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Dress Codes

Can you wear shorts in the dining room on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

In:
Category: 
22Apr2020

Perhaps no topic is as hotly debated among cruisers as if shorts are acceptable to be worn in the dining room.

 

The ambiguity of the posted rules, along with changing guest trends, has created strife for years among those that believe a change is needed.

So are you allowed to wear shorts in the main dining room? Here is the basic information.

Royal Caribbean's dress code rules

The dress code rules for Royal Caribbean provide dress suggestions for the three types of dress codes onboard: casual, smart casual and formal.

  • Casual: You’re on vacation – relax! Jeans, polos, sundresses and blouses are all the right amount of laid back. Please keep swimwear to the Pool Deck. Shorts are welcomed for breakfast and lunch.
  • Smart Casual: Think of this as a step up from your typical dinner wear. Dress to impress with collared shirts, dresses, skirts and blouses, or pantsuits. Jackets, sports coats and blazers are snazzy and welcomed. 
  • Formal: Make it a night out in your best black-tie look – suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses or evening gowns. There can be 1-3 formal nights during a sailing and is at the ship’s discretion.

The only posted rule only mentions that bare feet are not allowed at any time in any venue and tank tops are not permitted in the Main Dining Room or Specialty Dining venues for dinner.

Shorts are not mentioned as prohibited clothing to wear to the main dining room for dinner on Royal Caribbean's website. Certainly the dress codes for smart casual and formal seem to promote a standard of dress fancier than shorts, but there is no prohibition against them either.

I would be remiss if I did not mention in practice, dress codes are infrequently enforced by the main dining room staff. Anecdotally, many cruisers 

Should shorts be allowed in the main dining room?

To get a sense of what cruisers think, I posted a survey on Facebook to get an idea if shorts should be allowed to be worn in the main dining room for dinner.

The unscientific poll ran for about 36 hours, and accumulated 1,458 responses, with a lot of comments from cruisers who feel strongly about the issue. 

A majority of 776 people voted for a flat "no", shorts should not be worn to dinner in the main dining room. An additional 409 voted "I would not, but don't mind/care if someone else does."

On the other hand, 237 voted "yes" and 36 others voted "yes, but not on formal nights."

As mentioned, lots of people had thoughts on the notion of wearing shorts to the dining room.

"I understand people like to be casual but I still think it’s nice to have some areas you have to dress just a little nicer."

Most of the people that commented against wearing shorts in the dining room seemed to feel the main dining room holds a certain aura, and since it is as formal looking as it is, it is not unreasonable to expect guests to dress nicer when dining there.

"What others wear does not impact my dining experience. Each of us pay for the privilege to cruise & therefore the right to pick what we want to wear to dinner, or lunch, or breakfast."

This comment exemplifies the sentiment of a lot of cruisers who prefer not to engage in trying to police others and focus on themselves.

"Only on embarkation day... but other than that, no!"

Another vote for there being some leeway in the enforcement of the rules, but generally against wearing shorts.

"Why not if they are nice shorts aka not cargo or jean shorts and you are wearing a polo and like boat shoes I don’t see a problem. I often wear that to the dinning room and am still more dressed up then many wearing “pants”. I have seen many people come in with ripped jeans not nice looking clothes. Wearing shorts does not mean you don’t look nice. It’s my cruise, I will look nice but if u want shorts when it’s hot and it’s not formal night I am wearing them."

Of course, there is always the thought that perhaps the dress code itself needs to be re-considered. Whether dress codes are necessary or simply need to be updated with the times is another debate.

As this person points out, not all shorts are the same and the argument against shorts can easily start off with a generalization of lumping them all together.

Your thoughts

If you missed out on the poll, let us all know in the comments below what you think. Should guests be able to wear shorts in the dining room on a cruise? Or do you feel a sense of formality is necessary in the dining room during dinner?

Why is there formal night on a Royal Caribbean cruise?

In:
Category: 
14Apr2020

One of the most polarizing topics among cruisers these days is the role of dress codes on a cruise, especially formal night.

Dress codes apply to the suggested attire for attending dinner in the main dining room on a given day onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise.

The dress code changes daily, with a formal night or two included, but you might be wondering what is formal night and what should I wear on a cruise?

To formal or not...

The concept of getting dressed up for a cruise on formal night is an interesting scenario, because there are many opinions on the relevance of formal night in the 21st century, as well as complacency with the requirement.

I polled some Royal Caribbean cruise fans on Facebook to get an idea of their thoughts, and get a sense of the rate of participation. I asked them simply, "Do you get dressed up for formal night on a cruise?"

In the 36 hours or so the poll has run, about 1,446 people have participated, and an overwhelming 1,008 of respondents answered"yes" to the question.

The next biggest grouping of answers were among the 302 that answered "occasionally", with 127 responding "never" and just 9 that said "rarely".

These results indicate quite a few cruise fans participate in formal night, which was a little surprising considering the anecdotal trends I have observed among cruisers who voice a desire for a more less-regimented approach to vacationing.

The roots of formal night

The concept of dress codes emanates from the early days of cruising on passenger liners that most of us recall looking like something out of the 1997 film Titanic

Royal Caribbean, and most other cruise lines, carried forward the concept of dressing up for dinner while onboard. It provides an opportunity for guests to dress to impress, get professional photos taken, and enjoy an evening of elegance.

