It`s holiday time again and many of us will be making up our check-list and stocking up on the essentials ready for packing. Filling the suitcase is very often the most hated part of getting ready for a trip and many of us find it difficult to decide which of our summer clothes to take. If you`re taking a cruise this year, packing can be even harder, with the need to find the right mix of casual and formal wear.
If the pictures in the brochure looked very glamorous, with lovely tanned models wearing designer outfits or swimwear, you may be feeling the pressure to max out on your credit card and fill your case with over-priced clothing, but don`t be fooled! While some cruise lines do have a formal dress code, most require a casual look with formal or informal dress reserved for perhaps one or two special evenings.
The first step is to establish from your travel documents which dress code your cruise line favours and whether or not formal or full evening dress will be required on certain nights.
It helps to have a rough idea of the types of clothing that fall into each category. Casual wear generally means clothing that is comfortable. Of course, for lounging around the pool, or on the beach at a stop-off, you`ll need swimwear and maybe a light shirt or T-shirt to cover-up if the sun is strong. For going ashore, though, something a little smarter might be needed. Consider packing a few t-shirts or polo shirts, with some chinos, twill trousers or smart-casual board shorts, plus comfortable walking shoes or sandals. Mix and match, so that you use less luggage space. For men, casual evening wear probably means smartish trousers, rather than shorts or jeans, so those chinos or twill trousers will apply to them, too.
Informal wear may prove a little harder to work out. It can mean different things, depending on the cruise line, but as a rule of thumb, think conservative and smart. For the girls, it can mean a stylish dress, though not necessarily evening wear, or a smart trouser suit or separates. For men, it almost certainly means wearing a jacket or blazer, though a tie is not always required.
Formal is pretty self explanatory. This is where the ladies get to go crazy with the sequins and beads and the men get to do their best Richard Gere in Pretty Woman impersonation, with a dinner jacket and black tie. For those guys who don`t like the penguin look, a smart dark suit is usually fine.
Perhaps the fact that you`re taking a cruise can give you a few pointers towards the clothing that might be the most comfortable and suitable for your trip. You could stick with a sea-loving theme and choose a smart-casual surfing or up-market beach holiday theme for your wardrobe. Many of the surf-style clothing brands, like Hurley Clothing, have moved into slightly smarter beach and surf wear that is perfect for cruise-going. The added advantage to this sort of clothing is that it can be folded and packed without worrying too much about wrinkles. Whatever your tastes, the key adjectives to apply to packing for your cruise are comfortable, cool, stylish, inexpensive and, perhaps most importantly, lightweight!