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Norwegian Cruise Line dress code: what to wear on a cruise


Sailing to countless destinations all over the world and boasting a fleet of 19, soon to be 20 ships with the introduction of the new Norwegian Aqua in 2025, Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the biggest cruise lines in the industry. 

I have had the privilege of sailing with Norwegian six times now and currently have three more NCL cruises scheduled for 2024. With these cruise experiences, I have gained some insight and knowledge into how to dress when sailing with Norwegian. 

Booking a vacation with Norwegian Cruise Line is an exciting step towards embarking on a dream cruise! Once you have booked your chosen cruise, one of the next steps for vacation planning is packing. Packing for any cruise can be somewhat complicated, depending on the itinerary, length of time, and travel logistics. However, with these tips and tricks, I hope that packing for your next cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line will be a breeze! 

What Does Norwegian Cruise Line Say About Dress Code? 


(Example of what I packed for a quick standby adventure for a sailing onboard Norwegian Sun) 

Norwegian says the guests have the option to go resort casual or put on their finest attire. Because of their Freestyle Cruising approach, passengers have the ultimate freedom to choose exactly how they want to cruise and make the best of their vacation at sea, including how they dress. 

During the day, they suggest women wear casual dresses, skirts, regular or capri pants, shorts, jeans, and tops, while khakis, jeans, shorts, and casual shirts are fine for men. If you want to keep swimwear on, you'll have to wear a shirt or cover-up, even if you're dining at the buffet or outdoor restaurants. 

According to their website, men's tank-tops, flip-flops, baseball caps, visors, and overly faded jades with holes or tears below the hips are not allowed to be worn inside of the Main Dining Rooms or specialty venues. 


Overall, Norwegian embraces a more casual dress code across all their ships. In specialty dining restaurants, though, Norwegian encourages an elevated sense of dress and style: “Dress smart casual in our more upscale specialty restaurants. For women, it includes slacks or jeans, dresses, skirts and tops. For men, it is jeans or slacks with a collared shirt and closed-toed shoes. For kids 12 and under are welcome to wear shorts in all our restaurants." 

NCL also offers fun and exciting themed nights onboard their ships during certain itineraries. Whether you want to attend their White Hoty Party in an all-white outfit or dress to the nines for "Norwegian's Night Out," you have plenty of options to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Norwegian's themed nights. 

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Some of my favorite nights onboard have been during their White Hot Party, which is occasionally called the Glow Party. This is a themed night in which everyone onboard dresses in white or neon-colored clothing and gets to dance the night away either on the top deck at Spice H2O or in one of the other great venues onboard. 

Read more: 15 Packing Tips for First-Time Cruisers (2024)

My Experience And Suggestions On Things To Wear

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From my experiences onboard, everyone dresses relatively casually. But for those guests who would like to dress up a bit more formally, that is more than acceptable as well!

For Caribbean itineraries, most guests will wear beach-style clothing such as shorts, sun dresses, colorful prints, Hawaiian-style shirts, and sandals. For colder weather itineraries, such as Northern Europe or Alaska, warm clothing and layers such as sweaters, rain jackets, or boots are a great choice. 

On my Caribbean cruises, I tend to pack items such as sun dresses for the evenings, as well as blouses and shorts or a skirt for the afternoons. Of course, a swimsuit is an essential item of clothing for any warm-weather cruise itinerary, and when traveling to the Caribbean I tend to pack at least two different ones. Packing two swimsuits ensures you always have one on hand for a pool day or a snorkeling excursion. 


For my Northern European cruise, I packed several sweater dresses, leggings, sweaters, and boots. Of course, heavier coats and rain jackets can be essential items for a colder weather itinerary as well. 

I recommend taking some time before your cruise to pack thoroughly. Especially for longer-length cruises, it can be important to put some thought into what you might need or want during your journey. Packing items that are easy to fold can also be a good idea, as it will help decrease the amount of space items take up or cause any pesky wrinkles in your clothing. 

I usually will start packing at least a week before my cruises. While this may seem like a long amount of time, starting the packing process early allows for plenty of time to do laundry and make any last-minute errand runs for items such as toiletries. 

Read more: 6 things that surprised me about Norwegian Cruise Line after 6 cruises

Suggestions On Items To Pack To Make Your Voyage Great

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I have learned there are some items that I think are essential for any cruise voyage, whereas other items that I haven’t needed during my sailings. 

Oftentimes, packing at the last minute can lead to overpacking. This is because the stress of pre-travel logistics can lead to throwing more items into your bags than you may actually need during your cruise. 

Some non-clothing items I always ensure are in my luggage include:

  • A small first aid kit complete with vitamins and any medications, 

  • At least one swimsuit, no matter the itinerary! 

  • At least one pair of nicer or dressier shoes for dinner and evenings 

  • One pair of comfortable walking shoes for shore excursions

  • A water bottle

  • A small bag, such as a tote or sling bag to carry items like a phone or camera, a Kindle or book for relaxing mornings, a printout of all important documents, and, of course, your passport


(Make sure to pack a warm jacket or two for cold-weather cruising!)

No matter the cruise itinerary, guests will need to bring their passports. Some cruise itineraries will accept a birth certificate instead of a passport. This, however, isn't the case for all sailings. For this reason, it is essential that all Norwegian Cruise Line passengers pack their passports.

Other miscellaneous items you may want to bring include a Polaroid camera for unique photo memories, a journal, and some extra money for souvenirs you might find during your journey. 

Read: My top tips for Norwegian Cruise Line's oldest and newest ships

Specifics On Bags And Luggage

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When it comes to luggage requirements, Norwegian Cruise Line says that all bags being carried onboard must be able to fit through the X-ray machines, measuring approximately 24” tall and 18” wide.

Of course, it's recommended that you carry important items like medication, personal documentation, jewelry, breakables, and other valuables with you. You may also want to consider bringing an extra set of clothing for the first evening onboard. 

For longer sailings, I will pack one larger suitcase, about the size of a checked bag that you would use for an airline flight, and a carry-on-sized bag such as a duffle bag or backpack with important items such as travel documents and electronics inside.

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(Example of luggage packed for a two-week cruise for two people) 

There is no restriction on the amount of bags or luggage that guests can bring onboard for their Norwegian Cruise Line voyage. However, I do recommend trying to pack relatively strategically and minimally. 

Oftentimes, Norwegian staterooms can be rather small, and while there is usually plenty of storage space for clothing and other items, it can feel cramped or overwhelming if there are tons of luggage. 

For this reason, I recommend not packing too much, as it can lead to travel stress trying to manage a plethora of items during your journey. Packing strategically will help you feel confident in the items you pack, as well as decrease any need to manage a large amount of baggage. 

Read: The worst cruise ship packing mistakes

Packing for a Norwegian sailing can be a breeze!

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(Do not forget your passport and travel documents when packing for your next cruise!)

Packing for the first trip can be intimidating. However Norwegian does a great job of offering their Freestyle Cruising style that allows guests to dress as casually or as sophisticated as they desire. 

 I hope that these tips and information about NCL’s dress code will help passengers make the very most of their next cruise vacation. 

Packing for a cruise, whether it is your first time or your 100th can be exciting, as it means it is almost time for your voyage!

Read more: 8 things to pack for a cruise vacation (and 5 to leave behind), from someone who has cruised over a dozen times

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