Cruise 101: What Clothing To Pack For Your First Cruise

From dress codes to insider tips, here’s the rundown on everything you’ll need to wear at sea.
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Main dining, Latin American, Spanish family, service, Food and Beverage, fleetwide

Packing for your first cruise can be uncharted territory. There are plenty of things to consider: where you’re going, which shore excursions you’ll take when in port, onboard activities—and even dress codes. While your wardrobe will look different if you’re cruising to Alaska than if you’re heading to the sunny Mediterranean, on board there are some standbys to keep in mind.

From your first formal night to daytime wear and a few other packing pointers, here’s our curated list of tips on what to pack for your first cruise.

Dress Code Breakdown

One of the most pressing questions for first-time cruisers is “how formal is formal?” Since our restaurant dress codes follow three main categories, here’s what you’ll need for each:

  • Casual: Kick back and feel the vacation vibes, casual attire— suitable for all breakfasts and lunches and some dinner options—means jeans, polos, sundresses, blouses, and generally comfortable clothing. Shorts are fine for breakfast and lunch, but keep the swimwear, tank tops and bare feet to the pool deck.
  • Smart Casual: A step up from more typical dinner wear, this means you’re breaking out collared shirts, slacks, nicer dresses, skirts or pantsuits. If you’re feeling snazzy, sport coats or necklaces are great ways to up your style.
  • Formal: Dress to the nines, this means your evening best—suits and ties, and cocktail dresses. Nothing is too fancy on this night, since black tie is acceptable, so you can rent a tuxedo or break out your evening gown and best jewelry. Note: Formal nights are only on select ships and sailings.


Keep these dress codes in mind for packing, and think about which dining venues you want to try on board. If you’re planning on sampling the creative cuisine and unique drinks at Wonderland, for instance, you’ll want to opt for smart casual.

If a fully formal night isn’t your thing, fear not. Formal nights are optional (though recommended) and will only take place one to three times per cruise. As always, there are plenty of casual restaurant options available on those nights too.

Athletic Adventurers’ Gear

For first-time cruisers looking to get their adrenaline pumping, you can take advantage of everything each ships offers, so be sure to pack your athletic wear. Bring whatever you’d wear to your favorite workout, since there will be a gym and also yoga, pilates, spinning and sculpting classes.

Athletic wear will come in handy for other activities as well like our rock-climbing wall or sports tournaments. If you’ll be cruising on Voyager-, Freedom- or Oasis-class ships and want to visit the ice-skating rink, you’ll need high, thick socks and long pants.

Swimsuits are an obvious must-have, but if you’re looking to try the FlowRider surf simulator, you’ll want one that can stay on through a wipeout.

Tips To Remember

For your first day on board, pack your carry-on with immediate essentials since your luggage will be delivered to your stateroom later in the day. Since irons aren’t kept on ships (safety first), toss some anti-wrinkle spray into your bags, too. Hanging your wrinkled clothes in the bathroom during a hot shower is another trick for making them look pressed.

Self-service laundry isn’t available on the ship, but dry cleaning and laundry services are offered for each stateroom at an additional fee. Make sure you’ve got enough clothing for your vacation so you won’t need major washes. Also, bringing an empty bag may seem counterintuitive, but you’ll likely need one for packing souvenirs on your return trip.

Now that clothes are out of the way, remember to bring these must-pack items or to snag some of these useful gadgets to take along.

Have your perfect travel getup in mind and ready to put it to use? Book your next adventure here.