The Bloggers
Subscribe to this Blog

For Cruisers, Denim at Dinner

Carol Sottili

This could be the news a lot of cruisers -- or would-be cruisers -- have been waiting for.

Norwegian Cruise Lines' new policy says that men can wear "nice" jeans at dinner and women can wear slacks or jeans (hmmm, I guess women inherently know "nice" from not-so-nice). Kids can wear "nice" shorts. The new policy also states: "But if you want to dress up and add a little glamour when you dine out, that's OK too - we've reserved one restaurant each night just for that."

Some would argue that Norwegian is merely officially permitting what has been going on for some time, although the other side could say that officially allowing jeans will justify even sloppier outfits. Many of the more casual lines look the other way when someone enters the dining room wearing decent (not torn or filthy) jeans, or even country-clubby shorts.

I believe Princess is the only major mainstream line that specifically outlaws jeans at dinner. On a recent Carnival cruise, I did see a young man dressed in yucky cargo shorts sent away from dinner, but an old guy showed up every night wearing the same blue T-shirt. We rejoiced when he changed it on formal night to a T-shirt with a pocket.

I guess I'm old school in that I don't necessarily like rules, but if you're going to bother having them, I think they should be enforced. I don't want to get all gussied up for dinner because I'm told it's formal night and then sit down next to a guy in a T-shirt.

What do you think? Are you more or less likely to book Norwegian now that it officially allows denim at dinner?

By Carol Sottili |  August 15, 2007; 10:20 AM ET  | Category:  Carol Sottili , Cruise Industry
Previous: A Break for New York Fliers? | Next: BWI: Oh, That Drive

View or post comments

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



I don't care what other people are wearing at dinner, even if they're sitting at my table. If I want to dress up, I can do that even if others are wearing shorts.

Posted by: fxlibrarian | August 15, 2007 10:54 AM

Took a cruise on Norwegian last month, they are definitely NOT enforcing any dress codes. Worst offenders were the droopy tank tops and frayed shorts with flip flops of some coming directly from the beach and going to the nicest dining venues.
You also had groups of either buddies or families with attire within the group that ranged from tie and jacket to grunge. No peer pressure, apparently.

We didn't do anything formal, did adhere to the rules, and would go on Norwegian again. It would not have taken too much effort on the part of many to make it a little more of a special experience than it was or could have been.

Posted by: me | August 15, 2007 10:56 AM

I recently cruised on NCL and there were two main dining rooms, one of which stated "No Jeans at Dinner." We usually ate in the other one (that apparently allowed jeans) just because it was closer to our cabin, but I didn't notice anyone who seemed improperly dressed. We usually dressed up a bit (i.e. at least kakhi pants or something) for dinner, never really felt either over or underdressed. This was an Alaska cruise though, I'd imagine on a werm weather cruise you might see more informal clothes.

Overall, I really enjoyed the whole "freestyle" concept they have, it made it very relaxing to not have to worry about things like dress codes.

Posted by: Greg | August 15, 2007 11:40 AM

As a man, I think it is trashy and low class to wear shorts ANYWHERE but the beach. Grow up people. Also, dinner on a cruise should be treated as something special and dress codes should be enforced so that OTHER people can enjoy the atmosphere and evening.

Posted by: Kevin | August 15, 2007 11:46 AM

I think dress codes, or the perception that there is going to be one, are a big reason why people (like me) don't go on cruises. I might be persuaded to take a cruise but I don't want to haul a bunch of formal clothes with me just to be allowed to eat. It's not the 1920s anymore where just rich people travel.

Posted by: Glenn | August 15, 2007 12:04 PM

My husband and I usually cruise on Princess and lately they have been allowing individuals with what we consider inapropriate attire. As a result, we are switching cruise lines. I am personally upset when I wear the appropriate attire and then have to sit next to someone wearing jeans and shorts. and on top of the attire do not have any table manners. It takes away from the elegance and spoils the meal.

Posted by: RL | August 15, 2007 12:22 PM

"As a man, I think it is trashy and low class to wear shorts ANYWHERE but the beach."

As a man? Or as a man out of touch with the times?

Posted by: David | August 15, 2007 12:28 PM

This is an argument that continues to roil on cruise critic boards - one for which there is no good answer. If you don't want to dress for dinner, there are a number of excellent cruise lines that will accept that. If you care to dress for dinner - even for formal nights - there are lines that tend to cater to you. None are better or worse, just different.

