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Emerald Waterways – Dress Code, What To Wear.

I was invited by Emerald Waterways to join them on a cruise from Arles to Lyon onboard the Emerald Libertie. This was my first river cruise and I was completely blown away by the entire experience. Prior to the cruise, I researched the dress codes onboard but still packed things I didn’t need.

What Is The Dress Code On Emerald Waterways Cruises?

Emerald Waterways ships have a ‘smart casual’ evening dress code. This, of course, varies for each guest but generally speaking most men wear a collared shirt and women wear a dress or trouser/blouse combination.

I packed LOTS for the cruise that I didn’t end up wearing because I didn’t know what I would need. During this post, I will share what I wore/saw other guests wearing so you can be best prepared for your cruise.

Emerald Waterways Dress Code Excursions Viviers

Above is a photo of me on the included excursion that we took to Viviers. Since returning from the cruise I washed the t-shirt with lots of other things which are now pink, doh!

What is the Day Time Dress Code?

Daywear on-board the Emerald Waterways ships is casual, but not too casual. – Emerald Waterways

Okay, let’s explain the above comment. There is no specific dress code for daytime onboard. During the day most guests in the lounge would be wearing shorts/t-shirts and guests on the top deck might be sitting around in swimwear. Emerald Waterways want their guests to be comfortable.

One of my favourite things about the river cruise I took was how lovely all of the other guests were. On some ocean cruises, I feel as though others are judging what I chose to wear, especially on formal nights, but this isn’t the case on river cruises. The atmosphere is generally very friendly and relaxed.

Emerald Waterways River Cruise Dress Code

Above is an example of what I would wear for a typical day onboard. This outfit would be fine for having a drink in the lounge or going to lunch in the main dining room.

What is the Dress Code for Dinner?

It’s worth noting that the dress code is the same every day of the cruise. Emerald Waterways don’t have ‘formal’ nights. Below is a photo of me having a pre-dinner drink.Emerald Waterways Dress Code Lounge Dinner Drinks

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.

I didn’t see any men wearing jackets or ties during our cruise. This may be because we were cruising in the south of France in June and it was pretty warm! You wouldn’t look out of place if you wanted too though.

Dress Code For Men: Men generally speaking wear a shirt and trousers/chinos. That said, most men weren’t wearing what I would call traditional plain shirts, they were wearing checkered shirts, plaid shirts and polo shirts.

Emerald Waterways Dress Code Men Shirt Polo

Above is a photo of Jono at dinner. He wore polo shirts most nights and occasionally wore a regular shirt. A few other men onboard were wearing polo shirts so don’t worry if you want to wear this instead of an actual shirt. It’s totally fine!

We were passing through a lock at the time of the photo above, that is why there is just a wall outside. The views normally are nicer than that!  

Dress Code For Women: Most women onboard wore a dress or shirt/blouse for dinner. Trousers would also be acceptable.  As far as shoes go, sandals, flats or heels would be fine. I rarely saw anybody wearing heels but you wouldn’t look out of place if you did. I heard a quote recently which said that ‘it is impossible to be overdressed, people will either think you’ve come from somewhere better or are going somewhere better’ – I like that!

Emerald Waterways Dress Code Top Deck Dress

Above is an example of a dress that I would wear to dinner. Maxi dresses didn’t look out of place although most people onboard tended to wear dresses which were what I’d call ‘midi’ perhaps to the knee. As long as your dress wasn’t REALLY short you definitely wouldn’t have a problem.

What Should I Wear On Excursions?


The most important thing you can pack, by a million miles, is a pair of comfortable shoes! Comfortable shoes doesn’t mean expensive shoes either. My most comfortable pair of trainers (sneakers) are £8 from Primark. Just make sure you test out and wear in your shoes before your cruise.

I walked over 100,000 steps during a 7-day cruise. You, of course, don’t have to walk this far but there is so much to see and do you might want to. Each day we took part in the included excursion, these were often walking tours. We also took part in a couple of hikes and went out for walks by ourselves.

Emerald Waterways Dress Code Shoes

I bought my FitBit charge 2 on the cruise to track my steps and I’m glad I did. I really didn’t realise I walked as far as I did! You can find the cruise tech that I always bring with me here when I cruise our on resources page here: Resources & Discounts. There is one downside to having a FitBit though. I have a dreadful FitBit tan line on my wrist!


If you’re cruising somewhere hot you’ll probably just be wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I usually prefer to walk in shorts than a dress. If you are cruising somewhere colder make sure you pack trousers (probably jeans), jumpers (sweaters) and a coat.

It’s also a good idea to bring a bag so that you can carry your phone/camera. Below is my ‘molly’ bag by Mia Tui. I have previously reviewed Mia Tui bags (I love them) and you can find my review here.

Emerald Waterways Dress Code Excursions

Welcome/Farewell Dinner

If you do want to get dressed up the welcome dinner at the start of the cruise, and farewell dinner at the end of the cruise are great chances to do so. There isn’t a strictly enforced dress code for these nights but if you were looking for an opportunity to put on something a little special this probably is it.

I decided to wear a purple dress to the farewell dinner. This was partly because it was an opportunity to dress up, and partly because it was an item of clothing that I hadn’t yet worn!

Emerald Waterways provide more information about their dress codes in the EmeraldEXPERIENCE section of their website which can be found here. 

Sensations of Lyon and Provence

Romance, spectacular historic landmarks & Roman influence, celebrate France’s past & present on this sensory journey through renowned vineyards & world-class restaurants along the Saône & Rhône rivers – Emerald Waterways. SOURCE. 

There were quite a lot of things that I didn’t know about river cruising before the trip and I definitely learnt a lot.  If you are considering a cruise with Emerald Waterways the following post should provide you with a good insight into life onboard.

Daily Cruise Diary: Emerald Waterways.

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