>>Bottom line, I wish cruise lines would quit trying to have "one size fits all" cruise experiences. It doesn't work, as the cruising public is too diverse in likes and dislikes. >>
I get what you're saying, Richard, but I think the differences in cruiselines themselves solve the problem. Some are more formal, others have a more casual atmosphere. There's a cruise for everyone, it seems.
When I'm on land, I sometimes don't *want* to get dressed up for a nice dinner. I know that means I won't be eating at Panos and Pauls (local fav 5 star restaurant), but at Chili's or Olive Garden. I don't expect Panos and Pauls to alter their atmosphere, service, etc. because I want to dress down. Why should we expect the cruiselines to do the same?
If there truly weren't a choice, I would understand, but the buffet food isn't exactly McD's and is often what is on the menu in the main dining room, at least in part. All that is lacking is the wonderful service.
Carnival Elation March 11
Carnival Imagination Sept 07
Carniival Sensation Dec 06
RCI Sovereign of the Seas Sept 06
Carnival Miracle Sept 05
Carnival Glory Sept 04
Carnival Fantasy Jan 04
Some ships have a 'bad rep', the people with the 40 tattoos running around drinking Buds. Why do the perfect people go on that cruise? Seems many on here know the 'perfect' ships, book them. Let us 'slobs' have the old, cheap, run down boozer ships sighhhhhhh
Bottom line, I wish cruise lines would quit trying to have "one size fits all" cruise experiences. It doesn't work, as the cruising public is too diverse in likes and dislikes.
Actually I think the cruise lines are doing alot to differentiate themselves from each other... and very much have more individual identities than they did only a few years ago.
It's the passengers who are trying to make every experience suit them, no matter how it's designed. It's the passenger who are looking at all them .. saying they must be the same experience.
People really do have the opportunity to find ships that closely match what they want in a cruise experience, but they often seem to prefer to make a choice, and try and insist it match their needs, rather than research and find the ones that do.
Then they come to Gripes to complain about the cruise being too much of a party ship, too many kids, too formal, too stuff, too old, too young, too slow, too busy and on and on.
I certainly agree that the different lines -- and even ships -- have been developing their individual personalities and offerings to suit different preferences in many areas. One area where they lag behind in this trend, however, is in dress codes. A good example of this would be the lines and ships of Carnival Corp. Given all the chioces on all the lines and ships owned by this corporation, one can chose a party oriented cruise or a cruise of quiet dignity ---- and everything in between. Once can chose to cruise with about 3000 guests or 200 guests -- and everything in between. One can chose a ship with many extra cost options, or a ship where everything is included onboard except spa and boutique. One can even chose a ship and itinerary that has formal nights most of the time (Cunard crossings) as I suggested some should have. But one can't chose a cruise without a formal night!
Yes, one can chose NCL, where formal is optional. One can also chose Oceania which is all casual. And Radisson is all casual in Tahiti and Alaska, and sometimes a few other scattered itineraries. But for all casual cruises, that's about it. (BTW, I don't really think of Windjammer as a "cruise", but more of an expedition. Expeditions are almost always casual.)
But my only point is that the percentage of these "all casual" cruise sailings (compared to the total number of cruise sailings and berths) is far smaller that the percentage of cruisers who prefer no formal nights. That's all.
Actually, I agree "semi's" are neither one thing or another. When you have a semi night sometimes you are not sure what to do and how to present yourself.
Direction is important here and if there is no guidance or official support for your "semi night" then people get confused regarding their position for that night and their fellow passengers acceptance of your version of a semi. We all look at those nights in different ways.
Actually, I don't know what semi-formal means either. That's because I've never cruised on a ship that had nights so designated. I have sailed on ships with nights designated as "informal", which the line further defined as casual plus a sports jacket for men (tie optional). And that was easy to understand. And easy to pack for as well. All it meant at the packing stage was to bring a sports jacket for me, and to bring a notch dressier outfit for my wife. No problem for us here.
My only point is when you add dark suit or tux, dress shirts, ties, and dress shoes needed for FORMAL nights, plus all the stuff my wife needs, you are talking about a lot of added luggage weight IF the cruise has formal nights which require formal dress in all public areas after 6:00 PM or so.
NCL does have a unique solution, as I understand it. I have not cruised NCL since the adoption of "Freestyle", but did cruise them before. As I understand it, one may wear what one wants, so long as it at least meets the definition of "casual" (slacks, collared shirt, and loafers for men). Correct me if I'm wrong. If I'm right, this solves the problem for us "casual types" but may not solve the problem for those who love traditional formal nights. And, I feel that those who really like those formal nights need to have their place, too.
You could just have your husband wear a very dark suit for formal night, and then wear the same jacket for the semi-formal night. Personally, I enjoy free style cruising now and I never thought I would say this. I come from way back when every night was formal for dinner. I have been cruising for 44 years and it is the only way to go for me.
I too agree that there should only be formal nights (tux or dark suit for men and formal gown or cocktail dress for women) and casual nights (shirts with collars and nice slacks for men and a nice sundress or pantsuit for women). That somewhere in between "semi formal" or whatever . . . only leads to confusion and . . . for those that try to do exactly as the cruise line dictates . . . more to pack than actually needed.
"Having a choice" yes that is good, but how about doing the choosing BEFORE you book the cruise. Reading the brochures will let you know what the line asks of you - you know those pages at the back do contain information.
If you want to go casual, there are lines that only have casual, if you want to eat whenever the fancy takes you there are cruise lines that do that also.
Why chose a cruise line that has set times for dining, dress codes, etc, then spend time and energy complaining that the cruise line is WRONG. It is not the cruise line, it is the passengers who do not bother to think before they book that cruiseline or ship.
