What Do You Wear on Board a Cruise Ship?

By Michael Ferguson

When it comes to cruise ship travel, you want to look your best without overdoing it. Cruise line dress codes vary from casual to formal, so deciding what to wear can be confusing. There are some general guidelines you can use to help ensure that your cruise fashion is spot-on.

Daytime Wear:

For daytime activities on the ship, such as lounging by the pool or dining in the buffet, casual attire is the way to go. A pair of shorts and a T-shirt is perfectly acceptable. If you plan on participating in an activity such as rock climbing or playing mini golf, make sure you are wearing closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothing that allows for movement.

Evening Wear:

When the sun goes down and evening entertainment begins, it’s time to get a little more dressed up. Casual evening wear means no jeans or shorts but instead slacks and a polo shirt for men, and sundresses or capris for women. On some ships, there may be one or two nights of formal dress code where you’ll need to break out your fanciest attire; think tuxedos and cocktail dresses.

What Not To Wear:

No matter what kind of attire is encouraged on board a cruise ship, there are still some items that should be avoided at all costs. Flip flops are typically not allowed in dining areas; opt for a pair of sandals instead. Beachwear such as bathing suits and cover-ups should also be reserved for lounging around the pool deck only.

So whether you’re sailing away on a luxury liner or embarking on an adventure-filled voyage across the seas, make sure that you’re dressed appropriately according to each day’s activities.


Overall, when it comes to deciding what to wear on board a cruise ship, there is no one-size-fits-all answer; different cruise lines have different dress codes which range from casual daytime attire to formal eveningwear. It is important to research each individual ship’s dress code before packing so that you can look your best while still being appropriate.