Embarking on a cruise is an exciting adventure, filled with relaxation, exploration, and unforgettable experiences. As you plan for your voyage, one essential aspect to consider is what to wear during your time on the ship. While it may seem like a daunting task, understanding cruise attire and dress codes in advance can save you from any fashion faux pas and ensure you feel comfortable and confident throughout your journey.

Knowing what to wear on a cruise holds great importance, as it not only sets the tone for your vacation but also helps you navigate the various activities and venues onboard. The good news is that, in general, cruise attire is relatively straightforward, making it easy for you to pack and prepare accordingly. By familiarizing yourself with the typical dress codes and recommended outfits for different occasions, you can effortlessly adapt to each setting and make the most of your cruise experience.

In this article, we will delve into the world of cruise attire, exploring common dress codes and providing guidance on what to wear during your time at sea. From elegant evenings to casual days by the pool, we’ll cover it all, ensuring that you’re well-prepared and stylishly dressed for every occasion. So, let’s embark on this fashion journey and discover how easy it truly is to dress appropriately for a cruise.

Table of Contents

What do People Wear on a Cruise?

Dress Code by Cruise Line

Frequently Asked Questions

Cruise Time?

What do people wear on a cruise?

When it comes to sea days on a cruise, resort-casual clothing is a safe bet for staying on board your ship. While the level of casualness may vary among different cruise lines, resort casual serves as a good baseline. But what exactly does “resort casual” mean?

For men, khaki pants or shorts paired with loose-fitting, short-sleeve button-down shirts or plain, nice-quality T-shirts are ideal. Women can opt for khaki shorts, palazzo pants, or sundresses combined with a stylish top. In most cases, nice jeans in a dark wash without any holes are also acceptable.

This type of attire is generally acceptable for evening dining in the main dining rooms on most ships. However, for extra-fee restaurants, you may want to dress slightly more formally, such as wearing collared shirts or long-sleeve button-downs for men and slacks with a blouse or even a cocktail dress for women.

Formal nights require a bit more dressing up. Men should have at least a collared dress shirt or button-down shirt, but a jacket to wear over the shirt (with or without a tie) adds a touch of elegance. Some men prefer suits or tuxedos. Women have various options, including pantsuits, dressy pants outfits, party dresses, or even ball gowns.

It’s important to note that on formal nights, jeans are not allowed in the main dining rooms, and cut-off shorts, baseball caps, and flip-flops are prohibited at all times during dinner in those venues. Additionally, don’t forget to pack a bathing suit, whether you plan to relax by the pool or visit a beach destination. Keep in mind that cover-ups are required for entry into all restaurants and dining rooms, except for walk-up, poolside window-service venues.

For shore excursions, especially those in rugged or active destinations that involve a lot of walking, comfortable and casual clothing paired with sturdy footwear is a must. Pack layers for colder climates and moisture-wicking fabrics for warmer environments or activities that may induce sweating.

Lastly, check if your cruise line has any special theme nights scheduled. If so, it’s worth packing an outfit for events like the white party or ’80s night to fully participate in the onboard festivities.

Royal Caribbean Dress Code

When it comes to Royal Caribbean’s dress code, a casual atmosphere dominates during the daytime, similar to Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line. Given its family-friendly nature, comfort and fun are the key considerations. You’ll commonly see shorts, jeans, T-shirts, tank tops, and bathing suits or beachwear throughout the day.

In the evenings, unless it’s a formal night (which Royal Caribbean still maintains), you have the flexibility to dress in something less casual, although it’s not mandatory. However, it’s important to note that Royal Caribbean has three different dress codes, which are loosely enforced: casual, smart casual, and formal. The specific dress codes applicable on your voyage will depend on the duration of the cruise.

The main distinction between casual and smart casual is that smart casual recommends pantsuits for ladies and jackets for gentlemen. However, skirts or trousers with blouses or collared shirts are acceptable for both dress codes. Smart casual strongly discourages wearing jeans, even if they are of a more formal style.

