One of the most frequent questions I get asked when trying to arrange the right cruise for my clients is regarding dress codes. Some are still under the impression that all cruise lines are overly formal and likewise some believe certain cruise lines have let standards slip when it comes to attire on board.
I have outlined below guidelines relating to some of the most popular cruise lines, I hope this helps. Please do be aware, however, there are no fashion police on board and these are guidelines/recommendations only. I must just make clear though that turning up to the main restaurant in a pair of ‘speedos’ is a definite no-no.
The Code: Celebrity’s website states that you’ll need two types of evening clothes for a cruise. Most nights are “Smart Casual and Above,” meaning sports shirts and slacks for men, while women will be comfortable in skirts or pants and blouses, or casual dresses. On “evening chic” nights, both men and women may prefer more dressy attire, though it is not required. Nor are jackets and ties required for men.
Number of Evening Chic nights: Cruises of four to six nights have one evening chic night, those of seven- to 11-night cruises have two, and those with 12 or more nights have three.
Nightly Casual Option: Casual dining is offered most nights on every cruise, depending upon the itinerary, and it’s served in the International Marketplace, outdoor grill, the AquaSpa Cafe and Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria.
Written Restrictions and Jeans: T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, tank tops, caps and poolwear are not allowed in the main or specialty restaurants. Shorts and flip-flops are not allowed during evening hours. As long as jeans don’t have holes, rips or tears, they are permitted in the main dining room any night of the cruise.
The Code: Cunard‘s dress code policy is arguably the most formal at sea and their passengers love this about the line. Two codes are in operation — formal and informal, which applies in the main areas of the ship after 6.00 p.m. everyday. This means tuxedo, dark suit or kilt and bow tie or tie for men and evening gown or cocktail dress for women on formal nights. Informal nights also require men to wear a jacket, although tie is optional.
Number of formal nights: Four formal nights are typical of an eight-night transatlantic crossing, this usually includes two black tie and two themed nights, such as Roaring Twenties and Black and White. Other themes include Masquerade, Hawaiian and Valentine’s, among others, and vary depending on itinerary.
Nightly Casual Option: Passengers opting for informal dress can dine and relax in the Kings Court buffet and Carinthia Lounge on Queen Mary 2; the Lido and Garden Lounge on Queen Elizabeth and the Lido and Winter Garden on Queen Victoria.
Written Restrictions and Jeans: Jeans are not permitted, even on informal nights
Norwegian Cruise Line
The Code: Norwegian has no formal dress code. Cruise casual is acceptable most of the time and includes summer and casual dresses, skirts, regular or capri pants, shorts, jeans and tops for women, and khakis, jeans, shorts and casual shirts for men. For dinner, collared shirts and pants or “nice” jeans are suggested for men, and slacks or jeans, dresses, skirts, and tops are standard for women. Suggested dress applies to dinner in all restaurants, although upscale specialty restaurants like Cagney’s and Le Bistro do require passengers to dress a bit more formally. Referred to as smart casual, this includes slacks or jeans, dresses, skirts and tops for women, and jeans or slacks with collared shirts and closed-toed shoes for men.
Number of Formal Nights: There are no official formal nights, but “Norwegian’s Night Out” is the line’s freestyle (and optional) version of a formal night. Cruisers might also want to pack an all-white ensemble for the line’s signature White Hot or Glow parties.
Nightly Casual Option: It’s all casual, save for fancier specialty dining venues (specified above).
Written Restrictions and Jeans: Swimwear is fine at the buffet and outdoor restaurant — so long as you put on a cover-up. Jeans in the main dining room and specialty restaurants are acceptable as long as they aren’t overly faded, with holes or tears, or worn below the hips. Tank tops for men, flip-flops, baseball caps and visors are not permitted in the main dining room or any of the specialty restaurants.
The Code: From 2016, P&O Cruises simplified its dress code to “evening casual” and black tie. Black-tie attire includes a dinner jacket, tuxedo, a dark suit or kilt and jacket for men and a ball gown, trouser suit or cocktail dress for women. Evening casual attire includes optional jacket and tie for men and anything from tailored trousers to smart separates or an elegant dress for women.
Number of Formal Nights: There are typically four black tie nights on a 14-night cruise.
Nightly Casual Option: If you’re not inclined to dress up for formal evenings, P&O Cruises has you covered with casual dining venues on its ships, including the buffet and deck bars.
Written Restrictions and Jeans: On casual nights, trainers, shorts, football shirts and tracksuits are not permitted; smart jeans are acceptable. In the evening, the dress code applies to all restaurants and bars. In addition, swimwear is never permitted in the lounges, indoor bars, restaurants or reception area. A shirt and footwear is always required inside the ship and at the buffets.
The Code: Princess has formal and smart casual nights. Formal attire is tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits for men and evening gowns, cocktail dresses or elegant pantsuits for women. Smart casual attire includes pants and open-neck shirts for men and skirts or dresses, slacks and sweaters for women.
