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What Should I Wear on a Cruise? A Guide to Cruise Line Dress Codes (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
What Should I Wear on a Cruise? A Guide to Cruise Line Dress Codes (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)

What Should I Wear on a Cruise? A Guide to Cruise Line Dress Codes

What Should I Wear on a Cruise? A Guide to Cruise Line Dress Codes (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
What Should I Wear on a Cruise? A Guide to Cruise Line Dress Codes (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)
Cruise Critic

Last updated
Mar 14, 2023

Cruise line dress codes are the subject of countless questions. What exactly is your cruise's casual dress code? And what exactly does your cruise line consider formal enough for your formal night dress code? Few issues create as much confusion among cruisers as what they are allowed to wear onboard, especially the when and where of it all.

From a clean T-shirt and jeans to a jacket and tie, cruise line dress codes run the gamut from hyper casual to elegant (and don't forget Hawaiian shirt night, of course). For example: You may be surprised to learn that high-end Viking Ocean Cruises dress code is closer to Norwegian Cruises' dress code than to Seabourn's. Or that the Royal Caribbean dress code may be enforced differently from ship to ship.

If you're wondering what you should wear on a cruise, especially at night, here's how each major cruise line would like you to dress. Once you've made it onboard, it's important to know that most cruise lines reiterate the dress codes for specific times and venues in each day's newsletter.

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Azamara Cruises Dress Code: More Casual Than You Might Think

Azamara Cruises' dress code is resort casual. Acceptable attire includes sportswear, collared shirts, pants and jackets (if desired, but not required) for men and sportswear, casual dresses, or skirts and pants with blouses or knit tops for women. Regular, but not torn or distressed jeans, are fine.

No bare feet, tank tops, caps, bathing suits or shorts are allowed in the dining room or specialty restaurants. In the casual Windows Cafe buffet, the only requirements are footwear and a cover-up or shirt. Though not part of the official Azamara dress code, conservative clothing for port activities that involve museums, restaurants, and religious sites is recommended.

Number of Azamara Cruises Formal Nights: There are no official formal nights on Azamara Cruises. The line says, "Formal eveningwear is not expected nor required. If you prefer to dress more formally, you are welcome to do so."

Nightly Casual Option on Azamara Cruises: All restaurants are resort casual in Azamara's fleet, but Windows Cafe (the buffet) allows for an even more relaxed option.

Carnival's Dress Code: It's All About the Fun

Carnival's dress code for evening is typically cruise casual, but on one or two nights during the voyage cruise elegant eveningwear is suggested. On cruise casual nights, the line recommends slacks, khakis, jeans, long dress shorts and collared sport shirts for men, and casual dresses or skirts, pants, capri pants, dress shorts and jeans with blouses for women.

Cruise elegant on Carnival Cruises means dress slacks, dress shirts and optional sport coatsfor men and cocktail dresses, pantsuits and elegant skirts and blouses for women. On elegant nights, Carnival's dress code leans a bit more formal. You'll see suits and ties, tuxedos or evening gowns, but don't have to go so formal yourself.

Shorts (including cutoff jeans), T-shirts, sportswear, flip-flops, bathing suits, caps and men's sleeveless shirts are never permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants during dinner.

Exactly how strict is Carnival's dress code? The answer is that it is far more likely to be enforced in specialty restaurants than in other venues. You may also find that the shorter the cruise, the less formal even formal night becomes onboard. Where the ship sails may also play a role in how passengers tend to dress. For example, the overall dress code on Carnival Legend sailing a Canada/New England itinerary is more likely to be dressier than a three-day getaway cruise from Sydney on Carnival Splendor. Similarly, casual clothing is the norm onboard Carnival Freedom and Carnival Pride on shorter sailings to the Bahamas or Caribbean, but the gowns become more prevalent when both of these ships do longer sailings through the Panama Canal.

Number of Carnival Cruise Formal Nights: Carnival hosts two elegant nights for cruise lasting six nights or longer. There's one on shorter cruises.

Nightly Casual Option on Carnival Cruise: For those not wanting to dress up on their Carnival cruise, the Lido Restaurant is open nightly and maintains a casual dress code.

Celebrity Cruises Dress Code: "Chic" is the Key Word

On most nights, Celebrity's dinner dress code is smart casual, meaning polo shirts and slacks for men and skirts or pants with blouses (or casual dresses). Jeans are also acceptable attire. If you're still struggling, think office casual.

