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Dress codes vary, not only from cruise line to cruise line, but also from ship to ship. In the past, most cruise lines operated a three-tier dress code system of Smart Casual, Semi-Formal and Formal, however many have now removed Semi-Formal from their dress code altogether. Some exceptions to this include Cunard and P&O Cruises, with both operators continuing to incorporate Semi-Formal evenings on board.

Smart Casual, also known as Elegant Casual or Evening Casual, often requires collared shirts or polo shirts and trousers for men, with smart jeans permitted on some cruise lines. Shorts, inappropriate footwear, tracksuits and football shirts are not permitted. Ladies may opt for dresses and smart separates.

The Formal dress code is the cruising equivalent of black tie and Formal Evenings usually occur once or twice each week. Men are required to wear tuxedos or dark suits, with women usually opting for evening gowns, smart cocktail dresses or elegant separates.

Some cruise lines deviate from the usual dress codes, including Azamara Club Cruises who operate a ‘Country Club Casual’ dress code, which focuses entirely on smart casual throughout the cruise. Similarly, Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered a more relaxed approach to attire as part of its ‘Freestyle Cruising’ approach. Again, the focus is placed entirely on smart casual, with the same relaxed dress code continuing both day and night. This is a great option for those who prefer to relax on holiday, perhaps after spending the general day-to-day at home in formal work attire, however there are still strict rules against clothing including sportswear and shorts.

The information above is a general guide and it is important to check the specific dress code of your ship before boarding.

Dress codes apply in all of the ship’s main areas. Passengers who prefer a far more casual dress code are welcome to dine in the buffet restaurants on any given evening.

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