Dress Codes: What to Wear on Your Cruise

What to wear and what not to wear on certain cruise lines

Have you ever showed up to an event underdressed?

I did. I was 15 years old and went to my friend’s quinceañera. Assuming it would be like any regular birthday party, I wore jeans and a baby-blue sweater; but everyone else was wearing long gowns that sparkled with every step they took. Ever since then, I vowed to always know the proper dress code wherever I went.

Every cruise line has its own unique dress code. Some have formal nights, some don’t allow baseball caps and others encourage you to dress up like a pirate. Prepare yourself for your cruise with this detailed list of what to wear and what not to wear during your time on the ship.

Azamara Club Cruises

Day: Women typically wear shorts, casual dresses, skirts, pants or sport wear, while the men wear polo shirts, shorts, pants and optional jackets.

Night: Azamara does not have any formal nights for which you are required to dress formally, but if you want to, you certainly can. For the buffet at Windows Café, jeans are OK.

What not to wear: You are not allowed to wear tank tops, ball caps, bathing suits, shorts or jeans in any of the restaurants or dining rooms.

Carnival Cruise Line

Day: During the day most people will wear shorts, jeans, T-shirts, sundresses and swimsuits with cover-ups.

Night: On a typical seven-day sailing, Carnival has two formal nights for which they expect a cruise elegant dress code. Cruise elegant dress code means you need to step it up a notch with dress shirts and sport jacket (optional) with dress pants for men, while women could wear pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses, or cocktail dresses. Some cruisers take it to the next level, wearing suits and tuxedos and even evening gowns. If you’re dining at the buffet, you of course can stay in casual attire. The cruise casual night attire means guys should wear khakis, jeans (no cut-offs) or sport slacks with a collared shirt. Women are suggested to wear casual dresses, skirts or pants, summer dresses, capri pants, jeans (no cut-offs) and blouses.

What not to wear: This is only for the dining rooms: bathing suits and cover-ups, cut-off jeans, caps, athletic shorts and beach flip-flops.

Celebrity Cruises

Day: Casual shipboard attire can include trouser or chinos, blouses or shirts, pullovers or polo shirts and, of course, bathing suits for the pools, and workout gear and sneakers for the sports deck.

Night: Celebrity’s website states that you’ll need two types of evening clothes for a cruise. Most nights are “Smart Casual and Above,” meaning sport shirts and slacks for men, while women will be comfortable in skirts or pants and blouses, or casual dresses. On “evening chic” nights, both men and women may prefer more dressy attire, though it is not required. Nor are jackets and ties required for men. On an average seven-night sailing there are at least two evening chic nights.

What not to wear: T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, tank tops, caps and pool wear are not allowed in the main or specialty restaurants. Shorts and flip-flops are not allowed during evening hours. As long as jeans don’t have holes, rips or tears, they are permitted in the main dining room any night of the cruise.

Crystal Cruises

Day: Both women and men can wear active resort wear around the ship. Dining room attire is casual during the day, but swimsuits with cover-ups and baseball hats are not permitted.

Night: Crystal recently simplified their evening dress code and divided it into two types. Crystal Casual calls for a dressed-up version of the casual look. Women should wear dressy slacks or skirts with a sweater or blouse or a dress. Men should wear open-collar shirts, polo shirts, dress shirts (no tie required) and dress pants with an optional sports coat. On the Black Tie Optional nights, men should wear a dark suit (with or with a tie) or tuxedo. Women should wear a cocktail dress, evening gown or dressy evening separates. You can expect at least one formal evening on seven-to-10-night sailings and two on 11-to-13-night sailings. Check with Crystal for exact numbers because they vary depending on itinerary.

What not to wear: Jeans are not allowed in any venue or lounge, including the casino. And after 6 p.m., casual daytime attire is not appropriate.

Cunard Line

Day: Most Cunard cruisers dress in comfortable yet stylish wear, including shorts and nice jeans and beachwear.

