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Best travel clothes for women on shore excursions

07 May 2022

Disembarking your cruise ship in a new port is an exciting feeling, especially when you have a shore excursion booked. Whether kayaking near glaciers, ziplining over the beach, or island hopping on a catamaran, countless shore excursions are at your fingertips on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Packing for your cruise entails planning what to wear on shore excursions, and the best outfit to wear varies greatly depending on the tour you book. Sightseeing tours of European cities will require a completely different dress code than a relaxing Caribbean beach day or active shore excursion in Alaska.

Let’s take a look at the outfits we recommend wearing on your Royal Caribbean shore excursion, from the most active of excursions to the most tranquil.

What to wear on active shore excursions

While it’s possible to spend an entire day in port lounging at the beach, some cruisers prefer to explore a destination through an active adventure. Active shore excursions have a casual dress code, with comfort and reliability favored over sporting the most fashionable looks.

Clothing: A nonabsorbent, lightweight fabric like polyester is best to wear on an active shore excursion. Polyester workout shirts and tank tops are great options, as they will keep you cooler when breaking a sweat.

Workout shorts tend to be the best option for bottoms, especially on particularly hot days. Wearing a swimsuit underneath your clothes will also be convenient if your shore excursion combines active adventures with time at the beach.

Footwear: Sturdy, waterproof sandals like Chacos are an all-around great footwear option for active shore excursions. Not only do they hold up well when hiking on rugged terrain, but they work well at the beach, too. Plus, as Chacos are waterproof, there’s no need to worry about walking around in wet tennis shoes and socks if your shore excursion has you walking near beaches, lakes, or streams.

If you prefer to wear tennis shoes over sandals, make sure you are packing a comfortable pair (preferably shoes you have already worn many times) to ensure no painful blisters await you!

Accessories: Bringing a lightweight backpack is recommended on active shore excursions, as you are able to carry the bag along with you without it being too heavy or cumbersome. In addition, it’s a good idea to make sure your daypack is water-resistant or waterproof if your excursion involves time in and around water, such as when kayaking or canoeing.

What to wear on beach shore excursions

One of the best parts of a Royal Caribbean cruise involves sunny days spent at tropical beaches. Whether the crystal clear waters of St. John or rocky shores of the Mediterranean, beach days make for an excellent shore excursion. Like active excursions, beach excursions have a casual dress code.

Clothing: A swimsuit is, unsurprisingly, important to pack for an excursion to the beach. There are no strict rules on what type of swimsuit to wear, so pack whatever you feel most comfortable wearing.

Casual, lightweight clothing is best to wear over a swimsuit on a beach excursion, such as a sundress, romper, shorts, t-shirts, or swimsuit cover up. Colorful, patterned clothing can be fun to wear to add to the tropical vibe of your vacation.

Be sure to wear clothes over your swimsuit and do not walk around the port in just a bathing suit! This may be culturally inappropriate in your port of call, so definitely remember to cover up prior to leaving the beach.

Footwear: Flip flops can be a nice choice of footwear for beach excursions, but are recommended only for strictly beach excursions. If an excursion simply brings you on a bus to a nearby beach and picks you up a few hours later, flip flops will suffice. Flip flops are a great choice for Perfect Day at CocoCay.

If the tour combines a few hours at the beach with activities like shopping, tubing, kayaking, or hiking, though, a more sturdy sandal or tennis shoe is recommended for maximum comfort. Packing flip flops in your daypack is always an option as well.

Accessories: Bringing a daypack to the beach is necessary in order to hold items like sunscreen, towels, sunglasses, and your personal belongings. Backpacks work well, but you may prefer a larger, waterproof beach bag, particularly if you will be carrying belongings for several members of your family.

What to wear on city shore excursions

Excursions that involve tours of cities and historic sites tend to require a slightly more formal dress code than what you’ll wear to the beach. While wearing heels and ball gowns is very much unnecessary, you may prefer to dress more fashionably than workout shorts and an old tank top.

Clothing: Consider wearing clothing like a sundress, jumpsuits, and semi-casual shorts when on a city excursion. Flowy, lightweight pants are another option that are a great choice on breezy summer days.

If your excursion involves visiting churches, particularly for those in the Mediterranean, be sure to research the church’s dress code. Many churches require shoulders and knees to be covered, meaning a sleeveless shirt, shorts, or short dress will not make the cut. Bringing a lightweight scarf to wear over your shoulders in the church is an option or you can pack a change of clothes in your daypack.

Footwear: Regardless of the city you’re visiting, comfort is key when exploring urban areas. City excursions often include more walking than a standard shore excursion, as it’s likely you’ll be wandering through picturesque streets, bustling plazas, historic museums, and archaeological sites.

Sandals with an ankle strap and closed-toed shoes are ideal when on a city-focused shore excursion. If you’re visiting somewhere like Rome or Florence, you may prefer to wear a nicer pair of sandals or closed-toe shoes like Sperrys in lieu of flip flops or running shoes, as it’s more likely you will be entering nice restaurants, churches, and museums during the day.

