Booking a cruise is exciting, but the first thing on most people's minds is ‘what should I wear?' Even if you're a seasoned cruiser, it can be difficult to judge what you should pack, and many people take far too much luggage, not knowing what they will need along the way. Just relax and follow these simple tips to reduce the amount of suitcases you have to take with you.
What type of cruise?
It's important to read up on the type of cruise you're taking, as they can range from very casual to formal. Ask your travel agent, or if you've booked online with a company such as Royal Caribbean, just give them a call and they should be able to tell you more about their dress codes. As a general guide, cruises aimed at the family market will probably be a bit more casual, whereas those for couples and older travellers will often have more upmarket dining options and formal nights. Different companies have different policies about whether their dress code is optional or a requirement. However, most people feel more comfortable following the dress code whether it's enforced or not, as you don't want to be the only one in jeans at a black tie event. Most cruises won't require you to have a huge range of outfits, but you will probably need items that are versatile and can be dressed up and down with a few accessories.
Most cruises don't have a dress code for the daytime, so practicality is the key thing here. Daytime wear for women usually consists of the kind of clothes you'd wear on any summer holiday, so save packing space by bringing light clothes such as sundresses, t-shirts and shorts. Bring a sarong, as this can be used in a variety of ways, from covering yourself by the pool, to a shoulder wrap for those really hot days. It's also useful if you'll be visiting holy sites, as you can use it as a headscarf or for modesty in other areas. Daytime wear is pretty easy for men, and a few shorts and t-shirts should see you right. When it comes to footwear, both sexes should be practical. You'll need some flip-flops for around the pool, and some comfortable walking shoes for days when you're in port and want to explore. You may also choose to bring some sandals for days when you are lounging around the ship, and choosing some that are slightly smarter means they could be worn into the evening too.
Many women are panicked when seeing ‘smart casual' on a dress code because it seems so vague. However, many cruises require this look for evening dining, and so you'll need a few smarter items in your luggage. Smart casual is more about the things you can't wear, so jeans, flip-flops, and casual shorts are out. For men, it's a fairly easy look to achieve. A short-sleeved shirt with some chinos or tailored shorts should see you right. Women have more options, and you can often change your daytime outfit into something smarter with just a few accessories. If you're wearing a sundress, accessorise with a wrap, wear some smart sandals, and add some jewellery for a look that'll take you from deck to dinner. If you wear smarter shorts during the day, then adding a cardigan and some ballet pumps is a great way to get yourself ready for dinner, and gives you a look that is comfortable yet suitable for a restaurant. Finding clothes that work from day to night is essential for cutting down on your luggage, and it means that you can spend less time getting dressed and more time enjoying yourself.
For people who love to dress up, a formal night is great fun. However, it can seem daunting to those who don't attend these kind of occasions on a regular basis. Formal usually means a suit for men, or at the very least a jacket with smart chinos. A tie will often be required, as will smart shoes. Most cruises only feature one or two formal nights, so don't feel like you have to pack a lot of suits. You can also get away with wearing the same suit to different occasions, just switch your shirt and tie. If the dress code specifies black tie, then men should wear a tuxedo. Find out if you can rent one on board before you go to the hassle of packing one.
Formal wear for women can consist of a little black dress, a cocktail dress, or even something as fancy as an evening gown. Find something you can be comfortable in, and accessorise with jewellery, a pashmina wrap, and some fabulous heels. Changing your accessories means that you can wear the same dress more than once without worry, and it cuts down on the amount you end up taking with you.
Next time you book a cruise, don't rush out to buy the biggest suitcase you can find. Pack smart, keep it simple, and you can be comfortable and stylish on your trip.
Guest post written by Evelyn, a freelance travel writer who works closely with a number of awesome travel services. She's lived on both side of the Atlantic and remains a perpetual globetrotter, having visited over forty countries in the last twelve years (some of them more luxurious than others!)