Everything You Wanted To Know About Going on a Cruise

Cruise Quick Links – Questions and Answers

What to wear on a cruise?

What should I pack for a cruise?

What is the definition of casual wear on a cruise?

What is the definition of formal wear on a cruise?

Should I pack a carry on bag?

Are thong bikinis acceptable on a cruise?

Are my drinks included in the price of my cruise?

Will I incur additional costs while on a cruise ship over and above my transportation and food?

Is there theft issues on cruise ships?

Will the cruise ship leave without me?

Cruise-Ship-Clothing, formal wear informal wear.

What To Wear on a Cruise

The questionis not: What to wear on a cruise? – But is: What to bring and when to wear it!Cruise dress codes fall into three categories casual, informal and formal. Wewill define these categories later, but for now just remember that a cruise isan elegant experience that everyone should experience. Watching the sun go downbehind the ocean’s horizon will truly cast a spell on you and your partner, amemory never to be forgotten.

Cruises havea defined evening schedule. The dress codes for the scheduled events arestrictly adhered to, so it is important that you are prepared with all thenecessary attire to get the full benefit out of your holiday. Daily dress codestake affect after 6pm. Before 6pm every day is casual.

Included inthe final documentation for your cruise should be a schedule. This schedule isa complete itinerary of your time on and off the ship. More important howeverit will clearly define the theme for each day/evening and what the expecteddress code will be for each event.

A typical 7-daycruise will consist of:

  • Twoformal nights
  • Twocasual nights
  • Oneto four informal nights

Plan forsuccess-Make a list

You willtypically have limited luggage space unless you are planning on paying forextra luggage so careful planning is in order to ensure you have enough outfitsfor every event. Wearing the same cocktail dress twice will never be noticed ifyou accessorize it differently. Changing your purse, jewelry, shoes and a shawlwill give a different look for any outfit.

Some peoplewear long gowns on cruises, but a shorter formal dress is just as acceptableunless you’re on the most exotic cruises.

CasualWear-Informal Wear-Formal Wear

Before weproceed any further, we need to differentiate between casual, informal andformal wear. This will allow us to put the dress codes in prospective.


Casual wearshould be comfortable. Depending on your plans for the day your clothing shouldmatch the activities. Warm weather on the ship will require your choice ofswimwear, cover-up and sandals. Day trips ashore will dictate shorts with teeshirts or polo style shirts and comfortable strolling shoes. You can also plan onbuying tops while you are shopping however keep in mind that you need room tobring them home. Mix and Match will save packing room and give you a differentlook as your cruise progresses.

Eveningcasual is slightly a different story. Shorts are not considered acceptableevening casual wear. A women’s evening causal wardrobe consists of skirts,tops, pant outfits or sporty dresses. Focusing on two colors that can becombined, you can mix and match with different accessories for a completelydifferent look for every casual event.

Keep in mindthe first night and last night are typically casual nights. You likely won’thave your luggage before dinner on the first night and your luggage willalready be packed for the last evening.

Some cruiselines discourage jeans in their dining rooms on casual evenings. For the mostpart you can get away with them, but you will likely feel out of place. Usecommon sense when it comes to jeans. plus, jeans are hot; you should consider alighter material.

A word ofcaution, short shorts are only acceptable in the fitness center and while youare at the pool. They are strictly shunned upon while walking around the cruiseship so make sure you have a cover-up if you plan on walking around the cruiseship in your swimsuit or short shorts.


Informal wearis a grey area when it comes to cruise lines. Your best bet is to review thedefinition of “informal wear” defined by the cruise line you aretraveling on. This definition can be found on their website and travelbrochures.

The generalrule for informal wear is that it only applies to evening activities. Informalwear consists of a dressier dress or pants outfit. Many cruise lines havedropped the informal category and replaced it with resort casual, which isslightly more formal than casual wear.


The formalnight on cruise ships for lack of a better term is the Cinderella effect. Thedress code for women will range from simple cocktail dresses to the most formalshimmering gowns. If you have been to a graduation, wedding or similar formalgathering your outfit will surely meet the dress code and make you shine.

The mostimportant piece of formal wear a woman can own is a pair of silky black dresspants. They take up no room in a suitcase, can be mixed and matched for differentoccasions and typically have an elastic waistband which comes in handy as yourholiday progresses while eating all the rich food typically provided on acruise.


Cruise shipskeep their indoor temperatures on the cool side and evening temperatures on thedeck will cool off so include a wrap in your wardrobe to fend off the chillafter a day in the sun.

