How to Pack for Your First Cruise

Hand Luggage
Most cruise lines will take your suitcases at check-in, but it can take a while for these to be delivered to your room. So it makes sense to pack a small carry bag to take on with you containing your passport, tickets, swimsuit, change of clothes and any other essentials including medication and valuables.

Cruise Style
Do some research into what you’ll be doing. If it’s mostly on-board entertainment, you’ll need lots of swimwear and casuals, whereas shore trips to galleries and cultural venues will require smarter wear.

Dinner Style
Most cruise ships have a selection of restaurants, and you’ll probably get a set number of dinners in a formal restaurant, with other meals served in casual or buffet style eateries. Each cruise line has their own dress codes and rules, which should be provided on their website. As a general rule they are:

  • Casual: if you’re having lunch or dinner at a buffet-style restaurant, then the dress code is laidback, although swimwear and bare feet are usually not allowed.
  • Semi-formal: polo shirts and chinos or smart jeans for men, with women wearing dresses or smart separates.
  • Formal: men will be required to wear a dark suit and tie or dinner jacket, with ladies dressing up in cocktail or floor-length dresses. Your tickets should say how many formal nights there are.

Gala Nights
If you are on an upmarket cruise, a gala night or two is usually part of the itinerary. Some men enjoy wearing a tuxedo for these special events, although a lounge suit is usually acceptable, and for women, it’s an excuse to go all out, with evening gowns or glittery cocktail dresses.

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