Cruise Dress Code:
What to Wear & When

On cruises, the dress standard is more formal than at most beach hotels.

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Dress Standards
On Cruise Ships

At first, cruising was a pastime mainly for the wealthy. As a result, the dress standards aboard ship are classier than in most resorts, even good ones.

Some quick rules of thumb:

*The “slob look” is never appreciated or appropriate.

*Swim suits are never welcome in the main dining rooms.

*Neither are such casual items like flip flops, cut-offs or tank tops .

*The pool deck is the place to dress as relaxed as you wish.

What causes the most concern are the terms formal, informal and casual and what they mean in the dining room.

Formal: Most cruises have at least one formal night, some have 2 occasions. For men, it means a dark suit with tie unless he wants to bring along a tux. Tuxes are not normally expected. For women, formal is a gown or cocktail dress. (For more detailed information, see What to Pack for a Cruise)

Informal: On some ships, the evening dress code is informal except for formal night. For men, informal is a jacket and collared short, perhaps a tie. For women, any attractive evening outfit.

Casual: Sometimes called smart casual, this is the dress code on many ships except for formal nights. For men, it's a collared shirt and slacks. For women, a dress or pant suit. Smart casual works 99% of the time.  

HINT: If you detest dressing up while on vacation, you have 2 ways of avoiding formal wear: dine in the buffet restaurant or order room service if there's a decent room service menu. Room service menus vary dramatically according to the cruise line and the cruise ship.

Many people wish to avoid the bother of dressing up on formal nights, and that's expected. The staff in the buffet restaurant, however, may be dressed formally. Don't let that put you off.

Consider it casual elegance. No reason to feel intimidated. It's all part of the image game.

Now that you know the terms, see What To Pack for a Cruise

Also, Clothing Mistakes to Avoid on a Cruise

Go to All Topics, Caribbean Cruise Planning