If you are packing for an upcoming river cruise and struggling to determine the clothes which will make the suitcase cut, and which should be left in the bedroom cupboard, worry no more. Here, we have compiled everything you need to know about dressing for a river cruise, and even sought the help of two of our favourite cruise bloggers to offer their advice on how to dress to impress (and for comfort) during a wonderful journey atop the beautiful rivers of Europe.

On-Board Dress Code

Emerald Waterways operates a smart-casual dress code for evening meals and entertainment. A choice of open-neck shirts with slacks or dresses are appropriate for the elegant surroundings on-board the Emerald Waterways ships. These should be paired with smart shoes. Guests are welcome to wear jackets and ties but these are not compulsory.

Daywear on-board the Emerald Waterways ships is casual, but not too casual.  This is, perhaps, best explained by actress and contributing editor of Cruise International magazine, Julie Peasgood: “The good news about dress codes on river cruises is that there generally isn’t one. ‘Formal’ certainly isn’t the name of the game on any river cruise - and many people find the more relaxed dress code a welcome relief. Smart casual is usually all that’s required, both in the day and the evening – the emphasis is definitely on feeling comfortable.

“You can, however, don your finery at the welcome dinner on-board, or at the Captain’s reception if you wish to. It’s always special to bring out your bling if that’s your style, but on river cruises that’s going to be cocktail frocks rather than full-length gowns. Swimwear isn’t ever encouraged in the dining room by the way, with sleeveless vests and restaurants never a comfortable pairing.”

On-Shore Dress Suggestions

With city visits and cultural excursions at the heart of the Emerald Waterways experience, we want our guests to make the very most of these opportunities, and that includes dressing for the occasion. Whilst exploring enchanting cities and regions of outstanding beauty, comfort is key so picking the right clothing is important.

A comfortable pair of walking shoes is an absolute must, whether you’re undertaking an EmeraldACTIVE hike or enjoying a relaxing tour around the canals of Amsterdam. Appropriate clothing for the destinations visited is recommended, and our on-board team can keep you updated with the weather expected for upcoming port calls. Waterproofs are highly recommended, so a potential downpour does not spoil any excursion or city visit.  

Our good friend, Telegraph contributor and cruise writer extraordinaire, Jane Archer, echoes these sentiments: “By day, the important thing is to be comfortable. High heels are a bad idea for walking ashore as cobbled streets are ubiquitous in Europe’s towns and cities. Summers get hot so be prepared with shorts, light dresses and t-shirts, conversely autumn and winter are chilly so a warm coat, hat and gloves are a must.”

Additionally, our river cruise itineraries visit some of the most wonderful shopping destinations on the continent. Explore the delightful Mariahilfer Straße in Vienna, taking in the exciting boutiques hidden by the bigger department stores, or the famous Váci Street in Budapest, home to designer flagships galore.

Difference Between River and Ocean Cruise Dress Codes

Ocean cruise lines often follow the maxim that ‘bigger is better’, from the size of the vessels to the eye-watering buffet options available throughout the day. And this continues through to the dress codes, with many lines imposing strict rules about what their guests should and should not wear. Particularly on Captain’s Dinner and other formal nights, tuxedos and cocktail dresses are often the order of the day. Admittedly, some ocean cruisers are ditching the dress code altogether in a bid to bring more families on board, with shorts and vests becoming a regular sight at the dinner table.

River cruise dress codes tend to be placed comfortably in the middle of these two extremes, with the smart-casual suggestion pairing sophistication with comfort.

For a full selection of river cruise itineraries from Emerald Waterways, head over to our homepage or call our helpful sales team on 0808 301 4705.   


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