How to Pack for a Norwegian Cruise Line Cruise

If you’ve cruised on other cruise lines, or if this is your first Norwegian Cruise Line cruise, you should know that a cruise with Norwegian will be a totally different cruise experience. Especially when it comes to how to pack.

Norwegian (or NCL as it was once called) created their Freestyle Cruising concept way back in 2001, when it began as Freestyle Dining.

Intended to give cruisers the ability to dine when, where and with whom they wanted, Freestyle Dining had and still has no fixed dining times, a very relaxed dress code and a zillion dining options.

Included with your cruise fare are two main dining rooms, a Lido Buffet (called Garden Café) and a variety of casual restaurants. Extra fees are charged if you choose one of the slightly more upscale restaurants like the French-themed Le Bistro or Brazilian Moderno Churrascario.

Okay, so back to packing.

What you don’t need to pack for your onboard experience is anything dressy. Freestyle cruising could also extend to what I’d call a Freestyle Dress Code.

This isn’t to say people are sloppy or slovenly. Just the opposite. But what you don’t see is clothing geared for traditional cruise line formal nights. That’s because there are no formal nights. None.

Clothes set out to pack for a Norwegian Cruise line cruise.
Not my best photo – it was after midnight. But you can get an idea of what I packed for a week aboard Norwegian Getaway; mostly two of everything. And I still way over-packed!

How to pack for a Norwegian Cruise line cruise

It’s very simple. Think relaxed, tropical and easy breezy. It’s not uncommon for guests to lounge about in swimwear all day on sea days, with a cover-up when grabbing lunch at the Garden Café.

In the evenings, shorts, jeans and t-shirts can still be worn in all the included restaurants. The only exception might be if you’ve made reservations for one of the specialty fee-based restaurants, like Le Bistro. You’ll see guests a bit more dressed up, even sport coat and a tie on men. But this is the exception rather than the rule. And because they want to be a little dressier for the dining occasion.

Bottom line

The best guideline on how to pack for a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise is: leave the dressy clothes, high heels and fancy jewelry at home. Pack for a tropical vacation: swimwear, flip-flops, a hat, sunscreen and casual wear. Bring that Hawai’ian shirt! It’s your vacation. Enjoy it!

Read more:  Norwegian Cruise Lines’ 2020 itineraries and new homeports.


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  1. Hi Joseph,
    Thank you for your comment. You’re right…some passengers on Norwegian will still bring a dress-up outfit.

  2. Sound advice! I can’t help but feel the need to bring clothes that will be comfortable and weather appropriate. Although, bringing on something for an elegant dinner is good to have as well.

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