Packing for a cruise can be a daunting task if not tackled properly. Formal wear, country-club casual, semi-formal, smart casual - even the descriptions for suggested attire are confusing. Whether you will be cruising to Alaska or sailing the Caribbean, here you will find links to some of the best packing lists and tips, as well as a guide to cruise attire terminology.
Attire Terminology: What Does it All Mean?
Okay, so you are ready
to pack and you discover in your cruise documents that the cruise line
informs you there will be 2 formal nights, 2 smart casual and 3 casual
nights. HUH??? What does that actually mean? Here are definitions and
the kinds of apparel that serve as examples of each.
Informal / Semi-formal
/ Smart Casual / Elegant Casual:
Now, I do not think
there is any more confusing terminology than this category of dress! All
of these terms are synonymous. Depending on the cruise line, you will
see one of these terms used to describe the attire that is somewhere
between formal and casual. This is also the category that is the most
confusing. Here the lines blur and how informal (or formal) the
suggested attire for this category of dress is very dependent on the
cruise line you will be sailing. On most mainstream cruise lines, the
suggested attire for this category would be pantsuits or nice dresses
(the kind you would wear to church on Easter, an afternoon wedding
reception or social luncheon). Men, for you this means anything from a
suit to a sports jacket (tie optional). Of course, as mentioned before,
in our relaxed more casual society a nice button down shirt and slacks
(without a jacket) is still acceptable.
Casual (Sometimes also identified as Country-Club Casual): What is the difference between casual and “country-cub” casual you ask? Well, in our society of relaxed standards, casual has taken on a whole new meaning. What was once defined as casual dress has now come to mean anything you happen to be wearing (including a bathing suit, t-shirt, shorts or jeans). Well, that is not what “casual” means on a cruise ship! So, in order to more clearly define the cruise definition of “casual evening attire”, many cruise lines have gone to the term “country-club casual”. Open neck shirts (collared golf shirts), khakis, sundresses, casual slacks and tops are all appropriate here. You will find that jeans, shorts and t-shirts are not appropriate in the main dining rooms at dinner. On most cruises both the first and last night will be casual evenings. On the first night may people will have to wear what they wore on the ship since the luggage may not be delivered in time to change for dinner. On the last night, guests are required to pack their luggage and may only have left out the clothing they will be wearing for the journey home.
When you look at the brochures for an Alaska cruise you are bound to see snow covered mountain peaks and glacier filled lakes. Alaska is not all cold and ice though. In fact, the summer months can be quite pleasant with daytime temperatures averaging between 60 and 80 degrees. Nighttime and early mornings are a little cooler with temperatures averaging in the 40’s and 50’s. Late August and September you will notice that the rain increases and average daytime temperatures will fall to the 40’s and mid 50’s. However, there is no such thing as “average” in Alaska. The weather in Alaska is unpredictable and very changeable. So, how do you pack? First, you must plan on both rain and sunshine. Then, plan to layer, layer, layer! Bring clothing that can be worn in layers that will prepare you for any and all changing situations. Bring a warm, water resistant coat and pants and a sweater. Plan to wear lighter clothing underneath so that as the day warms you can remain comfortable. And speaking of comfort, definitely bring comfortable shoes like sneakers. If they are waterproof, all the better. Since viewing nature in all its majestic glory is the essence of an Alaskan cruise, make sure to pack binoculars and a camera (preferably with a zoom lens). Don’t forget the insect repellent as you may encounter significant numbers of mosquitoes in the summer months and a good sunscreen is a must. I have listed what I believe to be Alaska Cruise Packing essentials. Have a wonderful cruise!
Necessary incidentals include
Packing Suggestions include