Dress Codes

Everything you need to know about formal night on a Royal Caribbean cruise


The two words that seem to strike anxiety into so many new cruisers are "formal night".  Something about this dress code generates a lot of questions about what to expect.  

Here is an overview of what you need to know about formal night on your Royal Caribbean cruise.


Let us be clear: formal night (and other dress codes) apply only to the main dining room.  Whether it is formal or casual dress code, it only applies to what you wear to the main dining room, and not elsewhere onboard the ship.  Other restaurants (like specialty restaurants) have their own dress code, which supersedes the main dining room dress code.

On select nights of your cruise, the main dining room will have formal dress code suggested. These are evenings where Royal Caribbean suggests guests dress up the most.  

Royal Caribbean lists this as formal night suggested dress for formal night: Suits and ties or tuxedos for men (black tie is optional), cocktail dresses or pantsuit for women

How fancy is formal night

Despite the name, formal night is not nearly as fancy as you might think. Formal night is certainly the most dressed up evening attire required on your Royal Caribbean cruise, but it is not as ornate as you might imagine.

Evening wear for formal night will vary, and you will see some guests wearing tuxedoes and gowns. It is our observation that most guests tend to dress a bit less fancy than that, with men wearing suits or sports coats and women wearing cocktail dresses. Essentially, it is clothing that is a bit nicer than you might wear on other nights of the cruise.

If the idea of formal night really bothers you, the good news is you absolutely do not have to get dressed up on your Royal Caribbean cruise. The formal night dress code is only for the main dining room and specialty restaurants, so anywhere else on the ship is fair game for shorts, flip flops and tank tops. The Windjammer and other quick service venues will be open and without any formal wear.

When is formal night and how many will there be on my cruise?

There can be 1-3 formal nights during a sailing and is at the ship’s discretion. 

  • 3/4/5 night cruises - usually on Day 2
  • 6 night cruises - usually on day 2 and 5
  • 7 night cruises - are usually on Day 2 and 6
  • Oasis and Allure use Day 2 and 5 on Western itineraries and Day 2 and 6 on Eastern itineraries.
  • 14-night and longer cruises will have three formal nights.

There are no formal nights on Empress of the Seas sailings.

Royal Caribbean updates dining room dress code again and removes shorts


Royal Caribbean has revised its dress code suggestions on its website and removed shorts from the list, a little more than a week after shorts were discovered as acceptable attire.

The website now lists suggestions for casual, smart casual and formal dress codes.  Under the casual dress code, shorts, tees, and tank tops have been removed from the list.

Royal Caribbean generated a lot of discussion early last week when the web page included shorts as acceptable attire.  That decision drew the ire of many traditionalists, who did not think it was appropriate.  This latest website update reverses the policy and clarifies the cruise line's stance on the issue.

Royal Caribbean adds shorts to approved clothing for main dining room


Royal Caribbean's website now lists shorts as one of the suggested forms of clothing to adhere to the cruise line's dress code while dining in the main dining room on casual nights.

The website now describes casual night suggested attire as, "Jeans, shorts, tees, tank tops, polos, sundresses and blouses are all the right amount of laid back. Please keep swimwear to the Pool Deck."

While the rule looks to be updated for casual nights, many guests have seen other guests dine in the main dining room wearing shorts on numerous occasions.  Additionally, shorts we never saw shorts explicitly mentions as a prohibited article of clothing in the main dining room.

It is unclear when the webpage was changed, but the good folks at the Internet WayBack Machine show the old version of this web page do not mention shorts, as of August 2016.

5 questions about what to wear on a Royal Caribbean cruise


We get a lot of questions from our readers regarding one aspect of what to wear on a Royal Caribbean cruise or another, and so today, we are sharing five dress code questions and answers to help everyone know what to expect on their cruise.

"Do men have to wear suits for formal night or will dress pants shirt and tie be acceptable?" by Shirley Cridland

Men do not have to wear a suit on formal night on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  Suits and ties or tuxedos for men are suggested attire for formal night, however, they are far from required.  The formal night dress code applies to the main dining room (specialty restaurant dress codes always super cede any other dress code, if you happen to be dining there).  

You will find many men opting for a collared shirt and nice pair of pants.  So Shirley's alternative idea of a shirt, tie and dress pants are certainly acceptable.

"Are dress slacks and a dress shirt considered formal night clothes or do I need a jacket also? I do not believe in tuxedos" - Manuel Pataca

Absolutely, dress slacks and a dress shirt are more than enough for formal night.  Jackets are rarely required dress wear anywhere on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

"How formal is dress code on formal nights?" - Louis

This is a pretty common question that gives many first time cruisers anxiety about what they should wear on a cruise.  As you might be able to tell from the answers above, it is not nearly as formal as one might imagine, given the use of the word "formal."