During formal nights on Royal Caribbean cruises, there is a higher expectation for passengers to dress elegantly. It is recommended to wear cocktail dresses, evening gowns, suits, or tuxedos. Just like the smart casual dress code, jeans are not permitted in the main dining rooms on formal nights.

Celebrity Cruises Dress Code

Celebrity Cruises upholds a dress code that can be best described as chic-casual or country club casual. The onboard demographic tends to be more sophisticated compared to Carnival, Royal Caribbean, or Norwegian Cruise Line. While you will still find guests wearing jean shorts and tank tops, khaki shorts paired with stylish button-down shirts are more common and reflect the elevated atmosphere.

For dinner, it’s advisable to dress up a bit more, as Celebrity Cruises enforces a smart-casual dress code in most of its restaurants, including the main dining room. Attire ranging from unripped jeans to dress pants accompanied by nice blouses or button-down shirts is deemed appropriate and ensures you blend in seamlessly.

Celebrity Cruises does have formal nights, although they are referred to as “Evening Chic” nights. On sailings of six nights or fewer, there is one Evening Chic night, while voyages lasting a week or more feature two of these special occasions. During Evening Chic nights, passengers are encouraged to dress up, with options ranging from tuxedos and evening gowns to more semi-formal attire.

While some men may opt for slacks paired with collared or button-down shirts and jackets, typically without ties, the majority of male guests choose this stylish yet relaxed approach. Women often select slacks with nice blouses, sundresses, or party dresses, striking a balance between elegance and comfort.

So, while the formal nights on a Celebrity Cruise Ship may have a different name, they still provide an opportunity for passengers to express their individual style what wear on a cruise and enjoy a heightened sense of glamour during their cruise vacation.


Carnival Cruise Dress Code


When it comes to Carnival Cruise Line, a casual dress code prevails. Passengers can feel comfortable wearing jeans, T-shirts, tank tops, shorts, and bathing suits during their days on board or ashore.

For evening dining in the main dining rooms, nice jeans paired with stylish tops are perfectly acceptable.

During Carnival cruise formal nights, referred to as “cruise elegant” nights, attire ranges from slacks with nice shirts to tuxedos and ball gowns. However, most passengers tend to opt for outfits that fall somewhere in between.

Voyages lasting six nights or longer will typically feature two “cruise elegant” nights, while shorter cruises of five nights or less will have only one such evening.

Disney Dress Code

Disney Cruise Line is renowned for its family-friendly atmosphere, and when it comes to dressing, comfort is key for children and adults alike. Despite its exceptional service and higher price point, Disney’s ships lean towards a casual dress code.

During the day, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear jeans, shorts, T-shirts, bathing suits and flip flops or tennis shoes. What sets Disney apart from other cruise lines is that this relaxed attire continues into dinnertime. You’ll find jeans and T-shirts just as common as dressier options like slacks and button-down shirts.

However, there are exceptions on Disney Cruise Line’s “dress-up” nights. Voyages lasting a week or more typically have two such evenings, while shorter cruises have one. On these occasions, Disney suggests that men refrain from wearing jeans and instead opt for jackets. Women are encouraged to wear dresses, skirts with blouses, or pantsuits.

Certain additional-fee restaurants on Disney Cruise Line, such as Remy, one of the more luxurious alternative dining options at sea, require men to wear jackets and prohibit jeans.

Every Disney sailing features a Pirate Night, and guests who wish to partake should pack their best swashbuckling gear. Additionally, as is customary at Disney parks, it’s not uncommon to see guests dressed in costumes and sporting mouse ears throughout the day, adding a touch of whimsy to the cruise experience.

Holland America Dress Code

While the official dress code on Holland America Line ships is labeled as “cruise casual,” you’ll seldom come across passengers appearing disheveled or as if they just rolled out of bed. Most guests cruise outfits lean towards resort wear or, at the very least, opt for well-pressed jeans paired with T-shirts for comfortable clothing.

