Today, packing for a cruise means packing lightly – less luggage makes it easier to travel to and from the ship, and most staterooms have limited storage room for clothes. But in the early days of pleasure cruising – the early 1900s – passengers arrived at the docks with steamer trunks full of finery.
Back then, many people used ship travel to emigrate
from one continent to another, but pleasure cruising was something
only the wealthy could afford. It was an opportunity
to see more of the world, but also to show
off fashionable clothing and jewelry. During the day, women wore
dresses of silk, satin or damask with long, flowing
skirts and tailored jackets. Men wore three-piece suits and
neckties. Every evening was black tie: women dined and danced in
embellished ball gowns and precious gems, while men wore formal tail coats
or early versions of the tuxedo.
Since then, cruise line dress codes
have followed the gradual shift to more casual dress in
workplaces and society in general. By the 1920s, on land
and at sea, women began to throw away their corsets and raise
their hemlines. Men’s fashion silhouettes became more relaxed, too, favoring
blazers and loose trousers.
In the 1930s, Katherine Hepburn did something truly
revolutionary for women at the time; she wore trousers, a big
step in the move toward more
casual, comfortable clothing for daily life and travel. In
the decades that followed, both fashion and cruising became
more affordable, and cruise wear continued to become less formal.
On most of today’s cruises, you won’t go wrong by
packing some casual tops and bottoms you can mix and match. Daytime
dress codes are increasingly determined by what you plan to
do: shorts and t-shirts are appropriate for active shore excursions,
while you might dress in a casual skirt and
blouse, or slacks and a collared shirt, for a cultural
tour. You should ask your professional travel advisor if you need any
special clothing: for example, you might need water
shoes for some active excursions, and some cultural
sites require a head covering.
Anita, your professional travel advisor, can also
provide details about the evening dress code for
your next cruise; on some cruise lines, shorts, jeans and
flip-flops may not be welcome at dinner.
And for those who love a little glamour, black tie evenings
– an echo from the early days of cruising – are still scheduled once
or twice on many cruise itineraries.
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