The so-called evening chic dress code on Celebrity Cruises matches the line's newest Edge Class ships, Celebrity Edge and Celebrity Apex. Suggested attire on these nights is dressier, and formalwear (including jackets and ties for men) is welcomed but not required. This might include pants with a dress shirt or sweater for men -- with an optional sports coat or blazer -- or cocktail dresses or skirts or pants with an elegant top for women.

T-shirts, swimsuits, robes, tank tops, caps and pool wear are not allowed in the main or specialty restaurants at any time. Shorts and flip-flops are not allowed during evening hours. Even if you're sailing on Celebrity's slightly older ships, dress codes on ships like Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Equinox, or Celebrity Eclipse are still a bit classier than on Carnival or Royal Caribbean.

Number of Celebrity Cruises Formal Nights: There are no official formal nights on Celebrity Cruises, but cruises of six nights or less have one evening chic night, while those of seven nights or longer have two.

Nightly Casual Option on Celebrity Cruises: Casual attire is always acceptable at the Lido deck buffet or poolside snack bar.


Costa Cruises Dress Code: Laid-Back, but Prepare for Theme Nights

The dress code onboard Costa Cruise Line's ships is overall casual. Most nights are informal, with resort wear appropriate. A jacket is not required for men.

On formal nights, men might wear suits, while women can don cocktail dresses, though elegant resort wear is also acceptable attire. Costa also also hosts various special theme nights Those may include a white night, when passengers are requested to wear all-white clothing, a masquerade party at which masks are encouraged, as well as an Italian-themed evening (yes, you'll want to wear red, white and green clothing).

In restaurants, the cruise line asks passengers to not wear beach attire such as shorts, sarongs or flip-flops.

Number of Costa Cruises Formal Nights: On Costa sailings of six nights or less, there is one formal night on the sailing. Two formal nights are standard on seven-night sailings.

Nightly Casual Option on Costa Cruises: For diners wishing for an even more relaxed vibe, a nightly buffet is offered, where casual attire rules.

Cunard Dress Code: There Will Be Balls and Galas

Come evenings, the Cunard dress code is smart attire on Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Victoria. These dress code goes into effect in the evenings. Semiformal smart attire includes slacks, shirts with ties or open collars, crewneck sweaters and jackets or blazers for men, and dresses, skirts and blouses or pantsuits for women.

Gala evenings on Cunard are truly formal and often themed, from the traditional Black-and-White Ball and Masquerade Ball, to a Roaring Twenties Ball and a hat-focused Ascot Ball. Formal attire means tuxedos, dinner jackets or formal dark suits for men and evening or cocktail dresses for women. (Who wouldn't want to dress up for a ball on the QM2?)

Number of Cunard Formal Nights: A typical seven-night Cunard cruise features two or three Gala evenings.

Nightly Casual Option on Cunard: Casual clothing is permitted each evening in select Cunard venues, including Kings Court, Lido Buffet, Golden Lion, the casino, Carinthia Lounge, Winter Garden, Garden Lounge, Yacht Club and G32. Even in these venues, no worn-out clothing, shorts, casual sandals or tank tops are permitted. Jeans are acceptable.

Disney Cruise Line Dress Code: Making Dress-Up Nights Fun

The Disney dress code is cruise casual during the day includes casual attire like shorts and T-shirts, but prohibiting tank tops and swimwear.

Dress-up nights are found on three- and four-night Disney cruises, with optional formal and semiformal nights on seven-night cruises. Dress-up means dress shirts, slacks and jackets for men and dresses or pantsuits for women. Semiformal entails suits or jackets for men and dresses or pantsuits for women; optional formal attire is not specified but is generally a more elegant version of semiformal wear. Most cruises also include one or more theme nights (like Pirate Night).

The Disney evening dress code applies to the main dining rooms at dinner. The dress code for Palo, an adults-only specialty restaurant, slacks (including jeans) and collared shirts or jackets for men and dresses, skirts or pantsuits for women are appropriate. Shorts, hats and flip-flops/tennis shoes are not permitted.

The dress code at Remy, the other adults-only specialty restaurant (only on Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy), is a bit dressier. Slacks and jackets are required for men (ties optional), and cocktail dresses, pantsuits or skirts with blouses for women. Jeans and women's capri pants are not acceptable here.

Number of Disney Cruise Formal Nights: Three- and four-night Disney cruises each feature one optional dress-up night. A seven-night cruise features one formal and one semiformal night.

Nightly Casual Option on Disney Cruises: All of Disney's family dining venues are casual.

