What to Pack for a Cruise Vacation
What is one to take on a cruise? There is so much you want to take. Really, what should you pack?? Here are some tips.
First Things First:
Short shorts are best kept to the pool deck or the fitness center. You can stretch it by wearing them to lunch in the lido buffet … but that’s it. Bathing suits are even more limited and should be worn only at the pool (though appropriate cover-ups are fine for lido lunch time).
The Daytime Guide:
Good bets for indoor activities include walking shorts, slacks, jeans, casual skirts and sundresses. Outdoors, of course, swimsuits and casual shorts or jeans and T-shirt ensembles are best.
Rules of taste vary; if you’re heading off to a kayaking expedition or a snorkeling sail, the most casual of clothing is appropriate.
Cruise ships assign daily dress codes — casual, informal, resort casual, formal — that take effect in public rooms and restaurants from 6 p.m. onward. (Daytime is always casual.) Normally, on seven-night trips, you can count on two formal nights, a couple of casual evenings and between one and four semi-formal occasions.
For all but the most formal of evenings (even on the more upscale ships), resort casual is the common dress code. That means elegant attire, though not in the silk gown milieu. Think flowing cotton dresses or silky mix-and-match pants outfits that would be appropriate at a nice restaurant or a symphony concert on land.
First Things First:
Consider khakis and a navy sport coat — a can’t-miss uniform when accompanied by everything from a polo shirt or (nice) T-shirt to an Oxford. You can wear this type of outfit just about anywhere but dinner on formal night. Also, unless you’re hanging by the pool, some kind of shirt is required.
The Daytime Guide:
Shorts are pretty versatile (athletic versions for working out and the pool deck, not-quite-knee-length for indoor activities). Jeans and casual khakis work, too. T-shirts and sports shirts go everywhere.
Again, going too casual (tank tops, scruffy jeans, any kind of athletic garb) is considered disrespectful in many ports of call.
And let’s face it:
You’ll generally be more warmly welcomed in restaurants and shops if you’re dressed nicely. The only caveat for men is the same as for women: On active shore excursions or beach days, ultra-casual is just fine.
You can pack a tuxedo — hey, if the mood strikes, you’ve got a much more elegant photo op — but tuxes are increasingly being outnumbered by business suits on formal nights. On some ships, you can rent tuxedos. But, for most folks, we’d recommend that you do pack at least a suit and tie because some on board alternative restaurants are so elegant that you really will feel out of place without them. And don’t forget the shoes to match. Otherwise, on non-formal nights, the khaki uniform works well.
Sweaters and Jackets:
Embrace the layered look. You will want a rain jacket and sweatshirt on a Caribbean or Hawaii cruise for those less-than-perfect island days. And Alaska cruisers have been known to need everything from bathing suits and short-sleeve tops to warm fleece jackets, hats and gloves; the same goes for cruising round the Horn of South America. Rather than pack clothes for multiple temperatures, bring cardigans or jackets to wear over lighter layers if it gets cold.
Throw in a hat to protect against the sun or keep your ears warm during scenic glacier cruising, and remember your sunglasses, as well. Consider headbands, bandanas and scarves for practical and style concerns.
Ladies especially should try not to pack a suitcase full of shoes. Try to bring styles that can serve multiple purposes (such as sneakers that go from gym to sightseeing or comfy sandals that work as well by the pool as they do at a casual dinner). Color coordinate your formal wear so you only have to pack one pair of dress shoes.