Please sign in to post.

Packing for river cruise

I thought I was ready to go carry on only on my first river cruise in May (Rhine). Then I read the dress code recommendation for “casual elegant” for evenings on the boat. How? Especially shoes 😉

Posted by
14288 posts

Well, this is out of my wheelhouse, hahaha! But I'd barge on with black ballet flats for your shoes. There are some very inexpensive ones that fold up. I have difficulty with ballet flats staying on my awful feet but I could probably manage walking from my stateroom to the dining area. I'd also say silky black pants and a couple of lightweight silky tops. Scarves to go with.

Posted by
680 posts

We were on a Gate 1 Rhine River cruise this past fall, and saw a variety of dress. I took a slightly nicer top to wear for dinner, but wore the same shoes I wore while walking around the towns. Personally, I would take what I am comfortable with, as long as it is clean and appropriate travel clothing.

Posted by
8659 posts

Which cruise line and which river are you on? When we did Viking, there was no "dress up" in sight. But I wouldn't worry about carryon only. Since they're handling luggage for you (on and off boat), there's no advantage to going light, unlike a land tour. Plus you'll need space for souvenirs.

Posted by
1047 posts

On our Uniworld Rhine river cruise dinner clothing ranged from smart casual (no shorts, no T shirts) to black tie. There was a group of four passengers from the Philippines who wore tuxedos and ball gowns every night. I just had one dress, a couple of tops and some black slip on shoes (Skechers go walk). My husband wore navy pants and long sleeve shirts.

Posted by
7031 posts

If you have a Chico's around you (or want to look online), their black pants from the Traveler's Collection are wonderfully elegant looking but safe to wear any place you travel. I always bring a pair as they are very comfortable, easy to wash and dry, completely wrinkle free and they always look great. You could easily wear them with ballet flats or even a dark pair of Toms.

Posted by
11368 posts

We always travel only with a carry on and a personal item each including for the four river cruises we have gone on. Black slacks, a few dressier tops and you are ready. Black flats too. We have gone on AMAWaterways and Viking river cruises. My spouse has stopped bringing a sports jacket, packs slacks, nice collared shirts. Loafers.

Posted by
91 posts

We have done a number of UniWorld cruises and have found that we do carry on only, with one personal item (ackpack for computer)
Both my wife and I wear black New Balance shoes- the only pair of shoes we both bring. Buy shoe odor spray when you get to Germany at Rossmanns or DM

I wear a sports jacket on the plane, with Tie.

My wife only has carry-on and follows the general packing tips from RS.

No one looks at your shoes!

Be comfortable and just enjoy!

Posted by
988 posts

We've cruised with Viking, AMA, Uniworld, and Tauck (our favorite)- and we have noticed over the years, that the dress in the dining room has gotten much more casual over the past several years. My husband no longer brings a sport coat.

Posted by
6379 posts

Pam, as usual you made me laugh. But I did like your suggestions for dressing up.

My good friend here works for a 501c3 that’s planning a fundraiser soon. I thought about buying tickets until I read the description of the event. It sounds great, except for Attire: creative cocktail!

Well. “Creative” I am not, and my version of cocktail attire is when I change into comfies in the evening and open a bottle of wine or beer.

But your suggestions give me hope. Coupled with Mardee’s idea if classy looking pants from Chico’s this might work. Worth a shot anyway.

Posted by
7031 posts

Well. “Creative” I am not, and my version of cocktail attire is when I change into comfies in the evening and open a bottle of wine or beer.

Ha ha, Jane! That is definitely my kind of cocktail attire!

Posted by
198 posts

Mardee,
I have those exact black pants from Chico's. They are my go to dress pants whenever I travel.

Posted by
201 posts

We've had the same experience as ChinaLake, everything is more casual now but there are some that dress up. Since we travel before and after the river cruises, we really don't have the space for formal wear. After I retired, I vowed to never wear a tie again.

Posted by
14288 posts

"Well. “Creative” I am not, and my version of cocktail attire is when I change into comfies in the evening and open a bottle of wine or beer."

Jane! So funny. I hope you go so you can all let us know what someone's idea of creative cocktail attire is because I'm with you and Mardee. Mine also includes shoes off, blanket over feetsies and try not to spill red wine on the beige sofa.

Posted by
223 posts

We went on a Viking cruise(Rhine) last Aug. I brought a couple of sundresses, and slacks with nice tops. No one was really dressed up; no fancy dresses and sport coats. I did use a mid size suitcase instead of my usual carry on, as I didn't have to worry about taking it off and on trains. Shoes were my down fall.

