Cruise 101:

What Clothing To Pack For Your First Cruise

From dress codes to insider tips, here's the rundown on everything you’ll wear at sea.
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Wear what you think fits the mood and environment of where you’re going.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

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 and your onboard activities. While your wardrobe will look different if you are cruising to Alaska than if you’re heading to the sunny Mediterranean, for days at sea there are some things to always keep in mind.

From daytime wear to packing pointers for a more sophisticated night, here is our curated list of tips on what to pack for your first cruise.

Casual attire is welcome on board – you are on vacation after all.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

Dress Code Breakdown

While the days of dedicated “formal nights” in the main dining room have since sailed, one of the most pressing questions for first-time cruisers remains: “how formal is formal?” The answer: it’s up to you! Royal Caribbean encourages you to “Wear Your Best” whenever you want. This means that you can dress casual with jeans, polos, and blouses for our restaurants, but please do keep the swimwear, tank tops and bare feet to the pool deck.

However, you’re also more than welcome to elevate your style with button-up shirts, pantsuits, cocktail dresses, skirts, heels and blazers.

Have in mind which dining venues you want to try on board when you’re packing. Some specialty restaurants such as 150 Central Park, Chef’s Table and Chops Grille have their own recommended dress codes, including:

  • Smart Casual: A step up from more typical wear, collared shirts, slacks, nice dresses, skirts or pantsuits, and even sport coats and blazers.
  • Formal: Your evening best—suits and ties, and evening dresses and your nicest jewelry. Nothing is too fancy!


Consider checking each restaurant before you go. If you’re planning on sampling the creative cuisine and unique drinks at Wonderland, for instance, you might want to opt for something a step above casual and even a bit experimental (bring out the frills?) to match the atmosphere. But the best part is it’s all up to you.

Pro tip: Consider picking a specific night to dress up with everyone in your group. You can take pictures and stun others as you paint the town red!

There are plenty of unique options to stay active on board—pack accordingly.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

Athletic Gear

For first-time cruisers looking to stay active while sailing, our ships offer plenty, so be sure to pack athletic wear. Bring what you’d wear to your favorite workout (running shorts, leggings, sports bras and tank tops) since there’s a full-scale gym on board with top-of-the-line equipment and dedicated classes like yoga, Pilates and spinning.

But you’ll need your gear outside the gym as well for activities like rock-climbing, track, basketball tournaments, and even a sky-diving simulator. If you plan to visit the ice-skating rink on one of our Voyager, Freedom or Oasis Class ships, then bring 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 stays snug when you hang ten or wipe out.

Always remember to bring your swimsuit when you pack for vacation!

Credit: Royal Caribbean

Clothing To Take Along

For your first day on board, pack your carry-on with the essentials you want to have on hand–think your passport and a change of clothes–because your luggage will be delivered to your stateroom later in the day.

Since irons and steamers aren’t allowed 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 to make them look pressed. Self-service laundry isn’t available on board, but dry cleaning and laundry services are offered at an additional fee, if you want to go that route.  Also, bringing an empty bag may seem counterintuitive, but you’ll likely need one to pack souvenirs you pick up along the way.

Pro tip: Drop by one of the Royal Shops on board to pick up things you accidentally forgot to pack: shirts, sweatshirts, hats, sandals and more are all available.

Now that clothes are out of the way, remember to bring these other must-pack items and some of these useful gadgets.

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