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What to Wear on a Cruise Guide

What to Wear on a Cruise Guide

With the huge choice in the style of cruise holiday and the variety of destinations, you may wonder what to wear, particularly if you are new to cruise.

It’s worth remembering each cruise line has its own dress code which can range from ‘freestyle’ to formal, so this may be one of the factors that helps you decide which cruise is right for you.

During the day casual wear is ideal on board and although cruising isn’t as formal as it once was, there are times on many ships when passengers are able to dress for dinner and on these occasions there are three types of evening wear – smart casual, semi-formal and formal. Equally, on some of the resort style ships, ‘freestyle cruising’ means you can pretty much wear what you want.

Day wear

During the day it’s casual – swimwear for the pool and sunbathing plus a choice of t-shirts, shorts, trousers or jeans, skirts and tops and sundresses. A number of ships have running tracks and gyms, so if you plan to visit the fitness centre or take part in any sporting activity during your cruise, remember to pack sports clothes and running shoes.

Smart Casual

Stylish clothes are ideal for evening casual nights, for example casual trousers or dresses for ladies and open-neck polo shirts and casual trousers for men. Men may also been seen a jacket and trousers but these are by no means compulsory. Smart denim can also be fine but trainers, football shirts or tracksuits are a definite no.


Smart evenings give you the opportunity to wear a variety of stylish outfits. Ladies typically wear tailored trousers and separates or even a stylish dress, while men are in a shirt and trousers with a jacket or a suit and tie if they wish to.

Formal – Black tie

The number of black tie evenings varies on the length of the cruise and sometimes on the destination. Gentlemen are generally expected to wear a dinner jacket or tuxedo although many now wear a dark lounge suit as an alternative. Ladies wear a cocktail or evening dress. On some ships it’s possible to rent evening wear.

‘Freestyle Cruising’

Ships offering this style of cruising generally have a wide range of dining venues, bars and lounges. During the day you’re likely to wear swimsuits, casual shorts, jeans or sundresses to lunch. In the evening, some people may wish to wear a jacket or dress for a special occasion while others prefer jeans. As there are many different restaurants, you are able to choose the venue to suit your style.

Your destination, of course, will determine what you wear when going ashore with comfortable walking shoes a must. Even in hot climates, a jumper and lightweight coat are often useful for the cooler evenings and occasional showers and you need to consider appropriate clothing if you plan to visit religious sites or places of worship in certain countries. While a trip to Alaska or Antarctica will require cold weather clothing as although the temperatures can be reasonable during the summer, getting close to glaciers means it feels cold.