Cruise brochures tend to show people on board wearing dressy, perfect
outfits 24/7 no matter what. Don't worry though! During all of my cruise
days, I've never seen a woman walking around the pool area in a sweater set, skirt, and heels, or a man in the video arcade wearing a suit and tie. During the day, all I ever wear is my bathing suit with shorts and a tank top or t-shirt over it. I've found that those are basically all you need (unless you're aiming to land a part in one of the cruise line commercials, ha ha).
It's also good to bring a sweatshirt or other long-sleeved shirt. It can get pretty cold with the air-conditioning blasting in all the restaurants and lounges!
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Part II: Dinner (Non-Formal Nights)
Even though a dinner may not be formal, you can't go in the dining room
with the usual shorts and flip-flops on (unless you choose not to eat in the mian dining room). All cruise lines that I've been on expect people to dress up a little bit. When I cruise, I dine in the formal dining room almost every night, since it's the only time I really spend with my parents. All of the teenage guys I've seen wear basically the same thing - nice khaki's or other Dockers-style pants and a kind of polo or button-up shirt. Girls on the other hand, have a lot more options. Girls can wear anything, from nice khaki or black pants to long skirts to short skirts to dresses. I love to dress up, so I brought different skirts and sundresses for every day! It's
just as easy though (and takes up a lot less space in your luggage!) to
simply bring along a couple different bottoms and tops and just mix and match!
Part III: Formal Dinners
I find that people have the most questions about formal nights, and in a way these are the hardest questions to answer because there is so much
variation. I can tell you what is most commonly seen though. Guys go for
pants and a sport coat, and many go for tuxes. You can bring your own tux, or most ships have a Formalities shop that rents them out. A lot of guys don't like going to formal night because they feel kinda dorky wearing a tux. Maybe this is you, maybe it isn't, but let me tell you something guys: us girls LOVE when you get all dressed up!! Whether you think so or not, we all think you look really cute! Trust me!
Again, girls have a lot of variety in what they can wear. My favorite
thing to do is bring past homecoming and prom dresses with me. The cruise is a perfect opportunity to wear things you never thought you'd be able to
again. The last cruise, not only did I wear one of my homecoming dresses, I also went to the salon on one of the formal nights and got my hair professionally styled! It was fun to be pampered. After
all, that's what I go on cruises for!
Part IV: Shore Excursions
What you wear for your shore excursions really depends on what you plan
on doing. Obviously if you go snorkeling all you need to worry about is a
bathing suit. As a general rule though, if you aren't doing something that involves swimming - stay comfortable! I learned this one the hard one. One day, I wore my sandals around all day while taking a walking tour and shopping. When I got back to the ship I had blisters as well as a stripey sandal tan line! Now I stick with tennis shoes and lots of sunscreen (so I don't get a sock tan!). And girls, if you're worried about looking cute and perfect all day, and don't want to be seen wearing tennis shoes... who cares? Unless you want to, you probably will never see these people again.