One question that all new cruise travelers have is: do cruise lines have dress codes? In the past, it was expected that nearly everyone aboard a cruise ship would be wearing their finest clothes. It is far more common nowadays to see guests walking around in flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts. Despite this cultural shift, however, there are still some rules about what to wear on certain ships.
It all depends
Every cruise line has different rules, and that applies to their dress codes as well. Some cruise lines are very casual in what is expected of you while others are less lenient. The only way that you can know for sure whether your cruise line has a dress code or not is to do some research. Each line’s website will typically have a breakdown of their dress code (if they happen to have one). It should also be noted that some of the biggest lines in the world prefer to have “suggested” formal nights. That means that it would be wise to bring along some nicer clothes even if there is no dress code. You can still show up to dinner in a T-shirt and shorts, but you just might feel a bit out of place.
Most ships have a dress code that fits somewhere in the realm of “cruise casual.” Some cruise lines use different terms such as “resort casual,” but the idea is generally the same. If your cruise line expects some type of casual wear on most nights, you will be safe in sportswear and typically street clothes. The standard for men is to wear some type of collared shirt and slacks while women can wear either pants or dresses. If the dress code is any kind of casual, you won’t ever feel too out of place for dressing down or up. The expectation is to look presentable, but you can interpret that however you’d like.
Much like “cruise casual,” there are lots of terms for “cruise elegant.” No matter what term is used, just understand that cruise elegant dress codes are the more formal between the two. Sweaters, blazers, and sports coats are what men typically wear while women will don fancier dresses and blouses. Unlike casual dress codes, elegant dress codes are a bit stricter. Try to double-check if your cruise line requires elegant wear on all or some of the nights, as you don’t want to have to stay away from the fun just because you forgot your nice pants at home. It should be relatively easy to tell if your cruise line will be one with an elegant dress code, but just check the website or ask your travel agent if you’re not sure.
Dress codes may seem like a drag to some, but they can also be a fun way to get into the cruise spirit. Check your line’s dress code, pack your bags carefully, and have a great time on your cruise vacation!