A cover upwill save you a great deal of time on a cruise ship. You can wear your swimsuitby the pool, throw on your cover up and venture into the lunch buffet withoutgoing back to your cabin to change.


Comfortableshoes are a must for sightseeing, deck shoes with a rubber type sole will be anasset for strolling aboard the ship.

High heelsare permitted but remember cruise ships are big and you will spend a goodportion of your day strolling from place to place. Comfort is the key.


Wearing a hatwill ward of the sun but keep in mind that the prevailing winds will send yourhat abroad if it is not well fitted.

Packing For a Cruise

  • AdditionalItems for your Packing list
  • MP3player
  • Bottlecorker
  • MemoryStick to offload videos and photos from your phone
  • Camera
  • Medications
  • Tylenol/Advil
  • Motionsickness
  • Prescriptionmedications if required
  • Sunburncreams
  • Nauseamedication
  • Sunscreen
  • Extensioncord, ship cabins have limited outlets
  • Hairdryer, ships hairdryers are typically small
  • Shampoo
  • HairConditioner, saltwater and ocean spray will dry your hair
  • Bodywash
  • Electricaladapters may be required on foreign cruise lines
  • Extrasunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Cellphone, ship phones are very expensive; your cell phone will be considerablycheaper. A word of caution, however, check with your cell phone serviceprovider before using your cell phone in foreign countries. Many countries havedifferent regulations pertaining to privacy and your personal information couldbe at risk.

Final Words of Advice

1) Pack acarry-on bag with one outfit, a swimsuit and your essentials. Luggage does getlost and if you have the minimum basics with you, shopping for a couple ofessentials while you are waiting for your luggage to show up will not be asstressful. Most important, don’t let the temporary loss of your luggage ruinyour cruise, go with the flow, it will usually show up at the next port.

2) When onshore, keep your clothing simple, t-shirts with funny sayings or logos mightnot only be offensive to the local community but advertise you are a tourist

3) Don’t wearextravagant jewelry when you are off the ship. This will attract unwantedattention and cold have a disastrous outcome

4) Whensightseeing, be careful when entering churches and temples, many will enforce astrict dress code so long shorts, loose skirts and tops with long sleeves arethe safest approach

5) In Muslimcountries, women will need to cover their heads, shoulders and legs beforeentering a mosque. This dress code is enforced, and violations will not betolerated.

6) Don’tinsult fellow passengers by rushing back to your cabin after a formal dinnerand change back into your shorts or swimwear. Go with the flow and enjoy theevening as it is planned.

7) If formalwear is not your style, there are cruises that are strictly casual and willgive you a more relaxed atmosphere however you will be missing a greatopportunity for luxury and relaxation. Everyone should take one formal cruse intheir lifetime; if for nothing else just to have the experience.

8) Last butnot least, relax, enjoy and respect your fellow passengers. Many people meetlifelong friends on cruises. The combined experience of open ocean air anddaily port excursions will make your cruise a memorable one.

Can I Wear a thong bikini on a cruise ship?

Question: Can I wear a thong bikini on a cruise ship

Answer: Unless it states that you can’t then for the most part you are ok to wear a thong. The only real exceptions are cruises that are focused on family entertainment for example Disney Cruises and Cruise excursions that are focused on the 50 and above age group. Keep in  mind that same rules apply to thong bikinis as do for any type of swimwear mentioned above.

Cruise Ship DO’s and DON’Ts

DO start yourcruise off with a fancy drink to get in the mood. The little umbrella andplastic sea monkeys will add to the ambiance as the ship leaves port. Just becareful of the costs, don’t get carried away.

DON’T callthe cruise ship a boat, it’s a ship and the crew take this very seriously andthey will correct you each time.

DO take atour of the ship on your first day. Locate the gym, spa, bars and eateries.This way you won’t get lost and feel comfortable in  your surroundings. Also start at the top ofthe ship and work your way down, it’s a lot more fun.

DON’T getfooled by the uniforms, all the cruise ship staff are dressed to perfection intheir uniform. Your first encounter with a crew member will likely be a fromthe support staff, but their uniforms make them look like the captain, trust mewhen you meet the captain, you will know he’s the captain.

DO takeplenty of photos, the sunset over an untouched ocean is spectacular. Unlike aresort vacation, you will see so many things on the cruise that you won’t wantto forget.

DON’T be latebecause the cruise ship will not wait. These ships run on very regimentedschedules. Ports are busy places; one ship needs to leave so another canarrive. If you are planning on flying into your departure port, make sure youfly in the day before to avoid a delayed fight and miss the boat all together,also on day excursions, make sure you are back on the boat on time.

