What should you wear on a cruise?

We’ve all been there before: you’re standing in front of an empty suitcase and you don’t know what to pack. Hawaiian shirt or three-piece suit? Sweatshirt or shorts? Tuxedo or tie? The dress codes on cruise ships are as diverse as the cruise ships themselves. We’ve gathered these tips on cruise line dress codes to help you decide what you should wear on your next cruise. With the help of our useful infographic, you’ll always know what you should bring with you, and what clothing you can leave at home.

Every cruise line uses terms like “casual,” “semi-formal,” and “formal” to describe their dress code, but not every cruise line interprets them the same. In the following infographic, we’ve summarized the dress codes for all cruise lines, with examples of outfits which are appropriate for each cruise line. With this information, packing for your next cruise will be a piece of cake!

Which dress code applies on a cruise ship?

On mass-market cruise lines, daytime wear is casual, and gets more formal after 6 p.m. During the day, you should dress for the weather and the activities you’ll be participating in. Going on a shore excursion? Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes to get around. Lounging by the pool? Don’t forget the bikini! Plan on going to the spa, the fitness center, or on taking a few laps on the running track? Pack appropriate clothing for each occasion.

This is different than on premium and luxury cruise lines, however, as well as traditional brands like Cunard. There, you’ll want to trade your shorts and t-shirt for slacks and a polo shirt or button-down shirt.

Evening dress codes are a bit more formal. Here, you should wear a cocktail dress or a shirt and slacks, with a jacket.

You can really go all out on special occasions such as Formal Night, the Welcome Dinner, or the Captain’s Dinner. These special events take place once or twice per cruise on most cruise lines. On these nights, ladies should wear an evening gown or a nice pantsuit, and gentlemen should wear a dark suit or tux, complete with jacket and tie.

One thing that all the cruise lines agree on: Swimwear belongs at the pool – and nowhere else. While it’s fine to wear your swim trunks or bikini when you’re lounging by the pool, be sure to throw on a t-shirt or coverup when you’re on your way back to your stateroom. If you’d like to get a bite to eat after your time at the pool, it’s best to change back into daytime wear before entering the restaurant – swimwear and flip-flops aren’t allowed in any dining areas, not even the buffet.

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INFOGRAPHIC: Cruise Line Dress Codes, Explained


Infographic cruise line dress codes

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