Oh La La! What to Pack For Your Next Cruise Adventure

By Sue Wallace

Enjoy the Sky Deck aboard Avalon River Cruise
Enjoy the Sky Deck aboard Avalon River Cruise
Do you really need two pairs of hot pink stilettos and three pairs of runners for your cruise plus the black onesie? The temptation to overpack is hard to resist.

No one wants to be a laundry slave, dish out big money for washing, or have a cabin looking like a Chinese laundry with washing strung across the room.

It’s all about finding that happy medium and the good news is you only need to unpack once. Here are a few suggestions.

Mix and Match

Choose a colour scheme such as black or navy, then add pops of colour for interest, such as a hot pink scarf or a lime green pashmina. It can double as a rolled-up pillow or as a wrap when the air con gets chilly. Spots, dots, checks and stripes in various tones create new looks and striking jewellery can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.

With years of personal first-hand experience, Travel Associates Cruise Boutique will find the best value and the best itinerary to fulfil your cruise dreams.


Heading to the tropics? Pack a few colourful sarongs that can be tied in different ways. Wrap a sarong around you as a skirt or drape it as a strapless dress. Sarongs are also handy for coverups at sacred sites where bare shoulders are a “no no” and also wrapping around you to prevent sunburn. They also make welcome inexpensive presents for those back home and are light to carry.

Back Pack

A backpack is handy for excursions, especially if you fancy trekking or adventure trips but choose a lightweight model that’s big enough to carry sunscreen, insect repellent, water, towel, camera and portable charger. Clothing that can be layered is perfect for cruising in virtually any climate.

Glam Up

Many cruises have gala dinners and also “white” nights, plus classy restaurants with dress codes, so do your homework before you lock the front door.

Years ago, a dinner suit was de rigueur for formal nights at sea and were carted around the world and worn once.  

These days, it’s more about relaxed cruising – you won’t need that dinner suit, unless you want to step out in style.  Jacket and slacks are favoured and yes, there’s sometimes still a call for a tie at some high-end restaurants. Some cruise lines offer a hire service for formal gear, bookings are often required before sailing.

Dress codes are featured in daily newsletters. 

Laundry Helpers

Friends always travel with several inflatable coat hangers for quick drying and a bar of stain remover soap – always handy if you drop sate sauce on your top. 

Remember strong gusts of wind can spring up quickly if you have washing hanging on your balcony. No one wants to see their favorite shirt or swimmers overboard, so make sure they are secure. Opt for light weight quick dry clothing.

Shoe Sense

Ah shoes – always a dilemma- just how many pairs do you pack. First up, take comfortable runners that you can wear for deck walks, excursions and to the gym. 

These days stylish white runners are also worn with casual dresses and don’t look out of place.

While the temptation is to match shoes with outfits – you don’t need five pairs of stilettoes – choppy seas and high heels don’t mix. 

Opt for two pairs of kitten heels – black and neutral and colourful sandals. Slippers or flip flops are usually supplied. Reef shoes will protect your feet in the sea and rivers.

Guest on board Viking Ocean Ships

Cruise Lines Have Their Say

No Shoes on True North

True North and True North II are all about barefoot luxury, so kick off your shoes as soon as you board.

The ‘no shoes’ policy assists with safety and promoting a casual atmosphere onboard as well as keeping the ship in showroom condition. Study footwear is required for shore excursions.

Casual or Cocktail Dress – Cunard

Cunard recommends casual comfortable wear for the day and no swimwear in dining rooms. Guests can dress to the nines on gala nights.

Dress codes are adhered to but if you don’t feel like donning your Sunday best, there’s always room service and a choice of relaxed venues.

Smart attire translates as dress, shirt and slacks, skirt and a top, or a cocktail dress. Many guests do dress up and pose for glam keepsake photos. 

Country Club Wear for Oceania Cruises

Oceania Cruises recommends resort style, country club casual attire. For evening dining, elegant casual resort wear is suggested. Casual jeans, shorts, t-shirts, baseball caps, sandals, and tennis shoes aren’t welcome in public areas including bars, lounges and restaurants after 6pm. 

Shorts and relaxed clothing are perfect for a day onboard the ship and shore excursions. Formal dressing in the evening is optional.

Style and comfort abound aboard the Regent Seven Seas Explorer

Regent Seven Seas Cruises –Tux optional

Attire ranges from casual to optional formal.

Deck yourselves in resort-style outfits but after 6pm – it’s Cinderella time. The recommended onboard dress in the evenings is elegant casual. 

Dinner dress code for women includes a skirt, or slacks with a shirt or sweater, a dress, or slacks and a collared shirt for men. Sport jackets are optional. 

Casual wear is not to be worn at dinner, but ties are not required.

For 16-night cruises or longer, there are two dressy nights where formal and semi-formal attire is optional.

Break out that glorious gown or cocktail dress while men may favour tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits with a tie. 

Silversea Soirees

Evening attire falls into three categories, casual, informal and formal.

Pants, shirts, skirts and dresses for women and open-neck shirts and slacks for men.

On informal evenings, it’s dresses or pantsuits for women and jackets and slacks for men. 

When the sun goes down, bring out that Little Black Dress or cocktail number, while men can opt for a killer tux, dinner jacket or dark suits with a tie.

Seabourn- Dress with Sensitivity

For the tropics, pack light, loose-fitting garments that can be paired with a lightweight jacket or sweater.

For cooler climates, extra layers of warmer garments such as a light topcoat and some jumpers are recommended.

When dressing to go ashore, check the customs of the countries you are visiting. In some ports men and women should not wear shorts.

Many cultures prefer that women wear dresses or skirts when visiting shrines, churches, mosques and temples. 

Viking – No Formal Nights

During the day, dress is casual including shorts, slacks or jeans and comfortable shoes for walking tours. Swimsuits, brief shorts, cover-ups and exercise attire should be reserved for the Fitness Centre, pool areas and Sports Deck. 

There are no “formal nights” in the evening; evening dress is “elegant casual” for all dining venues, performances and special events. 

For women it’s dress, skirt or slacks with a sweater or shirt, for men, trousers and a collared shirt. A tie and jacket are optional, jeans are not permitted. The evening dress excludes World Café where the dress remains casual after 6pm.
Dress for shore excursions that visit religious sites require modesty. To avoid being denied entry, men should wear long pants – no sleeveless shirts and for women, clothing that covers the knees and no sleeveless or revealing tops.



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