Cruise lines have personalities, and first time cruisers should investigate before you book to avoid any discomfort.

Posted by: foxlevel | August 15, 2007 12:46 PM

I prefer dressing up for dinner. I really don't want to look at someone with cut off shorts on and flip flops. Hey, if you can afford to go on a cruise, you should be able to afford decent clothing.

Posted by: Lovenia | August 15, 2007 1:04 PM

I prefer dressing up for dinner. I really don't want to look at someone with cut off shorts on and flip flops. Hey, if you can afford to go on a cruise, you should be able to afford decent clothing.

Posted by: Lovenia | August 15, 2007 1:04 PM

I have been on two cruises. A Princess Diamond cruise, and a Costa Cruise--both upscale lines. Although most people dressed appropriatly at dinner, there were a few diners that were from the t-shirt crowd, and wore t-shirts even on formal night. It doesn't really matter if jeans or shorts are allowed, because once a schleper, always a schleper.

Posted by: Katrina | August 15, 2007 1:07 PM

I have been on two cruises. A Princess Diamond cruise, and a Costa Cruise--both upscale lines. Although most people dressed appropriatly at dinner, there were a few diners that were from the t-shirt crowd, and wore t-shirts even on formal night. It doesn't really matter if jeans or shorts are allowed, because once a schleper, always a schleper.

Posted by: Katrina | August 15, 2007 1:07 PM

As a man, I hate pants. I love shorts...it's the first thing I put on when I get home from work. I have absolutely no problem with people or myself wearing nice khaki shorts. Denim shorts (jorts) are reserved for mobile home communities and mesh shorts are reserved for the gym and around home. God, I love shorts. Pants...not so much.

Posted by: alan | August 15, 2007 1:07 PM

We took a Carnival cruise to Playa del Carmer simply because it was cheaper than flying to Mexico, the start of our 6 month backpacking trip. We travelled with exactly 3 outfits--all chosen for comfort and the ease of wash-and-dry-in-the-sink. On formal night, we went to the casual buffet on the cruise. We wouldn't have dreamed of showing up in the formal dining room with our limited wardrobes. That's just common courtesy.

Posted by: basic decency | August 15, 2007 1:28 PM

Dress codes should be enforced. Some people will just never learn about appropriate attire. Shorts, tanks and flip-flops are rarely appropriate anywhere but the beach; certainly NOT in a formal dining room. For those that insist in wearing such trashy attire in formal situations merely let the world know they have no sense of pride nor any class.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2007 1:34 PM

If you can't give your fellow cruisers the common courtesy to put on something nice for dinner, then don't come to the dining room--it's that simple. Would you wear shorts and a t-shirt to The Palm or Morton's? I wear shorts everywhere, but on all of the cruises I've ever been on it's been a tuxedo and khakis when eating in the dining room because I respect the tradition and expectations of my fellow passengers. If you want to wear jeans or shorts to dinner, I would suggest the buffet--that's why it's there.

Posted by: Chris | August 15, 2007 1:39 PM

One of the things I like about a cruise is dressing up for dinner, going to see the shows and then hanging out all night in a dress or nice skirt/pants. Makes it all feel a bit more special. And helps you forget that you are treated like cattle getting on and off the ship.

I was very disappointed on my Royal Caribbean cruise this past January when so many people wore sweatpants and oversized tees to dinner on the casual nights - and just wore jeans with their sloppy shirts on the formal night. And those that did dress up for dinner changed immediately afterwards into very, very casual clothes. What's the point?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 15, 2007 1:43 PM

I think no dress codes, or the perception that there is not going to be one, are a big reason why people (like me) don't go on cruises.

