What Is The Essential Clothing I Need For A Cruise?

Leaving aside the fact that cruising the Canadian coast looking for icebergs, is totally different from sweltering on deck through the Suez Canal, once inside these floating vessels, you are going to be wearing much the same cruise clothing, no matter what your location.

Ideally you need to split what you pack into two categories: formal and informal. The ships don’t usually put much of a restriction on the amount you can take on board, but remember you may have limited cabin space and an allocation of only half a dozen hangers, so it’s important not to go overboard.

Jeans and t-shirts versus chinos and shirts

Jeans and t-shirts may be ok in some informal eating areas, but you will find that unless you are on an under 21 cruise, most men will be wearing chinos, casual shirts and /or blazers to visit the various bars, restaurants and nightly entertainment.

Bermuda shorts are a common sight for a bit of sunbathing or a dip in the various pools on board. Likewise, it is important to be aware of what dress codes exist in your ports of call; a little pre-planning may save embarrassment. Ladies for example, need to be aware that a bikini may not be suitable for wandering around certain decks. Light silk wraps take up no space in a suitcase, but can save a great deal of embarrassment when it comes to protecting your modesty.


The evening tends to be more formal with regards to the dress code, so a dinner jacket may be appropriate if invited to the captain’s table, or if attending a formal dinner. Many men wear a suit in the smart restaurants on board, so it is wise to take one, as well as a selection of ties, just in case.

For women, choosing the right dress should not present a problem on board, as most styles are suitable. Try and pick something plain which can be worn in a range of situations and vary your accessories (shoes, jewellery and bag) to tailor the look. Maxi dresses are a particularly common sight and with a light shawl or bolero, they can be adapted for cooler night-time temperatures.

Destination specific attire

Depending on matters of religion or custom, it is very important to check ahead concerning attitudes to dress in the places you are visiting. The cruise company should be able to tell you all you need to know and advise on whether you should cover up certain parts of your body.

How to pack

When packing, choose clothes which can be adapted to form different outfits and don’t forget basics, such as shawls, a light cardigan and a couple of pairs of shoes. Keeping your clothes neutral and using accessories to inject colour is a great way to ensure everything matches and give you plenty of options when it comes to getting ready.


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