The question of what (and what not) to wear on a cruise ship is a major concern for the modern, style-conscious traveller. Cruise line dress codes vary between different cruise lines; often leaving guests feeling confused about how they should dress, or more importantly, how everyone else will be dressed.
From formal nights and black tie evenings to swimwear and casual attire, cruise line dress codes may seem confusing at first. However, to help you avoid a fashion crisis on your next fun-filled cruise getaway, we have compiled a useful guide to the cruise line dress codes that you may encounter, on some of the most popular cruise lines out there.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line permits casual attire just about everywhere and at any time aboard their vessels, whereas in the evenings (after 5.30pm) this changes depending on where you choose to spend your time.
Your dress code can be split between Cruise Casual and Cruise Elegant, which depends on your venue of choice. Clothes which are not permitted in the dining room during the cruise casual dinner for both men and women include shorts, gym shorts, basketball shorts, beach flip-flops, bathing suit attire, cut-off jeans, sleeveless shirts for men and baseball hats.
- Women – Casual dresses, casual skirts, pants or blouses, summer dresses, capri pants, dress shorts, jeans (no cut-offs)
- Men – Casual pants, jeans (no cut-offs), dress shorts (long), collared sport shirts
- Women – Cocktail dresses, evening gowns, pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses
- Men – Dress trousers, dress shirts, sports jacket (not compulsory) suit and tie, or tuxedo also welcome
The length of your cruise determines the number of Cruise Elegant nights on-board, starting a two- to five-nights where you can have one Cruise Elegant night or six nights or more where you can have two Cruise Elegant nights.
Celebrity Cruises adopts three dress codes to make it easier for guests to know when and where to follow them. These include casual day wear, conservative resort wear and evening wear.
Casual Day Wear
This is for both on-board and onshore, where you want to feel comfortable with lightweight clothing and footwear. Items for both men and women include:
- Lightweight or cotton trousers and shorts
- Lightweight short sleeved and long sleeved shirts such as polo shirts and cotton t-shirts, a lightweight rain jacket/wind breaker and sweatshirt
Conservative Day Wear
This is applicable to visits onshore where it is appropriate (and in many cases mandatory) to dress accordingly when visiting museums, mosques, temples and churches.
- Women should wear trousers or skirts which cover the knees and long-sleeved tops
- Shorts and skirts are not acceptable in many countries
Evening wear is split into two types of dress code: Smart Casual and Evening Chic.
- Smart Casual: This is most nights of your cruise, where for women it’s a skirt, trousers or jeans with a casual top. For men, its trousers or jeans with a top that has sleeves
- Evening Chic: This is only applicable on selected nights of your cruise, with these depending on how long your sailing is for. Evening Chic for women is cocktail dresses, a skirt, trousers or smart jeans with an elegant top. For men, it’s trousers or smart jeans with a dress shirt, button-down shirt or sweater with an optional jacket or blazer.
No matter the time of day, you cannot wear t-shirts, swimsuits, tank tops, baseball caps or pool wear om the main dining room or speciality restaurants. Shorts and flip flops are fine in the daytime, but not in the evening.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages
Cruise & Maritime Voyages have three dress codes, formal, informal and casual. Throughout the day casual remains sufficient as guests can be relaxed and informal. This dress code also covers evenings spent in port or when a special event is scheduled on-board. Informal and formal dress codes come into play when gala nights are planned.
- Women should wear a fitted cardigan or jumper with jeans or trousers; smart dress and smart trainers or flats
- Men should wear a casual jumper, polo or smart shirt with trouserts, jeans or chinos and smart shoes or trainers
- Women should wear a tasteful cocktail dress with flats or heels
- Men shoud wear a lounge suit with smart shoes and an optional tie
- Women should wear a fancy, full-length dress with closed toe pumps
- Men should wear a dinner suit with polished dress shoes
Cunard cruises have a series of dress codes across the different nights on-board. From relaxing in the day to the glamour of Gala Nights, each requires guests to adhere to certain clothing.
