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Emerald River Cruises – Dress Code, What To Pack And What To Wear.

I was invited by Emerald to join them on a river cruise from Arles to Lyon onboard the Emerald Liberte.

This was my first ever 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 River Cruises?

Emerald’s 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 of clothes for this river cruise that I didn’t end up wearing. I didn’t know what I would need.

During this post, I will share what I wore and saw other guests wearing so you can be best prepared for your cruise.

Emerald Waterways Dress Code Excursions Viviers
An included excursion to Viviers

What is the Day Time Dress Code?

This is what Emerald Cruises says regarding dress codes:

‘We recommend casual and comfortable clothing – for sightseeing and walking tours you’ll need comfortable shoes. For the winter months, you’ll need a warm coat, gloves and water-resistant footwear. Dinner is an informal affair; relaxed evening wear is perfect. On certain evenings, such as the Welcome and Farewell Dinners, you might like to dress up.’


There is no specific dress code for daytime onboard.

When I was onboard the weather was good. 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 want their guests to be comfortable when they cruise.

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 choose to wear, especially on formal nights.

This just wasn’t the case on this river cruise. 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.

Shorts 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 doesn’t have ‘formal’ nights as such. They say you may wish to dress up at Welcome and Farewell Dinners – but it isn’t obligatory.

.Emerald Waterways Dress Code Lounge Dinner Drinks

Emerald operates a smart-casual dress code for evening meals and entertainment.

A choice of open-neck shirts with slacks/trousers or dresses are appropriate for the elegant surroundings on board the Emerald 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 to wear a jacket or tie though.

Dress Code For Men

Men generally speaking wear a shirt and trousers or 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 too, so don’t worry if you want to wear this instead of an actual shirt. It’s totally fine!

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:

‘it is impossible to be overdressed, people will either think you’ve come from somewhere better or are going somewhere better’

A favourite quote – source unknown!
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 wouldn’t have a problem...

The bag in the picture above is a Mia Tui bag.

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My Favourite Bags – Mia Tui

I bought my first Mia Tui bag in 2017 and I've not used another brand since. They come with me on every cruise and are FANTASTIC. They are beautiful, almost indestructible and have so many pockets and useful parts.

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What Should I Wear On Excursions?


The most important thing you can pack is a pair of comfortable shoes!

Comfortable shoes don’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


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

For further ideas on what to take off of the ship with you when you go ashore, check out this article next. Whether river cruising or ocean cruising, it is best to be prepared:

Getting Off The Cruise Ship in Port – What To Expect, What To Take – And Other Useful Hints and Tips For A Successful Day Out!

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 on their website – which can be found here. 

Emerald Also Offer Luxury Yacht Ocean Cruises

In 2022 Emerald launched their first super yacht, Emerald Azzurra. Emerald Sakara followed in 2023.

They offer a luxury experience, with plenty of space on board.

The maximum guest numbers onboard is 100 and there is a crew of 76.

They are able to offer an excellent level of personal service throughout the cruise.

Dress Codes on Emerald Yachts

Dress codes on Emerald Yachts are very casual.

No shorts or vest tops are allowed in the dining room in the evening, apart from that, anything really goes…

Emerald Azzurra ship
Emerald Azzurra Ship

Sail the serene seas of the Mediterranean & Adriatic or explore the exotic harbours of the Caribbean & Central America on board a luxury yacht cruise
A yacht cruise provides the ultimate getaway for rest and relaxation. Swimming in luxury, you’ll want for nothing on board our award-winning vessels, with delectable meals, fascinating ports of call, and ample room to unwind in any way you see fit. Relish in the full luxury yacht cruising experience with a pampering session at the Elements Spa and swim stops in dazzling azure waters.

Emerald Cruises

I was lucky enough to be invited on to Emerald Azzurra. To find out all about that amazing trip, watch this video next:

Emerald Azzurra Super Yacht

Before You Go

I recently took a more budget river cruise with Tui from Budapest. They are far cheaper than most river cruise companies, and I wondered how it would compare to other river cruises.

Find out what is included on a Tui river cruise, and what I thought of it here:

Are TUI River Cruises All-Inclusive?  Your Guide to What is Included.

Find out why most river cruises are so expensive compared to Ocean cruises in the article below:

Why Are River Cruises EXPENSIVE? – The Truth Behind The Price

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.