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What is the dress code and do I need to pack formal wear?

Traditionally cruising involved dressing for dinner with white tie and elegant evening gowns, but in more recent times this has evolved to reflect modern society and to appeal to various different groups of people.

These days just about every cruise line has a dress code of some type.

It wasn’t always so complicated – once upon a time Cruise Ships and Ocean Liners had a strict formal white tie dress code across all public areas of the ship. This only began to change in the 1920's post-war as men invariably switched from white tie to black.

It wasn’t really until the 1960's with the introduction of what we know as ‘modern cruising’ that this became more relaxed. A new era of more budget cruise lines was born, appealing to a new type of passenger that wasn’t familiar with formal dress. This seen the introduction of formal and informal evenings, but  it wasn't until the late 1990's and early 2000's that the big cruise lines really began to downgrade their dress codes.

Today the dress code varies dependent on the Cruise line you travel with. Many such as Royal Caribbean have a formal dress code applying only to the main dining rooms, whereas others such as Norwegian Cruise Line were the first to break the mould by making formal nights optional as part of their Freestyle Cruising programme.

Many more cruise lines such as Azamara and Oceania have followed Norwegian’s lead by offering "resort casual" or "elegant casual" dress codes where formal evening wear is not expected nor required, but you are still welcome to do so if you prefer.

There are still some cruise lines like Cunard and P&O Cruises which like to keep up the old traditions with more formal nights than others, and the extension of the dress code applying throughout the on board public areas in the evening, but modern cruising really is all about choice.

Generally speaking even on ships where the dress code may be more relaxed there will still be basic restrictions within the dining rooms such as no bare feet, baseball caps, tank tops, bathing suits or flip flops being permitted. Jeans may also only permitted in the buffet restaurants so watch out for this.

Most of the mainstream cruise lines offer one to two formal nights per week, however there is almost always a casual dining option on offer even on these nights within the buffet restaurant so you do not need to dress up if you won’t wish to.

Our Cruise Experts are here to advise you on any applicable dress code queries you may have - there are different cruises to suit every taste.

Let us assist you by calling us FREE on 0800 197 8050 today.

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