During the day, Cunard says feel free to relax and dress as you please in all areas of the ship.
In the evenings, certain venues require smart attire. However, you can enjoy a more relaxed affair in selected bars and lounges, though guests will need to refrain from wearing torn or tattered clothing, shorts, sandals, or sleeveless t-shirts. These casual venues include King Court, Lido Buffet, Golden Lion, Casino, Carinthia Lounge, Winter Garden, Garden Lounge, Yacht Club and G32.
Gala Nights are two or three times during every seven-nights on-board your Cunard sailing, where guests are encouraged to dress their best from 6pm. These are sometimes themed, though your cruise itinerary will confirm this.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines are fairly relaxed when it comes to cruise line dress codes. The majority of evenings require smart casual clothing; with the exception of a few formal nights, when guests have the opportunity to dress up.
The dress code during the day is fairly casual, with Fred. Olsen wanting your to feel at ease, whether you’re enjoying the sea views from the deck or participating in one of the many on-board activities.
- Guests can opt for shorts, t-shirts or polo shirts, light-weight trousers and a sweater or jacket for cooler daytime temperatures
Smart causal evenings
Most evenings during your time on-board Fred. Olsen will be smart casual, so you can feel relaxed and comfortable whilst enjoying your dinner.
- Women should wear tailored trouser suits, stylish dresses, casual separates or summer dresses
- Men should wear a pair of trousers, chinos or smart white or dark jeans, coupled with a polo shirt or shirt
Some guests also prefer to wear a jacket or tie which is also fine.
Depending on the length of your sailing, there may be one or more formal evenings on-board. These are six-nights or longer and will be a chance to glam-up!
- Women should wear a cocktail-style dress, full-length ball gown or evening suit
- Men should wear a dinner jacket, dark suit and tie
On sailings of five nights or longer, Fred. Olsen also arranges a British Night. This is a chance to wave your Union Jack flag and dress in your best red, white and blue outfits as guests celebrate Britain in style. The evening includes a feast of British-themed food, music and entertainment to enjoy.
Holland America Line
Holland America’s dress code differs between Smart Casual and Gala Night wear, with most evenings looking for smart casual attire. During the day, shorts, beachwear and poolwear, distressed jeans and men’s tank tops are fine, but not permitted in the fine dining restaurants.
This event evokes the grand traditions of cruising and so guests must dress to impress! This includes collared shirts and slacks for gentlemen, and elegant dresses, skirts, or slacks for women. Jeans, shorts and t-shirts are only permitted in the casual dining restaurants.
MSC Cruises has a wide range of dress codes for their guests to adhere to and ensure they are always prepared for the various activities you could undertake during your cruise.
For everyday life on-board, guests are recommended to follow a casual dress code. MSC Cruises also advises guests to bring a pullover or shawl to help with the changes in temperatures.
For informal evenings, MSC Cruises suggests summer dresses for women and a lightweight jacket for men.
- Women should wear a dressy outfit, formal gown or cocktail dress
- Men should wear a tuxedo, dinner jacket or dark suit and tie
MSC Cruises also arranges various daytime and evening theme parties on-board. These can range from 60s or 70s floral gear to the White Party or something green, white and red for the MSC Little Italy entertainment.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line ensures that guests look their best, whether they are dressed in resort casual or decked-out for the evenings. These range from Cruise Casual to special events on-board.
- Women should wear summer and casual dresses, skirts, regular or capri pants, shorts, jeans and tops.
- Men should wear khakis, jeans, shorts and casual shirts
Please note, tank tops for men as well as flip flops, baseball caps, visors and jeans which are overly faded with holes or tears and worn below the hips are not permitted in the main dining rooms or speciality restaurants.
- Women should wear slacks or jeans, dresses skirts and tops
- Men should wear jeans or slacks with a collared shirt and closed-toe shoes
Theme nights and parties
Norwegian’s Night Out is the perfect opportunity to get dressed up for an evening of cocktails, fine dining and great entertainment. There is also a chance to don an all-white outfit with the iconic White Hot Party.
