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Leave The Steamer Trunk At Home When You Cruise!

Aug 18, 2007
There are really no 'dress codes' on cruise ships but more like guidelines to assist you in bringing the right items. Having traveled with a spouse and two teen age daughters, this writer is, however, painfully aware of the cruise shoe formula which is take the number of cruise days and multiply by 5. How else could one possibly pack 35 pairs of shoes for a one week voyage?

But seriously, less is often more on a cruise. The style of ship you have selected usually dictates the way that passengers dress. The shorter and less expensive cruises skew toward very casual and the longer cruises on luxury ships tend to be more formal.

Speaking of formal, most cruise ships have at least one gala night where passengers generally dress their best. Does this mean tuxedos and evening gowns? Yes, you will find these in evidence on longer cruises but the trend is to allow more freedom of choice on ships and this translates to dress guidelines that suggest instead of require formal wear. The dark suit or even sport jacket and tie seems to be edging out the tuxedo and dinner jacket. And even on gala night most ships offer an alternate dining venue for people who just plain refuse to dress up.

The best place to get some hints as to the suggested dress on board is in the Welcome Aboard materials provided by the cruise lines prior to your trip. But again, keep in mind that these are created to cover broad a spectrum of diverse guests.

In almost all cases, shorts, bathing suits and t-shirts are banned from the main dining room at dinner time. Ladies should remember to bring a sweater or shawl because the public rooms may be chilly. A folding umbrella is always a good idea.

Ashore, clothing suggestions depend a lot on what part of the world you are in. In the tropics, shorts, t-shirts and jeans (basically everything you are not supposed to wear in the ship's dining room) are fine ashore in the tropics. In Europe and Asia, travelers tend to be more conservative. And if your shore excursions include a visit to a cathedral or house of worship, bare shoulders or abbreviated wear for the ladies may result in denied entry.

The shore excursion or purser desk staff can provide specific guidance on board. And always check to see that at least one pair of those 35 pairs of shoes are COMFORTABLE WALKING SHOES. Navigating the stairway of the Sistine Chapel in stiletto heels would be an excursion of its own!

When packing, again, less is more for a cruise. Most first time cruisers report back that they used about half of what they brought. Veteran cruisers try to see how little baggage they can get away with. Somewhere in between will probably work for you.

Most of the medium to larger ships offer laundry and pressing service. And some of them have self-service laundry facilities (although we do not think most people consider doing laundry a fun vacation event.) Take a lot of mix and match clothes based on the length and style of your cruise.

Planning is the most important part of the packing process. Don't throw your suitcases on the bed the night before you leave and start to toss everything you own inside them. Remember, during many parts of the trip, YOU will have to drag, roll, or coax them to their check in point.

So to summarize: Make a list. Take half the stuff off the list. Divide by 2 and you have the ideal amount of cruise wear for your trip! A good rule of thumb is that if you find your travel mate looking in the yellow pages under 'Moving and Storage Companies' instead of 'Taxi and Limo services', you may have packed too much! Bon voyage.
About the Author
Joe Ewart is a 30 year cruise industry veteran and a member of the Cruise Lines International Association Hall of Fame. He is CEO and editor of http://www.CruiseJungle.com an informaational cruise web site desgined for consumers.
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