Cruise Dress Code
When you’re on a cruise, expect nothing but fun and relaxation. When you’re packing for a cruise, expect some stress as you try to decide what to bring! The first thing to do is to find out what the dress code guidelines of your specific cruise are, as they vary widely. Some upscale lines expect black tie in the dining room, while others require little to no formality of dress. Either way, you’ll have a variety of environments both on and off the ship to pack for, and the following notes can help you to prepare.
For the ladies
Let’s break it down into the three most basic categories: daytime and town excursions, evenings, and poolside. For daytime activities on board and walking around in town on land, you’ll want something in the range from nice casual (clean and cute shorts or skirts) to tropical polish (chic dresses, nice accessories), depending on your taste and the classiness of your surroundings. For evenings, plan on a mix of casual dresses and nice tops with skirts or pants, and more formal dresses for any “formal nights” your ship might have. Poolside is the one spot you can reliably wear a bathing suit, preferably with a cute coverup on hand. Don’t forget sunglasses and a nice broad-rimmed hat!
For the guys
Using the three categories above, for daytime you’ll generally want some nice (non-sporty) shorts, and possibly khaki pants. A polo shirt is always versatile here. Don’t wear athletic wear (T-shirts, non-cotton shorts) on shore unless you’re doing an activity that demands it. For evenings, pack a few nice pairs of cotton pants and button-down shirts, and a navy blazer unless your ship is ultra-casual. For “formal nights,” you may want a suit or even a tux (check whether they can be rented on board). You’re fine in just a bathing suit and flip-flops by the pool, but keep a T-shirt on hand because you’ll need it to go just about anywhere else.
Rules of Thumb
- You may be doing a lot of walking on shore, so bring some comfortable but nice-looking shoes.
- Don’t forget a sweater and/or rainjacket — you never know what the weather will bring.
- Don’t pack too much! Your closet and/or dresser are likely to be microscopic.
- Pay attention to differing dress codes in different onboard restaurants. You may be okay with jeans in the lunch buffet, but not in the more formal dining room.
- Be aware that most dining rooms and other public rooms on board will become more formal after 6pm, and be prepared to do a costume change.