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MaxMax May 11th, 2003 06:05 PM

Dinner Dress Questions
 
We'll be going on our first cruise next month (if next month ever gets here!) - Summit to Alaska - and have some questions about appropriate evening wear. Would appreciate any help/advice from experienced cruisers, particularly anyone who has sailed Celebrity M-class ships to Alaska.

I think we're ok with regard to the formal and casual dress, but we're not sure about the "informal" nights. On the one hand, we've heard that Celebrity tends to be a bit dressier than other lines (one of the reasons we chose it). On the other, we're hearing that Alaska cruises tend to be more casual than other destinations.

Questions:
1) What would be examples of informal dress? Would it be along the lines of what you'd wear to a wedding, or is that too fancy?

2) Would a nice pant suit be appropriate informal wear for a woman, or should slacks be reserved strictly for the casual nights?

3) Right now, we're feeling like we need to pack half our closet for this trip. Not a problem, except for the airline weight limitations on baggage. :-) Would it be a faux paux (sp?) to wear the same thing to dinner two nights? (E.g., wear the same formal outfit to both formal nights and the same informal outfit to the informal nights?)

We love dressing up and would like to take separate outfits for each night, but we're just not sure there will be enough room in our suitcases.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Donna May 11th, 2003 07:16 PM

Re: Dinner Dress Questions
 
Hi Max,
Yes, a pants suit would be just fine, and a simple dress or pants for the casual nights. We went on Infinity in Alaska last summer and I did wear pants for the casual nights and a nice dress for the semi-formal, the formal nights are what I've seen on all the other cruises, just that formal.

Between the regular suitcases, we also take a garment bag for some of the dressier clothes and always do pack a different outfit for each night, you may be able to mix/match tops/pants, that can save some packing space.

Enjoy your Celebrity cruise in Alaska, you'll love it!


norm May 11th, 2003 08:14 PM

Re: Dinner Dress Questions
 
MaxMax,

Traditionally, evening attire breaks down like this.

>> "Formal" = "Black Tie" (tuxedo or dinner jacket for gentlemen, and evening gown for ladies)

>> "Semiformal" = Formal business attire (business suit for gentlemen and either business suit, business dress, or fancy cocktail dress for ladies)

>> "Informal" = Standard business attire (sport coat, slacks, dress shirt, and tie for gentlemen and a business dress or cocktail dress for ladies)

>> "Casual" = Shirt with collar and slacks for gentlemen (sport coat optional) and either blouse and skirt or pants or cocktail dress for ladies)

The distinction between "semiformal" and "informal" has become blurred in recent years and the cruise lines modified the definition of "formal" somewhat (to admit a dark business suit for gentlemen as an accommodation to the fact that, about thirty years ago, most gentlemen did not own tuxedos or dinner jackets), but the distinction between "casual" and "informal" or "semiformal" is still pretty clear.

Celebrity also has a reputation for being quite "upscale" -- more "upscale" than the other "premium" cruise lines generally regarded as its direct competitors. If in doubt, you probably will be much less embarassed if you err on the formal side than if you err on the casual side.

Now, to answer your questions:

1) What would be examples of informal dress? Would it be along the lines of what you'd wear to a wedding, or is that too fancy?

What you would wear to a wedding definitely would not be too fancy for an "informal" night. A dress shirt, necktie, dress slacks, sport coat, and dress shoes are the minimum for gentlemen. For ladies, a cocktail dress certainly would be a safe choice.

2) Would a nice pant suit be appropriate informal wear for a woman, or should slacks be reserved strictly for the casual nights?

A women's business suit with pants would be okay. OTOH, this is much more of a social occasion so a cocktail dress probably would be a better choice.

3) Right now, we're feeling like we need to pack half our closet for this trip. Not a problem, except for the airline weight limitations on baggage. :-) Would it be a faux paux (sp?) to wear the same thing to dinner two nights? (E.g., wear the same formal outfit to both formal nights and the same informal outfit to the informal nights?)

The two formal nights are far enough apart so wearing the same basic outfit should not be a problem, but you might want to pick different accessories to produce a different look. For gentlemen, many tuxedo companies offer cruise rental packages that include two shirts (with studs and cuff links), a vest with a matching bow tie, and a cummerbund with a matching bow tie so the tuxedo or dinner jacket does not look quite the same. For ladies, a popular strategy is to bring a formal dress with a couple different sets of accessories that coordinate with it but that give it different looks.

We love dressing up and would like to take separate outfits for each night, but we're just not sure there will be enough room in our suitcases.

You really need not take "half your closet" if you think strategically when you pack. By way of example, I usually forego T shirts and bring knit "golf" or "polo" shirts instead. These shirts are casual enough to wear for daytime activities (sightseeing, around the pool, etc.) but still dressy enough to wear to dinner on casual evenings. I also bring pants and shorts that will coordinate with several shirts, so three or four pairs of each are sufficient for the whole cruise -- and the pants that I bring are dress slacks, so they are acceptable for sightseeing in cooler (Alaska) or more formal (Europe) destinations, but also appropriate for wear to diiner -- either with a dress shirt, a necktie, and a sportcoat on semiformal evenings or with a "polo" or "golf" shirt on casual evenings. By choosing items that provide this sort of versatility, one can pack a lot fewer items. Also, one can choose evening outfits that coordinate with one or two pairs of dress shoes, evening purses, etc., so one does not need to bring a separate pair of dress shoes for each outfit.

