One of the big challenges when you are planning a holiday is deciding what to pack in your suitcase to take with you.

On the one hand, you’ll have those people who want to pack everything they own apart from the kitchen sink to deal with any possible eventuality - from blazing sunshine to pouring rain.

On the other, there are those people who will be more than happy to simply chuck a few items in their case and get on with it.

For those people, if it rains and you’ve only got shorts and t-shirt then who cares when you’re on holiday?

Things can be a little bit different however if you’ve booked yourself onto a cruise holiday, when there can be a number of different dress codes in place depending on the occasion.

Should you be heading to the Captain’s Table for example for a special dining experience, then you’ll be expected to wear something a bit more formal than if you’re simply planning to sit down at the main buffet restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat.

Although dress codes onboard a cruise ship aren’t quite as strict as they used to be - which is partly a reflection of the way in which the industry has changed in recent years - there are certain expectations if you are planning a holiday on the water.

We’ve pulled together a quick guide although it’s worth noting that there may well be variations between different cruise lines so it’s always advisable to double check in order to be on the safe side before you head for port.

This is the simplest code to follow simply because - as the name suggests - it’s the most casual option that is available. Shorts, skirts and jeans are all acceptable during the day although the latter might not be suitable on an evening when you may need to opt for something like a pair of chinos or a smarter pair of shorts instead.

T-shirts during the day are also fine but swapping them for a polo shirt on an evening could be a wise move.

One thing to note is that whilst sports and swimwear are fine whilst lounging around by the pool, they are a no when it comes to meal time - unless you’re grabbing a bite to eat at a poolside snack bar.

Smart Casual:
Go one step up from casual and you get smart casual - which be a tricky one to judge. Think about what you might wear if you were planning a night out back at home, so maybe a dress or a skirt/top combo for women and a smarter pair of trousers with a shirt or polo shirt for men.

Smarter shorts will be acceptable - although not of the sporting variety - but you’ll have to bear in mind that trainers are a no.

If you’re planning to dine away from the main restaurant and sample some alternative cuisine then you might be required to go with a more formal state of dress.

Whilst you can use it as an excuse to dust off your best outfit if you want, a nice cocktail dress or smart trouser suit will suffice for women, as would a combination of an elegant skirt with a blouse. A suit and tie for men is the ideal.

Although not strictly related to the dress code, it’s worth considering what footwear to pack when heading off on a cruise.

Flip flops or sliders for relaxing by the pool are ideal and whilst women might like to normally pop on a set of heels when going for a night out, bear in mind that on a cruise ship, you might encounter more stairs than you would in a hotel and also have to factor in any potential movement whilst at sea.

Packing either a pair of flats, or something with a smaller heel, might be a more sensible option.