By Heidi Allison-Shane
Packing light for a cruise vacation has always been a challenge. And considering most cruise lines now offer a greater mix of formal, informal and casual evenings at sea, it has become that much harder to choose the right clothes for a voyage.
What exactly does “resort casual” mean? How formal is “formal” dress? Does one really have to bring an evening gown or tuxedo on a cruise? Is there anyplace on board where one can dine wearing shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits?
“Proper dining attire varies from ship-to-ship, depending on the itinerary and length of the voyage,” said Bob Levinstein, president of CruiseCompete.com. “The typical one-week cruise usually has 1-2 formal nights. All major cruise ships issue a daily briefing to update their guests on what to wear during the evening hours.
“During the day, ships have more dining options than ever, from poolside snack bars to casual buffets to more traditional, sit-down meals in the dining room – all designed to meet a variety of lifestyles and tastes.”
The following summarizes the dress codes and suggestions for a number of the most popular cruise lines:
Formal dress or resort wear is required in the dining room. Proper formal attire includes a tuxedo, suit and tie, or sport coat, tie and slacks. For women, evening gowns, cocktail dresses and pantsuits are appropriate. Casual resort wear includes sport shirts and slacks, dresses, skirts and pantsuits. Shorts, t-shirts and bathing attire are not permitted in the dining room during dinner. Dress requirements for children in the dining room are the same. For those guests who do not want to dress up, the Lido restaurants are open nightly, with the exception of the last evening of the cruise, and have a more casual dress code.
During “smart casual” dining evenings, guests should dress as they would for a fine restaurant at home. This includes pants and open-neck shirts for mean, and skirts/dresses, slacks and sweaters for ladies. T-shirts, shorts, halter tops and jeans are not permitted in the dining room and shoes must be worn at all times. Formal evenings in the dining room require a tuxedo, slacks with dinner jacket, or suit for men. Women should wear evening gowns and cocktail dresses.
Holland America Line
Comfortable, relaxed clothing is appropriate for designated “casual” evenings. This includes jackets and optional ties for men, and dresses or pantsuits for women. T-shirts, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are not allowed in the dining room, Pinnacle Grill, Lido Restaurant or public areas during evening hours. Swimwear is suitable for dining at the Terrance Grill near the pool. On formal evenings, suits and tuxedos are suggested for men, although jackets
and ties are welcome; women wear cocktail dresses and gowns.
The Crystal dress code applies to all public areas of the ship after 6 p.m. Proper attire for formal evenings includes dresses and gowns of fashionable length for ladies, and a tuxedo, dinner jacket or dark suit and tie for gentlemen. Infomal attire is appropriate for most nights on board the ship.
For ladies, evening dresses, cocktail dresses or pantsuits are fine. Men should wear sport coats and slacks, with ties optional. Casual nights are based on days in port and the time of departure. On casual evenings, more relaxed attire is appropriate, including casual dresses and pantsuits for women, sport shirts and slacks for men. Jackets and ties are not required.
Whether an intimate table for two or an elaborate table for many, appropriate attire is part of the overall evening dining experience on Celebrity cruises.
Formal night attire includes a tuxedo, dinner or dark suit for men and evening gown or fancy dress for ladies. Informal nights feature a jacket and tie with slacks for guys and informal dress or pants and blouse for ladies. Gentlemen are welcome to wear a sport shirt and slacks, while ladies can wear a pantsuit or sporty outfit, on casual nights. Specialty restaurant dining requires a jacket and tie for men and dress or pants and blouse for women every night. Jeans, shorts and casual daywear are allowed in all dining venues before 6 p.m.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Shipboard attire on Regent Seven Seas Cruises ranges from informal wear to “Country Club” casual to formal attire. Country club casual (resort-style attire) is fine for daytime on board the ship and ashore, but shorts are not appropriate after 6 p.m. in any of the public rooms or lounges. Depending on the itinerary, evening attire also can be country club casual, informal (sport coat and tie recommended for men), or formal (black tie optional). The dress code for Alaska, Bermuda and Tahiti sailings is always country club casual. Bathing suits and beachwear is not allowed in the restaurants at any time.
The Yachts of Seabourn
Guests aboard the luxury ships of Seabourn experience the special atmosphere of formal evenings and the more informal ambiance of other nights. On formal nights, tuxedos and dark suits are appropriate for men; evening gowns or other formal attire are recommended for women. Elegant casual evenings feature slacks with a jacket over a sweater or shirt for men; sundresses, skirts or pants with a sweater or blouse for women. Casual wear is welcomed in the Veranda Café on evenings when dinner is served there. This includes slacks and a sweater or shirt for gentlemen; skirts or slacks with a sweater or blouse for women.
“Dining on a cruise ship is unlike any other vacation experience,” said Steven Gelfuso, president of CruiseBrothers.com. “During a typical cruise, people have many choices and can dress accordingly. Most guests relish the idea of dressing up on formal nights for an evening or two of world-class food and entertainment at sea, while other nights they may feel more comfortable in a more casual dining setting. Either way, each night of a cruise is memorable.”