Number of Formal Nights: Four- to six-night cruises have one formal evening; seven- to 13-night cruises have two; 14- to 20-night cruises have three; 21- to 28-night cruises have four; cruises of 29 nights or more have a minimum of five. Short voyages (three to six days) have a “Dress to Impress” night — not technically a formal night, but a notch above day wear.
Nightly Casual Option: Passengers wishing to avoid the dressy evenings and still eat dinner can head to the casual buffet venue.
Written Restrictions and Jeans: In the dining room, items such as cutoff T-shirts, shorts and halter tops are not permitted; shoes must be worn at all times. Jeans are permitted as long as they aren’t fraying and don’t have holes.
Royal Caribbean International
The Code: Royal Caribbean has formal, smart casual and casual nights. Formal attire includes suits and ties or tuxedos for men and cocktail dresses for women. Smart casual attire includes jackets and ties for men and dresses or pantsuits for women. Casual attire includes sport shirts and slacks for men and sundresses or pantsuits for women.
Number of Formal Nights: Three-, four- and five-night cruises have one formal night; six- to 11- and 13-night cruises have two formal nights; and 12-night, 14-night and longer cruises have three formal nights.
Nightly Casual Option: The Windjammer cafe is the laid-back evening choice — though tank tops and caps are not allowed during dinner.
Written Restrictions and Jeans: No caps, tank tops or bathing suits are permitted in the dining room. Shorts are not allowed during dinner. “Tasteful” jeans (with no blemishes, tears or mis-sizing) are permissible, according to a Royal Caribbean spokesperson.
The Code: Marella Cruises operates an informal dress code, except for the Captain’s Gala Reception, when a dinner jacket, tuxedo or a suit and tie is required by men and a cocktail or evening dress for women. Otherwise, it is smart casual and for men that means full length trousers and a polo or open-necked shirt. For women it means two-pieces, casual or elegant dresses.
Number of Formal Nights: There is one formal night per seven-night cruise.
Nightly Casual Option: The line’s buffet restaurants are open all-day long for passengers who prefer more casual dress.
Written Restrictions and Jeans: Light-coloured jeans are not permitted in the main dining restaurant in the evening.
The Code: “Casual resort wear” is appropriate, except for formal evenings when men are required to put on suits or jackets and ties, and women cocktail dresses. In addition, passengers who would like to participate in theme nights are encouraged to dress according to a specific theme. Examples include White Night, Tropical Night or 60s/70s/80s Night.
Number of Formal Nights: There’s one formal night on four- to six-night cruises, two on seven- to nine-night cruises, three on 10- to 14-night cruises and four on cruises of 15 nights or longer.
Nightly Casual Option: The standard Lido buffet (and room service) will serve passengers seeking a more low-key dining experience.
Written Restrictions and Jeans: After 6 p.m., jeans, T-shirts and shorts are not permitted in the ships’ public areas. No swimwear is allowed in main dining rooms. Jeans are allowed on casual resort wear nights, as long as they aren’t torn or ripped.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Line
The Code: In 2013 Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines scrapped its informal dress code in favour of just two options: Smart casual and formal. Formal dress means tuxedo or dark suit for men and cocktail or evening dress for women. The smart casual dress code welcomes a more relaxed feel, with men free to wear a jacket and tie or, if they prefer, an open-neck shirt with chinos or smart, dark-coloured jeans. For women, the choice is elegant dress or smart two piece.
Number of Formal Nights: There are typically three formal nights on a two-week cruise. On Caribbean cruises, the dress code usually comprises three formal nights, two themed nights (such as tropical or rock ‘n’ roll) and the rest smart casual nights.
Nightly Casual Option: Palms Cafe on Balmoral and Braemar, The Secret Garden Cafe on Boudicca and Garden Cafe on Black Watch are open for those passengers wishing to stay with casual dress in the evening.
Written Restrictions and Jeans: No swimwear is ever allowed in the dining room.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages
The Code: Cruise & Maritime Voyages operates a relaxed “casual at passenger discretion” dress code policy, which usually applieson embarkation day and the night before disembarking, plus when the ship is in a port. On formal nights the line recommends a suit or smart jacket and trousers, with or without a tie, for men and a cocktail dress, trouser suit or stylish co-ordinates for women.
Number of Formal Nights: There are two formal, or gala, nights on every Cruise & Maritime Voyages cruise.
Nightly Casual Option: Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ buffet restaurants offer casual dining for guests who prefer casual attire.
Written Restrictions and Jeans: The line request that guests do not wear shorts or vests in the main restaurants. There is no written restriction on jeans.
I hope this helps and clears up some of the questions you may have. I would be interested to hear your opinion on dress codes – a valid addition to the whole cruise experience or should you be able to wear exactly what you want when you want on your own holiday?
Bye for now.