Essentially, Royal Caribbean's dress codes are relative terms. There are three possible dress codes you will encounter onboard:

  • Casual
  • Smart Casual
  • Formal

All of them are suggested dress codes, and by no means required.  When it comes to formal dress code, it is suggested guests dress up the nicest of any of the evenings onboard.  There is, however, no requirement for what exactly does and does not constitute formal wear.

You will see other guests in suits, long dresses and even a few tuxedos or ball gowns.  A majority of guests tend to wear collared shirts (with or without ties) and cocktail dresses. If you prefer a more relaxed formal night motif, a polo shirt and slacks for men will suffice, as will a nice blouse and skirt or pants for women.  There is no fashion police to look for what guests are wearing, and entry to the main dining room will only be denied for those wearing "pool clothing" (tank tops, hats, etc).

"How close to my cruise date can I book a tuxedo?" - Robert Rayner

Royal Caribbean provides tuxedo rentals for guests to use on its cruises via the tuxedo rental website, but you will need to make reservations in advance of your cruise.

Ideally, you will want to reserve it as far in advance as possible to ensure they have your size available.  Tuxedo rentals are also available onboard the ship, but will be subject to availability. They carry a good stock on every ship so chances are very good they will have what most sizes.

"There are two options for a tuxedo rental, but our cruise is only 4-nights, so getting two shirts seems pointless. Are there cheaper options?" - Brian Leather

The pre-cruise tuxedo rental options are a standard offering that is available fleet wide.  I understand your concern, and you could alternatively rent or purchase a tuxedo prior to your cruise from somewhere other than through Royal Caribbean.

Before your cruise, shop around and see what is available in stores near your home. If you plan to use it more than once it is probably cheaper to buy. Remember, you do not need to spend a fortune on a tux.

First time cruisers: The truth about dress codes


If you're new to cruising, often there's a lot of confusion and misconceptions surrounding the idea of dress codes and how formal (or informal) you have to be on your Royal Caribbean cruise.  It's time to clear the air about what to wear!

Here's the quick and simple answer: 

You don't have to dress up at all!

That's right, if you want to wear shorts and tanktops all day, every day of your cruise there is no reason you cannot.  Royal Caribbean has a few dress codes that are only for dining in select restaurants. Otherwise, you can wear whatever suits you all the time.

When and where you will need to dress up

The only places you will need to adjust what you wear is in select restaurants.  The main dining room has a dress code for every night, which is stipulated in the Cruise Compass.  It varies from casual to formal and applies to dinner only.  

For breakfast and lunch (if open,), the main dining room has a less stringent dress code of no swimsuits, hats, tanktops or other pool clothing.

The specialty restaurants always have a dress code that falls somewhere between casual and formal that Royal Caribbean calls "smart casual".  Royal Caribbean defines it as, "jackets and ties for men, dresses or pantsuits for women.

Other complimentary restaurants such as the Windjammer or Seaview Cafe simply require shoes and a shirt. 

Casual is okay

Worrying about the dress code can be a major obstacle for those new to cruising but it really does not have to be a problem at all.  

Some people enjoy dressing up and others despise it and it's okay for both people.  Royal Caribbean offers dress code suggestions with alternative dining venues if you choose not to dress up.  

In fact, a lot of veteran Royal Caribbean cruisers will tell you they really enjoy dining in the Windjammer every night for the wide variety of food and relaxed atmosphere.  

If you feel like packing a collared shirt and "nice" jeans and maybe a dress to have a nice night out, that's okay too.  Royal Caribbean wants every guest to feel comfortable and under no pressure when it comes to what to wear at dinner.

Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas

You have heard about Royal Caribbean's newest class of cruise ships coming in 2014 and 2015, Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas (there's a third, unnamed ship in that class too) and these ships are turning dress codes upside down.

Royal Caribbean is dropping formal night dress code for ship wide recommendations.  Instead, they will have one restaurant that only offers formal dress every night.  A more relaxed attitude towards dress codes is also going to be felt across the entire ship.

Don't worry!

The bottom line is don't worry about dress codes.  At all.  They exist but they are suggestions and you will not be ostricized for not following them.  

There are lots of places to eat onboard if you choose not to follow them and even when you do follow them, the dress codes are pretty relaxed. Royal Caribbean ships are not full of people in tuxedos and formal ball gowns.  

Enjoy your Royal Caribbean cruise experience without worrying about what you will be wearing at any given time.

