Woman wearing bathing suit and hat standing on boat looking at water.

Dressing to Impress: What Should You Be Wearing On Luxury Cruises?

Embarking on a cruise vacation isn’t just a journey across the seas — it’s also a great opportunity to showcase your unique fashion sense onboard. However, this privilege comes with a few careful considerations. For instance, did you know that camouflage clothing is discouraged on a cruise? Royal Caribbean International explains that camouflage is illegal to wear in more than a dozen countries, including Barbados and Jamaica. Travelers wearing this attire will be forced to hand it over to the authorities to avoid any problems on land.

In the cruise fashion playbook, the dress code of luxury cruises particularly stands out. With an array of events and occasions, each demanding a distinct attire, the dress code becomes more than a mere guideline: it’s also a compass for navigating through the diverse experiences awaiting passengers. Below, we decode the art of cruise fashion, with tips for ensuring every ensemble aligns with the grandeur of the high-seas adventure.

Navigating dress codes

Dress codes have evolved in recent years, with a noticeable shift from true formal wear to “smart casual” or “smart elegant” clothing on cruises. This flexibility allows cruisers to express their style while adhering to the cruise line’s guidelines.

However, the evenings often usher in a transformation, revealing a spectrum of dress codes tailored to the events onboard. For instance, Celebrity Cruises recommends a cocktail dress for women and a button-down shirt for men during their Evening Chic night while allowing casual attire during the day. Meanwhile, Cunard promotes “resort casual” by day while encouraging black-tie during their Gala Evenings. This can mean gowns for women and a full suit or tuxedo for men.

Ultimately, attire expectations can fluctuate depending on different occasions. Below, we explore the specific events and occasions you’ll encounter on a luxury cruise and what you should wear for each.

Dressing for cruise occasions

On a luxury cruise, the sun-soaked decks and vibrant poolside gatherings set the stage for a relaxed and chic daytime wardrobe. Lounging by the pool offers an opportunity to showcase resort wear — think elegant swimsuits, breezy cover-ups, and stylish sun hats. However, the transition from poolside to shore excursions requires a more thoughtful change of ensemble.

Cruise passengers looking at the Panama Canal.Credit: Paul Harrison under license CC BY-SA 4.0. No changes were made to the image.

When embarking on a shore excursion, the choice of attire is not merely about style but also about embracing the destination’s essence. Our recent trip to Croatia called for the Dream Cotton Gauze Kasey Dress after we disembarked Rhapsody for a Zadar beach day, capturing the laid-back coastal vibe. Meanwhile, the Beyond Travel Maxi Dress in jet black is ideal for wandering the smooth cobblestone streets of Stari Grad and enjoying dinner at Blue Doors on the island of Hvar.

Woman and man standing on a pier.

Plate of sliced beef and vegetables.

While the restaurants on land are certainly a delight, the culinary experiences aboard cruises make for an incredible gastronomic journey. Guests on Explora Journeys can anticipate a celebration of global flavors thanks to the range of dining options onboard. Dress to impress with a navy cashmere and a good-quality blazer while tasting the French-inspired international cuisine at Fil Rouge. Similarly, you can don a crisp silk-linen navy reminiscent of the Mediterranean summer style while at the Med Yacht Club. Reservations at these restaurants can only be made 60 days in advance, so this gives you plenty of time to curate an ensemble that mirrors the sophistication of the dining experience.

Auditorium on a cruise ship filled with red chairs.Credit: Captain-tucker under license CC BY-SA 4.0. No changes were made to the image.

Lastly, entertainment events on a luxury cruise are akin to grand performances, often demanding more formal attire. The three main productions of Vista by Oceania Cruises include a VIP concert journey, a UK-centric song-and-dance performance, and a dance-centric show choreographed by renowned “Dancing with the Stars” pro dancer Britt Stewart. All of these demand glitz and glamor, with elegant dresses for women and suits or tuxedos for men being the norm. This dress code reflects the elevated nature of the entertainment, creating an atmosphere of opulence and refinement.

Whether exploring picturesque shores, indulging in culinary delights, or attending captivating performances, the key is to dress not just for the occasion but for the enchanting journey that unfolds with every passing moment. For more tips on fashion and lifestyle, check out our other write-ups on Truly Megan.

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Dressing For Cruises

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Dressing For Cruises