Does the Term “Cruisewear” Still Apply
Written by: Kuki
In last week’s Blog we talked about the “Demise of Traditional Cruise Dining”, and included some discussion of the moves being made within the industry that I viewed as moving closer to a amusement park or resort mentality/atmosphere onboard.
Somewhat in that vein, this week’s Blog follows up on those thoughts talking about the possible demise of recommended dress codes on cruises. Even before the industry began the attempt to “resortify” cruise ships, most lines had begun broadening their rules and regulations as define acceptable dress guidelines for passengers.
Less than a decade ago the vast majority of cruise lines still had pretty well defined guidelines addressing the type of clothing that they would like to see their passengers wearing when entering the dining rooms, and for the duration of the evening. A typical seven day cruise included 2 nights of formal wear, where tuxedos for the men was most certainly encouraged, and dark suits deemed acceptable, and seeing the ladies in gowns was quite commonplace, as well there were 2 informal (or semi-formal) nights, meaning men were expected to wear sports coats as well as shirt and tie. The remaining 3 nights were “resort casual”; which translated to khaki slacks and collared shirts for men, and matching type of attire for the ladies. Any kind of blue jeans, shorts, or T-shirts were frowned upon. The “casual nights” were the first night of the cruise as people were settling in, and the last night of the cruise – as people had to pack for departure the next day, and one other night during the cruise.
The “dress code” landscape has changed quite dramatically in recent years. Some will argue that it was part of the “dumbing-down” of the industry, as it strived to reach further into the general vacation market; to attract new people to cruising. Others would argue it was the cruise lines responding to the wishes of it’s passengers. Whichever is the reality of the case, the cruise lines got very lucky with the timing of the metamorphosis of their dress codes in conjunction with the airlines first beginning to impose weight restrictions on their passenger’s luggage, and more recently charging extra for checked bags.
Therefore any backlash they may have experienced from the “ dress-code traditionalists” has been blunted by passengers acceptance of the restrictive policies put in place by the airlines.
(How amazing that airline passengers accept these changes with a shrug of the shoulders at check in, yet on a ship they’ll stand in line for an hour to complain about the slightest change to any change in policy different from the last time they cruised?)
Wearing my “old curmudgeon” hat once again, I have to wonder … just how far is the relaxing of the “dress codes” going to go?
In regard to relaxing of dress codes, Norwegian Cruise Line was once again the innovator (instigator) when they introduced “Freestyle Cruising”, they all told their guests they could dress how they wished for while dining as well… with the exception of blue jeans and shorts in the dining rooms and restaurants in the evening.
The other cruise lines have followed along, though some more slowly than others. Slowly tuxedos have more or less disappeared from the cruise industry landscape (with the exception of some luxury lines). Though still called “formal night” just about anything short of coveralls and a painter’s cap is now deemed acceptable for diners entering the dining room. Semi-formal has come to mean a sports jacket, with no tie required… but in most cases if you show up to the dining room clothed you’re welcomed by the Maitre D’.
In the spring of 2008 Carnival took perhaps the boldest step basically removing any real structure to their dress code policies. Formal nights were no longer called “formal nights”. They dubbed them “elegant nights”, telling guests if they wish to dress formally, feel free to do so, but other than torn blue jeans, sleeveless T shirts, shorts, and ball caps, guests could wear whatever they please. And for the first time on a major cruise line shorts were made acceptable attire for the dining room on casual nights…. Which is now all nights, other than the “elegant” nights on a cruise.
I recall even a decade ago my own mantra about cruise line dress codes was… why have them, and publish them in the ship’s daily schedules, if they weren’t going to enforce them? Even with the relaxing of the dress codes, that question still seems to have some validity. As the cruise lines have relaxed the “codes”, the passengers seem to want to push that envelope even further, to see just how much further underdressed they can get. The argument seems to be that cruise passengers simply want to be dressed comfortably. The problem with that seems to be whether passengers in general are responsible enough to determine what is comfortable for them, yet still socially acceptable. I know we certainly like to think we are. However there’s so many varying opinions on what’s acceptable. Some people say that it’s fine for people to wear whatever they want as long as it’s clean…then who determines cleanliness? Some people say that, of course, people should be dressed neatly, but no cut-off jeans, or gym shorts should be allowed. Just where is the line in the sand if there is one?
The point is there are always judgements to make as to what the final “bottom line” should be when covering our bottoms. As the cruise lines move to making cruises more similar to a resort experience, the dress guidelines are moving in that direction as well.
I suppose I question just what level of “casual dress” is going to be the mean in the cruise industry? I’ve personally judged my attire for any restaurant or dining room (on land or at sea) in one way… thinking I should be dressed at least as well as the staff serving me.
What do our cruisemates think? Should everyone be allowed to dress however they please on cruise ships, with no restrictions at all? Should it matter at all to us how those seated next to us in a dining room are dressed?
I predict that this movement to dress down will certainly continue and gain momentum, and in the not too distant future, with rare exception, we’ll see the demise of any “dress codes” and “suggested dress codes” on cruise ships. Does that prospect worry you, or appeal to you?
– A View From the Kuki Side of Cruising –
- It’s Getting Easier To Cruise Without Clothes To those who haven’t been watching, there’s been a sea...
- Minimizing Dress Codes – Is There A “New Formal”? For some time now life has been on the move...
- How Cruise Packing Has Changed Cruise packing has changed considerably in the 21st century. Even...
- First Cruise Basics – No Question Is Too Dumb For many first time cruisers, after they’ve booked their first...
- Part 2 – Things You Need to Pay Attention to When Cruise Planning In Part 1 I hopefully helped you through the booking...
Posted: June 30th, 2009 under Kuki.