What NOT to wear on a cruise. Including dress code, etiquette and port visits

What NOT to Wear on a Cruise: Dressing Appropriately at Sea

Cruising is all about relaxation, adventure, and indulgence. While the atmosphere on a cruise ship is generally casual and laid-back, there are still certain clothing items you should avoid wearing in specific areas onboard.

In this guide, we’ll explore what not to wear on a cruise, covering everything from ship etiquette, to dining attire and port visits.

What not to wear on a cruise vacation.  From dress codes to etiquette to port visits

Cruise Etiquette What not to wear

Offensive clothing

This one falls under all three categories, it violates cruise line dress codes, is bad cruise etiquette, and should not be worn in port visits.

Offensive clothing, including t-shirts with inappropriate or offensive sayings, is best left at home. Respectful attire contributes to a pleasant cruise experience for all passengers, and keep in mind, there will be children onboard.

Revealing swimsuits and nudity

Swimwear is a must pack cruise essential, however, overly revealing swimsuits can make other passengers uncomfortable, especially families with children. Nudity is not permitted. Use good judgment and cover up appropriately when not at the pool.


Shoes with wheels on the heels, known as “wheelies,” are generally not allowed on cruise ships. These can be a safety hazard in crowded areas and should be left at home.

Sleep clothes

Wearing sleep clothes like pajamas or a robe around the ship is generally discouraged. While comfort is key on a cruise, save these cozy items for your cabin and private balcony.

Dress Codes and Dining – What NOT to Wear

Each cruise line will have slightly different dress codes, but these are the most common no-nos for wearing in the dinner restaurants. Check you cruise line’s website if you are wondering about a specific piece of clothing.

Ball caps

While baseball caps are a go-to accessory for many, they’re generally discouraged in formal dining settings. Most cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Line, have dress codes that prohibit wearing baseball caps in main dining rooms and specialty restaurants to maintain a more elegant atmosphere.

Bathing suit

It’s essential to cover up when transitioning from the pool deck to indoor dining areas. Wearing a bathing suit alone in restaurants is not permitted. Always bring a cover-up or change into appropriate attire before dining, even at the buffet restaurants.

High heels

High heels might look glamorous, but they can be challenging to walk in, especially when the ship is in motion. You can certainly wear high heals, however I’d suggest, instead to pack comfortable footwear to ensure your comfort, safety and stability.

Gym shorts

Gym shorts are suitable for the onboard fitness center or running laps, but are generally not considered appropriate for dining in the main restaurants or the specialty dining restaurants.

Cut-off jeans

While a well-fitted pair of nice jeans can be acceptable in the dining room on casual evenings if paired with a blouse or button down shirt, cut-off jeans may violate dress codes.

Flip flops

Flip-flops are perfect for the pool deck but are typically discouraged in main dining room and specialty restaurants.

Basketball shorts

Port Visits – What not to wear

Camouflage clothing

Wearing camouflage clothing in certain ports can be problematic, as it may violate local laws. Research your port destinations and adhere to their regulations regarding clothing choices. Better yet, don’t pack camouflage clothing for a cruise vacation.

Valuable jewelry

While I’m sure it is beautiful, it is best to leave your valuable jewelry safely stored at home. Wearing expensive items when traveling can make you a target

Research your destination

While tank tops are the norm in North America and on the cruise ship, if you are visiting certain religious sights, especially in Europe, your shoulders and knees must be covered.

In addition to these clothing items to avoid, cruise lines often have specific dress codes for formal nights and specialty restaurants. Being aware of and adhering to these guidelines will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable cruise experience for both you and your fellow passengers.

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