That can become a controversial subject depending on with whom you speak. Depending on the cruise line and venue the dress codes can vary greatly. Let’s start by discussing the mainstream lines and even there break it down to specialty dining, main dining room, and the buffet and other casual dining spots. Atop that, seasonal changes occur in what is actually allowed, such as at Spring Break time a more casual atmosphere often occurs.
The main lines include the likes of Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, Costa, and MSC. These lines sail with a product offering aimed at the bulk of the general public. For that reason they end up with passengers from all walks of life. On these ships cruisers generally find many dining venues on each ship. As such it is possible to dress how you want and not be out of place if you choose the dining venue correctly.
The main dining room has suggested attire guidelines which change based on the night of the cruise. At least one night will be a formal night when you will see mostly suits and some tuxes on the men with most women in nice dresses. On the smart casual and casual nights attire is generally slacks and a shirt with a collar. Women dress in a similar style. Nice jeans are generally acceptable however t-shirts, swimwear, shorts, and other clothes are generally not acceptable. Some of the lines are stricter about the enforcement of these rules while others are only suggesting dress codes and allowing pretty much anything to happen.
In the specialty dining, the dress code which is more often enforced is either dress casual or formal. It is best to follow the dress code when in the specialty dining venues because other diners expect it. On the other end of the spectrum are the more casual venues where pretty much anything goes. Generally swimwear is unacceptable except at the pool area grilles, but shorts, t-shirts, jeans, etc…generally are acceptable in these settings.
The more upscale lines such as Cunard, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, and Azamara Club Cruises tend to have a more homogeneous grouping of passengers so they tend to already understand and many expect the dress up experience of dinner in the formal dining rooms. On these ships you find fewer venues but one that is available for those who want to skip out on getting dressed up even to a smart casual level, is room service. Just be sure you have some clothes on when it arrives.
On the upscale lines when dining in the specialty venues as well as the main dining room you will be expected to dress either smart casual to formally each night. Some of the ships even see most cruisers dressed formally every night of the cruise, so come prepared and expect that if you show up in shorts and a t-shirt that you will be turned away.
There are also Expedition cruises where dining is a totally different affair as is the dress code. On most expedition cruises casual attire is the rule of the day. Most skip formal nights altogether so it’s casual wear every night. These are general rules, it is important to see exactly what it is for your ship or yacht before you book if you want a specific atmosphere for your vacation.
River cruises are another of the types of cruises where we tend to see more casual and smart casual attire for the dining rooms. These vessels are very different than the typical oceangoing cruise ship. As such the dining room is different as well. Typically it’s less formal with a very friendly service environment. The folks cruising tend to dress nicely without getting too dressed up and expect other passengers to do the same.
Aside from dining venues, attire will vary in public areas. The more mainstream crowd on the ship, the more casual the attire overall. Some of the more luxurious lines state specifically that country club casual attire is required in any public space (other than at the gym when working out or at the pool). Thus, if appearance of all passengers is important ask your agent about the overall dressiness of the cruise.
If your dinner attire is the critical element related to what cruise you will take, please get in touch with us to discuss your desired dinner attire and what cruises meet your needs. Know that on select ships in select cabins you can eat in a robe if that is what you want, while having the food served to you one course at a time. Regardless of the dining experience you want, be sure get out there and enjoy some vacation time on a cruise.
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