MSC Dress Code: Formal and Casual Get Equal Billing

Casual wear is the way to go on MSC Cruises. That's the case almost all of the time, except for the formal evening gala dinners. On those nights, the main dining room requires men to wear suits or jackets and ties, and cocktail dresses for women. In the evenings, T-shirts and shorts are not permitted in the ships' public areas. No swimwear is allowed in the main dining rooms. Jeans are allowed on casual resort wear nights, as long as they aren't torn or ripped.

In addition, passengers who would like to participate in theme nights are encouraged (but not required) to dress according to a specific theme. Examples include the White Party, Gatsby Night or the '60s and '70s-themed Flower Glory Party.

While all of the 21 mega ships across the MSC fleet have a casual vibe, each ship has its own personality. MSC Seaside's dress code, though similar on paper to the line's other ships, has specific rules for its array of unique evening venues. You may find slight differences between the dress codes on MSC Meraviglia, MSC Magnifica, or MSC Belissima, each according to their individual offerings.

Number of MSC Cruises Formal Nights: MSC hosts one formal night on four- to six-night cruises, two on seven- to nine-night cruises, three on 10- to 14-night cruises and four on cruises of 15 nights or longer.

Nightly Casual Option on MSC Cruises: The MSC buffets serve passengers seeking a more low-key dining experience.

Norwegian Cruises Dress Code: It's Freestyle, So Just Do You

Cruise casual is the dress code on Norwegian. That includes khakis, jeans, shorts and casual shirts for men and summer and casual dresses, skirts, regular or capri pants, shorts, jeans and tops for women. Swimwear is fine at the buffet and outdoor restaurants -- so long as you put on a cover-up and footwear.

For dinner in NCL's main dining room or more upscale specialty restaurants, collared shirts and pants or nice jeans are suggested for men (with closed-toe shoes). Slacks or jeans, dresses, skirts, and tops are standard for women. Tank tops for men, flip-flops, baseball caps and visors are not permitted in the main dining room or any of the specialty restaurants.

There are no official formal nights, but Norwegian's Night Out is the line's freestyle (and optional) version of a formal night. However, there is no associated dress code. Cruisers might also want to pack an all-white ensemble for the line's signature White Hot Party.

Number of NCL Formal Nights: Norwegian's Night Out is offered on sailings of three nights or more.

Nightly Casual Option on Norwegian Cruse Lines: It's all casual, though each Norwegian ship typically reserves one main dining room and one specialty restaurant for passengers who prefer to dress up slightly (Read: smart-casual attire).

Oceania Cruises Dress Code: Quite Casual for a Luxury Line

Oceania's dress code is simple and casual, which may come as a welcome surprise to those who know the line as a luxury option. Country club and resort-style attire are generally appropriate, like button-down shirts and slacks for men or dresses, nice pants or skirts and tops for women. In all evening dining venues, passengers are requested to adhere to a more elegant interpretation of country club casual dress code.

Jeans, shorts, T-shirts, baseball caps and tennis shoes should not be worn at dinner or in any public areas in the evenings (although caps are permitted in the Terrace Cafe buffet.) Tank tops and swimsuits are not appropriate attire for any of the onboard restaurants at any time. Uniformity across the fleet is a bit more likely on this small-ship upscale cruise line. In other words, Oceania Riviera's dress code is likely enforced the same as Oceania Regatta's dress code.

Number of Oceania Formal Nights: There are no formal nights on Oceania Cruises.

Nightly Casual Option: Oceania's dress code is more casual than most upscale lines, so evening casual wear is appropriate throughout the ship. Shorts and casual shirts are allowed in Terrace Cafe during the evening. Room service is always an option for the sweatpants and T-shirt crowd.

Paul Gauguin Cruises Dress Code: A Bit Dressier, But Be Ready for Polynesian Night

What Paul Gauguin Cruises calls elegant resort wear is essentially a country club casual dress code and is requested for most evenings. Men should wear slacks and collared shirts, while women should don dresses, skirts or slacks with blouses or sweaters.

The line requests that passengers do not dress in casual wear, such as shorts, T-shirts, jeans that are frayed or with holes, baseball caps, flip-flops and Crocs in the evenings in restaurants and lounges. Bathing suits are likewise not permitted in the ship's restaurants and lounges; shirts and shoes must be worn in all indoor public areas.

