By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I will be going on my first Caribbean "free style cruising" in February. Dress is indicated as "from resort casual" to formal wear. I definitely think resort casual sounds more like me -- what should I be packing?

A: Since your homebase will be the same for a minimum one-week voyage this type of sojourn will completely eliminate the hassle of repacking every few days to meet your new destination. I always like to draw up a quick list before I raid my closet. The obvious items: a bathing suit, sensible shoes for day trips, flip-flops for the poolside and an evening shoe you can wear with a dress or pants. Scarves are one of my favorite accessories since they immediately dress up a tee shirt and can add a great splash of color to basic black.

Cruises for many tend to be filled with loads of pageantry and fun. It's a time when some women will pull out their glittery full-length evening gowns too. They usually save the star studded attire when meeting the captain for the Captain's Dinner.

It's great to hear that you've easily identified yourself in the casual department. However for dinners, you'll find that shorts are frowned upon so consider packing a neat pair of solid black or navy pants or perhaps a skirt.

All the major cruiseliners also have web sites, many posting the itineraries in advance so you can get a good idea on the planned evening entertainment. On one of my cruises, there were themes ranging from western to the poodle skirt fifties to swinging disco. Needless to say, many cruise lovers get right into the spirit. You might too.

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