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Hot or Not: 9 Cruise Fashion Faux Pas and How to Avoid Them

Gina Kramer
Contributor
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 (Photo: Kzenon/Shutterstock)

A glaring fashion "don't" has an appeal akin to the mythological Medusa; while you try hard not to stare, sometimes it's impossible to look away. Cruise ships have both written and unwritten wardrobe guidelines, yet, despite the obvious -- say, no jeans on formal night -- some passengers still don't catch on.

Every cruiser has encountered someone whose onboard style has seemed inappropriate -- whether it's as simple as a lack of taste (high-waters aren't necessary for the high seas) or something more dramatic, like exposure to places where the sun doesn't -- or shouldn't -- shine.

We've compiled a list of nine cruise fashion faux pas, drawn from our own experiences and from those of our members. If you follow these rules, you might not make the Lido Deck best-dressed list, but you will avoid becoming a fashion fool on your next cruise.

No Bathrobes Outside the Spa or Your Cabin

No Bathrobes Outside the Spa or Your Cabin

It can't be that hard to pack loose-fitting loungewear for when you want to be comfy. Bathrobes are intimate articles of clothing that aren't meant to be worn like ponchos over your birthday suit. Even worse is donning them at the buffet, as our members have documented in our forums; food and private parts do not go together in public.

Wear instead: A nice swimsuit cover-up, sundress or casual romper show your smarts, not your skin, around the ship. 

No Speedos at the Pool

No Speedos at the Pool

Once dubbed a crime against fashion, the Speedo has made a return in recent years, thanks to hunks like David Beckham and Hugh Grant sporting these tight togs. But we still don't like seeing them on our cruises. Unless you're built like a soccer-playing heartthrob, we recommend avoiding this one on the pool deck.

Wear instead: Swim trunks that provide coverage and dry quickly are your best bet.

No Bum Bags on Shore Tours

No Bum Bags on Shore Tours

We're perplexed by the bum bag phenomenon. How do stores still make money off these things? Aside from being downright silly looking, they give off an impression of being naive and inexperienced, which can put you in a vulnerable position. This is one '80s trend we don't want to come back.

Wear instead: A day pack with anti-theft technology keeps your items secure, without advertising that you're a tourist.

No Hawaiian Button-downs on Nontropical Itineraries

No Hawaiian Button-downs on Nontropical Itineraries

You might be feeling giddy about your upcoming cruise to, say, Alaska. But just because you're finally going on holiday doesn't mean you should pack that token Hawaiian party shirt you sported on that one-time Caribbean cruise. Pack for the destination, not just any cruise holiday.

Wear instead: Button-down camp shirts from designers like Tommy Bahama come in attractive solids too.

No T-shirts You Bought at the Previous Port

No T-shirts You Bought at the Previous Port

We don't blame you for loving the Balearics, but please leave the "I Heart Ibiza" T-shirt you just bought in your suitcase. In fact, don't buy it to begin with! (The odds are slim it was made anywhere close to port.) Bring the local flavour home with you by putting your money toward a memorable keepsake, like handmade jewellery or a painting by a local artist.

Wear instead: We like vintage-style T-shirts that display a touch of home, like a favourite band or ironic TV show.

No Big Purses From Home

No Big Purses From Home

A woman's purse is like a black hole, filled with credit cards, an assortment of lipstick shades, perfume, a pharmacy, perhaps a few snacks, a bundle of old receipts (because it's important to remember you spent £44.19 at Sainsbury's last month) and so on. Cruising is meant to simplify your life.

Wear instead: Leave the chaos in a bag at home, and pack only the necessities in a smaller bag.

No Expensive Jewellery During Water Activities

No Expensive Jewellery During Water Activities

Someday, divers are going to make a fortune off all the wedding bands at the bottom of the ocean. Do unto your expensive jewellery as Michael Douglas did to El Corazon in the action-adventure love story, "Romancing the Stone" (even if that means removing it from an alligator's mouth). If you insist on bringing your most prized possessions on a cruise in the first place, then make sure they're locked in the safe before you head out on your shore excursion.

Wear instead: A waterproof divers watch means you can go down the waterslide and still know when it's time for trivia.

No String Bikinis on the Waterslide

No String Bikinis on the Waterslide

If you rock bikinis, you know they're the best when you need to get some colour without worrying about awkward tan lines. But they're the worst for waterslides. (If you haven't lived this horror story, we're sure you've heard of it.)

Wear instead: Bring an athletic-style swimsuit with more coverage if you want to make a splash.

No Wet Bathing Suits in Casual Dining Areas

No Wet Bathing Suits in Casual Dining Areas

No one wants to sit on damp bum-cheek imprints when they're chowing down for lunch. So don't be that passenger who sits down in the buffet, drenched in a concoction of chlorinated water and sunscreen, and leaves his or her mark for an unsuspecting victim.

Wear instead: We know that food breaks from the pool are meant to be quick. But a mere three minutes of hair rinsing, towel drying and tossing on a beach dress or a pair of shorts can go a long way.


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Updated April 07, 2020

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