Accessories: A secure daypack is essential on a city excursion to ensure your belongings remain safe, especially if you’ll be traveling on public transport and visiting crowded tourist sites. Crossbody purses and backpacks with a secret pocket tend to be safer choices than handbags and over-the-shoulder purses.

Shore excursions in cold weather destinations

If you’re cruising to destinations like Alaska, Norway, Northern Europe, or the U.S. Northeast, it’s important to pack for many types of weather. 

Most Royal Caribbean cruises will not sail in the chilliest winter temperatures, as the more northerly destinations tend to offer cruises only during the warmer months of the year. Chilly weather can still arise, though, so be sure to research the average temperature of the ports you will visit before packing for your cruise.

Clothing: Layers are key when sailing to a destination that may encounter colder weather. It’s helpful to bring the following layers with you when you get off the ship at port:

  • Base layer: t-shirt and jeans or yoga pants
  • Warm layer: fleece, sweater, or down jacket
  • Waterproof layer: thin rain jacket with a hood

Having multiple layers available ensures you will remain comfortable no matter the weather, which can change multiple times throughout the day in destinations like Alaska.

Related: Ultimate Alaska cruise guide

Footwear: When cruising in colder weather, replace flip flops and sandals with sneakers and boots. Sturdy shoes that keep your feet warm are essential, and water-resistant shoes are even better.

Colder destinations often tend to entail more outdoorsy excursions, whether walking on a glacier in Alaska or hiking the fjords of Norway. A pair of waterproof hiking boots or sneakers can be great footwear options to wear in port.

Accessories: Like on all excursions, it’s recommended to bring a daypack in order to have a secure place to store your belongings. Wearing a water-resistant daypack is highly recommended in cold-weather destinations that may encounter rain.

Additionally, wearing a warm hat, gloves, and wool socks may be helpful on the chilliest of days.

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - What to wear on a Royal Caribbean cruise

20 Sep 2017

Listen to the Show

Few topics create as much confusion or contention among cruisers as what to wear on your Royal Caribbean cruise. What to pack and what to wear when has become a source of great debate among Royal Caribbean cruisers. Between dress codes for dinner, specialty restaurants and the clothing you will wear during the day, there is a lot to consider. There are plenty of choices, so let’s jump into what you should think about when planning what to wear on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

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First time cruisers: What clothing do I wear on my Royal Caribbean cruise?

13 Aug 2016

What to wear on your Royal Caribbean cruise seems to be a question we get a lot because no one wants to do the wrong thing.  Cruising has changed a lot over the years, but some traditions of dress codes remain to this day.

Before you go on your Royal Caribbean cruise, here is a handy guide to help you understand what cruise clothing you should wear onboard.

Cruise clothing for embarkation day

The first day of your cruise is a bit of an odd day, with guests arriving onboard and getting acclimated to their new home.  Moreover, luggage deliveries to staterooms can take a bit of time, so not all guests have access to all of their belongings throughout the day.

Nearly all guests will arrive to their Royal Caribbean ship wearing something comfortable and relaxing.  Depending on the weather conditions at the embarkation port, you will find most guests with t-shirts, shorts/jeans, etc.

While Royal Caribbean offers guests the option to check their luggage and have it delivered later to their stateroom, you might consider retaining a day bag that has a change of clothes, swimsuit, work out clothes and anything else you might need between when you board the ship and when your luggage will actually be delivered.  This is especially important for kids, because the pools will be open on embarkation day, but swim suits packed away in checked luggage could lead to disappointment.

Cruise clothing during the day

During the morning and afternoon, there is no dress code and your itinerary will largely dictate what you should wear onboard.

Caribbean, Mediterranean and other warm-weather cruises will see a mix of t-shirts, shorts, blouses, bathing suits and whatever else is comfortable.  Since much of the activities and things to do onboard your ship are outdoors, a vast majority of guests will be dressed for a pool day, and swim suits and associated clothing are quite prevalent.

Cruises to cold weather destinations will see guests wearing heavier clothing, including jeans, sweaters, lounge wear and more. Depending on the season and destination, layering your clothes is common, where t-shirts are worn underneath sweaters to allow for greater flexibility with the changing temperatures.

If you are planning to visit the fitness center, be sure to bring extra shorts, t-shirts, socks and running shoes/sneakers to work out in.

The reality is, there are no guidelines about what you wear during the day on your Royal Caribbean cruise.  Restaurants retain some basic dress guidelines, including a casual dress code in specialty restaurants and the main dining room.  Quick service venues, such as the Windjammer, Cafe Promenade and other grab-and-go locations have just basic guidelines when it comes to dress code, such as shoes and a shirt.

Cruise clothing in the evening

During the dinner hours, Royal Caribbean does have a dress code for its main dining room.  The dress code is only for the dining room, and outside that venue, there is no special dress code .

