud guard and rubber toe cap to keep the outside…well…outside your shoes, as well as a removable cushioned footbed. Back in your cabin, treat your feet to the plush sheepskin interior of Ugg’s leather moccasin-style slippers.

RELATED: What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

Cruise Destination: Europe/River Cruise

For strolling around charming port towns, you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a more versatile shoe than these Sperry slip-ons. The classic leather moccasin has cushioned footbeds, meaning they can effortlessly go from a day in Delft to dinner on board. For traditionalists who’d rather pack separate pairs of sneakers and dress shoes, check out Cole Haan’s ZeroGrand MVR, a sneaker with mesh fabric uppers for comfort and breathability, and Nordstrom’s own mid-high Chelsea boot for a mod look with timeless appeal.

The Best Cruise Shoes for Kids

Cruise Destination: The Caribbean/Disney

Big kids in your group will no doubt know exactly what type of shoes they want to wear on vacay. But the under-10 set may need a little parental persuasion. For wet and wild activities, you really can’t beat these Crocs’ water shoes with rugged EVA outsides, foam cushioning, and hook-and-loop closures that even little fingers can fasten easily. For other excursions, Native’s Jefferson unisex slip-on sneaker is lightweight, perforated for temperature control, and comes in a variety of colors, from subdued to statement-making. Adidas’ classic shower slides work equally well for pool-bound boys and girls. Available in a variety of colors, they’re cute and comfy, with a wide strap so once slipped on, they stay on.

RELATED: The 10 Key Items to Pack for a Cruise Trip

Cruise Destination: Alaska

Question: How adorable will your little explorer be on their Alaska cruise in these pint-sized hiking boots from Columbia? Answer: Very! And they’ll also be protected from the elements by the seam-sealed upper, padded collar and tongue, and grippy rubber sole. And at the end of an adventurous day, Joules’ fleece slipper booties with bunny ears (OMG!) will make bedtime significantly less painful.

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