Hi everyone. I am thinking about booking a Mexican Riviera cruise on the Sea Princess in November. For this one, I would like to skip the formal nights altogether. I think I will opt for PC dining this trip. If I leave my suits/tux at home, what are my options for dining on formal nights? Is the steakhouse open on formal nights, and if so, can I dine there in shirt and slacks? Also on the Sun, the Horizon court turned into a 'bistro' at night for casual dining. Is this true on the Sea as well? Thanks for any assistance.
There are a few people that will suggest you stay in your cabin and order room service if you do not want to dress in formal clothes for formal night. Some, as is their right, feel that their formal experience is ruined at the site of a fellow cruiser who does not comply with the recommended standard of dress which they believe to be formal everywhere, for the entire evening.
If you, like we and many others, are willing to risk spoiling the evening of the few people on board who are concerned with what you are wearing - you do have choices other than room service.
We took a 12 day cruise for which we did not pack formal wear. On formal nights, we ate at the buffet, ate pizza or at the Desert Rose (on the Golden). We thought Sabatinis may be more dressy, so did not go there. My husband wore dockers and a sport shirt, we ladies wore church clothes (nice pants, skirt and blouse or dress). We did go to the theater and/or the Visto lounge for the nightly entertainment and we never felt uncomfortable and did not see anyone who appeared to be upset by our attire.
We did Personal Choice dining - however, the dress code is the same for the PC dining room as the Traditional dining room, so you would probably want to choose an alternative on formal nights if you are not in formal wear. If you just can not stand to miss the menu offered that night, it is offered through room service.
Princess ships have something callled The Bistro. the Bistro is usually in the area that's the Horizon Court buffet. Between the hours of 7:30PM and 4:00AM it magically becomes a full service sitdown restaurant. You can go in your shorts on formal nights if you like. If you, like me, prefer traditional dining, you can still eat there anytime you want. The food is very good and really prepared to order. I've never seen more than 20-30 people eating there. On the Sun class ships they even have live music and a dance floor if you're inclined to cut a rug. We sailed Ocean Princess with friends and the man simply refused to wear a tie on his vacation. They had no problem at all since The Bistro existed. Can't answer your questions about the steakhouse since it didn't exist then.
There are three ways to avoid formal and semiformal nights.
>> 1. Book on another line that does not hold formal and semiformal nights. Norwegian Cruise Lines advertises "Formal Optional" and several lines, such as Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, don't hold formal nights at all.
>> 2. As "juliejoe" caustically suggests, hide out in your cabin and order room service. (Princess's room service will serve anything on the dining room menu during the meal hours of the main dining rooms.)
>> 3. Eat at the Horizon Court, which will offer either a dinner buffet or a bistro menu (with table service) depending upon the hour when you go there. The Horizon court also offers live entertainment, nominally from 9:00 PM until midnight.
Note, however, that options #2 and #3 require that you decline a invitations from the captain -- which is a major breach of social etiquette aboard any ship.
Note also that the Princess Patter lists "This Evening's Dress" rather than "Attire for Dinner" or something similar. Although enforcement varies from ship to ship, the manner of stating the evening's dress does mean that the official evening's dress is "expected" at the shows, lounges, and other evening venues in the area of the Promenade Deck and the atrium.
BTW, according to the "Featured Ship" article in this month's issue of Cruise Travel magazine, MV Sea Princess is retaining semiformal evenings. A seven-night cruise ordinarily has at least one semiformal evening in addition to two formal evenings.
Thanks folks for your assistance. My last Princess cruise was on the Sun last year for a transcanal cruise. I dragged along the tux that time; but ended up eating at the Horizon 'bistro' a number of nights also. I think I will avail myself of the Bistro and Steakhouse on formal evenings. I'll be dressed in slacks, shirt and a sport coat, so shouldn't look toooo bad, lol.
As far as declining invitations from the ship's captain; that doesn't bother me in the least; been there, done that; and highly overrated IMHO.
I do want to try NCL someday though. They just never seem to sail where and when I want to.
Hi Steve -
No sarcasm was intended and I hope I did not offend you in any way. I was only passing on to you a suggestion (which I don't agree with) that was made on an earlier thread about those of us who may not pack formal wear for every cruise. I think Norm and I are from different planets - we just don't speak the same language.
No problem. You did not offend me at all. I know some people take dressing formally VERY seriuosly. I'm not one of them obviously. Some cruises I wear a tux and others I don't even bring a tie. This one will be a 'no tie' cruise for me. I'll try to be sure to not offend any tux clad people though..
Thanks again for your advice!
You might find the "Letters to the Editor" in the latest issue of Cruise Travel magazine. The sampling of letters that they published indicates that there's quite a flap about people showing up with inappropriate attire on formal night.
BTW, I did not write any of those letters, and I'm not aware of knowing the people who did.
There is one other option if your issue is with packing (rather than wearing) a tuxedo. There's a form for rental of formalwear in the cruise information package that you receive about two months before your cruise. If you send in your sizes and choices of formalwear on the form provided, Princess will deliver your selections to your cabin on embarkation day. At the end of the cruise, you just leave it there when you depart. The prices for this service appear to be pretty fair, too -- they are competitive with tuxedo rental shops here in the Boston area.