Posted by: Appropriate | August 15, 2007 1:59 PM

My one-and-only cruise - Istanbul to Athens - advertised three things that made me select that particular line. No children under 18, no smoking and "country club casual" attire. The "no kids" rule was clearly not enforced - there were two large family groups on board (both families allowed their VERY young children to run wild and were permitted to do so by the crew). The "no smoking" rule was broken (on deck) by both passengers and crew, albeit discreetly. The country club casual rule wasn't understood by a good 25% of the passengers. Apparently many thought that sweat pants and fleece vests would be acceptable in a country club environment. I've never belonged to a country club (see: Groucho Marx) but knew enough to pack nice slacks, skirts and the kind of dress I'd wear to a nice restaurant in town. No formal wear, no cocktail dresses, no high heels - that was the great attraction for me. A small contigent of the way-underdressed people complained loudly and to anyone who would listen that they had been "tricked" into looking like slobs and therefore deserved refunds since they were banned from the two "reservations only" dining rooms. My comment to one such gentleman was to smile and say, "Oh I think you look quite comfortable." In the back of my head I was thinking about how thankful I was that it was the dead of winter, or I'd surely have had to make that comment about a grimy wife-beater and cut-offs.

Posted by: Karen | August 15, 2007 2:01 PM

My brother-in-law is a men's fashion writer and historian. In his view, we, as a society, have lost our "sense of occassion," by which he means that we once set some events or venues apart from our daily round, in part, through a heightened level of dress--we set it apart, tried to make it special. We are a more informal society today and that's not all bad. And, I'd like to agree with the poster that dressing up is something you do for yourself, not others, and what others may do shouldn't impact my enjoyment of the event. But it does: I (and most folks)have their personal enjoyment of an event influenced by the conduct and outward signs of appreciation (or lack thereof) of others. I don't want to be required to wear formal wear to a cruise; I'm on vacation! But if you don't at least put on long pants and a collared shirt for the evening meal, what's the difference between that and the burger bar!

Posted by: Jim | August 15, 2007 2:03 PM

My brother-in-law is a men's fashion writer and historian. In his view, we, as a society, have lost our "sense of occassion," by which he means that we once set some events or venues apart from our daily round, in part, through a heightened level of dress--we set it apart, tried to make it special. We are a more informal society today and that's not all bad. And, I'd like to agree with the poster that dressing up is something you do for yourself, not others, and what others may do shouldn't impact my enjoyment of the event. But it does: I (and most folks)have their personal enjoyment of an event influenced by the conduct and outward signs of appreciation (or lack thereof) of others. I don't want to be required to wear formal wear to a cruise; I'm on vacation! But if you don't at least put on long pants and a collared shirt for the evening meal, what's the difference between that and the burger bar!

Posted by: Jim | August 15, 2007 2:03 PM

Americans are the laughing stock of the developed world when it comes to fashion. We're so easy to spot in Europe, where short pants on men, athletic sneakers and "sweat suits" are limited to beach and recreation. How many of you pro-casual men actually own a pair of non-denim casual/dress pants?

Posted by: BethesdaBoy | August 15, 2007 2:26 PM

We will be taking our 6th cruise next month and look forward to all the pleasures and entertainment offered onboard, which we enjoy more than the off ship adventures. Among the pleasure of the cruise is the fun of DINING OUT which to us means an evening meal in a beautiful surrounding, white tablecloth, nice atmosphere, quiet music, excellent service and wonderful food. The experience requires us to have the proper manners and proper attire which is slacks, suit, nice shirt and tie, etc for him, and dress, dressy slacks, or dressy skirt, blouse for me. This is proper off ship dining or on ship dining. When we want casual, we go to a casual eating facility. Pizza, hamburgers, buritos, etc All require the most casual dress,...... shorts,tee shirts, jeans, etc. Now.....why are these rules of ediquitte so difficult to understand???????? Listen up you of us whom are making these social blunders and embarrassing and discusting our fellow passengers sitting around us on these cruises. If we can afford a cruise....we can afford the proper attire and the use of proper manners. Lets try it Thank you, Vonnie

Posted by: vonnie | August 15, 2007 3:35 PM

I have cruised with Carnival Cruise Lines 5 different times. Royal Carribbean once and Norweigin Cruise lines once. The term "casual dining" is being more frequently. if you are going to dine in the main dining rooms you should dress in a more than t-shirts, shorts and jeans. this does not mean that you have to wear a formal gown or tuxedo, but please at least dress like you are going to someplace special. during the day nice short set or something of that nature is ok. BUT at night please respect the others. would you want your waiter,waitress, or Matre D to wait on you with cut off jeans, tank tops and flip flops....remember appearence really is everything...what if the cooks looked like that do you think it might affect the way the food tastes....
the minds eye can make you see things you may not want to see....
PS leaving for 6th cruise in september and i promis you I wont be wearing jeans to dinner and neither will any of the other 8 couples going with us...we may not be in formal wear but is will be nice and probably at least semi-formal...respect the people you are with and the persons that are there to wait on you so you dont have to do it yourself and can really enjoy a good vacation

Posted by: Ley | August 15, 2007 7:01 PM

when I said we would be leaving for our 6th cruise I meant to say our 6th cruise with carnival...guess you could say we like their cruise line.