DO scheduleyour spa appointments as soon as you can. The premier times will book upquickly leaving you only the off or less desirable hours.

DON’T assumeeverything is covered in the cost of your cruise. Recently some cruise lineshave taken on all-inclusive pricing, but these are far and few between. Assumeyou are paying for your room, transportation and your food once you are onboardthe ship, everything else is extra including your alcohol and spa trips.

DO pack achange of summer cloths in your carry-on bag. There is nothing worse thangetting on a cruise ship and waiting around for your luggage to get  to your room so you can slip into somethingcooler and more appropriate. Hit the ground running with a change of clothes.

DON’T getblindsided by the cost of the drinks at the end of the cruise. I can tell youthat so many people are floored when it comes to settle their booze bill at theend of the cruise. Beer is not too bad, but those fancy drinks are veryexpensive. Second tip is to purchase your drinks directly from the bar, thedrinks you get from the waiter are far more expensive because you are payingfor the service. Note: I should not tell you this, but many people rinse outshampoo bottles etc. and fill with booze then get a soft drink card for thecruise. Again, I did not tell you this.

DO keep abathing suit in your carry-on bag also. Most people will be waiting for theirluggage on the first day. The pools and hot tubs will be virtually empty youcan have them to yourself, sit back and relax.

DON’T plan onheading to the buffet when you first get on the ship. As the ship embarks onyour journey, it is typically the busiest time for the eateries. Relax and tourthe ship first and have a drink, wait for the crowd to subside. There isnothing worse than waiting in a lineup on the first day  of your cruise.

DO make yourspecialty dinner reservations immediately if you have not done so in advance,again, like the spa, the premier times will be booked quickly.

DON’T takethe elevator if you don’t absolutely need to. The elevators are a busy spotwith crew members moving luggage etc. and with patrons thinking they are takingthe quick route. The stairs are much quicker and hey, better for you.

DO book yourday tours quickly as many of the tours will have space limits and you don’twant to miss out.

DON’T settlefor undesirable dinner seating. The maitred’ is typically available to makechanges, if possible, on embarkment day. If you desire an  early dining but got a late seating, switchit from set-seating to flexible.

DO purchasean alcohol card if you are a drinker and a soda card to get the most out ofyour cruise. Before you buy mind you, do the math, how much do you think youwill drink, and compare to the price of the card.

DON’T assumeyour cabin or quarters are in pristine condition and working order, turn the TVon, flush the toilet and turn on the lights; check for bed bugs; sanitizeanything you feel you need to.

DO reserveany free space on the fee extra decks. These decks are the by far the bestseats on the ship and are typically held for the higher priced rooms, but if theyare not full, you can pay for a day in paradise.

DON’T missthe muster drill. It provides important information in case of an emergency.Plus, it’s a mandatory function on every cruise no matter how many ships youhave been on, they are all different.

DO make yourlast phone calls and send texts. Do not use your phone internet. Satelliteinternet and phone service is very expensive as it relies on direct satellitecontact, not tower contact when you are on the ocean, or contact your phoneservice provider and see if any packages are available for cruise ships whileat sea.

DON’T missthe sunset, I am going to say it again, DON’T miss the sunset. It’s aspectacular view that you will never forget.

DO head up ondeck as the ship departs for your voyage. It’s festive time with live music andflowing drinks, and it’s a fun way to kick off your cruise.

DO unpackyour suitcases immediately, get that task out of the way early and get yourcabin organized.

DON’Tforget  to meet your cabin steward andinquire about any special needs you may have. Many travelers tip their cabinsteward on the first day to ensure good service throughout the cruise (but thisis not mandatory nor required).

Things YOU Should Know but the Cruise LineWill never tell You

Cruise Line Will never tell You

 Cruise ship balconies are for the most part overrated

Typicallycosting approximately 25% more, rooms that are on the exterior of the ship andhave balconies are not necessarily all that they are cracked up to be. Manyexperienced cruisers swear by them, but this little sliver of freedom comes ata costly price.

If you decidethat a balcony is part of your plan then make sure that there are no obstaclesin front of your balcony for example, by the pool deck overhang or lifeboats oryou’re not too exposed to other passengers to enjoy any privacy. You may alsobe downwind of a smoker. All ships prohibit smoking, but it can happen.

All cabinsare not the same

When it comesto choosing a cabin, not all cabins are the same. Many ships have in excess of30 different subcategories of rooms and spread over 9 decks or more. Manycruisers take whatever is offered after they have made the choice of an“inside, outside, balcony or suite” option.