At the once-per-cruise Captain's Welcome Reception, some men choose to wear a jacket (though ties are not expected). There is also a Polynesian Night once every sailing, when passengers are encouraged to wear Polynesian-style attire, so pull out your tropical shirts and dresses.

Number of Paul Gaugin Cruises Formal Nights: There are no formal nights on Paul Gauguin cruises.

Nightly Casual Option on Paul Gauguin Cruises: Come evening time, it is country club casual in all public spaces and restaurants on Paul Gauguin ships.

Princess Cruises Dress Code: The Longer the Cruise, the More You Dress to Impress

Princess Cruise Line has formal and smart-casual nights. The dress code for formal nights on a Princess Cruise is tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits for men and evening gowns, cocktail dresses or elegant pantsuits for women. Smart-casual attire includes pants and open-neck shirts for men and skirts or dresses, slacks and sweaters for women.

In the dining rooms, items such as shorts, pool wear and baseball caps are not permitted; shoes must be worn at all times. Jeans are permitted as long as they aren't fraying and don't have holes.

Number of Princes Cruises Formal Nights: Five- to six-night cruises have one formal evening; seven- to 13-night cruises have two; 14- to 20-night cruises have three; 21- to 28-night cruises have four; and cruises of 29 nights or more have a minimum of five. Short voyages (four nights or less) have a dress-to-impress night -- not technically a formal night, but a notch above daywear.

Nightly Casual Option on Princess Cruises: Passengers wishing to avoid Princess' dressy evenings can head to the casual buffet for dinner.

Regent Seven Seas Dress Code: Upscale All the Time

The dress code on Regent Seven Seas ranges from casual to formal. Casual, resort-style wear is appropriate for daytime. But in the evenings, the dress code is almost always elegant casual, with the exception of the final evening of each cruise (which is casual). At night, men should wear slacks and collared shirts (sport jackets are optional and ties are not required); skirts or slacks paired with blouses or sweaters, pantsuits or dresses are acceptable for women.

Jeans, T-shirts, shorts and tennis shoes are not allowed in any public area in the evenings, apart from the pool area.

Longer cruises have optional formal or semiformal nights. On these evenings, passengers can either wear elegant casual attire or opt for a more formal look, such as gowns, cocktail dresses, dark suits or tuxedos.

Number of Regent Seven Seas Formal Nights: Regent Seven Seas voyages of 16 nights or longer have two or more formal or semiformal nights, but these are optional. Shorter cruises are always elegant casual.

Nightly Casual Option on Regent Seven Seas: The outdoor Pool Grill is the only public area onboard that does not have an evening dress code.

Royal Caribbean Dress Code: A Style for Everyone

Royal Caribbean's dinner dress code includes nights that are formal, smart-casual and casual. Formal attire includes suits and ties or tuxedos for men and cocktail dresses and evening gowns for women. Smart-casual attire includes collared shirts and slacks for men (jackets, sports coats and blazers are welcome) and dresses, skirts and blouses or pantsuits for women.

Casual attire includes jeans and collared shirts for men and sundresses or pants with blouses for women. No caps, tank tops or bathing suits are permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants, and footwear is always required. Shorts are not allowed during dinner. You should also prepare for a Hawaiian shirt night (or two).

As on other lines, you may find that the official dress code may be lightly enforced on some ships, often in relation to destination and even size of the ship. The larger the ship, the more casual options there are throughout the evening. On the relatively smaller ships like Serenade of the Seas or even Adventure of the Seas, the dress code is a bit more easy-to-spot as there's less room for everyone to spread out.

Number of Royal Caribbean Formal Nights: Three-, four- and five-night Royal Caribbean cruises have one formal night; cruises of six nights and longer typically have two formal nights. Chop's is also a more formal venue.

Nightly Casual Option on Royal Caribbean: The Windjammer Cafe buffet is the most laid-back choice for evening dining, though Royal Caribbean's specialty dining is also fairly laid back at venues like Jaime's Italian and Izumi.

Seabourn Cruise Line Dress Code: Elegant Casual Rules the Ships at Night

The Seabourn dress code is typically casual resort-style attire. Shorts and jeans are acceptable in all public areas, including restaurants, during the day. However, swimsuits, cover-ups and gymwear should be limited to the pool, spa and fitness center and outer decks.

The dress code on most evenings is elegant casual, which matches the ambiance of the line's ships, from the 300-suite Seabourn Ovation to the slightly smaller ships like Seabourn Sojourn at 229 suites. Men may wear slacks with collared dress shirts or sweaters, but jackets are optional. Women should choose dresses, pantsuits or skirts or slacks with nice tops.

