My wife and I are booked on our first Holland America cruise (only Carnival in the past, as we took our young children on those cruises). Anyway, we almost did not book because we were concerened about dress on board ship. At dinner we both like to dress nicely, so that's no problem, but a review we read regarding the attire at other times makes us nervous:
"Casual on these ships means comfortable, but T-shirts, jeans, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are all forbidden in the dining rooms and public areas. It isn't allowed, but also not unusual for people to change back to casual after dinner on formal nights. As long as you stick to the deck areas or casino, no one will frown at you."
The dinner part we get. But I expect I will spend a great deal of time in some (nice) shorts and a golf shirt. Will I have to go back to the room and put on slacks to visit other areas (non-dining room) of the ship during the course of a day?.
Casual on these ships means comfortable, but T-shirts, jeans, swimsuits, tank tops and shorts are all forbidden in the dining rooms and public areas. It isn't allowed, but also not unusual for people to change back to casual after dinner on formal nights. As long as you stick to the deck areas or casino, no one will frown at you."
This person could have been talking about dress in the evening in the dining room. During the day you can wear any of the above that are marked in bold, except of course if you are going to the dining room for lunch or dinner.....however I have now heard that they are allowing jeans (not ratty, torn ones) in the dining room during the day. We never go there except for dinner, so I don't know if this is true.
When inside you are requested to wear a cover-up over your bathing suit and please, no bare feet, like some I have seen, walking into the Lido to grab their lunch wearing only their bathing suit and in bare feet.
I'm either in a swimsuit/cover up or shorts and t-shirt/golf shirt all day - same for DH.
No, you won't have to go back to your cabin and put on slacks - shorts and t-shirt/golf shirt are just fine.
Have a wonderful time and don't believe everything your read.
Our HAL cruise was to Alaska so I did not have much occasion to wear shorts.
I did wear clean jeans and even sneakers all day long with the occasional t-shirt. I never felt out of place.
Of course, dinner in the main dining room requires proper attire.
Peace through superior firepower.
I've been on several HAL cruises and have found your worries about the dress code are unfounded. Yes, most adults dress up a bit more for the formal nights, but not to the point where you would feel out of place if you wore slacks/dress shirt/tie/coat. The issue of remaining in formal attire for the remainder of the evening is really up to you. I frequently changed to more casual attire after dinner so that I didn't soil (smoke) my dress clothes in the casino. I hope that helps…any other questions just drop me an email.
HAL's updated dress code available on their website tells you that they do allow jeans in the main dining room for dinner on all but formal nights. They have gone to a "country club casual" for all nights except formal. My DH hates to dress up and will change from shorts to long pants in the evening but that is all. He doesn't wear a tie or jacket and eats in the Lido on formal nights. He is very comfortable on board.
Here is a link to HAL's Dress Code. While they don't say they allow jeans in the dining room for dinner they also say they do. So that basically leaves it with the old question of "Can you or can't you?"
During the day you will be just fine in shorts and a golf/t-shirt.
During the day shorts are welcome throughout the ship ... yes, even in the main dining room. I've seen such worn there many times during the lunch hour.
During the evenings the dress code is stipulated for the entire evening. While the website doesn't expressly say this, the "Know Before You Go" booklet still states that guests are asked to remain dressed according to the code for the entire evening. This being said, I've seen many people "dress down" after dinner on Formal Nights. Not, with rare exceptions, to shorts and t-shirts, but certainly to slacks and sports shirt (or the removal of a tie and the ditching of a jacket back in the cabin). It's not according to the code, but I've never seen anyone "dissed" for doing so. Personally, I prefer to abide by the dress code for the entire evening, and really don't understand why some people want to change after dinner. I'm as comfortable in my Tuxedo, as well as in any of my good suits, as I am in casual wear.
On Casual evenings since Feb 2006 I've seen jeans in the main dining room on several occasions. I prefer to wear slacks, silk or print shirts or dress button-down shirt, tie, and jacket on casual nights, but many people do like jeans and, according to the code, they are no longer prohibited. So ... if someone wants to wear them on Casual Night I don't foresee any trouble.
Booked and Up-Coming:
MS Amsterdam -- Alaska 14 -Days, September 7, 2012
I just got off the Zuiderdam about 5 hours ago. Pretty much what RevNeal posted is what I found to be true. The lido pool and buffet are the same deck. they have massive signs telling you not to enter the buffet in your swimwear. On the flip side though, the grill is outside so you can get a burger or hot dog or chicken sandwich in your trunks. It seems to me in the public areas in the evening there were not a lot of kids so the dress down part wasn't much of a thing, and i did see,,,for example on formal night,,,people in regular casual clothes in the stores but most adhered to the dress code in the lounges on the 2 main decks where omst hange around.. Since I did not go up there , I assume the kids where in the video arcades or by the Lido pool in the upper ship area where the dress code for the evening does not seem to be followed as strickly.
HAL Volendam 2004
HAL Maasdam 2006
HAL Zuiderdam 2007
HAL Eurodam 2008
CCL Paradise upcoming 2010