Costume Cruisers

I have been cruising since I was a kid with my parents. My family always liked to participate in many of the zany activities on board the ship. One event we never missed was the 1970’s cruise ship tradition of the costume contest. While that costume tradition has long since gone by the wayside, there are still some other opportunities to wear a costume on a cruise ship: Halloween, Theme Parties, and Talent Shows.

In the 70’s, on several cruise lines, including Costa, Carnival and Holland America, the cruise director would host a costume contest in the show lounge. Usually, the costumed contestants would stand off stage and have an opportunity one by one on stage to present their costume and explain what it meant. Two ladies improvise costumes with toilet seats (their cabin attendant got them from who knows where?) and toilet paper sashes reading “First Seating” and “Second Seating.” Another guy wore his suit coat, shirt, tie, and breifs with no pants and explained he was the “absent minded professor”. Our family would always wear our most recent dance recital costumes, which seemed pretty boring until my Dad would come out in full ballet attire complete with tutu. We had a lot of fun in those contests and some how we always managed to pack those ridiculous costumes.

Cruising has change in many ways since the seventies, and with the advent of bigger and better ships, the fun but hokey events like passenger costume contests have pretty much disappeared, except on the once a year Halloween cruises. Though not included on every line, many cruise lines still provide an opportunity for cruisers to dress in a costume on Halloween. I had some friends who all cruised together and decided to dress up as “Gilligan’s Island.” Their costumes included all the characters and even one “SS Minnow” costume. While costumes weren’t required for the evening, quite a few of their fellow cruisers also dressed up. Also, a few of the ship’s crew and entertainment staff wore costumes to provide for photo opportunities.

Cruise ship’s also often have theme parties. While most of the time a tropical shirt or just a regular outfit is perfectly acceptable, we have joined in the fun by dressing up. We dressed in in letter man sweaters and poodle skirts for several of our cruise’s “50’s and 60’s” parties. Since we are a bit younger than the 50’s and 60’s generation, we got many wonderful positive comments from our fellow cruisers for getting into the spirit of the party. It certainly made the kids feel like they were more a part of the event.

Finally, I am actually crazy enough to pack costumes for the talent show. Mostly, I have packed them for the kids, but when I have had enough room I have thrown some costumes in the suit case for myself. When we took a cruise out of San Diego to Mexico, we were able to drive to the port and I could bring many extra suitcases. My kids and I all take Mexican Folklorico dance lessons, so I packed costumes for all of us wear in the family talent show. These costumes had huge circle skirts and even braided hair pieces. When we have flown I have packed much smaller costumes and just the kids dance shoes.

With all the baggage restrictions on the airlines these days it may not be practical to pack a costume, but if you have room in you luggage and think you may have an opportunity to wear it, you may have more cruise fun in your costume and be the life of the party.