For some cruise lines the “dress code” is more of a suggestion. But others prefer to keep a classy ambiance for their cruisers. Before you go on your cruise, especially if it is with a cruise line you have not sailed with before, make sure you know what kind of attire is recommended so you can pack appropriately and not stick out like a sore thumb.
Every cruise line has its own dress code, so here is a basic breakdown of what each cruise line recommends for both casual attire and formal nights.
If you want to get really dressed up for our cruise but don’t have a suit or tuxedo, keep in mind that these can be provided for you on most cruise ships.
Carnival recommends a more casual approach to attire. The line suggests shorts, sundresses, tank tops, etc. for the ladies, and for men; shorts, polo shirts, T-shirts. Foot wear with traction is recommended to avoid any slipping.
In the evenings there is a cruise casual dress code that includes:
Gentlemen – Sport slacks, khakis, jeans (no cut-offs), dress shorts (long), collared sport shirts;
Ladies – Casual dresses, casual skirts or pants and blouses, summer dresses, Capri pants, dress shorts, jeans (no cut-offs).
A shirt and shoes (flip flops are fine) are always required for eating at the buffet.
Formal nights (Cruise Elegant evenings) have a dress code that includes:
Gentlemen – Dress slacks, dress shirts. Carnival also suggests a sports coat. Tuxedos and suits are encouraged but not mandatory.
Ladies – Cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses
What is not allowed in the main dining room on formal nights: shorts, gym shorts, T-shirts, beach flip-flops, bathing suit attire, jeans, cut-off jeans, sleeveless shirts for men, sportswear, and baseball hats.
On seven day cruises or longer there are two formal nights and just one on shorter cruises.
Royal Caribbean’s website says there are 3 different dress codes on board: casual, smart casual, and formal.
- Casual: Sport shirts and slacks for men, sundresses or pants for women
- Smart Casual: Jackets and ties for men, dresses or pantsuits for women
- Formal: Suits and ties or tuxedos for men, cocktail dresses for women
RCCL cruises that are 5 nights or less will have one formal night and any cruises longer than 6 nights will have at least 2.
Some casual shorts and a couple of t-shirts or a cover-up for getting to and from the pool areas is recommended.
If you are going on any Royal Caribbean ships that have an ice-skating rink, long pants and socks are required to skate.
Specialty restaurants require smart casual attire.
Shorts, T-shirts, and bathing suits are not considered appropriate attire in the dining rooms at dinner, but casual attire is fine for eating at the buffet.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian prides itself on offering a casual cruising experience called “free-style cruising”, but this doesn’t mean you should go free-stylin’.
The cruise line recommends a resort casual dress code during the day and on formal night you have the option to dress up or not.
Casual dress includes:
For Ladies: summer and casual dresses, skirts, regular or capri pants, shorts, jeans and tops.
For gentlemen: khakis, jeans, shorts and casual shirts.
You are allowed to wear swimwear to the buffet but shoes and a cover-up are required.
Smart Casual dress includes:
For Ladies: slacks or jeans, dresses, skirts and tops.
For gentlemen: jeans or slacks with a collared shirt and closed-toed shoes
What is not permitted in main dining rooms or specialty restaurants: Tank tops for men, flip flops, baseball caps, visors and jeans that are overly faded, with holes or tears and worn below the hips.
Disney Cruise Line
The dress code at dinner time on a Disney cruise ship will vary. There are nights for casual, “dress-up”, semi-formal, and formal attire.
Most meals on the ship are cruise casual with no swimwear or tank tops.
There are special theme nights on Disney ships which give cruisers the opportunity to get dressed up.
For dress-up night men are to wear a jacket and women are to wear a dress or pant suit.
Only 7 day cruises or longer will have formal and semi-formal nights. On formal nights guests are suggested to wear dress pants with a jacket or a suit for men, and dress or pantsuit for women, but Disney will admit this is optional.
No jeans, shorts, capri pants, flip-flops or tennis shoes are to be worn in the specialty dining rooms.
Celebrity’s website says you need 3 different types of attire: Casual wear, port wear, and evening wear. Casual wear is suitable for during the day and will include slacks or pants, blouses or shirts, knit tops or polo shirts.
The cruise line suggests a pair of sneakers or rubber soled shoes for deck sports as well as a swimsuit cover up for cooler areas of the ship.
Smart Casual attire and above
For ladies this will include a skirt or pair of pants with a blouse or sweater and for gentlemen will mean pants with a sports shirt with sleeves. None of the clothing should have rips or tears. Jeans are allowed as long as they are not ripped or torn.
Smart casual attire will be required for the Celebrity Theater for all performances.
Shorts and flip-flops are not allowed in the main dining room in the evening but are acceptable for lunch.
Formal night wear
Ladies: Cocktail dress, gown, or dressy pants suit. Gentlemen: Tuxedo, suit, or dinner jacket with slacks. This is only required in main dining rooms on formal nights.
For 3-5 day cruises there is one formal night, and for some 5-9 day cruises there are 2 formal nights.
Smart casual attire is suitable for specialty dining restaurants even on formal nights.
Attire not allowed in the main dining room: T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, bare feet, tank tops, baseball caps and pool wear.
MSC is more relaxed with its dress code. Casual attire is suitable during the day and “tasteful” T-shirts and even shorts can be worn in the main dining room.
Depending on the night and the dining venue here is the breakdown of casual, informal, and formal attire:
Casual: Slacks and sport shirt for men (no jeans); slacks and blouse, sundress or pantsuit for women.
Informal: Jacket with or without tie for men; dress or pantsuit for women.
Formal: Dark suit or tuxedo for men; evening gown or cocktail dress for women.
Most 3- and 4-night cruises have one formal night; most 7-night cruises have 2 formal nights.
Costa Cruise Lines
On a 7 day or longer cruise on a Costa ship there will be at least 2 formal nights. Most every other night the dress code is informal.
For men dark suits or tuxedos are recommended on formal night, although typically sport coats and ties are also common. Women are encouraged to wear evening gowns or cocktail dresses.
On other evenings, gentlemen generally wear sport coats and slacks, while ladies wear resort attire.
Formal attire is not necessary at the buffet even on gala nights for those that want a more relaxed and casual dinner.
Some have suggested not wearing shorts on Costa after 6pm in public areas, but this information is not listed on Costa’s website as far as I could tell.
The attire suitable for most days on a Princess ship is resort casual. During the day women will typically wear shorts, sundresses, tank tops, etc. while the men wear shorts, polo shirts, and T-shirts.
Evening wear and main dining room attire:
The dress code for most evenings is “smart casual”. In the dining room men should wear casual slacks or khakis, and a polo or button down shirt. Women should wear casual skirts or pants, sundresses, capris, blouses, etc.
Shorts are not allowed in the main dining room even on casual nights.
As always, clothing should not have tears or rips in the material.
During formal nights the dress code will include:
For ladies: Evening gowns and cocktail dresses
For gentlemen: Tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits with a tie
1-4 day cruises will not have a formal night. 5-6 day cruises will have one formal night. And 7-13 day cruises will have two formal nights.
From Princess’s website:
“Inappropriate dinner wear such as pool or beach attire, shorts, ball caps and casual jeans (with fraying and/or holes) are not permitted in the dining rooms. Shoes must be worn.”