Night: Cunard has three evening dress codes: formal, informal (jacket required) and informal (jacket optional). Formal nights are just that, and women are expected to wear cocktail dresses or pantsuits, and men should wear a tuxedo, dinner jacket or dark suit with appropriate neck wear. You may also wear formal national dress and military uniforms. On informal jacket-required nights, men are required to wear a jacket and pants (no jeans or shorts), and women should wear a cocktail dress or dressy separates. The informal jacket-optional nights are the most casual of the nights and are basically for embarkation day only. Children under 18 do not have a dress code but should follow the daily dress code when possible. A typical seven-night cruise has three formal nights.

What not to wear: After 6 p.m., shorts and blue or worn denim (for men and women), sandals and sleeveless tops (for men) are not considered appropriate within the ship.

Disney Cruise Line

Day: Dress for play during the day with active wear, bathing suits (not in the dining rooms), shorts, T-shirts, jeans, flip-flops, sandals and sneakers.

Night: This might be the only cruise line where you should pack a pirate outfit for one of the nights. On a typical seven-day cruise there is usually one formal or semi-formal night where dress pants and a jacket or a suit jacket are recommended for men and a dress or pantsuit for women. If you’re dining at one of the adults-only restaurants, men are required to wear dress pants with a sport jacket, suit or tuxedo, and women should wear a cocktail dress, pantsuit or skirt with blouse. Cruise casual means dress shirts for men and dresses or pantsuits for women. Disney always has at least one dress-up night that focuses around a theme like pirates or tropical.   

Formal requires tuxedos or suits for men and gowns or dresses for women. Semiformal entails suits or jackets for men and dresses or pantsuits for women. “Dress-up” means dress shirts for men (jackets optional) and dresses or pantsuits for women.

What not to wear: Swimwear and tank tops are not allowed in the dining rooms.

Holland America Line

Day: The dress code during the day is resort-casual, which consists of shorts, dresses, beachwear, slacks or pants.

Night: Holland America changed the name of its formal night to Gala Nights to keep cruisers from thinking that formal night meant black tie night as it does on other cruise lines. Your gala attire should include dresses, skirts or slacks for women and collared shirts and slacks for men (jackets and ties are optional). One a seven-day cruise you can expect one gala night; the rest have smart-casual dining attire for which shorts, pool/beachwear, distressed jeans and men’s tank tops are not permitted.

MSC Cruises

Day: The dress code during the day on MSC is casual wear, meaning shorts, T-shirts, pool wear, dresses, active wear, sun hats and comfy resort wear.

Night: There are two formal nights on an average seven-to-nine-night itinerary; they call for men to wear suits or jackets and ties and women to wear cocktail dresses or pantsuits. The rest of the nights are casual resort, and jeans are allowed as long as they are not ripped or torn. MSC does have theme nights for which cruisers are encouraged to come dressed for the specific theme, which ranges from Tropical Night to White Night and even ’60s/’70s/’80s Night.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Day: During the day most cruisers wear shorts, tank tops, active wear, pool wear, hats and other casual clothes.

Night: With their freestyle type of cruising Norwegian does not have a dress code at night, but nearly all cruisers dress for cruise casual. Women can wear summer dresses, skirts, capris, shorts and jeans, while men can wear jeans, shorts and casual shirts. When heading to dinner, “nice” jeans or pants with a collared shirt are suggested for men and dresses, skirts or jeans with a nice top for women.

If you plan to dine at one of the more upscale restaurants, such as Le Bistro or Cagney’s Steakhouse, you should dress a little more formally. Norwegian doesn’t have a formal night, but it does have “Norwegian’s Night Out” for a dressier evening (but not tuxedo/ball gown dressy). Pack an all-white outfit for their famous White Hot party, and if there’s someone painting faces, get yours painted. Once they turn the lights out you’ll see why.

What not to wear: Tank tops for men, flip-flops, baseball caps and visors are not permitted in the main dining room or any of the specialty restaurants.

Oceania Cruises

Day: The dress code on Oceania is easy: resort casual while the sun is up. Consider casual, comfortable clothes, swimwear with a cover-up or active wear of some sort.