Things to think about are:

  • You don’t want to get stuck near
  • An elevator
  • Pool deck
  • Promenade
  • Dining room
  • Dance floor
  • Laundry room


In all thesecases you will be bothered by loud foot traffic, late-night dwellers ormechanical noises.

Cabinslocated at the front and back of the ship will have a different layout than thestandard staterooms. If you think you might be susceptible to seasickness youshould choose a lower cabin as the higher you go on the ship, the more motionyou will feel. If you go onto the internet, you will be able to find the shipslayout in detail and choose your room wisely.

To Casinoor not to Casino

Think aboutit, the ship is for the most part on international waters with no gamingcommission or government agency overseeing the operation. These casinos arehuge profit centers for the cruise lines and the odds are less in your favorthan on land. Yes, you will see people winning, but these people are limited,and the intent is to drag more people in by the excitement. Stay clear of thecasinos if you are not prepared to lose some money.

Don’t Missthe Boat

If you readthe small print on EVERY Cruise Line agreement, it will state that they are notresponsible for you being late. The ship leaves on time from all ports with noexception and they will not refund your money because of your tardiness. Samewith day trips, if you are late and miss the ship, you are responsible for

finding your own way home.

Crime atSea

Don’t thinkfor a minute that a cruise ship does not experience crime, in fact it is theopposite.  Think about it, you havethousands of passengers and crew all on one ship. Petty and not-so-petty crimeis all around you including theft, sexual assault, missing persons, murders,piracy and port robberies to name a few. Cruise lines will not talk about itand the statistics are far from accurate because the ship is again oninternational waters. Since 2012 thousands of crimes have taken place yet only41 are reported on the coastguard website.

Understandthat crimes are more likely to happen on land then on the ship, but they dohappen and calling 911 is out of the question, you are at the mercy of theonboard security who are employed by the cruise line. If it is a serious crime,the FBI may be called in but they effort is far from what you would expect.

This is notto scare you but more to make you aware. Be smart:

  • Hide your money when you are on and off the ship
  • Don’t leave your group when ashore
  • Never stray alone
  • Do not wear expensive jewelry when leaving the ship, you are now a target.

What aboutmy Waistline

Yup you’regoing to gain weight. You are surrounded by 24-hour bars, and food courts. Yourdinners will consist of 5 or more yummy courses that are virtually impossibleto resist. The average person gains between 5 and 10 pounds on a seven-daycruise.

ThePrivate Island is not so Private.

Think aboutit, you have a deserted island on your itinerary. To be honest it may very wellbe deserted but think about it, as soon as that ship docks and upwards of 3000 patrons’step ashore, that island is no longer deserted nor private.

CruiseShips have a huge impact on the environment

During 2018the 17 major cruise lines created over 1.2 billion gallons of sewage which mostof it is either poorly treated or not treated at all. One cruise ship has thecapability of producing over 13 million cars worth of C02 in one day if theyare under power.

Grey water,sewage and dirty bilge water can be dumped into the sea at the tree mile markeroffshore in international waters right in front of your favorite vacationhotspot. Now with this said, to be honest the cruise lines are working onpurchasing energy efficient ships with much better treatment systems, but itwill take years for these older vessels to be taken out of service.

Seats bythe pool are not easy to come by

Unlike aresort vacation reserving a seat by putting a towel on it is not allowed. So,don’t think because you are an early bird you can  save five seats together by the pool for agroup of people. The cruise ship employees are on the lookout for these earlyrisers and will either tell you to remove your towels or remove your belongingsthemselves. 

Sicknessis always a concern on a cruise ship or resort vacation

It’s not thatthe cruise ship is more venerable to sickness, but it is the fact that everyone is in such close quarters and you can’t guarantee the hygiene of the personnext to you. A viral infection that would struggle spreading on land, can spread like wildfire on a cruise ship.

People DoGo Overboard

Falling off a cruise ship is not easy to do and to be honest is a rare occurrence, but it does happen. In almost every case alcohol is involved partnered with a suicide attempt or a balcony climbing acrobatic act that went terribly wrong. Since 2001 there have been over 95 cases most of them men in their forties and mostly on the last night. and in most cases the outcome is not good,  unfortunately 90% of these cases are fatal.

Be carefulof your budget

Thinking thatyou have paid much of your cruise upfront is a mistake.  There are the cocktails, endless winechoices, photographers at every corner, sensational cappuccinos, afternoonsodas, endless specialty restaurants, spectacular  jewelry shops, amazing art auctions, dailyspa treatments, hours in the casino, day trips and excursions and so much more,all of which will quickly empty your pocketbook. Be cautious and keep track ofyour spending so you don’t end up with a shock and a ruined vacation when it isall over.

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