Updated February 3, 2020
In today's world of themed cruises, it seems like there's a cruise for just about every personality and taste. Given that nude recreation is roughly a $440-million-per-year industry, according to the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), it's not surprising that several nude cruises take place each year and have actually been around for decades.
The concept is really aimed at getting those who enjoy (or are curious about) nude vacations together in one safe, comfortable environment. If you're considering a nude cruise -- or just want to learn more about what clothing-optional cruises are like -- let us help you answer some common questions.
Who offers nude cruises?
Nudist cruises take place on many cruise lines to many destinations, though most tend to focus on warm weather climates. All of them are booked as full-ship charters, meaning that a third-party operator -- a company like Bare Necessities or Castaways Travel -- will buy out the whole ship and sell cabins to clients interested in cruising in the buff. You won't "accidentally" end up on a nude cruise because you can't take that cruise if you didn't book as part of the charter group.
Clothing-optional cruise lines include both large, mainstream lines, as well as many smaller, upscale or boutique cruise companies.
Who goes on nude cruises?
The demographic for nude cruises is surprisingly wide, with adults of all ages sailing. According to the AANR, nude recreation enthusiasts typically are active, college-educated people between the ages of 35 and 65 who enjoy outdoor recreation and activities.
A number of cruise passengers are repeat customers. Bare Necessities reports that 70 percent of its clients are repeat cruisers, so annual voyages might feel a bit like a reunion of sorts for past passengers.
Are kids allowed onboard?
Do I have to go nude?
Short answer? No. You can wear as much or as little as you're comfortable wearing. Some people ease into it, wearing an article of clothing or two until they are comfortable being naked with others around.
Is the crew clothed?
How is naked cruising different from a regular cruise?
Well, outside of the obvious, a few factors are different. Most fall under rules of etiquette or decorum to which it's polite to adhere. For one, shutterbugs need to keep it in check -- photos can be taken, but if it's a group setting, get permission from all those in the pic. It's also important not to gawk or stare. The point of nudist cruising is being comfortable in a like-minded environment.
A towel is a necessary accessory on any nude cruise, as sitting on ship furnishings without one is a no-no. Towels are readily available shipwide, though passengers might pack their own towels as well. Activities might be a little different, also, with enrichment offerings like art classes with nude models and body painting lessons.
What other kinds of activities will take place?
As with other cruises, daytime activities will include things like pool volleyball or table tennis tournaments as well as trivia and bingo. At night, cruise lines generally arrange parties, such as an '80s party or costume party.
The charter groups might have additional parties. Bare Necessities, for example, has held Mardi Gras or Undressed To Kill: James Bond Night themed-parties. Castaways Travel has offered a Glow Rave Night and an Animal Kingdom Party, where passengers don their favorite animal prints. Cruises themselves generally don't have a theme, outside of being nude cruises, but theme nights are common.
Are shore excursions ever tailored to nude cruisers?
Yes and no. In the Caribbean, when cruise ships visit cruise line private islands, nude excursions might be offered. Lounging on the beach nude is also just fine. Otherwise, excursions likely are the same as those offered by the cruise lines on non-nude sailings, and clothes are required.
Do people go to dinner nude?
Again -- yes and no. Generally, clothing is required for dining in the ship's main dining room or in any of the specialty restaurants. Here, the dress code is strictly casual, meaning T-shirts and shorts are acceptable. Passengers can't wear only lingerie to the dining room or specialty restaurants.
Rules are more lax in the casual buffet, where nudity is permitted. You can also enjoy room service -- even balcony dining -- while nude.
Are there certain times when passengers are required to wear clothes?
Yes. The captain is your best guide on this. When he or she says you need to be dressed, get dressed. Most such announcements will come as the ship nears port. The captain will also let you know when you can cruise naked.
Clothing also is required at the captain's cocktail party. Here, formalwear is often the norm.
While clothing isn't necessarily required in places like the fitness center or jogging track, many passengers will wear some clothing to assist with support and comfort.
The AANR suggests taking a "clothed when practical, nude when appropriate" approach to visits to nude resorts or beaches. The same approach would apply to cruise ships.
What do you pack?
You will need to pack clothes for dinner and shore excursions, as well as formalwear if you plan to attend gala events (e.g., the captain's cocktail party). Find out ahead of time what kind of themed parties will be taking place so you can pack accordingly -- you'll want to bring the right costumes and things like body paint to fit in when you cruise nude.
And while clothing is optional, sunscreen and hats are a necessity on warm-weather cruises to tropical environs. Some people also prefer to pack their own towels.
Consider bringing a lanyard, too, for your cruise cabin key card. Get your key punched at the purser's desk and wear it around your neck; you need your card to make onboard purchases (and to get into your room), and without pockets, the lanyard is a convenient option.