"Dress codes have been around since the heyday of transatlantic liner service," says Billy Hirsch, writer and cruise historian at Cruise Habit, "Those in steerage and tourist class were there with a destination in mind, but those with first-class this accommodations were members of high-society and always looking to impress.  This wasn't only applicable at dinner - but all day long, with guests dressing their best even while enjoying lounge chairs on deck (which had to be rented at cost, by the way)."

"Though the class system largely went away and travel on passenger ships is now primarily recreational, the snob-appeal in cruise-line marketing combined with the tendency of tradition to live long at sea has meant that more formal dress has remained popular with many guests - though most seem content to don a bathing suit rather than a tuxedo when by the pool."

Dress codes on Royal Caribbean look nothing like they did a century ago, but there is some vestige of the past still part of the cruise experience today.

Today, Royal Caribbean lists three types of dress codes: casual, smart casual, and formal. These dress codes apply to the main dining room only, and offer suggested attire for men and women. Specialty restaurants have their own dress code that supersedes the main dining room dress code, and there are always alternative casual dining options that have no regimented dress code for those uninterested in participating.

All short itineraries (5-nights or less) offer a “Wear Your Best” evening onboard (in lieu of a formal night).  Royal Caribbean describes it as: Nighttime’s the right time to wear your best look.  That means a step up from your tropical dinner wear, and includes collared shirts, dresses, skirts, blouses and pantsuits.  Jackets, tuxedos/formal wear sports coats and blazers are also appropriate. 

Sailings that are 6-nights or longer still have formal nights.  This includes Harmony of the Seas and all sister ships sailing 6+ night itineraries.    

What should I wear on formal night?

Royal Caribbean's dress code suggestions are just: suggestions.

Their website lists for men to consider a black-tie look, with suits and ties or tuxedos. Ladies should consider cocktail dresses or evening gowns.

If you are asking does everyone dress up to that extent, the answer is a resounding no. If you walk the Royal Promenade or around the Centrum of a Royal Caribbean ship around dinner time on formal night, you will spot plenty of people dressed to these specifications, but many opt for a more casual (but still dressed up) approach. Collared shirts with no jacket or tie for men, or blouses and skirts or leggings for ladies is common as well.

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

Your thoughts

If you missed the poll, let us all know in the comments below what you think. Do you (or will you) dress up for formal night? Do you think dress codes should remain a part of the cruise experience?

Spotted: Formal night name change on Harmony of the Seas

In:
11Sep2019

September 13 Update: 

We have received further clarification on this change.  

  • All short itineraries (5-nights or less) offer a “Wear Your Best” evening onboard (in lieu of a formal night).  Royal Caribbean describes it as: Nighttime’s the right time to wear your best look.  That means a step up from your tropical dinner wear, and includes collared shirts, dresses, skirts, blouses and pantsuits.  Jackets, tuxedos/formal wear sports coats and blazers are also appropriate. 
  • Sailings that are 6-nights or longer still have formal nights.  This includes Harmony of the Seas and all sister ships sailing 6+ night itineraries.    

Guests sailing on Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas will no longer see "formal night" listed as a dress code, as it is now referred to as "Wear Your Best".

Mike Chase shared a copy of the Cruise Compass from Harmony of the Seas on Facebook, where the new dinner dress suggestion is listed in lieu of what was formerly known as formal night.

The Cruise Compass on Harmony of the Seas lists a dinner dress suggestion of "Wear Your Best", which is described as "Say goodbye to Formal Night, and hello to Wear Your Best.  Get glamorous. Be Chic. It's time to shine - your way."

The transition from "formal night" to "wear your best" is not new to Royal Caribbean, as we first spotted the change on Mariner of the Seas last year.  That change did coincide with the ship's recent amplification. Similarly, Navigator of the Seas also switched to "Wear Your Best" as part of her amplification. We also spotted the switch on Anthem of the Seas & Enchantment of the Seas.

    Spotted: Wear Your Best dress suggestion on Mariner of the Seas

    In:
    02Jul2018

    Guests on Royal Caribbean's newly refurbished Mariner of the Seas have spotted another change to the ship, a change in how Royal Caribbean handles what used to be called formal night.

    Royal Caribbean Blog reader Nick Vitani shared with us a copy of the Cruise Compass from Mariner of the Seas where the new dinner dress suggestions were listed.

    The Cruise Compass on Mariner of the Seas lists a dinner dress suggestion of "Wear Your Best", which is described as "Say goodbye to Formal Night, and hello to Wear Your Best.  Get glamorous. Be Chic. It's time to shine - your way."

    Casual nights are referred to as "Laid Back Lounging", where jeans, polos, blouses or sundresses are listed as appropriate dress for dinner in the main dinign room.  Shorts are welcome for breakfast and lunch.  

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

    In:
    Category: 
    01Jan2018

    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.

    Basics

    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

    In:
    Category: 
    06Apr2017

    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

    In:
    27Mar2017

    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

    In:
    Category: 
    02Jan2017

    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

    In:
    21Jul2014

    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.

    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.

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