Sunbathing on Cruise

What to wear on a cruise

What to wear on a cruise

From walking tours of Amsterdam to a night at the opera in the space of 12 hours before moving on to the next adventure, just how do you know what to wear on a cruise?

The Emerald Cruises official take on dress code:

‘We recommend casual and comfortable clothing – for sightseeing and walking tours you’ll need comfortable shoes. For the winter months, you’ll need a warm coat, gloves and water-resistant footwear. Dinner is an informal affair; relaxed evening wear is perfect. On certain evenings, such as the Welcome and Farewell Dinners, you might like to dress up.’

Tips from the experts

When planning a river cruise holiday you want to be able to look forward to it without worrying about what to pack. This type of holiday ensures that everything is taken care of for you, and while the best Danube cruise providers can ensure that all flights, travel, excursion and accommodation are booked in advance and restrict your worry, the one thing they can’t do is pack for you.

Here we have some of the very best clothing companies who have given us their exclusive advice on evening dresses and cruise wear.

Jacques Vert

Jacques Vert is synonymous with elegant occasion wear, perfect for women who want to look stylish and feel confident. The ‘go-to’ shopping destination for mature women who want to exude elegance, the Elegant British Brands [Jacques Vert Group's collection, including Jacques Vert, Planet and Windsmoor] offer a perfect holiday wardrobe. Choose from stylish casual wear for daytime exploring, as well as head-to-toe glamour for the evening’s events. Jacques Vert ensures that whatever your holiday style, or wherever the destination, your leisurewear is catered to fit all purposes.


Jacques Vert Cruise Dresses provides packing advice for travellers across the world. We help people to ‘Pack Light, Pack Right’ – giving them confidence to pack an appropriate ‘capsule wardrobe’ for their trip without weighing down their luggage. Visitors to the website can access free tips and advice for their destination, and full packing lists are available to download.

The number 1 ‘must pack’ item would have to be a pair of comfy, stylish flat shoes for walking.  There is just so much to see and do in any European city, and exploring on foot is often the best way to get a feel for a place.

Secondly you must consider the weather... it will quite likely vary from one place to the next, so lightweight layers are key to dealing with temperature changes and always carry a light waterproof.

If you need any further tips, our Capsule Wardrobe for a City Break would cover the packing aspect. Click here or look at the European destination pages for style guidance. 

Fab Frocks

Generally you need outfits for excursions and shore visits during the day, something casual and comfortable for days at sea and then your outfits for dinner on either a casual, smart casual or formal night.

Fab Frocks has cruise wear collections to suit most cruises and to take you from day to night. The secret of any holiday is having a flexible and multi-purpose wardrobe that can minimise the packing but maximise the number of outfits you can wear.

Collections that are just perfect for cruise wear are Michaela Louisa, Tina Taylor, Gina Bacconi along with the Frank Lyman collection from Canada. All these collections are so easy to dress up or dress down to suit any occasion, which means you can wear them during the day with comfortable shoes for about town or at dinner in the evening with a pair of heels, some jewellery and maybe a wrap or stole.

Fab Frocks dress

For the more formal cruise nights when you are asked to dress formally for dinner you will need to wear an evening or cocktail dress. Fab Frocks has an extensive range of evening and cocktail dresses for cruises in lots of different colours and styles. Our collections also include styles with sleeves and plus sizes.

One of the things I enjoy most about cruising is you only have to unpack your suitcase once. However, if you are new to cruising, deciding what to pack in that suitcase can be a little bit daunting the first time.

Every cruise line will have a specified dress code and when you book your holiday, you should be advised as to what it is. Some now operate “casual all the time” but most cruise lines will have informal and formal nights at some point.

This means ladies will be required to wear an evening or cocktail dress and men must wear a tuxedo or dark suit. Evening wear can be hard to come by on the high street (unless it is Christmas) so take a look at special occasion boutiques. These will have more choice and surprisingly have dresses that are a similar price point to high street ranges. Buying your evening dress from a boutique also reduces the risk of seeing someone else aboard in the same dress as you. Every woman’s nightmare – more so at sea where you can’t escape easily unless you fancy a swim!

Dress from Fab Frocks

Bear in mind that there are often a lot of steps on a ship and also it can get chilly in the evenings. A dress you can easily move about in is important and a shawl or evening bolero to keep you warm.

Fabulous evening-wear designers include: Faviana, Dynasty, MacDuggal, Mascara and Precious Formals.

Some formal nights on cruises are themed – often black and white is chosen as a colour theme or in the UK it might be red, white and blue. Again, check the itinerary.

For informal nights – this normally means jackets and trousers for men – no jeans – and a dress or smart trousers for ladies. The ideal answer to this conundrum is to find dresses that you can wear with heels for these evening events but will look equally great with your summer sandals or flip flops for the day later in the cruise.

Dressy day-wear designers such as Frank Lyman, Tina Taylor, Michaela Louisa and Allison are perfect for this – extremely wearable and easy to pack! Such dresses will also be perfect for the casual dress code nights so you can be sure to set sail in style!


Frank Lyman jersey dresses don’t crease, are easy to pack and don’t need ironing. Wash, hang up on a hanger to dry and they are ready to wear.

Floaty dresses by Capri and Allison are made of silk so cool to wear and won’t crease easily.

Some Tina Taylor dresses are made of cotton and cotton lined so are extremely cool to wear.


Chris Vandrill, Design Manager at specialist travel clothing company Rohan, provides advice on choosing the right clothes for your next river cruise:

Ideally when you go on holiday you want to forget about clothes. Not totally, of course, I’m not advocating that you leave your luggage at home. But when you’re travelling you want to be able to pack your clothes in a bag and forget about them, safe in the knowledge that they can cope with the conditions, leaving you to deal with the fun bit – exploring each destination. That’s what we do at Rohan. We design technically clever clothing for travellers and people who enjoy the journey. There are certain features that a traveller wants in every item of clothing, be it a technical waterproof for an unexpected downpour or crease-resistant linen for dinner and drinks in the evening.

First of all, everything should be as lightweight as possible, making check-in a breeze and life easier to manage once you get there. Secondly, everything should be as packable as possible. At Rohan we give you the exact packed size for all our garments so you know how much space it will take up in your bag. Thirdly, the last thing you want to do is ironing and washing. Rohan clothing is ‘easycare’ – it can be hand-washed and will dry overnight – leaving you to get on with your trip.

Finally, we add some protective features: protection from the elements, from the threat of theft with hidden security pockets, and even from certain travel-related illness with our Biteguard protection to keep you safe from biting bugs.

Image Credit: Fab Frocks, Jacques Vert, Fab Frocks

This content was written by Angela Sloan. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.