Cruise Lifestyle

Cruise packing: What to wear on your cruise to Dubai

Dubai has quickly become one of the most popular winter cruise destinations in the world. With a spectacular blend of ancient and modern through marvelous feats in architecture, fashion and luxury, it is not hard to understand why Dubai is next on the list of many people.

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With tall skyscrapers, luxury resorts, and restaurants, Dubai is like every modern city. However, culture and traditions are still very deeply rooted in the heart of this beautiful city.

Dubai is a city in the UAE, which is a Muslim country. The majority of the locals are Muslim and dress conservatively.

This is why it is important for cruise tourists to keep in mind how they choose to present themselves during their stay so that they can enjoy themselves and still be respectful to the locals.

Dubai is by far the most liberal of all cities in the region, however, there are a few rules you should keep in mind when you visit.

What to Wear in Summer and Fall

The period from April to October can be scorching hot, with temperatures rising to 50⁰C, which is why few cruise ships call during these months. Loose-fitting clothes that cover your arms and legs and hats for sun protection are ideal for this weather.

Also, remember to be generous with the sunscreen. Despite the heat, carry a stole or light jacket because it can be very cool indoors like the mall due to the air-conditioning.

What to Wear in Winter

Though winter in Dubai and the wider UAE is relatively warmer, especially during the day, the evenings and nights can be quite cold, so be sure to pack sweaters, jeans and jackets if you plan to cruise here between November and March (the peak season for cruises, incidentally).

Al Seef, Dubai Creek

What to Wear to Public Places

In public places like malls, parks, cafés and festivals where people tend to gather, you can generally wear casual attire, but try to dress modestly. Strapless tops and sleeveless t-shirts and so are generally fine, although tank tops are not.

Some malls have strict policies about dress codes and you would want to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation where the security could come up to you and ask you to cover up.

Generally avoid exposing cleavage or your midriff. If you are wearing a tank top or similar clothing, carry a light jacket or shawl to cover yourself.

Also, avoid wearing sheer dresses where your lingerie is visible and low fitting jeans that show your underwear. Body fitting clothes are generally acceptable.

Although it may seem like women’s attire is more closely scrutinized than men (and to an extent it is), even men must not wear outfits that show their chest and knees.

Ideal outfits for such outings include t-shirts, shirts with long sleeves, jumpsuits, trousers, maxi, and midi dresses.

The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

What to Wear to the Mosque

When visiting religious sites, it is important to be covered.

Women should wear headscarves in these places (one will be provided), and you should try to dress in such a way that upper arms and the full length of your legs are covered.

Oftentimes, the mosque provides abayas (for females) and kandora (for males) before letting visitors in.

Being respectful to the religious and conservative customs will enhance your visit and allow you to learn about a rich, ancient culture that turned a pearl diving village into a global metropolis in a generation.

What to Wear on Desert Safaris

The highlight of your Dubai trip will likely be a desert safari. The beauty of the desert is a one-of-a kind experience that you do not want to miss. During your safari trip, you will be partaking in lots of adventurous activities, so it is ideal to wear comfortable outfits.

Jeans, loose t-shirts, linen trousers with sneakers, flip-flops or covered shoes are the best options. It may seem like a good choice to wear tank tops or shorts because of the heat, but the temperature falls as the sun begins to set, so it is quite chilly in the afternoon.

Therefore it is best to wear long pants that cover your knees. Also, carry a light cardigan or shawl for the cooler evenings.

What to Wear at the Beach

It is perfectly normal to wear swimwear such as two-piece bikinis to the beach, but skip the Brazilian thongs and speedos because they are not suitable for public beaches. You are only permitted this swimwear at the beach or pool within a hotel’s premises.

If you are sitting at the beachside bars, cafés or promenades, make sure to wear a sundress, kaftan or maxi or tank tops, this also applies to men. As a precaution, carry a swimsuit with more coverage in case you are asked to change by the hotel or beach authorities.

If you are taking the metro to the beach, avoid wearing hot pants or transparent tops over bikinis as the metro is a public place and such behavior is frowned upon.

You should also keep in mind that nudity and sun-bathing topless is (very) illegal in Dubai.

Waterfall in Dubai Mall

What to Wear to Nightclubs and Restaurants

The nightlife in Dubai is as lively and extravagant as any major city. You may wear any outfit you choose, like jumpsuits, rompers, short dresses, skirts, tops with plunging necklines. However, some of the fancier bars may require you to wear heels or covered footwear so make sure to carry your favorite pair of heels if you plan on experiencing the nightlife.

For men, polo t-shirts, dressy shirts, dark washed jeans (not ripped), full-length trousers, and semiformal or dress shoes are ideal so that you can enter clubs with strict dress codes. Shorts and sneakers should generally be avoided.

Although it is acceptable to wear outfits of your choosing in the nightclubs and restaurants, carry a shawl or cardigan to cover up revealing outfits when in transit from one location to another.

What to Wear to the Dubai Opera

The Dubai Opera is a memorable experience if you can spare the time and expense to visit, and it’s just a ten minute ride by taxi from the cruise terminal. Dressing the part will add to the opera experience. Dresses or tops with pants and skirts with an elegant jacket or an evening gown are recommended. Men can wear a suit or shirt, trousers with a jacket and bowtie.

Basically, dress as you would for Formal Night aboard ship.

What to Wear During Ramadan

From 2024, the Holy Month of Ramadan will be observed during the Dubai cruise season. Because Ramadan starts around ten days earlier each year, it will occur during the Dubai cruise season for about ten to fifteen years from 2024.

Ramadan is the Muslim Holy Month, during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. It is a very religious and important period of the year for Muslims and visitors must be respectful to the locals during this time. Both men and women should avoid wearing tank tops, short-sleeved clothing, shorts, and plunging necklines.

Remember that during Ramadan outings, you may meet people taking iftar (the meal taken to break the fast) at malls, night markets or be invited to join for iftar. In both cases, it is advisable to dress modestly with your shoulders and knees covered.

Women can opt for a sleeved maxi dress or a long shirt with loose pants, skirts or jeans (not ripped). Men can wear a shirt or collared t-shirt with jeans or trousers but not shorts or ripped jeans.

Where to Visit In Dubai

Okay, so this isn’t about how to dress on your port call to Dubai, but this is a city of beauty and extravagance so for the average traveler, it may seem quite costly, especially if you’d like to come back and do a follow-up land-based visit.

However, you can save a good deal of money if you stay in the right hotels and visit landmarks and tourist sites at the right times.

The Broke Backpacker has a great guide about visiting Dubai on a budget (, which has very helpful tips about where to visit Dubai without straining your wallet.

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