Dress codes on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode 19


It's cold outside so stay indoors and enjoy this week's brand new episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast!

Episode 19 is now available for downloading where we look at what what dress codes Royal Caribbean has for venues aboard its cruise ships.

In this episode, Matt explores what guidelines Royal Caribbean has in terms of what to wear during different times of the day.  We will look at dress codes during the day and evening, as well as what each dress code means and what to do if you don't want to dress up at all (which is okay too).

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 19. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

What to wear on your Royal Caribbean cruise


What to wear on your Royal Caribbean cruise is a source of controversy among fans and a never ending source of debate.  Nonetheless, dinner time on a Royal Caribbean cruise comes with suggest dress attire and for first time cruisers, what you should and should not wear can be confusing.

The good news is cruising these days is a far cry from the "old days" of cruising in the last century when ball gowns and tuxedos with tails and top hats.  Royal Caribbean is pretty open about what you can wear throughout the cruise but at dinner time, there's still a few elements of formality left to consider.  And for those that don't want to dress up beyond t-shirts and shorts, Royal Caribbean has options for you as well.


Casual dress code is defined by Royal Caribbean as, "Sport shirts and slacks for men, sundresses or pants for women."  This basically means its clothing that is a step up from what you might wear around the ship during the day.  Often during the day, guests will wear shorts, t-shirts and other pool-friendly clothing.  Casual dress code means it should be nicer than that, with the suggestions we see above.

In our experience, we see men wearing long pants with polo shirts with  khakis or "nice jeans" (no holes) and a collared shirt.  For women, we often spot skirts, sundresses or just a nice blouse.  The best way I can describe it is what you would probably wear to visit your grandmother on a holiday.

Casual night dress code is the most common dress code you will find on your cruise and it's the easiest to pack for.  

Smart Casual

The smart casual dress code is the next step up from casual and Royal Caribbean defines it as, "jackets and ties for men, dresses or pantsuits for women."  For men, you swap out the polo shirts for collared shirts and add a jacket with tie.  For women this can be more formal dresses or pant suits.

Smart casual clothing is the sort of clothing you might wear on a religious holiday to a place of worship. 

The number of smart casual and formal nights is at the ship's discretion but on a 7-night Royal Caribbean cruise, there will be usually be 1 smart casual night.

Formal Nights

Formal night dress code is the most stringent in terms of formality (hence the name) and Royal Caribbean defines formal clothing as, "suits and ties or tuxedos for men, cocktail dresses for women."  

Formal night clothing is what you would probably wear to a traditional wedding and should be a step up from any other night's clothing.  You may see some men wearing tuxedos but a vast majority of men on Royal Caribbean cruises these days opt for a two or three piece suit.  For women, it's an opportunity to dress up as much as possible, with gowns, cocktail dresses and lots of accessories. 

What about kids?

Children are expected to follow the evening's dress code just as closely as adults.  There may be a little more leeway in terms of the degree of formality for children's clothing, but at the same time children are expected to be dressed up more than what they would wear during the daytime.  For boys, polo shirts and nice pants will suffice for most evenings and girls can wear dresses, skirts and sweaters.

Specialty Restaurants

The specialty restaurants onboard have their own dress code each evening, which super cedes what the main dining room dress code may be.  Of course, you can always over dress for these restaurants by wearing more formal attire, but that's up to you.  

A trick some veteran cruisers will try is booking specialty restaurants on formal nights of their cruise with the rationale if you have to dress up anyway for the specialty restaurant, then you may as well do it on a formal night and "kill two birds with one stone".

What if I do not want to get dressed up?

The fact is you do not have to dress up at all for dinner on your cruise.  Royal Caribbean gives you the option of dining in your stateroom (room service is complimentary) or at the Windjammer buffet.  In either case, you can wear anything other than swimsuits (with shoes) to dinner and it will be perfectly acceptable.

Is the dress code enforced?

Officially Royal Caribbean states they will enforce the dress code every night, however the reality is the staff cannot screen everyone and what they are wearing.  

There's plenty of cruisers out there that will tell you about people they have seen at a restaurant wearing shorts or a tank top.  Moreover, people may cite what others are wearing isn't formal enough for the suggested dress code of the evening.  Inevitably, it's a decision the Royal Caribbean staff will make depending on the situation.

The dress codes offer suggestions but they are starting points for what to wear.  Because Royal Caribbean does not explicitly list everything that  you may not wear, there's room for interpretation by passengers.  Nearly every description of dress codes for Royal Caribbean cruises mention passengers should not wear shorts, but you will likely see someone on your cruise wearing shorts in the restaurants.