Cruise Wear ~
Cracking the Cruise Lines’ Dress Codes
time I take those last few steps and disappear into the ship's hull,
I'm taller, blonder, richer, and thinner. Okay, not really, but I
feel that way. Cruising is glamorous... just look at the
brochures. Those beautiful svelte models are having a wonderful time.
Who wouldn't have a great time standing around smiling in chic
closet isn't full of designer outfits and matching shoes? Not to
worry, neither is mine. The reality is that you don't need to max
out your credit card to fill your suitcases with new cruise duds.
Despite your fashion anxiety you probably have almost everything you
need. Cruise wear falls into three categories:
-- Informal -- Formal
cruise documents should include information indicating how many
evenings fall into those categories. You'll know when to wear what
by reading your ship's daily newsletter—each day's dress code will
be prominently announced. First and foremost, there is...
exactly what it implies—clothing to be comfortable in. Your plans
for the day will dictate what you should wear. For warm weather
cruises you'll typically need swimwear, a cover-up, and sandals for
pool and beach. Time spent ashore touring and shopping calls
for shorts topped with tee shirts or polo-style shirts and comfy
walking shoes. Conservative is a rule to live by and mix-and-match
will save room in your suitcase. If you plan to purchase souvenir
tee shirts, make them a part of your cruise wardrobe and pack fewer
casual does not mean short-shorts. For men it's Dockers-type slacks
and nice polo or sport shirts. Ladies' outfits will be sporty
dresses, skirts and tops, or pants outfits. By sticking to two
colors and a few accessories, you can mix up tops and bottoms for a
different look every night.
first and last nights onboard are always casual for obvious
reasons—you may not have your luggage before dinner that first
night and you've already packed for home on the last night. A word
about jeans... personally, I hate them but many people consider them
casual wear. Some cruise lines discourage them in the dining room.
Use your own judgment and keep in mind, denim is hot—you
might want to wear a lighter fabric.
one's a little trickier—it only applies to evening and can mean
different things, depending on the cruise line. Informal for women
is a dressier dress or pants outfit and for men it usually, but not always, includes a
sport coat. Often, but not always, it also means a tie for him.
Check your documents carefully. In most instances, the Informal
category has been dropped in favor of "resort casual" attire—a step
above Casual, but not quite a coat-and-tie.
night is a fantasy time for women and torture for men... from the
sounds of male complaints, that is. This is your night to shine and
you'll see ladies in everything from simple cocktail dresses to
elaborate glittering gowns. Tuxedoes (either all black or with white
dinner jacket) or dark suits are required for gentlemen.
have you been a "Mother-of-the-Bride" lately? Chances are
your outfit for the wedding is just perfect for formal night.
Looking So Luxe in
a Rented Tux
deciding to go all out, whether to buy or rent a tuxedo is up to the
individual. As a rule of thumb, if a man is going to wear a tuxedo
more than two or three times, it makes economic sense to purchase
one. Some cruise lines make it easy to rent the entire outfit,
though—and if you do so, it will be waiting for you when you
board. Be sure to make these arrangements in plenty of time—your
travel agent can get the details from the cruise line.
you are renting, by all means buy your own studs. You don't have to
spend a fortune on them, just get some that look classy. Why? A sure
fire way to spot a rented tuxedo is by the inexpensive studs that
come with them.
about vests... many men with a little "girth" consider
them more comfortable than cummerbunds.
finally—I've heard that a "tuxedo" is a rented suit and
a "dinner jacket" is the formal clothing owned by the
gentleman wearing it. Whatever the definition or terms of ownership,
men look stunning in "black tie."
Night is "Most" Formal?
woman wants to know the answer to that question because we all have
a dress we think is more stylish, or maybe we just feel more
beautiful wearing it. Ladies, unless you eat like a bird or never
gain an ounce... save your roomiest formal outfit for the second
formal night. I have a friend whose daughter spent the second formal
night of a cruise crying her eyes out in her stateroom because her
dress was difficult to zip.
glittery can you get without being mistaken for a Vegas showgirl?
I have to admit, I have owned dresses that are totally sequined and beaded
but that style isn't as fashionable as it was in years past.
When selecting formal outfits, I like to think simple. There's
nothing more elegant than a well-cut, simple, black dress. But
there's nothing more fun than a flashy or sexy dress that turns
heads. It's totally up to you!
the most practical and useful garments any woman can own is a pair
of black, silky "cocktail" pants. They take up no room at
all in the suitcase and don't wrinkle. Best of all, with two dressy
tops you have two different formal outfits with a minimum of fuss.
No, I take that back—BEST of all is that they usually have
Last, but not
all this obsessing about clothing, consider the unthinkable—what
if your luggage is delayed? Or doesn't show up until the end
of the cruise? It happens. And if it happens to you, do like one of
my favorite fellow passengers last summer... don't stress out. Shop
here and there and pick up what you need—your luggage could appear
in the next port. Avoid some of the anxiety lost luggage can cause
by carrying on your essentials when you board. I always have a
garment bag with our formal clothing and at least a couple other
casual outfits just in case.
"formal" just isn't in your vocabulary or your lifestyle,
consider booking on one of the cruise lines that have modified it or
done away with it altogether. Norwegian Cruise Line 's "Freestyle Cruising" offers
passengers either the traditional cruise dining experience or a more
resort-style open dining schedule. On Oceania
Cruises and Windstar
Cruises every night is "country club casual."
last thoughts about cruise wear—be a considerate cruiser, adhere
to each evening's dress code and don't ignore the suggested
attire for dinner. It's an insult to your
To help you avoid any FASHION FAUX PAS at sea, Royal Caribbean explains
How On Board Apparel Has Changed with the Times.
more wardrobe and packing suggestions AND the packing lists for
women and men, don't miss the Cruise Diva Packing
& Lists section.
Your Wardrobe and
Pack Light—Be Fashionable & Practical!
What's your Cruise
Lifestyle? Find out!