P&O Cruises have a few dress codes for either the evening or the daytime. During the evenings, the dress code varies between Black Tie and Evening Casual, whereas in the day this transitions to typical day wear.
This is your typical holiday wardrobe, including t-shirts, shorts and sundresses. When sailing with P&O Cruises, the cruise line asks for shows to be worn away from the pool and that no pool wear is allowed in the lounges, inside bars, restaurants or reception.
When you’re exploring ports of call during your sailing ensure you pack comfortable shoes, a shawl or light sweater for covering up in air-conditioned museums or when culture calls for it, as well as your sunglasses and hat!
This is the evening wear for those on-board P&O Cruises, for dressing as you would for a nice restaurant. This include smart dark denim or trousers, open-neck shirts, skirts, and dresses. If you’re in the Caribbean, tailored shorts can be worn in the buffet areas and open deck bars, but no tracksuits, football shirts, or trainers are permitted.
This is for P&O Cruises’ not-to-be-missed Gala Evenings, or Black Tie nights, and offer a chance to get glammed up in your evening wear. Cocktail dresses, tuxedos, ball gowns, dinner jackets, or dark business suit and tie are all suitable, as well as formal national dress or military uniform.
Princess Cruises incorporates both smart casual and formal evenings on their voyages, with two dress codes making it easy to differentiate between the two. Days at sea call for casual sportswear including shorts, lightweight pants, jogging suits. As for the two dress codes these include Smart Casual and Formal:
- Women to wear skirts or dresses, slacks, and sweaters
- Men to wear pants and open-neck shirts
Dinner wear such as pool or beach attire, shorts, ball caps and casual jean (with fraying and/or holes) are not welcomed in the dining rooms. Shoes must be worn.
The number of formal nights held are dependent on the length of your sailing and when these are scheduled, the dress code is as follows:
- Evening gowns and cocktail dresses for women
- Tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits with a tie for men
Royal Caribbean Cruises
Royal Caribbean’s dress code varies between three categories: Casual, Smart Casual and Formal. These vary by venue and time of day, such as:
This includes jeans, polos, sundresses and blouses. Swimwear is only to be worn at the Pool Deck, but shorts are welcomed for breakfast and lunch.
A step-up from typical dinner wear, this includes collared shirts, dresses, skirts, and blouses, or pantsuites. Jackets, sports coats and blazers are also welcomed.
There can be between 1-3 formal nights during your cruise and it’s the chance to bring out your best black tie look. This includes suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses or evening gowns.
Cruising with Saga offers a comfortable dress code on-board, ensuring everyone can enjoy themselves. Dress codes vary from formal evenings to casual, depending on the ship’s activities and time of day.
Casual and informal wear are standard on-board during the day. For dinner, keeping it smart casual is key, similar to how you would dress for a restaurant at home!
There’s typically one to two formal nights for every seven nights spend on-board Saga, where donning your glamourous outfits is required. The dress code for these evenings include long dresses, shrugs or pashminas, tuxedos and bow tie, dark suit, or dinner jacket are all fine.
Virgin Voyages is an adult-only cruise line which continues a laid-back vibe throughout all of their dining, poolside and bar venues. Their dress code simply states that they want everyone on-board to be comfortable. All they ask is for guests to wear more than a bathing suit if you go to a restaurant and to consider shoes.
Although it is impossible to include the exact rules, regulations and cruise line dress codes of every cruise line within this article, the above examples give a good overview of many cruise lines’ expectations of their guest’s attire. Nowadays, many companies are constantly relaxing their cruise line dress codes as the times and fashions change, but the vast majority still offer the chance for passengers to throw on their best attire and strut their stuff at fashionable formal evenings.
Would you like to cruise with any of the cruise lines mentioned in this post, or find out more about the dress code of a cruise line that we haven’t mentioned? Call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 1234 118 for more information.