The thing about the "ever lasting" dress code debates which amazes me is that the "formal nights" and the "ambiance" are part of what the cruise lines (which feature dress codes) advertise to entice and attract passengers.
Pick up a brochure and the pictures and descriptions make them clear in several areas. So it's not like anyone should be going in unaware. So, any problems I have are not directly with the dress code or what people are actually wearing, it's with the fact they think because "they paid for their vacation" that entitles them to behave in any manner they choose, regardless... and in the end that does impact other's cruise experience, because they very likely booked their cruise fully expecting to get the "advertised product".
Luv 2 asked why it has to be one extreme or the other. The answer is... of course there is all variety of "dressier casual", but then who right is it deciding what's "dressy casual" or "slobwear". Those who want to wear cut offs and tank tops also paid for their vacation.
The cruise lines have lots of "suggested rules of behavior"... if everyone has the right to decide which one apply to them because they "paid for their vacation", then no one should ever be complaining about people saving chairs by the pools, or in the shows, or smoking in non smoking sections, or cutting into buffet lines, or just about any behavior.
That said, there are cruise lines (NCL, WindStar .. for example) who advertise and encourage a more casual option, and set their suggested rules of behavior accordingly.
I'm still not quite sure why more people don't find and book cruise experiences that are more directly offering something closer to what they are actually looking for, rather than expecting to be allowed to do what they want on any ship because "they paid for it".
I do however agree... if the cruise lines have no interest in enforcing the rules of behavior they set out, they really should stop making them, advertising them and putting them in print!!!