This casual dress code extends to dinner, but it’s not uncommon to find Holland America cruisers dressing up a bit more. Men often choose light or dark suits with collared shirts or button-downs, sometimes accompanied by jackets, along with slacks. Women frequently opt for slacks with nice tops or dresses, striking a tasteful balance.

When it comes to formal nights on Holland America, sailings shorter than a week typically have one “gala night” where passengers don evening gowns, ball gowns, suits, or tuxedos. Voyages lasting between eight and 13 nights feature two gala nights, while a two week cruise + will provide three opportunities to showcase elegant attire and embrace the glamorous elegant dress ambiance.

MSC Cruise Line Dress Codes

The appropriate attire to wear on MSC cruises largely depends on the specific crowd you’ll be sailing with. For Europe cruises, passengers often embrace a more formal style, even during the daytime. The pool deck becomes adorned with chic resort wear and designer bathing suits as far as the eye can see. Dinner on these voyages takes on an even more glamorous tone, where elegance becomes the norm. Expect to encounter shimmering dresses, stylish pants, button-down shirts, and dress shoes, creating a sophisticated ambiance even on non-formal nights.

On cruises departing from the U.S., a more casual atmosphere prevails. Throughout the day, jeans, T-shirts, and bathing suits are the go-to choices. At night, you can feel comfortable in nice jeans paired with a collared shirt or a sundress. However, it’s advisable to elevate your attire slightly to match the ship’s overall ambiance.

Are there formal nights on MSC cruises? Absolutely. They are referred to as “gala dinners” and are typically held at least once per voyage, although the exact number may vary based on the itinerary. The dress code for these evenings is strict, with T-shirts and shorts only allowed in the buffet area. To blend in seamlessly, it’s recommended to dress in a ball gown, cocktail dress, suit, or tuxedo, exuding an air of sophistication and elegance.

Princess Cruises Dress Code

Princess Cruises embraces a casual daytime mindset, allowing you to wear the same types of clothing on board as you would during a day ashore. Feel free to sport activewear, beachwear, jeans, or T-shirts, as they are perfectly acceptable.

What makes Princess cruise formal nights special is that the line maintains the tradition of having an official formal night. Passengers on Princess Cruises cherish the romantic ambiance that these evenings offer, contributing to a more traditional cruise experience when these gala evenings are hyped. Rather than emphasizing super-fancy attire like ball gowns or tuxedos, the line suggests that men opt for suits or slacks with jackets, while women can choose cocktail dresses or pantsuits.

For voyages of less than a week, you can anticipate one formal night, while sailings lasting between a week and 13 days will feature two formal nights. Cruises spanning two weeks or longer will have three formal nights.

All other nights are designated as “smart casual attire,” which means women can opt for sundresses or pants paired with flowy tops, while men can choose nice jeans or slacks along with collared shirts.

Norwegian Cruise Line Dress Code

Norwegian Cruise Line takes pride in offering a “come as you are” atmosphere, allowing passengers to dress as they please both during the day and at night. The preferred attire is cruise casual, giving guests the freedom to wear whatever they feel comfortable in.

However, there is one exception to this relaxed dress code, and that is during dinner. A smart casual vibe is encouraged, requesting travelers to avoid torn or revealing clothing.

In line with Norwegian’s laid-back style, NCL formal nights, known as “Dress Up or Not” nights, provide an opportunity for those who wish to glam up. Nevertheless, participation is optional, and you are welcome to dine in the main dining rooms regardless of your choice. These special evenings witness a delightful blend of fashion choices, ranging from jeans and T-shirts to elegant ball gowns and tuxedos, creating a harmonious coexistence of styles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an appropriate outfit to take in a cruise ship?


