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It’s Getting Easier To Cruise Without Clothes

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To those who haven’t been watching, there’s been a sea change in suggested dress codes, and what is considered acceptable attire, on board an ever expanding list of today’s cruise lines.

Harken back to the days of ocean travel, when every passenger was expected to be “dressed to the nines” “in all their finery” every evening when they left their cabins, and entered any of the ship’s public rooms.

You’re not going to find that on even the most tony lines anymore.  But, from that tradition, the “cruise industry had adopted their 20th century version of “traditional suggested dress codes”; with that suggested code featuring formal nights, semi-formal nights, and casual attire nights.

For more than a decade any thread on cruise related message boards mentioning “dress codes”  generated heated debates going on for many days, with one basic theme; those who “dressed up” calling those who did not “low lifes”, and those who did not favor “dressing up” calling those who did “snobs”.

As the calendar moved into the 21 century, there’s been a steady move away from what was once thought of as “traditional dress codes”.  Using the “word of the week”, the view of the cruise industry towards what is acceptable attire on ships is “evolving”, from both the industry and the passengers.

Today spotting a male passenger in a tuxedo on any of the mass market (contemporary) cruise lines is as rare a sight as seeing a penquin on a cruise  that isn’t on an Antarctica itinerary. While most lines still to offer at least one “formal night” during a cruise, the “evolved” definition of “formal attire” makes  suits and ties (or even sports jackets and slacks) for men, and dresses (of almost any style) for women, the true present day acceptable norm.

And, frankly, even that relaxing of the definiion of “formal attire” is continuing to push the further relaxing closer and closer to what is actually very simple… casual attire.

In fact, several of what were the more stayed luxury cruise lines have already stepped ahead of the mass market, and have moved to making  “resort casual” dress code  the norm for every night onboard. I believe, in very short order, that is going to be the absolute norm on all cruise lines.

My own views on this topic have certainly evolved in this same direction. I used to be one of the proponents of  having everyone adhere to the formal dress codes. I’d argue that is was disrepectful to your fellow passengers and the cruise line to not do so. I probably thought that if I were dressed up in a nice tuxedo and my wife in a beautiful gown, for at least a moment, we appeared to be at a higher “station” in life, than we were.

Today, I don’t really care about what I’m wearing, nor to I really care what my fellow passengers are wearing. My rule for what I’d like to see other passengers wearing is now determined more by what body parts I want to make certain are covered, than what brand of clothing they are covering it with.

My only caveat to completely accepting more relaxed attire on ships is I still do have a bit of a mental block about seeing the dining room staff dressed “better” than the passengers they are serving.

As the airlines, who still transport the vast majority of cruisers to their ships, have further reduced the allowable weights on luggage, and continued to increase the fees for overweight, over-sized, and extra bags,  those policies have made it easier for passengers and cruise lines to rationalize the relaxing rules for acceptable attire.

I’m choosing 2017 as the date that all but perhaps 2 or 3 lines no longer even use the terminology of  “formal night”, and transition to every night being “casual”.  I guess I still do wonder how far the term of “casual” will go. Will that every be changed to “relaxed” or ” comfortable” attire “suggested”?

Or will there simply end being a list of body parts which must not be exposed?

– A View From The Kuki Side of Cruising –

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Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time May 16, 2012 at 6:27 am

The formal night will always be around, on the short handful of cruise lines, maybe just one line, that supports it. Cunard, well, I sail Cunard FOR the formal nights, I sail other lines for what they in fact provide as the product, and if the dress “code” is lax, so be it.

Yes the airlines have put a damper on the amount of luggage one can bring, but do remember, many cruise lines offer tux rental on board, and corsages and buttoneers to be worn with what? jeans, halter tops, whife beaters and daisey dukes?

Look at how people dress for church and what they wear to the chain restaurants and there is your answer, and look at the food offered, and then you get the point of the swill passng for gourmet on the lower end of the cruise industry.
Its an age thing, back in the ’80’s when Dynasty ruled the airwaves, everyone dressed like the Carringtons on their cruises. Its just an evolution of dress. If dress is so damned lax, why do we have Paris and New York high fashion designers, and Milan, Italys fashion plate?

I for one have learned to roll with the dress code, and am very hapy with what there is to sail, or avoid. The pleasure of the ship at sea will always be welcome.

Comment from rciaddict
Time May 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm

My wife and I enjoy the formal nights. It’s fun to play dress-up and, as you say, feel like you are “above your station”. I’m the one guy wearing the tux on the contemporary cruise lines, while my beautiful wife is that much more stunning in her gown.We enjoy posing for the pics, and looking back over them later, and I suspect as we get older, we will enjoy them more. Whether or not others choose to follow the dress codes is irrelevant as far as we are concerned. As far as paying extra for baggage, we either fly Southwest or Jet Blue, or just suck up the cost, a small part of the overall cost of our vacation.

Comment from George
Time May 18, 2012 at 5:25 am

From my understanding it is all the true British Lines that have a strict dress code. This included Cunard, P&O and Fred Olsen which maintain high standards of dress and decorum.

Comment from Andrew Kruglanski
Time May 18, 2012 at 9:58 am

We started cruising when tuxedos were the order of the day. Then we enjoyed Renaissance Cruise Line because casual cruising was their policy. Renaissance is no more, but we are glad casual cruising is here to stay. To us cruising is about relaxing and having fun.

Andrew, Cruisin Susan, a cruise and travel blog

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time May 19, 2012 at 5:12 am

Don’t forget Crystal Cruises and Swan Hellenic which indeed have a dress code and stress the formal attire.

If one must fight the dress code, either to be more or less formal,. then pick the cruise line that has a dress code that appeals to you. The old saying, “ther’s something for everyone” has never been more welcomed than on todays ships.

Comment from Marc
Time May 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Regent has been predominantly Elegant Casual for a couple of years. I now take just one or two sports coats for a little dressier attire; the rest is just slacks and shirt. I think this is great. I don’t think the issue is airline restrictions (what is $100 on a $10,000 cruise) but rather personal choice and comfort.


Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time May 22, 2012 at 5:21 am

Spending more than $100.00 is the norm for us, and it is not the money – its the very thought of flying that all adds up to a miserable way to travel.

Dress, to the nines, I limit strictly to Cunard now, as it is part of the sailing experience. Other lines, well, suit or jacket with or without tie. Only a fool would not dress properly on Cunard.

Comment from Wayne
Time July 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I think the dress code is a slippery slope. While I do prefer mostly casual dress, it seems to me the more the cruise ships relax the dress codes the more likely you will see people showing up at the Lido in their pajamas and no shoes; or worse still, people showing up in the main dining room or theater in their tank tops, swim trunks, and no shoes. People will always try to press the limits.

It also seems at times that people’s attire has a bearing on their behavior. When certain expectations regarding dress go by the board, then it seems for many that it’s OK to drop any pretense of manners and civility.

I also want to have fun while I am cruising but I don’t want to be on a ship with several thousand people many who may get the idea that it is OK not take a shower but once a week and only bring one change of clothes.

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