A Seafaring Fashion Planner for Guys & Gals
It is all too easy to get a bit stressed out over what to wear for certain occasions and packing for a cruise ship holiday is bound to have you wondering how to get the balance right between informal casual attire and those glitzy formal evenings that are a popular feature of cruising.
Whether you are sailing with Cunard cruises or any other cruise operator, they all ask their guests to abide by their suggested dress code, so that everyone feels comfortable and can enjoy their cruise without committing some sort of fashion faux-pas.
It helps to have some guidelines to work to, but you probably need a few more clues to help you feel at ease with what you have in your wardrobe while cruising the world’s oceans.
Dressing for dinner
What has complicated matters in recent years is the fact that cruising appeals to a much wider audience these days, which means differing sartorial tastes, and there has also been a shift towards a more casual cruising experience being offered by some ships.
Long gone are the days where formal dress was the default option anywhere on the ship after 6 p.m. When Norwegian Cruise Lines introduced its Freestyle cruising initiative and made formal nights optional for passengers, it probably only helped to muddy the waters for those that were struggling to work out what is acceptable to wear to dinner in the main restaurant on the ship.
Check with your cruise ship operator to see what their dress code is and you will probably find that a common mix will be cruise casual for most of the voyage with cruise elegant being the option on a couple of more formal nights of dining, such as the captain’s dinner if there is one.
Casual attire is perfectly acceptable for when you are having lunch or dinner at a buffet style restaurant on the ship and the dress code should be relatively flexible, although swimwear or bare feet are unlikely to be acceptable.
Moving up a notch, a semi-formal outfit could be considered a summery dress or smart separates for the ladies and something like a polo shirt and chinos for men. Smart jeans might be acceptable, but it is best to check as jeans are sometimes listed as not acceptable attire for the main restaurant.
For formal dining nights, this will mean a favorite cocktail or floor length dress for the ladies and gentlemen can don the dinner jacket and bow tie. A dark suit and tie are also often considered acceptable.
Some cruises are more formal than others, and if you think that dressing smartly for dinner is part of the enjoyment of the cruise experience, you should find a cruise ship that offers you the chance to do this.
You only have to look at the forums to see how the subject of what to wear causes so much angst, but common sense normally prevails and your normal interpretation of sartorial standards that you apply to other social situations and events should serve you well when packing for your cruise.
Article by Michael Wilson, the managing director at Bolsover Cruise Club. He runs the company formed by his parents in the late 1960s. Outside of work, Wilson enjoys holidays with family, gardening and watching rugby.