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. Plus Kelly Nishimoto, host of TLC's "Something Borrowed, Something New" is onboard to add some of her expert tips.
The self-taught fashion designer and creator of Los Angeles-based clothing line and shop Cute Booty Lounge has worked with celebrities like Madonna and Demi Moore. Her advice is always the same: "Be comfortable, first of all. Then show bits of your personality."
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
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.
Kelly says: "Totally unacceptable on all levels, especially if there are kids around."
Photo: Ruslana Maskenskaia/Shutterstock.
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.
No Fanny Packs on Shore Tours
We're perplexed by the fanny pack 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 state. This is one '80s fad we don't want to come back.
Kelly says: "I have to say, I'm not against fanny packs! But it has to be one of those leather pouches or oversized clutches that can attach to a belt. High-end wallet and bag companies make them."
No Hawaiian Button-downs on Nontropical Itineraries
You might be feeling giddy about your upcoming cruise to Alaska. But just because you're finally going on vacation doesn't mean you should pack that token Hawaiian party shirt you sport on Caribbean itineraries. Pack for the destination, not just any vacation.
No T-shirts You Bought at the Previous Port
We don't blame you for loving the Bahamas. But please leave the "I Heart Nassau" T-shirt you just bought in your suitcase. In fact, don't even buy the darn thing. (The odds are slight it was made anywhere close to port.) Bring the local flavor home with you by putting your money toward a memorable keepsake, like handmade jewelry or a painting by a local artist.
Kelly says: "If I bought one, I'd never wear it again. The only exception is if you ran out of clothes or you're freezing [if you buy a sweatshirt]. If you think you're going to get cold, roll up the sweater and stick it in your modern fanny pack."
No Big Purses From Home
A woman's purse is like a black hole, filled with credit cards, an assortment of lipstick colors, perfume, a pharmacy, perhaps a few snack bars, loose expired coupons, a bundle of old receipts (because it's important to remember you spent $44.19 at a gas station last month) and so on. Cruising is meant to simplify your life. Leave the chaos in a bag at home, and pack only the necessities in a smaller purse or clutch.
Kelly says: "You want cheap chic. If a drop of saltwater got on [my favorite bag], I'd cry. You want something that's disposable if it has to be."
No Expensive Jewelry 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 jewelry 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.
Photo: Tyler Olson/Shutterstock.
No String Bikinis on the Waterslide
If you rock bikinis, you know they're the best when you need to get some color 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.) Leave the ta-tas in your triangle top, and bring something with a little more coverage if you want to make a splash.
Kelly says: "Fashion is all about fit. If you have the body, wear it, but keep it contained. There's nothing wrong with sexy, but keep it regal: 'Victoria's Secret' sexy, not 'behind closed doors' sexy."
No Wet Bathing Suits in Casual Dining Areas
No one wants to sit on damp butt-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 mark for an unsuspecting victim. We know -- especially with kids -- that food breaks from the pool are meant to be quick. But a mere three minutes of hair rinsing, towel drying and tossing on some cotton shorts can go a long way.
Photo: Cruise Critic