What should I wear on my cruise?

by Amy Elliott

What should I wear on my cruise?

by Amy Elliott

To be fair, the answer to the question of what to wear on a cruise depends on the nature — and the length — of your itinerary. There is also the issue of whether you’re committed to traveling light or happy to schlep the luggage necessary to accommodate 20 pairs of shoes. But remove these variables and the one thing every cruiser has in common is that a typical day at sea has you constantly shifting between indoor and outdoor scenarios, each with its own dress code considerations. If you’re a guy, you have it easy — just make sure you have some collared shirts and some pant options that are dressier than jeans.

6
A quiet moment before dinner / Celebrity Cruises
Turn heads at the pool
1 of 6
How to get noticed at the pool

A neon string bikini certainly gets the job done, but a one-piece can turn heads too: Animal prints, all-black styles, and those with very low cuts, or intricately strappy backs, are equally alluring ways to command attention. Another tactic? Wearing a very large floppy hat, which can get people whispering, “Hey, do you think that’s a celebrity?”

A neon string bikini certainly gets the job done, but a one-piece can turn heads too: Animal prints, all-black styles, and those with very low cuts, or intricately strappy backs, are equally alluring ways to command attention. Another tactic? Wearing a very large floppy hat, which can get people whispering, “Hey, do you think that’s a celebrity?”

Stripes are part of the cruise uniform
2 of 6
How to fit in

We get it: Some travelers just want to blend in. You’ll be happy to know that there is indeed an unofficial “cruise uniform” and it usually entails tropical print dresses, white capris topped with tunics, and an abundance of white and navy blue. And stripes — lots and lots of stripes.

We get it: Some travelers just want to blend in. You’ll be happy to know that there is indeed an unofficial “cruise uniform” and it usually entails tropical print dresses, white capris topped with tunics, and an abundance of white and navy blue. And stripes — lots and lots of stripes.

A hat is necessary in the sun
3 of 6
How to avoid a sunburn

Shielding yourself from harmful UVA/UVB rays is always in style. UPF clothing — made with fabric that’s been tested for Ultraviolet Protection Factor — ramps up protection in addition to sunscreen and a hat. Most of the options fall into the athleisure category (think: rashguard tops and tennis skirts) but brands like REI, Parasol, and Coolibar offer ready-to-wear-inspired styles in addition to the usual surfer chic gear.

Shielding yourself from harmful UVA/UVB rays is always in style. UPF clothing — made with fabric that’s been tested for Ultraviolet Protection Factor — ramps up protection in addition to sunscreen and a hat. Most of the options fall into the athleisure category (think: rashguard tops and tennis skirts) but brands like REI, Parasol, and Coolibar offer ready-to-wear-inspired styles in addition to the usual surfer chic gear.

Taking selfies at "magic hour"
4 of 6
How to look good in photos

The ground rules: Matte, structured fabrics. No shimmery bronzer or highlighter (too shiny in photos). And “magic hour” light is flattering to all. This is the time right before sunset (conveniently occurring around cocktail hour) so you are also free to skip the sunscreen which can make you look ghostly on camera. High-shine fabrics like silk, satin, and taffeta are super reflective, drawing attention to places most of us prefer to downplay. More bad news: Empire-waist sundresses and big, flowy caftans add extra volume to your physique in photos. Yes, they’re supposed to be loose fitting, but these garments just make you look heavier than you are in real life the minute someone gets you on camera. 

The ground rules: Matte, structured fabrics. No shimmery bronzer or highlighter (too shiny in photos). And “magic hour” light is flattering to all. This is the time right before sunset (conveniently occurring around cocktail hour) so you are also free to skip the sunscreen which can make you look ghostly on camera. High-shine fabrics like silk, satin, and taffeta are super reflective, drawing attention to places most of us prefer to downplay. More bad news: Empire-waist sundresses and big, flowy caftans add extra volume to your physique in photos. Yes, they’re supposed to be loose fitting, but these garments just make you look heavier than you are in real life the minute someone gets you on camera. 

A formal cocktail party on QM2
5 of 6
How to get your hair and makeup done

A trip the ship’s salon for professional hair and makeup before the captain’s dinner or formal night will also up your photo-ready quotient. This is an investment (an updo and makeup session on QM2 is $148 ... before tip), and one you risk ruining if you don’t arrive at the salon in a button-up shirt. Pulling your top over freshly styled hair is a surefire way of upsetting the entire thing. Take it a step further and pack a shirt that is the same color as the dress you plan to wear that night to help your makeup artist choose the perfect shades for your blush and lipstick.

A trip the ship’s salon for professional hair and makeup before the captain’s dinner or formal night will also up your photo-ready quotient. This is an investment (an updo and makeup session on QM2 is $148 ... before tip), and one you risk ruining if you don’t arrive at the salon in a button-up shirt. Pulling your top over freshly styled hair is a surefire way of upsetting the entire thing. Take it a step further and pack a shirt that is the same color as the dress you plan to wear that night to help your makeup artist choose the perfect shades for your blush and lipstick.

Breaking the ice
6 of 6
How to start conversations

Statement jewelry — a big necklace, a knockout cocktail ring, an oversized watch — can serve as a marvelous icebreaker when you’re among strangers. Women and men alike are drawn to it like magpies, offering compliments and questions about how it came to be yours.

Statement jewelry — a big necklace, a knockout cocktail ring, an oversized watch — can serve as a marvelous icebreaker when you’re among strangers. Women and men alike are drawn to it like magpies, offering compliments and questions about how it came to be yours.

Up next...

10 Best Ports for Fun Fall Activities

Koblenz, Germany
Go Back
Find The Best Cruises
Find a cruise

Find the best deals!

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices