The Royal Caribbean Dining Dress Code – Do’s and Don’ts

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a cruise ships in the water

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New cruisers often have questions. I’ve already written about the passport question. Another frequently asked question, “do I really need to dress up on my Royal Caribbean cruise?” My answer to that? Wear what you’d wear anywhere else on vacation, but yes, there are some basic rules. Let’s look at a few specifics.

Royal Caribbean Does Have a Dress Code

First, Royal Caribbean does offer a pretty simple dress code on its website. You’ll note that the line breaks things down by three basic categories. They are:

  • Casual: You’re on vacation – relax! Jeans, polos, sundresses and blouses are all the right amount of laid back. Please keep swimwear to the Pool Deck. Shorts are welcomed for breakfast and lunch.
  • Smart Casual: Think of this as a step up from your typical dinner wear. Dress to impress with collared shirts, dresses, skirts and blouses, or pantsuits. Jackets, sports coats and blazers are snazzy and welcomed. 
  • Formal: Make it a night out in your best black-tie look – suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses or evening gowns. There can be 1-3 formal nights during a sailing and is at the ship’s discretion.

Those are the cruise line’s definitions, and you’ll note on their website that they mention the right thing to wear will vary by venue. Your onboard newsletter is a good place to check for a recommended dress code for specific venues. In my experience, the only places I’ve ever seen a dress code mentioned are the dining venues. My recommended rule of thumb, use common sense. A wet swimsuit is for the pool, not the dining room at dinner. If you wouldn’t wear something to a decent restaurant at home, don’t wear it to the main dining room or a specialty restaurant at dinner. I’d gladly wear shorts to the buffet restaurant at dinner.

Cruising, like many things in life, has changed over the years. While I would never personally show up for dinner in the main dining room in shorts, you probably won’t be turned away if you do. I’d happily show up in decent jeans and a shirt, even a decent looking high quality t-shirt. My go-to travel t-shirts are Lands End Super T’s which look great with shorts, jeans, khakis, and frankly, if not faded, under a suit. Shorts are specifically permitted at breakfast and lunch in the main dining room.

a group of wine glasses on a table
Royal Caribbean Chef’s Table Wine Glass Lineup

Formal Night Is Still a Thing But Don’t Feel Bad for Not Packing a Tie

Yes, Royal Caribbean cruises feature from 1 to 3 formal nights depending on the length of the itinerary. Lots of people enjoy dressing up, heck, even I do on occasion. But I rarely wear a tie, much less a tuxedo nowadays. I usually pack a suit that will look good with a nice shirt sans tie, or even that aforementioned t-shirt. You won’t feel out of place in a tuxedo or a pair of khakis and a nice shirt on most Royal Caribbean itineraries on formal nights. My personal experience is that the longer the itinerary, the more people participate in formal night. If you want to go all out, go for it! Hey, even I wore a tuxedo on my last 3-night cruise to the Bahamas….it was my 50th birthday!

a black menu with white text
Royal Caribbean’s Specialty Steakhouse – Chops Grille

 

Specialty Restaurants are Smart Casual

The specialty restaurants on board tend to post “smart casual” dress codes. Personally, I treat them like I treat the dining room. Khakis and a decent shirt are always a win, and I wouldn’t hesitate to wear jeans with a decent shirt either even though Royal Caribbean places jeans in the “casual” category on their website. You won’t be turned away in decent (meaning not torn to shreds for looks) jeans. You likely won’t be turned away if you decide to wear shorts either. I’ve seen plenty, even at dinner, and especially on the shorter itineraries which tend to be more casual no matter what.

a cruise ship docked at a dock
Adventure of the Seas

The bottom line on the dress code for your Royal Caribbean cruise – you’re on vacation. Let loose and don’t worry about it. As long as you don’t try to wear a wet swimsuit with no shoes into the main dining room at dinner you’ll probably be fine. But it’s always a good rule of thumb to use common sense when making dress code decisions around the dinner hour. Wear what you’d wear at any decent restaurant back home and you’ll be fine. – MJ

 

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6 COMMENTS

    • Anywhere other than main or specialty dining, sure. Depending on the ship and itinerary, you’ll find men wearing shorts in the main dining room and specialty restaurants too. Shorter the cruise, the more relaxed things usually are.

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