I CONFESS, I am a “lurker”. Several months ago my husband surprised me by booking our first ever cruise in celebration of our upcoming 30th wedding anniversary. We are going to Alaska on HAL in September 2002. Wanting to learn all I could before I embarked on this new experience, I started researching cruises on the Internet, and eventually found this site. What better way to learn the potential pitfalls of cruising than by reading other persons’ gripes? WOW, I think I got more than I bargained for. Now of course I realize that some of what is posted is in jest and some is just to stir the pot for fun but I am troubled by what I perceive as “hot” issues. The “hottest of the hot” seems to be what to wear to dinner. We are not wealthy, but we can afford this vacation. We are not slobs, but we do not own black tie regalia. We do not thumb our noses at convention nor flaunt rules, but we do respect individuality.
I am now concerned that we may be out of our element on our upcoming cruise. The prevailing attitudes that I have inferred from the postings on this board seem to be either; “I’ll do it my way and to &*^% with the rest of you” OR “You must obey the rules as I interpret them to be or you shall be unwelcome”. Both attitudes are cause for concern. After reading the posts, I asked my husband to request a table for two rather than risk offending my tablemates. My husband and I are not young (late 50s) and we do not intend to invest in formal wear for this vacation, and then never wear it again. He has planned on wearing a conservative suit and I will wear a dark tailored pantsuit with a silk blouse on formal nights. I had considered a long dress but I thought my orthopedic shoes might be less noticeable with pants. Now please don’t tell me I MUST wear dressy heels to the formal nights because that is impossibility.
So tell me, is ship life really so polarized? Some have suggested that cruise lines offer cruises that cater to only the “formal” group or the “casual” crowd. Seems like a dollar’s worth of solution to a nickel’s worth of problem to me. If this is such a problem why can’t a passenger specify a preference for “black tie” or “business casual” when requesting their dining room seating? And is this really worth all the fuss…HMMM? P.S. Sorry for the long post!
So glad you became a poster rather than just a lurker.
It actually sounds like you and your husband will be fine with what you plan to wear for the "formal" nites, so don't rush to get that table for 2 so fast. We find that sharing dinner with tablemates is one of the nice things about cruising. We've shared a table with a very different age group than us and its never been a problem, so you may want to re-think, you may enjoy it.
I have a feeling this may not be your first one, enjoy it and do let us know how it went, OK?
Relax , it sound that you will fit in just fine. The Alaska cruise is more relaxed and more causal. I was on the same HAL ship. I never wore a Tux. Just a dark suit /tie and my wife wore a nice pant suit also. Their are only 2 dress up nights. The other nights are very relax. I wore dockers and nice dress shirt. Yes , some dress up more ,but not enought too get worred. Just remember their will be somebody dressed better you and their will be somebody dress worse then you.
Alaska trip is back to nature. The HAL ship line will treat everybody the same. Please don't lose sleep over it. As for the single table. I think a table of six or eight is great beacuse you have a number of couples to talk with during dinner. Then you might get together with them on the ship or your tours. We had a great time we sat at a table of 8.
We all had a great time during the entire cruise. People are people andwill have a great time on the ship. Remember dinner is only for 2 hours . And you just have 2 dress-up nights.
You will enjoy it. You and your husband will be treated GREAT on the HAL line!!!!!!
We have been on the HAL line 4 times. ( I'm 47) We keep going back...
You will not want to gome home. Make sure you take the binoculars you will need them the whole trip.......
I haven't been on HAL yet, but I wear orthotics and can't wear heals. I've worn dresses for formal night, but your suit will look appropriate. One night when the seas were rough I put my Nikes on with my formal. Other women were struggling to walk, and I was comfortable. Your pantsuit will look much more in place than my short formal dress w/Nikes. I think the people complaining are speaking about passengers who show up so dressed down they barely meet the dress code for casual.
Hi, Grammy7, and welcome to cruising! For us "mature" people, you have chosen a good cruise and line (HAL) . Some "gipers" have even criticized HAL for being an "old folks home on at sea", but that's not true, of course. But, HAL does have a long and strong regular following among the older crowd (among others), and is well aware that people like us may have physical problems that impact dress. You and your husband will fit in perfectly and have a great time.
It may have been my posts about the "need" for more cruises with no formal nights, AND more cruises with even MORE formal occasions to accomodate expressed desires of cruisers. Right now, About 95% of seven day cruises are all the same in this regard -- two formal nights plus captain's reception. Seems like cruisers are so polarized on this issue -- either love formal or hate it. Me? I'd just like more variety in this regard, and would probably patronize both the informal and more formal cruises -- if they existed.
Oh yes. Niether HAL nor the Alaska itenerary attract many small children, so the diapers in the hot tub issue should not be a problem!
RELAX!! We are yr age 56 & 60. Been crusing since the dark ages (1969). Done 7. Most recent was 12/01. Back in 69 it was suit, dress shirt & tie EVERY nite for men. Women wore "go to wedding" or better dresses. Like all else crusing has become MUCH more casual. I do believe in dressing decently but I never have (can't afford to if I want to cruise too) shopped at lord and Taylor or Nieman Marcus. I have usually taken dressy dresses. they are the type I go to weddings in. Mine are from: Black: 1979, 1992; Ivory: 1988, 1992, 1992. Planning a 8-11 nite cruise for late fall. Plan on taking 2 pr black silk pants ($7 @ at Value City) and a bunch of dressy silk print or sheer blouses (purchased over the last 18 months for less than$20 @ with black silk tank top ($5 at Burlington). I haven't been able to wear high heels for years (foot problems) and always wear sandals. With the ship sometimes being rocky, I would NOT want to be in high heels. In Alaska I would probably choose a closed shoe cause I really do get cold feet. The only thing I need to buy this time is a new swim suit, black decent purse and walking shoes (less Than $100 and I need the shoes regardless). Last Dec bought 1 short outfit, walking shoes, and a new cover up for the pool ( again less than $100 and I do need the shoes with or without the cruise).
