What to Wear at Sea – Understanding Cruise Line Dress Codes

Back in the old fashioned days of cruising, on all first class ocean liners formal dress was required after 6pm in all public rooms. This meant that the men wore white tie garb and ladies were decked out in evening gowns. However, when modern cruising became popular in the 1960s, the new budget cruise lines appealed to a different type of holiday-goer who didn’t necessarily own formal dress. These major ships began organising both formal and informal evenings and throughout the decades up to the 90s cruise lines started to loosen up the dress codes.

Although many cruise ship passengers prefer to be comfortable in their casual clothes, many others still prefer the old fashioned elegance of getting dressed up for dinner. There is something to be said about the experience of “fine dining” and feeling elegant and polished while enjoying a nice meal.

These days, some cruise lines will have a strict dress code while others will have a more informal atmosphere. Before you go on a cruise, it is important to do a little bit of research into the dress code so that you will know what to pack with you. On some cruise lines, you will actually be refused entry to the dining room if you are not wearing the appropriate attire. Even if you are not refused entry, you will still feel out of place if you are underdressed and you will get a lot of awkward stares from the other cruise passengers. This is why you should choose a cruise line that suits your level of comfort and your love of getting dressed up. Do your research beforehand on sites like Cruise Sale Finder Australia to avoid disappointment.

What You Need to Know About Cruise Ship Dress Codes

When you are preparing for your cruise, there are likely to be a lot of terms and descriptions about what you should wear. What is the difference between Resort Casual, Elegant Casual and Smart Casual? Don’t get too confused by the dress codes – packing for a cruise is mostly just common sense.

If the cruise has a Formal Night, this is where the ladies should wear their most elegant and glamorous dresses. Typically, this is a long dress which is classic and timeless, rather than a short or revealing dress. Also, ladies should wear elegant jewellery. For the men, a Formal Night usually means black tie, but if you absolutely can’t manage black tie then usually a dark coloured suit will be fine.

An Informal Dress code is one step below Formal, but still classier than Casual. For men, this means that they should wear dress slacks, a shirt and a jacket. A tie can also be worn as well. Jeans are usually not acceptable in this dress code. For the ladies, an Informal Dress code means that you should wear something dressy and elegant – but not your most opulent ball gown.

The next level below this is Casual. This usually means a nice sport shirt and slacks for the men and smart separates for the ladies. This doesn’t mean cut-off jeans, crop tops, jogging suits, football shirts or swimsuits worn in the dining room. The idea is to wear something that is stylish and would be appropriate in a nice restaurant, but not necessarily glamorous. Keep in mind that some of the luxury cruise lines will not approve of denim jeans, as they are considered too casual.

Keep in mind that beachwear is never appropriate for indoor dining, so don’t try to wander into the buffet in your swimsuit and grab a bite. Not only will it be frowned upon by the cruise ship, it is a matter of courtesy to the other diners.

Of course, last but not least you should consider what you plan to wear while you are in port. It’s important to keep in mind that in some countries conservative dress is necessary to respect the locals, especially for women. Make sure that you do your research before you go.

With these considerations in mind, packing your clothes for a cruise isn’t as intimidating as you might think. With the right clothes with you, it is easy to look perfect for every occasion and enjoy a fun cruising experience.

Ryan Posa used to be the District Sales Manager for Carnival Australia before he set up Cruises Online, now Cruise Republic which he spearheads as General Manager. During his career he has seen the exotic and beautiful. He enjoys blogging about his travel experiences to help others nurture their own travel fever. You can follow Ryan on Twitter.

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