What to Wear on A Nile Cruise For Women

When you’re going to Egypt for the first time, excitement takes hold – but deciding what to wear on a Nile Cruise can be incredibly difficult.

A Nile Cruise is unlike a standard Caribbean, Mediterranean or Alaskan cruise. It has different standards, a different ship type, and generally different lengths. And they have a very different dress code.

Amanda Plewes at Abu Simbel in long pants and a tshirt

What to Wear in Egypt

First and foremost, recognize that Egypt is a fairly conservative country. Uncovered women are generally very noticeable on the streets, no matter how conservative the dress. You are likely to be catcalled.

One great aspect of a Nile Cruise is that you will spend most of your time in a tour group with an Egyptian (male, generally) guide. This helps mitigate much of the catcalling, but it doesn’t mitigate the stares.

You’ll generally want to be covered, with clothes that aren’t too revealing. However, it is recognized that tourists are held to a different standard – so when you wear more revealing clothes, it’s fine. It will just increase the gawking.

Depending on which season you go, you’ll want to be prepared for heat. Egypt is almost always warm, with incredible heat through the summer months. In the winter, it can get quite cold. You’ll want to make sure to have something at night. Even in the summer, if you’re on the Nile, it can get a smidge chilly outside.

One thing I absolutely loved was my Lululemon Vinyasa Scarf. It was a great blanket on the airplane, it snaps into a vest, it works well to cover shoulders for temples, and it was a great scarf.

Amanda Plewes in a maxi skirt and t-shirt in Egypt

What to Wear for Pictures in Egypt

When you’re visiting Egypt, and especially taking a Nile Cruise, you’ll want memories to last a lifetime – and perfect Instagrams! When you’re packing for Egypt, keep in mind that the sunlight in Egypt is very harsh.

White shirts and flowy khaki pants are great options for the “safari” look. If you want something bolder, bright colors stand out well against the sands of Egypt. Maxi dresses have a fun and ephemeral look.

Plan to go with plain colors – prints can get busy and detract from the beauty of you and your surroundings. And remember your surroundings – pick clothes that breathe well and are wicking, because sweat stains never look good in pictures.

When it comes to accessories, it can be fun to save some of your budget for the cheap prop souvenirs you’ll find. Yes, you’ll get ripped off, but having that perfect gold headdress can be a great memory!

Amanda Plewes in leggings and a racerback at Hatshepsut Temple

What to Wear on a Nile Cruise

While you’re on the cruise boat, the dress code is much more relaxed than outside the boat. You’ll want to wear a cover-up on your way to the pool, but there’s no need for a burqini! The pool will be filled with all foreigners, so a bikini is definitely ok, but a tasteful one-piece can be a great idea too.

For dinner, you’ll want to wear something nice-ish. There are no “formal nights” or other theme nights on Nile Cruises, so you can just go with resort casual. Slacks are fine, as are dresses. Bare shoulders are acceptable in the cruise dining room, so feel free to wear what you feel good in.

During the day, at breakfast, and at lunch, shorts and a t-shirt are absolutely fine to wear.

One highly recommended item is a convertible skirt. It can be a skirt for sightseeing, or a dress for dinner, or a pool cover-up. It’s a multi-function item you can get a lot of mileage out of.

Amanda Plewes at Karnak Temple with a Columbia Tamiami shirt over a racerback

Is It OK To Wear Shorts on a Nile Cruise?

It’s generally recommended to at least keep your knees covered while out and about in Egypt. I wore capri-length yoga pants quite a lot, and felt fine in them. I also wore a maxi shirt and longer pants.

You will be stared at no matter what, but the hissing could get a lot worse if you’re in booty shorts! If you’re on the boat, feel free to wear shorts.

Amanda Plewes in a swimsuit on the top deck of a Nile Cruise

Is it OK to have Bare Shoulders While on a Nile Cruise?

As with shorts, when you’re on the boat, it’s pretty much a free-for-all. You can wear whatever you like. When you’re out sightseeing, it’s a good idea to have a button-up shirt to throw on over your top if you’re in a place bare shoulders make you uncomfortable.

I wore a lot of shoulder-baring tops while in Egypt, and I didn’t think it was quite as noticeable as shorts would have been. I loved my Columbia shirt to throw on over my outfits.

Amanda Plewes in front of a Nile Cruise boat

Should Women Cover Their Hair While on a Nile Cruise?

When foreign women are in Egypt, they aren’t expected to cover their hair. However, it can make you feel more comfortable and reduce some level of staring. Note that even if you cover your hair, it’s unlikely you’ll blend in with the locals. So you’ll still get catcalled, hissed at, and other fun.

You won’t want to or need to cover your hair while on the cruise boat, but it’s up to you on what makes you more comfortable off of the boat.

Is it Easy to Buy Clothes There?

Generally speaking, you’ll want to plan to pack all the clothes you want to wear on your Nile Cruise. The styles in Egypt in incredibly different, as is the sizing. Clothes aren’t sold as a souvenir like they are in Cambodia or Thailand. You generally won’t find women’s styles sold in the markets. Also, it’s likely you won’t have a ton of time at the stops to shop. (Unless it’s the alabaster or perfume places your guide takes you to!)

However, plan to buy jewelry and accessories there! (But know it’s cheap crap that won’t last, but will be fun for pictures!)

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A Guide to What to Wear on a Nile Cruise

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