On formal nights, proper attire includes tuxedos, suits or slacks (jackets required) for men and evening gowns, cocktail dresses or dressy pantsuits for women. Jeans are welcome in all dining venues during the day, but they're not appropriate in any public venues for dinner or cocktail hour.

Number of Seabourn Formal Nights: There is one formal optional evening on cruises of up to 13 nights, two on 14- to 20-night cruises and three for cruises of 21 nights or more.

Nightly Casual Option on Seabourn: Formal attire is only expected in the main dining room. Elegant casual attire is acceptable in all other ship venues come evening time.

Silversea Cruises Dress Code: High-End, but With Options

Evenings aboard Silversea ships rotate among casual, informal and formal dress codes. On casual nights, resort-style wear is requested -- open-neck shirts and slacks are appropriate for men, while women wear casual dresses, blouses and skirts or pants. Jeans and baseball caps are not allowed in the restaurants for dinner.

On informal nights, jackets (ties optional) for men are recommended, while women can opt for dresses or pantsuits. Tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits for men and gowns or cocktail dresses for women are suggested for formal nights. Note that formal nights are always optional on the line's weeklong sailings in the Baltic, Mediterranean and Alaska.

Number of Silversea Formal Nights: Silversea voyages of nine nights or fewer usually feature one formal night, while longer voyages usually have two or three.

Nightly Casual Option on Silversea Cruises: On formal nights, passengers dining in La Terrazza can dress in informal attire. (This option applies to Seishin and Stars aboard Silver Spirit.) Dining at the outdoor Grill is casual on all nights.

Windstar Cruises Dress Code: Breezy and Casual All the Way

Windstar Cruises dinner dress code suggests a casual elegant approach -- slacks and collared shirts for men and sundresses, slacks and informal cocktail dresses for women. Shorts, jeans, flip-flops, hats and T-shirts are prohibited throughout the ship during the evening. As with other lines, cruises in tropical waters tend to make dressing down more acceptable, as do voyages on the line's sailing vessels. The dress codes on Wind Star, Wind Surf, and Wind Spirit, are definitely more relaxed than the dress codes on motor yachts Star Pride, Star Legend, and Star Breeze.

Number of Windstar Formal Nights: There are no formal nights on Windstar cruises.

Nightly Casual Option on Windstar: The same casual elegant dress code is in place in all dining venues aboard Windstar ships.

Viking Ocean Cruises Dress Code: Formalwear-Free Comfort Every Day

During the day, Viking's dress code calls for casual and comfortable attire, including shorts and jeans. Swimsuits, shorts, cover-ups and exercise attire should be reserved for poolside, in the fitness center and on the sports deck.

For evenings, the recommended onboard dress is elegant casual for most ship venues. Suggested attire for men includes trousers and collared shirts (ties and jackets are optional but not required). For women, dresses, or skirts or slacks with sweaters or blouses are recommended. Jeans are not permitted in dining venues, apart from the World Cafe.

During Viking cruises to Alaska and Antarctica dress codes are likely to be even more relaxed as outdoor ondeck and onshore activities often take place well into the evenings. It's a bit of a challenge to bundle up for sky watching in fancy clothes.

Number of Viking Formal Nights: There are no formal nights aboard Viking ships.

Nightly Casual Option on Viking Cruises: Dinner in the Viking's World Cafe is comfortable and casual, with daytime dress deemed appropriate.

Virgin Cruises Dress Code (Virgin Voyages): Whatever You Like (Within Reason, of Course)

Virgin Voyages does not have a dress code. The line prides itself on passengers (who the line calls sailors) being who they want to be and dressing exactly as they like. Having said that, you may want to pack a few designer threads as most passengers make an effort, especially in the evenings. But note: It's trendy wear, not formal (i.e. no tuxedo or ball gowns required).

Still feeling confused? Take it from Virgin itself: "We always want all of our Sailors to feel comfortable. We encourage you to wear more than a bathing suit if you go to a restaurant and kindly consider shoes, but your style is your style. Who are we to judge?"

Number of Virgin Cruises Formal Nights: Virgin doesn't have formal nights. The line usually has one Scarlet Night per sailing, and all that means is that you are encouraged to wear red.

Nightly Casual Option on Virgin: There are two semi-formal restaurants on Virgin -- The Wake and the Test Kitchen -- where you may wish to put on a jacket or fancier shirt, but there are no fixed rules.

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