When people hear dress codes, it causes a great deal of anxiety about what is and what is not allowed.  It is a complicated issue because "appropriate" attire for each dress code will depend on the interpretation of the rules.  Royal Caribbean tends to be a bit ambiguous about its dress code rules, especially when it comes to enforcing them. In practice, Royal Caribbean's dress code is more a guideline that can be used as an enforcement tool, but is not frequently administered to all guests.

There are three basic dress codes Royal Caribbean uses.  We will list each one, along with what Royal Caribbean lists as suggested dress for each one.

  • Casual: Sport shirts and slacks for men, sundresses or pants for women. Pants should have no holes, rips or tears.
  • Smart Casual: Jackets and ties for men, dresses or pantsuits for women.
  • Formal: Suits and ties or tuxedos for men (black tie is optional), cocktail dresses or pantsuit for women

Swimsuits, robes, bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps and pool wear are not allowed in the main restaurants or specialty restaurants. T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops are acceptable for lunch.

Formal night

Despite the name, formal night is not nearly as fancy as you might think.  Formal night is certainly the most dressed up evening attire required on your Royal Caribbean cruise, but it is not as ornate as you might imagine.

Evening wear for formal night will vary, and you will see some guests wearing tuxedoes and gowns.  It is our opinion that most guests tend to dress a bit less fancy than that, with men wearing suits or sports coats and women wearing cocktail dresses.  Essentially, it is clothing that is a bit nicer than you might wear on other nights of the cruise.

Royal Caribbean does provide a tuxedo rental option, which can save on packing space.

If the idea of formal night really bothers you and you, the good news is you absolutely do not have to get dressed up on your Royal Caribbean cruise.  The formal night dress code is only for the main dining room and specialty restaurants, so anywhere else on the ship is fair game for shorts, flip flops and tank tops.  The Windjammer and other quick service venues will be open and without any formal wear.

Cruise clothing for kids

Children on a Royal Caribbean cruise will follow similar patterns to adults in terms of what they wear.  During the day onboard and onshore, it will be casual for kids, so nothing really important to worry about.  Just something they will be comfortable wearing.

In the evening, the dress code for children is the same for adults. There tends to be more leeway in terms of the degree of formality for children's clothing, but at the same time children are expected to be dressed up more than what they would wear during the daytime. The exception would be infants.

For boys, polo shirts and nice pants will suffice for most evenings and girls can wear dresses, skirts and sweaters.

5 Royal Caribbean inspirations to prepare for your cruise

19 Sep 2015

In the days, months (and sometimes years) leading up to your Royal Caribbean cruise, there is going to be a lot of excitement about your vacation and there are some fun ways to prepare and bring a little Royal Caribbean to your home.

Taking a cruise vacation has never been more popular, and when the "cruise bug" bites you, here are some great ways to get in the mood for a cruise that will have a Royal Caribbean touch to it!

Anchors Away Luggage Tag

Royal Caribbean requires you to affix luggage tags to your luggage but you can also add some style to your luggage with these "Anchors Away" luggage tags that look a whole lot like Royal Caribbean's logo.

These 4.5 inch luggage tags are nice and big, so it makes spotting your luggage easier at the airport and in baggage claim.  

Plus, it will show everyone that you are a big cruise fan!

The Captain

To get in the mood for your cruise or to maybe understand how a cruise ship works, check out this great read by Royal Caribbean captain Johnny Faevelen, "The Captain".

The book details Captain Johnny's life and how he became a Royal Caribbean cruise captain.  It's an intriguing look at what it takes to become the master of one of these amazing cruise ships.

Bonus points if you can sail on a ship Captain Johnny commands these days and get it autographed!

Slim Cruise Line Luggage Tag Holders

Royal Caribbean provides luggage tags that guests can print out and they work well enough but why not protect your luggage tags from being accidently ripped with these Slim Cruise Line Luggage Holders by Shacke.

The concept is simple: print out your luggage tags and then insert them in here and affix them to your luggage.  These luggage holders give you piece of mind that the flimsy printer paper you used wont get ripped during the embarkation process (or by your husband when it all gets loaded into the car).

Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad

So you are going to the Caribbean or Mediterranean, Southeast Asia or anywhere else where it can get downright hot and need a way to cool down?  You need to check out the Chilly Pad!

All you do is moisten the towel with water, wring out the excess and then drape it around your neck.  It really does work at making you feel a heck of a lot cooler and it is perfect for those shore excursions where air conditioning is not an option.

It works instantly and it is a great way to cool down when the sun (and humidity) are really hitting you hard.

Waterproof case for your smartphone

Everyone uses their smart phones as cameras because they really do have a great camera inside, but why worry about getting it wet or full of sand?

The JOTO smartphone case will protect your phone against water, sand, snow, your toddler trying to eat it and more.

Just drop your phone in the case, seal it up and you can use your phone to take photos in the ocean, pool, beach and anywhere else you want.  

Do you have something that gets you ready for your cruise? Share in the comments!

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