Posted by
1882 posts

This reminds me of a non Rick Steves tour I took pre Covid. It was a land tour and dress suggested was casual elegant for dinners. I was combining this tour with a Rick tour so I got a 24/25" piece of luggage so I could pack for my 2 week Rick tour & the 1 week other tour. When I got to the other tour I noticed all those casual elegant clothes I had carried around for 2 weeks were totally unnecessary. Only the tour director dressed for dinner; no one else. My Rick tour clothes would have been fine. So I learned my lesson and wherever I go, on land or water, Rick tour or not I pack for one week, wear clothes that are comfortable and don't worry about the 'dress code.' I do have a white tee with some sequins as decoration and sometimes I pack that and wear with a pair of my comfy, black knit J Jill or Chicos slacks. Sometimes when traveling during the summer I will throw in a pair of sandals in addition to my walking shoes. The sandals have always worked fine for dressier shoes. P.S. I haven't used that larger, non carry-on bag since, but it is great for blanket storage1

Posted by
1882 posts

Oh, I forgot, I have also taken a 2 week Viking Cruise and 2 ocean cruises. Sandals & the black knit slacks with my 'sparkly' tee have worked well on those trips, too.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all for the responses! Will definitely check out the Chico pants.

Posted by
907 posts

We've taken 5 Tauck river cruises and you needn't worry. For most dressy evenings like the welcome/farewell dinners or a dinner off the ship I wear black dress slacks (Ponte knit), a nice top, flats and maybe a dressy bit of costume jewelry or scarf. Tauck has a packing list for each tour. For European trips it's mostly the same. If there is a particularly dressy occasion off the ship they will list sport coat and tie for men. Otherwise it will list those as optional which tells you. Most days I wear what I wore touring though I'll probably change shoes just to give my feet a change but I don't dress super casual - athletic wear, old jeans, logo Tshirt, etc. Usually a nice knit top and slacks or capris. What I think of as "lunch out with the girls" wear.

More important to dress for the weather. Be sure to bring a rain coat and a wrap or sweater for the evenings. They can be surprisingly cool on the sun deck in the evening and even during the day in May.

Posted by
2507 posts

The black slacks and a nice print top top or two to match are excellent suggestions. For our recent Antarctic cruise (and dressier dinners on board) I took a black print skirt with a matching print top and a plain black top and plain black comfy slacks. With those four items I had multiple outfits. I also took ballet flats.

Posted by
7465 posts

I usually bring the black flats for looking a bit nicer for dinners, and also they’re the shoe I wear if I’m going to a nice music concert or opera type event.

I like to bring a black cotton knit dress - a cheap one purchased on Amazon or my favorite Toad & Company one made of t-shirt fabric but styled cuter. Last year friends were commented that I always looked especially nice in the photos. Well, they were seeing the three elegant scarves and bigger earrings that I would wear with the black dress in the evening. It’s my easy way to dress up and also pack very light.

I choose scarves in completely different color palettes to have some variety since they’re being paired with the neutral black.
Someone mentioned cooler evenings. A thick pashmina in a royal color worn over a 32-degree long-sleeve micro-thin top and black pants with pretty earrings works well.

Posted by
155 posts

I usually bring the black flats for looking a bit nicer for dinners,
and also they’re the shoe I wear if I’m going to a nice music concert
or opera type event.

Jean, I do this for cruises as well. I also bring along a couple of shoe clips for my flats.
I actually made my own, but here are some examples (from Amazon).
https://www.amazon.com/Grosgrain-Fashion-Crystal-Shoe-Champagne/dp/B07CXN1CG5/ref=sr_1_5?crid=2WSHVJBB6XX4P&keywords=shoe+clips+for+flats&qid=1679933242&sprefix=shoe+clips%2Caps%2C345&sr=8-5
https://www.amazon.com/Flyonce-Rhinestone-Crystal-Buckle-Decoration/dp/B08597R8PQ/ref=sr_1_55?crid=2WSHVJBB6XX4P&keywords=shoe+clips+for+flats&qid=1679933308&sprefix=shoe+clips%2Caps%2C345&sr=8-55

Mine go with the dressier tops I bring and they just add a bit of bling. I keep them with my little jewelry zippered case.

I also used to bring a pair of "dress" black pants, but discovered that I can just wear the regular black pants I bring for travel (a pair of T by Talbots pants). Nobody notices the difference with a dressier top and the flats.

Posted by
1259 posts

Two things: 1. Read the user reviews of the line and watch yootoob clips posted by happy and angry passengers; most will include commentary about dress codes or suggestions. 2. The reason one travels lightly and packs for carryon-only is to maintain control over one’s stuff, not necessarily to limit one’s clothing choices. You can always get something on shore if absolutely necessary but it needs to fit or something will get binned.
If you feel pressured to dress better than on a Steves event, you may have chosen the wrong line.