The airline restrictions can limit what you pack, but again, if you want to travel with just one change of jeans and sweatshirt, CHOOSE the right ship.
well, I am probably in the minority on this one but any excuse to dress more formally than I normally would is to me a treat. we live in a very casual city. People don't even dress up for New Years eve any more. They sell wonderful gowns and dresses but there is not a restaurant or an event where you could even wear something fancy like that and not have people give you the skunk eye... So, to me, part of the fun of the cruise is the great clothes that I only get to wear for a week.
I'm like kristine in her review above... Both my wife and myself think its fun to dress up in the evening and go to dinner. I mean for the entire day you can lay around in your bathing suit so whats the big deal about dressing up for a few hours at night. If you don't want to dress for dinner thats why the buffet is open during dinner.
Ok here's my rule of thumb. At least where men are concerned.
Formal = Jacket + tie
Semi formal = Jacket - no tie
Casual = no jacket
Of course for all of the above no jeans, sandals, sneakers, shorts or t shirts (unless your wearing a really nice t-shirt and its under a jacket. Which I'd lean AGAINST because its sorta 1980's Miami Vice. Instead a short sleeve polo shirt looks very snappy under a nice sports jacket!) Hint: Go buy yourself 1 nice black jacket and you can use it for both formal night AND semi formal night.
Can an experienced lady pipe up with an easy rule of thumb for the opposite sex??
The problem is Kevin that all you mention above is for people of an age that knew the difference or more importantly cared.
Today most attire nights are aimed at people who want to live in the past based on "what I should experience" when cruising and that is based on the past.
Or they live in denial or unacceptance of what todays younger cruising people do, what they want from a vacation. What they expect or how they react, or how they dress at night.
Problem is there is a lot out people out there who dont think or expect like us,,,so a divide.
This is across all ships and lines and I would expect that on most lines within the next 5 - 10 years apart from one or two formal nights (optional) the rest of the codes will disappear.
Since the days of the great Queens, Titanic etc up to and including today's versions of ship. Cruising has constantly reshaped what it offers people to keep its market and in this case I feel the casual market will eventually win.
It will go the same way as class based cabins, dining rooms, bars/lounges or decks you can walk on based on class etc etc. A sign of the times.
I'm new to cruising myself but the rules of thumb I described above not only apply to dining on a cruise ship but dining in general. I'm sure some people have never been out to dinner anywhere fancier than the Red Lobster. I'm not an old fart either, I'm only 35.
I agree with your point of view that cruises are now, and are becoming more accomodating to people that don't want to go through the formality of dressing up even for a single night. Heck there are nude cruises out there for people that don't want to wear anything! From what I've read on these message boards it seems there are cruiseships that lean towards the more casual with very few, or no formal nights at all. Some ships have open seating in multiple restaurants instead of one big dining room. People can then pick which dining room (and level of formality) they wish to experience.
But there are still lots of people that love to dress up once in a while (including my wife and I).
Again I totally agree with the post above last. Personally we dress to suit the mood the ship is trying to create for that night. But to be honest even though the ship may not lead on it, we will always be "well dressed". It makes us feel good and that we doing something special that we do not do 365 days of the year.
Another slant on it, we went to a friends wedding a few weeks ago. The range of dress that people turned up in was incredible, from the over the top, to the what you would expect, going down to people who looked as if they just they could have been going to the supermarket or DIY store. It was like a mini cruise gathering
Things are changing in all aspects of life regarding dress codes,,,,even in the work place
Funny you mention that David. I have seen a bit of a trend going back to business attire in the business world. We noticed in the 80's and 90's the casual trend starting to go a little more tradional in this century. Even on casual friday's in retail banking the degree of casual is changing (ie length of skirt, leather, etc)
Even 3 piece suits are back a little (some of the guys where i work). The general trend on Bay St (the financial district) is going back to proper business attire.
Smart Casual or Semi-Formal, call it what you will, is well and truly dead. Just got off Voyager, I counted 3 Jackets and ties in the dining room. You know it is dead when the cruise line gives you the option of smart casual OR dress to suit the theme night; in our case 50s & 60s &70s attire. It is gone and good riddance; this from a traditionalist.
I have to say we are going on our first cruise in 49 days and all this talk about what to wear has made my head spin!
We just want to have a good time, not worry about what everyone thinks about what we are wearing!
I will be taking a dress and my husband will take a sports coat and dress pants, but I refuse to buy a formal gown and get him a tux! For crimeys sake we did that at our wedding 13 years ago-that was enough!
I truly believe there should be cruises/sailings for folks who like what you like --- even if I do not. This idea of "one size fits all" cruising has got to go. Where is it written in law that we MUST have a couple of formal nights, and several casual nights, and a few semi or informal nights on a 7 day cruise? There are many people like you who would opt for all formal. There are many people like me who would opt for all casual. And we both should have that option, just by selecting certain sailings. Either way, it would cut down on packing for three dress codes, wouldn't it?
Everyone has an opinion and a preference when it comes to what to wear on a vacation. Some people (like me) enjoy dressing up. My wife and I think its fun, we get a nice formal picture taken by the photographers and have it framed on our wall, give copies to our parents, etc.. Other folks never like changing out of their shorts and sweatpants because they like having strech waistbands which make multiple trips to the buffet easier.
I think people need to do a little more research on the theme of their cruiseline and cruise ship BEFORE they book the trip to make sure they get exactly what they're looking for. There are so many ships that cater to "niches" nowadays that there is something out there for everyone. There are ships out there with no formal nights. There are ships out there where every night is formal.
This website actually does a very good job of suggesting which cruiseline and cruiseship would be right for you depending on how much or how little you like to dress up for your cruise. They've got a really cool Cruise Ship finder search engine that I think does a good job of finding a ship that is right for you. Its right here: