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 can change and vary between different companies; 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 Cruises permit casual attire just about everywhere and at any time aboard their vessels, as most evening they allow a ‘Cruise Casual’ dress code. This can include informal attire such as t-shirts, tank tops, polo shirts and shorts as well as sun dresses for women. Families with children should be aware, however, that shoes with wheels (or Heelys) are not permitted anywhere on the ship and flip-flops, bathing suits and caps are not allowed in the main dining rooms.
Carnival’s cruise line dress codes also incorporate several ‘Cruise Elegant’ evenings, offering passengers the chance to dress up in their formal garb for a more sophisticated evening. Elegant attire is described by Carnival as dress shirts and sports coats for men alongside cocktail dresses and pant suits for women. Those who wish to stay casual even during these ‘Cruise Elegant’ nights will find that Carnival’s Lido Restaurant does not enforce a formal dress code.
Cunard Cruises have a series of dress codes across the different nights on-board. These can vary between elegant, formal and semi-formal evenings, which require guests to maintain certain dress codes in the ship’s public areas. Elegant attire entails a jacket and optional tie for men and skirts or trousers for women. On formal evenings men are expected to wear a black tie suit whilst women must don an evening dress and for semi-formal a tie and jacket for men and pant suit or cocktail dress for women will suffice.
On average, during a seven-night cruise, guests will experience three formal, two semi-formal and two elegant nights. Not all areas of the ship are bound by these dress codes, however, as casual clothing is permitted at any time within vessels’ the Lido Restaurants and King’s Court, except for shorts and swimwear, which is not permitted in any of the ship’s main eateries.
Fred.Olsen Cruises 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. For men, smart casual can be interpreted as a pair of trousers or smart, dark jeans and a polo or button-up shirt, whilst for women, smart trousers or dresses are perfectly acceptable. However, guests should also be aware that tracksuits, trainers and shorts are not allowed in any of the ship’s main restaurants.
Fred.Olsen also allows passengers the chance to dress up at their formal or theme nights. For formal nights, they suggest that men should wear a dinner jacket or suit, whilst women should have on a cocktail dress or ball gown. A variety of theme nights may also take place, including Rock ‘n’ Roll evenings and nautical nights, at which passengers can choose to dress in themed attire for a bit of fun.
Celebrity Cruises suggest that their passengers should pack three types of attire; smart casual, comfortable and formal. For the majority of evenings with Celebrity Cruises, the cruise line dress codes will be smart casual, which can include jumpers, polo shirts and trousers for men and skirts and blouses for women. It is also recommended that guests bring their most comfortable clothing for their days sightseeing on land.
Passengers will also get the chance to dress up during one of Celebrity’s fabulous formal evenings, at which men are expected to wear a tuxedo, suit or dinner jacket whilst women must wear cocktail dresses, pant suits or gowns. Also, always remember that swimwear, robes, bare feet, tank tops and baseball caps are not permitted in any of the vessel’s main restaurants.
Crystal Cruises allow their guests to wear casual clothes, including shorts and jeans, in any of the on-board lounges and dining areas up until 6pm. After 6pm, shorts and baseball caps are not allowed in these areas and the cruise line dress codes enforce either elegant casual or formal attire. Most nights will have an elegant casual dress code, which is fairly informal. Jeans are not recommended for these evenings and men should dress in a suit or slacks with a jacket or sweater whilst women should don a skirt and blouse.
Optional black tie evenings are also included within Crystal Cruises. Men are encouraged but not forced to wear a dark suit or tuxedo and women should pick out their favourite dress or gown. Once again, during formal nights, jeans are not appropriate.
Princess Cruises incorporate both smart casual and formal evenings on their voyages, whilst almost any casual wear is allowed for the duration of the day. In the ship’s restaurants and other public areas during a smart casual evening, passengers should dress appropriately, with women wearing jumpers and skirts or trousers and men wearing pants and shirts. Beach wear, caps and ripped jeans are not permitted.
During the optional formal nights women are encouraged to put on their best evening gowns and cocktail dresses, whilst men should opt for tuxedos or darks suits with a tie. Formal nights are not particularly regular and guests can expect at least one during a seven-day cruise.
Oceania Cruises keep their cruise line dress codes particularly simple and casual. Although jeans, shorts, t-shirts and trainers are not tolerated in the ship’s main eateries after 6pm, for the majority of the voyage, stringent dress codes are not enforced.
Although Oceania has no official formal evenings, guests are welcome to don their formal garments at some of the more elegant on-board restaurants, where dressing up is actively encouraged. Guests who wish to stay in their sweatpants and scruffy t-shirts late into the evening are welcome to take advantage of the room service option available across the vessel.
Although it is impossible to include the exact rules, regulations and cruise line dress codes of every cruise line within this blog, the above examples give a good overview of many cruise line’s 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.