When packing for a cruise ship, it’s important to consider different occasions and activities that may take place on board. Here are some suggestions for appropriate outfits to take on a cruise ship:

  • Casual Daytime Attire: Pack comfortable and casual clothing such as shorts, T-shirts, sundresses, skirts, and lightweight pants. Choose breathable fabrics that suit the climate of your destination.
  • Swimwear: Don’t forget to pack swimwear, including swimsuits, bikinis, or swim trunks, as you’ll likely have access to pools, hot tubs, or beaches on the ship or during shore excursions.
  • Evening Wear: Most cruise ships have formal, semi-formal, or smart-casual evenings. For formal nights, consider bringing cocktail dresses, elegant evening gowns, suits, or tuxedos. On smart-casual nights, opt for dress pants or skirts with blouses or button-down shirts.
  • Active Wear: If you plan to engage in sports or fitness activities on the ship, pack appropriate activewear, including athletic shoes, shorts, leggings, and moisture-wicking tops.
  • Footwear: Bring a variety of shoes to accommodate different activities and occasions. Comfortable walking shoes, sandals, flip-flops for the pool area, and dressier shoes for formal nights are recommended.
  • Layers and Outerwear: Depending on your destination, consider packing layers and outerwear to adapt to varying weather conditions. Bring a light jacket or cardigan for cooler evenings or excursions to colder regions.
  • Accessories: Complete your outfits with accessories like hats, sunglasses, scarves, and jewelry to add style and functionality.

Remember to check the specific dress code and recommendations of the cruise line you’re sailing with, as dress requirements can vary. It’s also a good idea to pack some versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits throughout your cruise.

Are cruises strict on dress code?


Cruise lines vary in their enforcement of dress codes, but most strive to maintain a certain level of elegance and atmosphere onboard. While some cruise lines have become more relaxed in recent years, others still adhere to more traditional dress codes. Here’s a general overview:

  • Formal Nights: Many cruise lines designate one or more formal nights during the voyage. On these evenings, passengers are encouraged to dress up in elegant attire, such as formal gowns, cocktail dresses, suits, or tuxedos. Some lines may have specific requirements for formal nights, prohibiting jeans or casual wear in main dining rooms.
  • Smart Casual/Nice Casual: This is the most common dress code for most evenings on a cruise ship. It typically calls for attire that is more polished than casual wear but not as formal as a tuxedo or evening gown. Smart casual may include dress pants or skirts with blouses or shirts, dresses, or dressy separates.
  • Casual Days: During the day, cruise lines generally have relaxed dress codes that allow for casual attire, such as shorts, T-shirts, sundresses, and swimwear. However, there may be some restrictions in certain dining venues or areas of the ship where more modest attire is expected.

It’s important to review the dress code guidelines provided by your specific cruise line before your trip. While some lines may have strict dress code policies and enforce them, others may take a more lenient approach, allowing passengers more freedom to dress as they please. By familiarizing yourself with the dress code in advance, you can ensure you have appropriate attire for each occasion and avoid any potential discomfort or inconvenience.

Is it ok to wear jeans on a cruise?


In general, wearing jeans on a cruise is acceptable during casual or smart casual dress code evenings. Many cruise lines allow passengers to wear jeans in the main dining areas and other casual venues during non-formal nights. However, it’s important to note that there may be specific restrictions or guidelines depending on the cruise line and the occasion.

During formal nights or elegant evenings, jeans are typically not considered appropriate attire. These evenings call for more formal or dressy clothing, such as suits, dresses, or cocktail attire. It’s a good idea to check the specific dress code policy of your chosen cruise line to ensure you pack the appropriate attire for each occasion.

Do you have to dress up every night for dinner on a cruise?


No. Most cruise lines have 1 or 2 formal nights depending on the length of the cruise. These nights formal attire will likely be required, however those who wish to not participate can always eat at the buffet.

Cruise Time?

Wearing the proper attire on your cruise plays a significant role in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience. By being prepared and familiarizing yourself with the dress codes and recommended outfits in advance, you can avoid any potential fashion mishaps and feel confident in every setting.

Whether it’s casual days on board, formal evenings, or shore excursions, dressing appropriately enhances your comfort, allows you to fully participate in activities, and shows respect for the cruise line’s guidelines. So, take the time to plan your cruise wardrobe, pack accordingly, and embark on your journey with style and ease.