Traveling always involves stress about what to pack. Did I bring enough socks? Is that dress too dressy? Adding cruise ship culture into the mix can make you doubt your decisions even more.
Cruises aren’t my preferred style of travel, but thankfully, my best friend is an avid cruiser and Royal Caribbean is her line of choice.
So, I asked her about how strict the dress code is when you sail Royal Caribbean. “Haha, oh, not at all,” she says. “There’s actually a big group of cruisers on the message boards who complain about how people dress.”
Like most areas of life, dress codes on cruise ships have gotten a little more casual over time. But, what does that mean in practical terms?
What Is the Royal Caribbean Dress Code?
According to their website, Royal Caribbean has three levels of suggested attire. These are suggestions and not a strict code.
The levels are:
- Casual. Think sundresses, jeans, polo shirts and blouses. Shorts are fine in the dining room for breakfast and lunch. Keep the swimwear on the pool deck.
- Smart Casual. This is a little more polished. Collared shirts, pantsuits, jackets, and blazers are the look at this level.
- Formal. This is a black tie look. Tuxedos, cocktail dresses, evening gowns, and suits. This is your chance to go all out.
Is the Dress Code Strictly Enforced?
Royal Caribbean has relaxed their dress code a lot. The Formal Nights have been rebranded “Dress Your Best,” and they are strictly optional.
My friend has seen people in regular casual clothes even in the Main Dining Room on nights that are supposed to be dressy. “Just don’t walk in wearing a bikini, and you’ll be all right,” she says.
Are There Any Situations Where the Dress Code Is Dressier?
“The Chef’s Table is the only place they might actually care,” she says. The Chef’s Table is an intimate VIP setting. Typically, there are between 12 and 20 people at a seating.
This is high-end fine dining, and people’s attire is expected to match. This event is a fixed price extra, and reservations are required. The Chef de Cuisine personally attends the event, and leads guests through a five-course meal.
You might have scallop carpaccio with yuzu vinaigrette or a perfectly grilled king mackerel. Because this is a select experience, people who choose to attend typically choose to put on their finest clothing, too.
There Are Still Limits
No matter how laxly enforced the dress code is, there are still a few limits that you should observe. First, bare feet aren’t allowed in any of the dining venues. This goes for every spot from the casual buffet up to the Specialty Dining venues.
Tank tops are also a no-go in both the Main Dining Room and the Specialty Dining venues. While you may not be asked to leave, this restriction is mentioned in the cruise line’s FAQ.
The casino, also, requires that you wear shirts and shoes. If you want to wear your bathing suit, make sure to grab a cover-up before you go.
Dressing for Formal Nights
Part of the fun of a vacation is getting to do something that you wouldn’t normally do. How often do you get to wear a formal evening gown?
If you are looking for an excuse to get dressed to the nines, a cruise with formal nights is one opportunity. You can dress up, walk downstairs, then head back to your room to change after your meal.
You don’t even have to drive anywhere, just get on an elevator and you’re there. As far as what to wear, you can definitely get imaginative. If you wear male clothing and don’t want to wear a suit, some khakis or even dark-dyed jeans are fine.
Pair them with a collared shirt and maybe a sports jacket, and you are good to go. If you have a suit or a tux and want to wear them, I’m sure the more traditional folks on your ship will approve.
On a short three, four, or five-night cruise, there is typically one formal night. The number of formal nights tends to max out at three or four even on fifteen-night cruises.
Keeping It Casual
If you are worried about feeling out of place not dressing up on a formal night, it could be a good night to check out other options.
There are casual grab-and-go options at spots on the ship like El Loco Fresh, Café Promenade, Dog House, Windjammer, and Sorrento’s Pizza. You can also have room service sent to your room to enjoy in your pajamas if that is what you prefer.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve never cruised with Royal Caribbean, you probably have a few questions about what to pack. These are answers to some of the most common ones:
Is Royal Caribbean’s dress code enforced?
How strictly enforced the dress code is depends on the activity and where you are on the ship. If you want to go to the main dining room on formal nights, you’ll need to dress sharp. There is also a formal dress code when attending the Chef’s Table dining experience.
Are jeans allowed on Royal Caribbean?
Royal Caribbean keeps the dress code loose most of the time. You can wear jeans any time you are in “casual” mode. If a space or event has a “smart casual” suggested dress code, though, you should probably upgrade it to khakis or slacks.
Can you wear jeans on formal night on Royal Caribbean?
You probably won’t have any problem wearing jeans in the Main Dining Room on formal night. A darker color will look a bit more formal. Skip pairs with holes or rips in them. But, you are unlikely to be turned away for wearing any kind of jeans.
What is smart casual dress code?
This is one of the more difficult dress codes to master. What do they mean? Smart casual is a dress style that is less casual than formal but still looks clean and well put together. For men, this can mean a polo shirt and a crisp pair of jeans, with maybe a good jacket.
Women can wear casual dresses or soft, flowing pants, possibly paired with sandals or chunky heels.
So, How Strict Is Royal Caribbean’s Dress Code?
The dress code is not enforced on Royal Caribbean cruises. If you don’t feel like dressing to impress, you’ll still be able to attend most of the events and meals on the ship.
When it comes to dressing for a meal on a cruise, don’t overthink it. As long as you are a courteous guest, you are unlikely to have a problem for wearing jeans or picking a dress that isn’t strictly formal wear.
At the same time, if you feel an urge to dress up for your meals, definitely indulge! You are on vacation. Wear what makes you feel best.
When you look back at pictures from your trip, the best thing is seeing yourself having fun, experiencing new things and feeling good.
Your clothing on a cruise (or anywhere else) should be a source of comfort, fun, and celebration. Don’t worry too much about whether you meet the standards of formality, and wear what makes you happy.
So, with a mostly lax dress code and plenty of things to do, what are you waiting for — book your Royal Caribbean cruise today!