Posted by: ley | August 15, 2007 7:07 PM

Wow, the comments on this post have just cemented the fact that I never, ever want to vacation on a cruise...and I'm someone who gets a kick out of dressing up for dinner or a night out! Seriously, people...if you can't bear to subject yourself to even the appearance of the "low[er] class", just spare everyone the disdain and charter your own cruise! Could people (Americans, Europeans, whomever) neaten up their general appearance? Probably. Are they dressing comfortably to spite the rest of the world? Unlikely. The world has moved to a more casual standard, and regardless of your personal feelings about that, leisure time is certainly an arena where a relaxed approach is defensible.

Posted by: Amazed | August 16, 2007 9:02 AM

It is just this sort of judgmental attitude on both sides of the argument that would keep me from cruising. For those of you who feel such passion for the attire of others on a boat, I encourage you to stay on that boat. Leave the land for those of us with more important things to think about.

Posted by: Dave | August 16, 2007 9:06 AM

"But if you want to dress up and add a little glamour when you dine out, that's OK too - we've reserved one restaurant each night just for that."

That is SO not true. I sailed on NCL's Norwegian Crown a few weeks ago, and there wasn't a restaurant reserved for people who wanted to dress up. And I sailed on NCL's Norwegian Dawn last November, and again, people were free to wear whatever they wanted wherever they wanted. I dressed up formally on the formal night on the Dawn, and I felt so dreadfully out of place (because I was by myself and surrounded by people looking like slobs) that I didn't bring any dresses with me on the Crown. I dressed like a slob each night and fit right in.

People shouldn't be afraid of taking a cruise because they don't have or don't want to wear formal attire. Just book a cruise with NCL, and you can wear whatever you want. They call it "freestyle," meaning that you can wear whatever you want (which they claim includes formal attire), and you can eat whenever you want, because they don't have first and second sittings at assigned tables - you just show up whenever you want.

It might not sound like it, but I like NCL very much. It's just that now I know not to bring any fancy clothing with me. Maybe it would be different if I went on a cruise with someone else, but I go by myself, and it's not a lot of fun getting all dressed up and sitting in the dining room surrounded by slobs. I felt much more comfortable when I was dressed as a slob, too.

Posted by: I like cruises | August 16, 2007 3:17 PM

Funny. This reminds me of a Norwegian cruise I was on about 5 years ago. A girl at the table next to ours was approached by a waitperson concerning the jeans she was wearing at dinner. She actually told him, "These are DESIGNER jeans. They cost more than most people's whole outfits here." That was our joke the rest of the trip, "these are DESIGNER jeans." Puh-lease. So I guess "nice" jeans is the next step down. We'll be seeing bikini tops and barefeet before you know it. Sigh.

Posted by: k | August 16, 2007 4:46 PM

I don't know if allowing jeans will be such a big deal. Most of the people I saw on my NCL ship were so FAT that they probably gave up on jeans long ago.

Posted by: S L | August 17, 2007 4:01 PM

We were on a Holland America itinerary around the Baltic Sea earlier this month. Official policy is that no jeans or shorts are allowed in the dining room during dinner hours. I never saw anyone wearing shorts, but I did see one kid wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Didn't really bother me; I just ignored him. I didn't bring any jeans on the trip and didn't really understand why anyone would. Something like Dockers-style trousers are far more comfortable and allow more flexibility in terms of how you dress anyway.

The "formal nights" can be a little bit of a pain in that it requires jacket and tie (which also means bringing another pair of shoes and thus making it hard to do all carry-on baggage), but I suppose the easy way out of that is either (a) eat in the other restaurant on board that only requires jacket (no tie) or (b) go to the casual buffet. I brought the suit and tie and didn't mind it that much because it's part of the experience.

The one thing that seems to be the rule among a cruise ship passengers is that a lot of them like to complain about things for no good reason. This dress code thing is one example. A funny one from our cruise--in Finland, one lady was complaining that the stores didn't take US dollars (Finland is a euro country). What an idiot she was. Don't let the stupid people put you off if you see a cruise itinerary that appeals to you. Go and have a good time yourself and just laugh at the stupies.