Night: While Oceania is one of the luxury lines, it maintains a rather laid-back cruising dress code. The evening dress code is a mix of country club casual and elegant casual. You’ll find some cruisers dressing up with cocktail dresses and sleek looking suits while others choose to wear sun dresses or a nice pair of khakis with a sport coat.

What not to wear: Pool wear and tank tops are not permitted in any of the dining venues at anytime. Jeans shorts, T-shirts and tennis shoes are not to be worn in any public areas after 6 p.m.

Princess Cruises

Day: During the day you can expect cruisers to wear pool wear, active wear, shorts, T-shirts, sneakers, sandals, summer dresses, pants and flip-flops.

Night: Princess typically has two formal nights on an average seven-to-13-night sailing. On the formal nights men are expected to wear tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits, and women should wear cocktail dresses, evening gowns or elegant pantsuits. The smart casual attire is for the remainder of the nights; women should wear skirts, dresses or slacks with a casual but nice shirt, and men can wear slacks and polo shirts.

What not to wear: According to the Princess website, shoes must be worn at all times, which probably means someone tried to take their shoes off at dinner. Don’t do it.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Day: Resort-style attire is best during the day. Casual attire (such as active wear, shorts, sun hats (especially by the pool), polo shirts, pool wear, skirts, sundresses, loafers, sneakers and sandals) can be worn throughout the day.

Night: After 6 p.m. the dress code shifts from casual to elegant casual. Women should wear skirts, slacks, dresses, pantsuits, blouses and sweaters (for rooms with the AC blasting), and men should wear slacks and collared shirts. Typically only the sailings of 16 nights or longer have formal and semiformal nights, but it’s always optional to don your cocktail dresses and tuxedos.

What not to wear: Jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, shorts and tennis shoes are not allowed in any public area after 6 p.m.

Royal Caribbean International

Day: You’ll see just about everything (with taste) during the day, because it depends how and where you’re spending your day. Women can wear sundresses, shorts, tank tops, pool wear, jeans, hats, sneakers, sandals, flip-flops and active wear. Men should wear shorts, pants, T-shirts, polo shirts, jeans, pool wear, active wear, sneakers, sandals or flip-flops.

Night: On a typical seven-night cruise there will be two formal nights where the dress code includes cocktail dresses for women and suits or tuxedos for men. On the other nights, smart casual or casual attire is expected. On the smart casual nights, this includes dresses and pantsuits for women and jackets and ties for men. And the casual attire should include sundresses, pantsuits, skirts and tops for women and slacks and polo shirts (or sport shirts) for men.

What not to wear: The main restrictions are in the dining rooms. Royal Caribbean requests that you not wear caps, tank tops, bathing suits or shorts. Jeans are OK, but they must be free of tears and holes.

Seabourn Cruise Line

Day: Seabourn has a casual resort-style dress code but specifies that you should keep pool wear and exercise attire for the pool deck, spa or fitness center. Throughout the ship the resort-style attire can include shorts, sun dresses, polo shirts, sport shirts, loafers, sandals and sneakers.

Night: Elegant casual and formal are the two dress codes for nightly attire. There is only one formal night (which is optional) on sailings up to 13 nights. Formal attire includes tuxedos, suits or slacks (jackets required) for men and evening gowns or other formal attire for women. Elegant casual attire includes slacks with collared dress shirts or sweaters (jackets optional) for men and skirts or slacks with blouses, pantsuits or dresses for women. The evening dress code begins at 6 p.m.

What not to wear: The casual resort dress code ends at 6 p.m. And while jeans are welcome in all dining venues during the day, they’re not on the list for the evening.

Silversea Cruises

Day: Casual wear is expected during the day and consists of “standard sports outfits as worn at five-star resorts. Shoes should be flat or low heeled for deck activities,” as stated on the Silversea website.

Night: Expect at least two formal nights on sailings of eight nights or longer, for which gowns or cocktail dresses are suggested for women, and tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits are suggested for men. On informal nights, dresses or pantsuits for women and jackets (ties optional) for men are recommended. On casual nights, open-neck shirts and slacks are appropriate for men, while women wear casual dresses, blouses and skirts or pantsuits.

What not to wear: Jeans and baseball caps are not allowed in the restaurants at any time.

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