To Grammy7. Don't worry about the posts about some guest's "unruly behavior" on ships either. Almost all of the problem is on one line, and it is not HAL. Also, I second the opinions above about changing you dinner reservations from a table for two to one for six or eight. I think you will enjoy talking to your fellow guests at dinner, making the experience more enjoyable.
Gee, I might have to actually relax and start looking forward to this trip! We have considered cruising in the past but thought we might not be "formal" enough. I was a bank officer for many years before retiring due to physical problems. I dressed up for enough bank functions to last me a lifetime. So, thanks again for all your advice and support. I will dress nicely but not true "formal" wear and just enjoy our trip. Happy cruising to all...
Grammy7, Looks like your taking an excellent line for your first cruise. We are also in our late 50s, pretty much stuck with RCI for our first 5 cruises but next year trying Princess. Been cruising since 1988 (holly has us beat), great way to meet people, don't take a table for two, I have some wonderful friends that were tablemates at one time or another. Don't worry too much about what your wearing, I find that your going to see a variety of formal type clothes, you'll fit right in. Have a great cruise. :-)
Hi, I dont wear dresses much myself...... But i go on Ebay and i have found some great clothes at a very reasonable price. I do a lot of looking and bidding. Not alway winning. But I have gotten some really nice dresses and only paid $10 with the shipping incl. So just take a look and research a lot. it all helps...... char
I`ll put two cents worth. We went on first cruise last year. Formal night I wore black pants and dark blue blazer with black banded collar and black loafers. Wife wore a long skirt that I bought her at K-Mart for 10bucks and a pair of flats. She hates heels. No one gave us a second look. Semi-formal night I wore the same jacket and khakis and a polo shirt. She dressed down in a similiar way.
So sit back and relax, you`ll be fine.
Sounds like you'll blend in perfectly, Gram. I haven't seen that many people who stick to being totally formal anyway, plus it doesn't matter. Now, if you were talking dirty blue jeans and a t-shirt, then we'd have a different matter.... By the way, you might want to keep that table for 2 in the dining room. I'd think it would be the perfect setting for a 30th anniversary!! On our last cruise we thought we were going to be mixed in the normal group tables, but instead found ourselves at a table for 2. I was initially disappointed but after about 30 minutes realized that they'd actually provided a great service to us!!! Not only did we have very attentive waitstaff but we actually......gasp.....talked to each other and didn't have to keep track of all the conversations going on around us. On future cruises we'll be requesting a table for 2.
Grammy, you will not find as outspoken people on your cruise as you will on these boards, at least not in as great number as you see here. Most people enjoy their cruise without paying a whole heck of a lot of attention to others around them unless the others stand out SERIOUSLY.
One of the big gripes on this board is travel with young kids. We're just back off the EOS. That ship was crawling from one end to the other with kids of all ages, tons of babies and toddlers, visibly pregnant women, tons of teens and all in between. We traveled with our 5 and 3yo, so we were ecstatic to see this, esp since we weren't traveling on a school holiday. Now, reading these boards we tried to notice if anyone made any rude comments about the kids. Didn't hear one or see any dirty looks given to any of the children, ours or others. From the tone of this board, we should have heard a lot. Instead we've heard from several older people how nice it was to see the little ones and from one older couple how this was their first cruise without their kids or grankids and how they MISSED them.
The dinner issue should be the same for you. You won't hear people comment on dresses like the red carpet photo shoot at the Oscars. The only thing that will stand out is if someone comes to formal night in shorts, thong sandals and a tank or something absurdly low cut or an absurd style (ie a bright orange suit with purple tie). Regular dress up clothes won't get noticed, guarantee you that.
As for tablemates, they're luck of the draw. We fondly remember our tablemates from our first cruise on the Ecstasy. On the other hand, the tablemates from the Sovreign didn't enhance our cruise. The tablemates from our last cruise were ok. Their kids were around the ages of ours, but didn't play much with them. They brought another couple to the table one night when the kids were in Johnny Rockets which I thought was a bit rude, esp considering the other couple were super snobs that kept talking about their house on LI. Those tablemates also happened to be a lesbian couple, which didn't matter at all to us, but it was strange at first not wanting to either assume they were a couple or just friends since either way could offend if the opposite was true. It wasn't until about the 4th night that we were sure they were a couple. It can be a lot of fun to have tablemates and you might really connect. On the other hand private dining is also nice and less of a gamble. Talk it over together as to what's best for you.
Coming in late on this one ... darn, but those pesky cruises get in the way.
As to shoes, my known bad ankle decided to get cranky on an 11-day cruise from which we have just returned. . $2 for an Ace bandage at the infirmary and I wore slippers (nice, soft black ones) almost everywhere on the ship, including to the Captain's table. Nobody shot me. And I don't think anyone even noticed.
Me, I rather turn up my delicate little nose at the ladies in full-formal as in gowns. Who the heck are THEY trying to impress? Certainly doesn't work for me.
My husband does tux-out on formal nights ... because he has the stuff and likes to wear it. But we certainly don't look down on the guys who don't. Unless their idea of "formal" is a clean Harley-Davidson T-shirt.
Please don't stress over this. Your niceness and concern for others comes through loud and clear.
My formal gear consists almost entirely of things with pants because I have the world's ugliest legs. Nobody has shot me for that, either.
Balancing, I still wear shorts around a ship and nobody has ever said, "Wow! What ugly legs you have, Grandma."
Wear what makes you happy and comfortable, and the heck with the rest of 'em !!!