With So Many New Options There are Few Excuses for Not Following the Dress Code

I see so many posts on cruise boards that ask “The dress code says “this” but can I get away with “this” instead?” Quite frankly, I find it hard to believe with the relaxation of the dress codes and so many other options available to cruisers, that a perspective cruiser would not plan to follow the published dress codes.

The feature image to the left is actually a picture of me on my first cruise in the mid 70’s. I’m shaking hands with the captain as my sister in the overall turtleneck dress enters behind me followed by my Mom in a coordinated maxi skirt ensemble and my Dad in a very wide tie and collar. I chose that picture to illustrate that just as fashion has changed since the 70’s so too have cruise line dress codes. Cruises today have many more options when it comes to what they wear when they cruise.

Legitimate Reasons

First, I want to acknowledge that there are legitimate reasons for not following the dress codes. If a passenger has lost his or her luggage he or she would not have appropriate clothing unless they were able to borrow something from the ship. Also, a passenger may have some sort of health concern that would prevent them from complying with a dress code. Both of these issues could be addressed with management ahead of time so that they would not be reprimanded and the situation could easily be explained to others if they questioned the non-compliance.


Cruise lines have tremendously relaxed dress code minimums. Almost all cruise lines now allow jeans in the main dining room on casual nights. Carnival permits tailored shorts in the main dining room on casual nights and does not require a coat for their “Cruise Elegant” nights. With a few exceptions, (Cunard comes to mind) most cruise lines only require formal attire in the main dining room on formal nights. For example, on Celebrity, where formal attire used to be required in all public areas on formal nights, the specialty restaurants and all other public areas now require only smart casual attire even on formal nights.


With so many options now available to cruisers there is really no reason, other than the a fore mentioned two, for not following dress codes. If the code for the dining room says khakis and a polo, it is insulting to the staff to show up in basketball shorts and a tank top. If a passenger doesn’t want to wear a suit and tie, tuxedo, gown or pantsuit on formal night, then it is pretty easy to choose a specialty dining venue, the casual dining area, or even in room dining for those nights. While the first of those options would be at an extra cost, the second two options are already included in the cruise fare. With so many different cruise lines appealing to so many different cruisers, it is pretty easy to find a cruise line with a dress code that makes sense to you. We keep a dress code table here at cruise talk and all cruise line publish their dress codes on their websites and brochure information. Cruisers will certainly find themselves less stressed about dress codes when they research them ahead of time and plan accordingly.