What Do You Wear on a Cruise Ship?

By Michael Ferguson

Cruise ships offer a wide variety of guest experiences, and the appropriate attire can vary depending on the type of cruise. There are some general guidelines to follow when dressing for a cruise ship vacation. Follow these tips to ensure you look and feel your best on board.

Daytime Attire

Cruise ships offer plenty of activities during the day, so plan for a mix of casual and dressy outfits. On most days, comfortable and casual clothing is appropriate, such as shorts, t-shirts, jeans, blouses, sundresses and swimwear. If there are formal activities during the day such as afternoon tea or a special show, dressy-casual attire is expected — think slacks and collared shirts for men and capris or skirts with blouses for women.

Evening Attire

In the evenings after 6 p.m., cruise ship dress codes usually become more formal. Cruise ships may have “elegant night” themes that allow guests to get dressed up in their finest cocktail attire.

Men typically wear suits or jackets with slacks and ties while women wear evening gowns or cocktail dresses with heels. If there is no formal theme night planned then dressy-casual attire is recommended — khakis or dress pants paired with collared shirts for men and sundresses or skirts with tops for women.

What to Pack

It’s important to pack enough clothes to last through your entire cruise so you don’t have to worry about doing laundry while you’re away. Depending on the type of cruise you’re taking, it’s a good idea to bring a few dressy items just in case there is an unexpected special event aboard the ship. It’s also important to bring plenty of comfortable shoes — sandals are great for days spent at sea while closed-toes shoes like sneakers are ideal if you plan on sightseeing ashore.


No matter what type of cruise you’re taking, it’s important to be aware of the dress code so that you can be prepared with the right clothes when packing your suitcase. Cruise ships generally expect guests to wear casual clothing during the day and more formal attire in the evening. Make sure to pack enough items so that you can cover all types of occasions throughout your trip.