One of the most common questions you'll get asked by your clients is, "What's the dress code onboard?" Let's look at how dress has evolved through the ages.
Decades ago, dress on cruise ships was very different from today. Society was much more formal then. Evenings were glamorous affairs. Guests dressed for dinner every night; black tie and ballgowns were the norm. But as society evolved to become more casual, the dress code onboard ships has been relaxed, largely due to customer demand and younger demographics.
Now, dress onboard ships during the day is casual - anything goes, except for bare feet and uncovered swim suits. Evenings are designated as formal or elegant/resort casual. Here is a run-down on what each means:
Gentlemen: dark suit or sports jacket with a tie and dress pants, close-toed shoes.
Ladies: cocktail dress, pantsuit, dressy blouse with a skirt or pants.
Tuxedos and gowns are welcomed but optional.
Advise your clients to dress as if attending a wedding or a special occasion dinner. To those who love dressing up - go for it! And to those who do not wish to participate, the lido buffet serves full dinner nightly in a casual atmosphere, and room service is also available.
Elegant or Resort Casual
Gentlemen: collared shirt, dress pants, khakis, or dark jeans. Shorts are not appropriate.
Ladies: Sundress, blouse with skirt or pants.
The number of formal vs. elegant casual nights depends on the length of the cruise. Count on one formal night for every 3-4 nights.
Onboard premium deluxe and most luxury lines*, evening dress code is always elegant casual. A jacket is optional for the Captain's dinner.
(*Exception: Silversea and Seabourn still have formal nights.)
River cruises are also elegant casual in the evenings, but veer more towards the casual. I have seen short-sleeved shirts and jeans at dinner.
A few exceptions should be noted here: Dress onboard Norwegian Cruise Line's ships is always casual, part of the company's Freestyle Cruising concept. Celebrity Cruises has also recently replaced formal nights with "Evening Chic", where elegant casual dress applies. Cunard Line remains the most formal of all cruise lines, with many dressy evenings throughout the cruise.
As always, check with each cruise line for their specific dress code.