Ahoy there! Sailors….

Having booked your luxury cruise, you’re probably now wondering what type of clothes to pack or buy for your upcoming voyage.

Don’t worry, such wardrobe jitters are common to anyone about to embark on such a once-in-a-lifetime journey. Apart from the usual casual wear which you need, e.g flip flops, sundresses, a couple of t-shirts, Bermuda shorts, most luxury cruise lines have specific evening occasions, where a strict dress code is upheld.

Other than that, be sure to pack some personal gear for outdoor activities such as snorkelling, deck basketball, skating and sea diving.

In short, when packing up that suitcase make sure you have at least one of each of the following categories;


Casual wear
Casual wear encompasses almost any piece of clothing that you wouldn’t usually wear to the office or a formal business meeting.

This includes denim jeans, t-shirts, sundresses, hats, shorts, cargo pants, flip flops etc. According to most cruise line dress codes, such casual outfits are ideal for daily daytime outdoor activities such as sunbathing. In short, this is what you will be expected to rock when no special occasion is in the offing.

Nevertheless, a line is usually drawn on how far one could go with casual dressing. Unless you want to appear awkwardly out of place, donning a casual sports jacket or shorts to a formal dinner is highly inadvisable. Each cruise ship will typically have an evening schedule showing nights when different types of attires are recommended.

While on board, pay close attention to this to avoid the embarrassment of turning up with a tracksuit to an evening ball.


Smart casual
Smart casual wear is customarily the epitome of elegance. For men, smart casual wear includes polo shirts, khaki pants, ironed tailored trousers but excluding cargo pants and jeans. Ladies are more spoilt for choice with an assortment of summery dresses to choose from. Smart casual may also entail accessories such as stylish scarves for men or elegant casual evening dresses for women.

Usually, in a two-week luxury voyage, expect 4 to 7 smart casual evenings.


Formal dress
There’s a unique touch of glamour that usually comes to life through formal wear. The highlight of any voyage at the sea is usually the formal evenings and dinner balls.

Therefore, you will want to look your best in these occasions. If you have ever dreamt of dressing like a celebrity, complete with a dashing tuxedo then the formal evenings on board a cruise ship is the platform awaiting you.

Most cruise lines have rather strict rules regarding passengers wearing casual outfits during formal evening nights. And even if the rules are a bit lax, it wouldn’t do you any good to appear oddly out of place when all other shipmates are looking their best. Given that there are at least 5-8 formal evenings in a 2-week cruise, you might want to bring a variety of formal dresses on board.

For gentlemen, a dark business suit or a tuxedo is the norm. If you’re not a big fan of suits, then make sure you at least have an excellent dinner jacket on. And oh! don’t forget the bow-tie.

Ladies are expected to look trim and presentable in cocktail dresses or evening gowns, but with minimal jewellery.

In some first class high-end cruises, there’s usually separate all-black and all-white formal evenings. In such occasions, the men will be expected to be dressed fully in either black or white suits. If your cruise has such arrangements, pack different suits of each colour to easily blend in with the crowd, no matter the occasion.

Importance of checking and adhering to the stipulated dress code
Nowadays our image is almost everything, and all evenings at the sea are likely to be memorable. The dress code adds to the glamour and aura, such that every night on board appears different.

For some of us, we only embark on luxury cruises once or twice per year. Or better yet, for others we have to save up for a while before finally purchasing our dream cruise liner tickets. Whichever the case, dressing to the occasion is part and parcel of your luxury cruise experience.

Aboard some ships, during formal evenings or cocktail occasions, butlers are usually under instructions to turn away revellers who turn up in casual or inappropriate dressings. To save yourself such inconvenience or embarrassment, check the expected dress code with your cruise line and pack accordingly.

Bon voyage!