Ask The Cheaping Girls

Today's question also comes from our lovely friend Kim, who asks "I am going on my 1st cruise in about a month. I am trying to prepare for what I need to pack and I want to be dressed amazingly! Lots of fun swimsuits, dresses, jewelry, etc. Can you please help me?"

I have been on a few cruises including one long 15 day one in Europe. What you wear seems to vary from cruise line to cruise line and location to location. The most casual line is Norwegian. They call their ships "Freestyle" cruising because you can go to dinner in casual clothes. They have a formal night, but it's optional.

Norwegian Cruise Lines says:

"Freestyle Cruising is not too dressy, not too casual. We call it "resort casual." You'll call it being on vacation. By day, almost anything goes. Khakis, skirts, jeans, casual tops, shorts, or whatever are all fine. Casual is perfect in our restaurants too. Even if you've just been at the pool and don't feel like changing, now worries. Swimwear with a cover-up is fine at the buffet and outdoor restaurant. At night, it's relaxed all over the ship. When you're ready for dinner, it's collared shirts and pants or nice jeans for guys. Slacks or jeans, dresses, skirts and tops are perfect for women. Kids 12 and under are welcome to wear nice shorts in our restaurants whenever. If you want to dress up and add a little glamour when you dine out, feel free - we've reserved a restaurant just for that. And remember to pack a sweater - air conditioning can be chilly."

All cruise ships have a formal night - even Norwegian. On Norwegian it's optional, but on the other ships it's mandatory - sort of. It takes all kinds to make a world and that's what you see on formal nights. You see women who are wearing flip flops and a skirt. The men are even worse. I have seen many an ugly Hawaiian shirt on cruises. Socks with sandals - yikes!
This dress from DownEast Basics is absolutely beautiful on. We've all picked one up.

Shabby Apple also has some lovely options.

A few top options for dressing up pants.

Personally I love to dress up. I try to bring nicer pants, skirts or dresses for dinner (my last cruise was prior to the new "one checked bag and pay for the others rule"). I also bring a very small fancy hand bag for my lipstick and ship ID card to take to dinner because you are always busy hurrying to a show or whatever afterwards and might not have time to go back to your room in-between events.

A cruise is the one place where you can get sparkly and be a little more flamboyant (well, I guess you can get sparkly and flamboyant in Vegas too...but I digress...), so I say, enjoy it and have some fun with the evening events. I have fun with dressing up for dinner by bringing great accessories or a beaded/sequined jacket. Maybe a pair of stunning shoes. A beautiful headband. Whatever you do, have fun - it's not your hum drum home life, it's living the jet set life for just a few days.

As for the men - depends on the cruise and temperature. On the long European type cruises (and other shorter ones too) you can rent a tux from the cruise line in advance. We hauled a tux across Europe, but with the luggage restrictions, I would look into renting from the cruise line. This must be done in advance - not when you board. It's fun to have your significant other in a tux for those pesky photographers that will follow you wherever you go on the ship and for the pictures that are displayed in the gallery for the entire cruise. On the shorter Caribbean/Mexico cruises, nice slacks and a shirt are fine.

A darling hat for sunning yourself by the pool.
The perfect post-swim hair scarf.

During the daytime, plan on bathing suits and cover-ups if you will be on board the ship and hanging out by the pool. (Check out our post on swim suits here.) For days where you are leaving the boat, casual clothes are fine and be sure to bring good walking shoes. Note if you are in Europe that you should avoid tennis shoes (a.k.a. 'trainers') as your walking shoes...not want to look like TOO much of a tourist.

I would also recommend bringing one comfy but cute jogging/lounging suit. This is handy if you want to check out an on-board spa or yoga class.



Kim said...

Pam - You are amazing! I just checked out the shabby apple website and my sis brought me some skirts from downeast! I have now made a more specific list of what I need....thank you! Check my blog mid-Sept. and you will see my cruise pics.