What To Wear
This is a different common question that is on first time cruisers minds – “What should I bring to wear?” The largest concern here is for the evening meal times and especially the formal nights or those nights where you are expected to where your Sunday best. Now for the women that is usually not such a concern as most women love to dress up but when it comes to putting a tie around a guys neck while on vacation then the whining usually starts.
Now let me start by saying that while when you are planning your vacation and the topic of dressing up for supper pops up a common reaction is “Hey I'm on vacation, not at work, so I do not want to get dressed up” . Well coming from a guy who does not wear a shirt and tie very often I must say that I do not mind getting dressed up for a couple of nights because it makes me feel a little special. I find that after a great day of hanging out in the sun wearing shorts and tees all day it actually feels good to head to your stateroom, get shaved up and throw on a nice outfit to wear to supper – it's a great way to end your day. It's like having a night on the town where you wear your fancy duds, go out for a great meal, and then head off to the theater for some great entertainment. Aboard the ship these nights are very exciting for men and women alike and even the children like it as most do not get this chance when at home. Also these times are a great chance to get a family picture taken as there are always photographers scattered through the ship who will take your photo and you do not have to pay for it unless you like it.
All of the ships I have been on have had two formal nights where you are expected to dress up a little more than usual. Women usually wear your typical long evening dress but you do not have to run out and buy the latest Christian Dior outfit to fit in as you will see a wide variety of dresses and styles including many off the shelf $ 30.00 dresses. For the men a dark suit with tie is perfectly acceptable but you will see some men wearing tuxedos which can usually be rented aboard the ship (that would have to be arranged before you set sail – do not go looking for a tux one hour before dinner). So guys if you want to go all out and really impress the women here's your chance.
For the nights that are not classified as formal you are not required to dress up but there is still some code that the ship would like you to adhere to for the evening meal. Shorts, tees, and jeans are not acceptable in the dining rooms for supper. This does not apply during the day as you can head to the same dining rooms for breakfast or dinner and the only restriction is that everyone must wear footwear and the men must wear a shirt and women must wear a coverup over their bathing suits. Now there is no need to be concerned about forgetting these rules as they are always posted just outside the door of any dining room that these rules apply to and if you forget then one of the dining room staff will very politely take you away and explain the rules.
During the days pretty much anything goes (as long as you are wearing something – and of course there are cruises available for those who might like to bend those rules). Treat being on deck in the daytime the same as heading to the beach, swim suits are the norm here. Make sure you bring sandals to wear on deck because in 30 degree weather the deck can get very hot to walk on barefoot. Please note that if you want to go to the dining room and even go to a buffet during the day you still have to wear a shirt and / or a coverup – hey it's only common courtousy.
The last ship we vacationed on was the Norwegian Sun and Norwegian has a concept that they call FreeStyle Cruising which is designed to provide an option for those of us who do not want to get all gussied up. FreeStyle Cruising also allows you to eat in any dining room whenever you like – you do not have a set time that you have to get ready for. So if you are having a great time up on deck there is not any need to stop at 5:00 pm and head to the cabin to get cleaned up for supper at 6:00. You can eat later if you like. Also they do not require you to dress up for formal nights but they still do have two formal nights where you can pull out the shirt and tie if you like and on those nights the majority of folks were wearing dresses, shirts and ties – even though it was optional.
When we all first booked this cruise this idea seemed very appealing but the funny thing was that we unanimously determined that we actually missed the dressing up part. As a matter of fact I would say the major of people aboard our ship dressed up anyway for evening meals even though it was not required. As I said before this part of the evening is special and a great way to end the day.