Posted by: Rich | August 20, 2007 6:24 PM

I think our world is changing and it is becoming more casual. My dad never wore shorts and our family always dressed for dinner. I can't imagine either in my family. My husband won't go on cruises because he wants to relax and be casual--no suits or formal clothes. Suits and formal dress were not designed for comfort and long ago some designer decided that this is what we should wear. I believe in neat and clean, but vacation is for comfort. I know that don't want to drag along a wardrobe of fancy clothes in this era of tighter customs and more stress in traveling.

Posted by: susan | August 20, 2007 11:42 PM

We went on a cruise last summer right after our daughter's high school graduation. We got an added benefit from the timing -- we didn't need to worry about beach week -- no complaint from her at all! We chose Royal Caribbean because of their ice rink, and noticed no problem with dress code on that cruise. There was a nice mixture of ages on that particular cruise: couples (both young and old), families with children of all ages and many large families celebrating Quinceanera's so there were a lot of teenagers aboard. Our children (15 year old son and 18 year old daughter) liked getting dressed up for a change and actually requested that we eat in the formal dining room every night. RCL has other dining options available for those who don't want to be dressed up but we thought that the idea of a cruise is the entire experience -- which includes dressing up and eating something more exotic than fast food on the way to soccer or hockey practice. We went to the beach this year for vacation -- got to wear jeans, shorts, tank tops and flip flops there but I noticed that both of our children got dressed up a little for dinner when we went out. Perhaps another benefit from the cruise?

Posted by: Judy | August 22, 2007 1:11 PM

My husband and I dress for dinner when we eat out at home (jacket for him, skirt and blouse/heels for me). I hate it when the food looks better than we do! No, I would not cruise Norwegian. We go for Celebrity or Silver Seas. I have nothing against those who don't want to dress, but the choice of ship is different.

Posted by: Karen | August 22, 2007 2:14 PM

I love NCL because I can choose when to arrive at the dining room and whether to sit at a group table or a table for two. And change my mind every night. Each cruise line has its pluses and minuses and dress code is not one of my determining factors. For me itinerary first and food second.

Posted by: Francine | August 22, 2007 3:23 PM

Being a creature of habit, I usually get up in the morning at the same time, and eat at the same time. Why should dining times be such a turn off? There is always the buffet. Dressing appropriately is also common courtesy for a more formal setting as most of the dining venues on cruise ships. There is always the buffet. I have friends that have never been to the dining room. Personally I enjoy dressing for dinner and relaxing while being served a meal by dining room attendants that make out trip so much more enjoyable. I have cruised on Carnial 5 times and I would not go to an upscale restaurant in shorts & t-shirts on shore so dressing for the occasion should not be such a hardship for anyone. Formal night is an event to participate in and if you do not choose to do so, there is always the buffet!

Posted by: Sandra | August 23, 2007 8:07 AM

Sad to say but we'll never reclaim the romance of those movies which gave us middle class humans the idea that cruising was a dress up occasion to meet glamorous people. Now that we can all afford it, the experience has gone shabby. I hear nothing except how great the food is, yet most of what I've had on cruises has been mediocre (although it looks fabulous in its gelatinous perfection) and watching people stuff themselves getting the most for their buck makes the entire experience one of greed. Too bad the Marco Polo is on its last sail. It was small, friendly, with a marvelously attentive staff, well prepared food and, yes, dressing for dinner. How civilized it felt.

Posted by: lbuzzard | August 23, 2007 12:00 PM

I am very interested in seeing the comments posted here. We arrange lots of train (not ship) cruises around the world, and most, but not all are relaxing dress expectations. We do know of people who won't go on the most fantastic journey because they need to wear a tuxedo for dinner. But what a blast! When I put on my basic black dress and my $12 Kohl's "diamonds" and my husband dons his tux, it somehow elevates the experience. And you should have seen him in his formal kilt on a Scottish train! I think there are lots of grades of "acceptable" and T-shirts and jeans just are not OK for dinner in just about any nice restaurant. Why should it be OK on a cruise or an elegant train trip? I urge all the venues to enforce their policies. - Eleanor Hardy

Posted by: Eleanor Hardy | August 23, 2007 10:34 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company