The Riviera Travel Blog

01283 742 300 Mon - Fri, 9am - 7pm
Sat - Sun, 10am - 4pm

What to Wear on an Ocean Cruise

  • Wondering what to wear on an ocean cruise? Our guide helps you know what to pack for different types of ocean cruising
  • From casual day attire to more formal evening wear, discover what to wear for dining, excursions, gala evenings, or simply relaxing
  • Expert packing advice and tips, including holiday essentials and accessories to put in your luggage so you can dress with confidence

About to set sail on your first ocean cruise? It’s exciting looking forward to a holiday, but if you’re a typical first-time cruiser, perhaps you’ll also be worrying about what to wear on your cruise. Do not fret a moment longer. Just read on, then pack your case with confidence.

Excited about experiencing the romance of an ocean cruise adventure? Discover our ocean cruise collection, from luxury cruises such as our Cruising the South of France & Corsica on the Azamara Pursuit to the glamour of our transatlantic voyage to New York on the unforgettable Queen Mary 2.

Cruise wear and dress codes

Traditionally, sailing on an ocean cruise meant bringing a luggage load of formal wear, however, today many cruises have a more casual and relaxed dress code. Passengers are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing, especially on deck during the day or while on tours ashore. It’s only usually during evening mealtimes when smart casual attire is more appropriate – even then tuxedos or ballgowns are not the norm.

That’s not to say you can’t dress up! If you enjoy the glamour of more formalwear, that’s completely fine – ocean cruises are welcoming, diverse voyages that cater to a wide variety of tastes. There will be occasions on board, such as welcome or gala dinners, and evening excursions too, when guests can choose to wear smarter clothes, such as a jacket and tie or elegant dress. That’s perfectly acceptable and often the norm on certain ships, for example on the stylish Royal Clipper tall ship, or when dining in speciality restaurants. If you’re celebrating a special event, you’ll also want to don your glad rags – but what you wear is really up to you.

what to wear on a cruise keeping cool

Stay cool and comfortable in the daytime

What to wear on a cruise during the day

When deciding what to pack for a cruise, study your itinerary carefully as the destination information about what you can see and do could influence your wardrobe. If visiting historical towns lined with cobbled streets, your favourite worn-in shoes are a must for a walking tour. If an excursion involves a wine cellar visit, you’ll be thankful for a cosy jumper.

Importantly, daytime wear needs to be comfortable. Shorts or casual trousers, such as chinos or Capri pants, are popular among seasoned cruise-goers. Pair these up with either a short-sleeved blouse or polo shirt while sightseeing. That said, it all depends on the time of year you set sail and whether you’re off to South Africa or the Norwegian Fjords. Check out average temperatures before you go, remembering layers are always a good idea for changeable weather. A sun hat and lightweight, weather-resistant jacket are useful additions to pack, too.

Days at sea are spent relaxing on board, perhaps near the pool, so bring swimwear. Just be mindful that if you’re swimming or sunbathing, it’s courteous to dry off, cover up and put on footwear before entering indoor restaurants or buffet areas.

what to wear on a ruise sightseeing in comfort

Dress for the weather

What to wear on a cruise during the evening

Evening attire on ocean cruises tends to be a little smarter, but on the majority of our ships, passengers still dress casually – though beach shorts, jogging bottoms, baseball caps, and flip-flops are a no-no. Male guests often forgo jeans and opt for smart trousers with a collared shirt and, depending on preference, a tie. Evening cruise wear for women might be a floaty frock or jumpsuit, or perhaps a skirt or tailored trousers matched up with a sparkly top and accessories.

When opting for fine dining in a speciality restaurant onboard, a jacket or blazer and tie won’t look out of place for men, while for ladies a cocktail dress could fit the bill. You’ll also have the chance to dress up for formal gala evenings or when, as in the case of our Cruising the Baltic Sea to St Petersburg cruise, guests are taken ashore for a classical performance at a famous theatre.

If aboard an Azamara ship, remember to pack for a White Night party. Again, it’s an opportunity to wear something formal – and white – but you’ll still have fun if you take a more relaxed approach to your outfit.

Evening entertainment may include a casino, theatre, cabaret lounge, and cocktail bar – all venues where smart casual wear is also suitable. A good tip is to explore the relevant deck plan for your ship online for more details. If watching a film at an outdoor cinema, you may need to wrap up.

what to wear on a cruise casual evenings

Be stylish and comfortable in the evening

Seasonal clothing on an ocean cruise

Regardless of the season, pack wisely for your ocean cruise and a range of weather. Even in the height of summer, it’s possible to experience the odd rainy day or feel chilly when unwinding with an evening cocktail. Consider packing a shower-proof jacket. A jumper, shawl, or pashmina won’t go amiss, either.

Mornings and evenings can be more refreshing on spring and autumn cruises, so bring a cosy cardigan, jumper, or zip-up. Layers will be especially useful if cruising at this time of year. Women may also wish to bring a smarter dress jacket to wear on formal evenings.

what to wear on a cruise scarf for a breeze on a deck

Bring layers for the evenings

Ocean cruise packing tips

  • Know your luggage allowance and don’t pack too much – you’ll want to leave some space in your suitcase for souvenirs.
  • It’s easier to mix and match outfits if you keep your basics plain. Dark or neutral trousers, shorts or a skirt can be teamed up with a striped T-shirt, colourful open-necked shirt or patterned blouse. Avoid taking tops and bottoms that only go with one other item.
  • Facilities onboard your cruise ship will also determine what you should pack. If you’re keen to attend fitness classes or make the most of a state-of-the-art gym, bring sportswear and trainers. Swimwear is essential too, not only for a lap of the pool but also for a dip in the hot tub or whirlpool.
  • Don’t overlook comfortable shoes to wear throughout your cruise. Trainers and sandals are appropriate for daywear, but loafers, dress shoes, or flats and pumps are de rigueur in the evening.
  • High heels can be worn at formal events; however, walking on deck will be more comfortable if you opt for a wedge or chunky heel rather than a stiletto.
  • If your ocean cruise includes a visit to a place of worship, it’s respectful to dress appropriately when inside the church or temple. This often means covering shoulders and knees, so take a cover-up on day trips and consider zip-off trousers.
  • Passengers on our Queen Mary 2 transatlantic crossings should note that these cruises are more formal. While casual wear is acceptable during the day, you’ll be required to adhere to a dress code to attend glamorous black-tie gala balls.
  • Our other cruises have a relaxed dress code suited to the cruise location. Passengers on our expedition cruises such as our Voyage to Antarctica: The Great White Continent cruise should wear practical clothing suitable for cruising the colder climates, with more casual attire in the evenings. Our yacht and island cruises are also informal affairs, with a casual dress code throughout the day and evening.

what to wear on a cruise mens packing

Ready to pack for your ocean cruise holiday?

Set sail on truly memorable ocean cruises that promise life-enriching adventure and fantastic value. From the timeless classic of a Mediterranean odyssey onboard The Royal Clipper to cruising South Africa on the Azamara Journey, there’s an ocean cruise for everyone in our wonderful ocean cruise collection.


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

296