The other trick to reducing your luggage is to think strategically about what styles of clothing you are bringing. By way of example, a formal cocktail dress will require a lot less space than an evening gown. Likewise, a women's bikini swimsuit or a men's "speedo" may fold into a lot less volume than a traditional women's "tank" swimsuit or the "boxer" style men's swimsuits that are in style today. Certain styles of underwear also fold into a much smaller volumes than others -- and nobody aboard ship will know what style of underwear you are wearing, so it really does not matter. It's even possible to bring jewelry that you can wear with two or three outfits, or that you can wear sightseeing as well as in the evening, to minimize the amount of "stuff" that you have to lug. These savings also cut down on weight, so you'll have some reserves for souvenirs on the return trip!

BTW, the weight should not be a problem. On my last vacation, I took enough clean clothes and toiletries for seventeen days -- including a ten-day cruise with two formal nights -- in two suit cases, one of which was small enough to carry on, and had no problem with weight limits.

Have a great cruise!

Norm.

MaxMax May 12th, 2003 02:16 AM

Re: Dinner Dress Questions
 
Thanks a million to all for your extremely helpful replies. Armed with your strategies, we can now do our pre-cruise shopping. :-)

ladycaveat May 17th, 2003 06:59 PM

Re: Dinner Dress Questions
 
Norm, your post has to be among the best I have ever read on packing for a cruise. Your descriptions of what one should wear on the three different "styles" of dress for cruises was so clear and right on point. I was just wondering . . . what do you charge to go though one's wardrobe and help them select the perfect outfits? Tee Hee . . . oh, if only I could "rent" you for a day to help me pack.

Thank you so much . . . . . .

norm May 20th, 2003 06:42 PM

Re: Re: Dinner Dress Questions
 
ladycaveat,

Norm, your post has to be among the best I have ever read on packing for a cruise. Your descriptions of what one should wear on the three different "styles" of dress for cruises was so clear and right on point.

Thank you for your kind words!

I was just wondering . . . what do you charge to go though one's wardrobe and help them select the perfect outfits? Tee Hee . . . oh, if only I could "rent" you for a day to help me pack.

Just my regular hourly billing rate, plus expenses (travel, etc.) -- but I should forewarn you that the hours may add up if I need to take you shopping for a suitable cruise wardrobe....

Norm.

Rich&Natalia May 21st, 2003 09:01 AM

Re: Dinner Dress Questions
 
Norm,

Thanks for some great advice. One comment, though. Packing speedos to save room in the suitcase? YIKES!!!


-Rich


AR May 21st, 2003 07:58 PM

Re: Dinner Dress Questions
 
Norm's reply is really great.

Even so, you are going to pack way too much. I suggest you not shop for any more clothes, and after you pack remove half of them.

Nobody, repeat, nobody cares one little bit if you wear the same thing two nights or three or four, as long as you roughly adhere to the dress code on which Norm has elaborated. At the risk of being ridiculously repetitious, nobody cares.

Although we always adhere to the dress policies (well I cheated two weeks ago on the Millie transatlantic when I wore a tie and sweater instead of a tie and jacket one night), we do not overpack and we mix and match to make things work. You will SUFFER if you overpack.

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts to adhere to the dress standards, you will still find those who flaunt them openly, and you will find that Celebrity does nothing to enforce them.

On the same trip one guy came into the deck 10 cafeteria with no shirt and sat at a table next to us. We complained to a waiter who passed it on to his boss. About 10 minutes later a supervisor of some sort came in and told the guy to leave. I was surprised, and it was evident that the staff didn't like having to do this.

Anyway, for a 14-day transatlantic, with an additional 4 days in Barcelona and 4 more days in Madrid, we did fine with two normal suitcases, a garment bag and two small hand bags (NOT the small roller suitcases that people call hand luggage these days). We didn't do any shopping beforehand and, as usual, packed the afternoon before we left.

Please don't make it a bigger deal than it is. You'll be much happier in the long run. Honest.

AR

norm May 21st, 2003 09:16 PM

Re: Re: Dinner Dress Questions
 
AR,

Nobody, repeat, nobody cares one little bit if you wear the same thing two nights or three or four, as long as you roughly adhere to the dress code on which Norm has elaborated. At the risk of being ridiculously repetitious, nobody cares.

I usually bring one casual shirt and one pair of socks per night plus one spare (in case of cancelled flights, etc., that force an unexpected stay en route home -- or in case a spill, etc., requires an extra change of clothes. A caual shirt worn to dinner on a casual evening should be fine for daytime wear the next day. At the end of the day's activities, there's a shower and a clean shirt.

Although we always adhere to the dress policies (well I cheated two weeks ago on the Millie transatlantic when I wore a tie and sweater instead of a tie and jacket one night), we do not overpack and we mix and match to make things work.

After I wrote the earlier reply, I recalled the outfits that my cousin found for the bridesmaids at her wedding. Each outfit consisted of dark green velvet cocktail or party dresses (knee length) with light green silk wrap skirts (full length) worn over the dress, from the waste down. The wrap skirts were fairly full, the dress underneath gave them some body. The result was a great combination for cruising -- one could wear the whole outfit on a formal evening and the dress alone on an informal or semiformal evening. The wrap skirt also would fold very compactly, being of silk.

Norm.

norm May 21st, 2003 09:18 PM

Re: Re: Dinner Dress Questions
 
Rich,

One comment, though. Packing speedos to save room in the suitcase? YIKES!!!

That's nothing. Backpackers cut their toothbrushes in half and throw the extra handle away to get rid of unnecessary weight.

Norm.


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