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Dress code for cruises: What you need to know about how to dress on a cruise

Author: Susan Johnson

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Dress codes for cruises can create much confusion among cruisers when packing luggage – what can you wear and what can’t you?

The dress code for cruises varies from one cruise line to another so packing a suitcase for your upcoming holiday onboard can be challenging.

The key is to know what you are expected to wear onboard so doing research ahead of time is important.

If you are travelling with a more traditional line you might need to pack some of your fancier outfits, but for other brands, casual apparel may suffice

Here is everything you should know about how to dress on a cruise and what the rules are for the major cruise lines.

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What to wear on a cruise?

If you have never sailed before, you might be wondering what to pack for your upcoming voyage.

Below is what to wear on a cruise during the day, in the evening, and on a formal night, so you will fit with your fellow passengers.

Note that these rules are universal across all major cruise lines. We will be talking about the dress codes specific to different cruises in the following section.

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  • Shoes are mandatory in dining venues, regardless of the time of the day. Additionally, robes and bathing suits aren’t permitted in any restaurants. So, make sure you take a t-shirt or a cover-up and shorts with you if you plan to spend your day near the pool.
  • A rule of thumb is to avoid flip-flops, ripped jeans, cut-off shorts, baseball caps, and tank tops in the main dining room, and restaurant at dinnertime.
  • If you wish to dress down on formal nights, consider dining in the ship’s buffet or one of their more casual alternative eateries. Room service is another option.
  • A few cruise lines feature theme nights, such as pirate, 60s, 70s, or 80s, or White Hot on their ships. So, check with your cruise line to see if you should pack something specific for such events.
For a day at the pool make sure to bring a t-shirt and shorts or a cover up to head to a restaurant afterwards. Credit: Shutterstock

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A guide to cruise line dress codes

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises’ website state that you will require two types of evening clothes onboard. Most nights are “Smart Casual and Above.” Men can wear shirts and chinos, while women can sport skirts or trousers, blouses or casual dresses. “Evening Chic” nights are when both men and women can be in dressy attire; however, it isn’t mandatory.

When it comes to written restrictions, T-shirts, swimsuits, tank tops, caps, robes, and pool wear aren’t allowed in the main or speciality restaurants. Shorts and flip-flops aren’t permitted during the evening hours. As for jeans, you are free to wear them as long as they don’t have holes, rips or tears.

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P&O Cruises

Cruisers can wear casual clothing throughout the day, but after 6pm, the dress code switches to smart casual in public lounges and restaurants. Think casual separates or dresses for ladies and open-neck polo shirts and casual trousers (not shorts) for men. A jacket and smart trousers can be worn but are not compulsory. Smart dark denim is also fine, but not trainers, football shirts or tracksuits. For a typical two-week cruise there are normally ten Evening Casual nights on P&O holidays.

You might want to wear rubber-soled shoes with low heels as the decks can be slippery. Pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes for when leaving the ship.

For Gala Evenings, dinner jackets or tuxedos are the norm for me, but a dark lounge or business suit and tie can be worn as an alternative. Women are invited to wear evening or cocktail dresses or smart trousers suits. For a typical two-week cruise there are normally four Black Tie night

Swimwear is only allowed in open deck and pool areas.

Dinner jackets and tuxedos are a good go-to for men on more formal evenings. Credit: Shutterstock

Viking Ocean Cruises

The dress code for Viking Ocean Cruises includes casual and comfortable during the day and “elegant casual” for evenings. You can wear shorts, jeans and sturdy shoes for walking tours.

Swimsuits, cover-ups, and exercise attires are only allowed at the poolside, on the sports deck, and in the fitness centre.

For evenings, women should reserve dresses, skirts or smart trousers with sweaters or blouses, and men trousers and collared shirts. While you can wear ties and jackets, they aren’t mandatory.

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Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean has three types of nights – formal, smart casual and casual. Suits and ties, or tuxedos for men and cocktail dresses for women, are classified as formal attire. Whereas smart casual attire refers to jackets and ties for men and dresses or trouser suits for women. Sports shirts and chinos for men and sundresses or trouser suits for women are considered casual attire.

Tank tops, caps, or bathing suits are not allowed in the dining room. You also don’t want to wear shorts during dinner. “Tasteful” jeans, or jeans without tears, blemishes or mis-sizing are allowed.

Passengers on Regent Seven Seas cruise ships should bring a mixture of casual and formal wear for a variety of events and dinners. Credit: Shutterstock

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

The dress code for Regent Seven Seas Cruises ranges from casual to formal. You are allowed to wear casual wear during the daytime. Think resort-style attire. After 6 pm, the dress code changes to elegant casual, except for the final evening.

Women should consider skirts or trousers with blouses or sweaters, trouser suits or dresses, and men chinos and collared shirts during evening hours.

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Often, longer cruises have optional formal or semiformal nights. On these evenings, passengers can choose to wear elegant casual attire or a more formal look with cocktail dresses, gowns, dark suits, and tuxedos.

Jeans, t-shirts, baseball caps, shorts, and trainers aren’t permitted in public areas after 6 pm.

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