Q – I just found your site and think it is great. Thank you for some honest answers to questions. I will be retiring in soon and my wife and I are thinking of doing some cruising, both river and ocean, to see some of the world. We are even thinking about a world cruise, depending on how we feel after doing some shorter ones. I have spent my business life needing to dress for work, from jacket and tie to Friday casual and am tired of needing to play dress-up. I am a blue jeans and polo shirt person at heart. I have heard that Friday casual, dress pants, button shirt, no tie, is the minimum. I can do this if needed but was wondering if what I am told is correct. Can you please address for both river and ocean?
A – If you believe that it is appropriate to dress for evening dinner in “Friday Casual” attire, you might want to visit one of the thousands of web sites that cater to mass market cruising. But if you really are interested in sailing on the industry’s top luxury products you need to expect that there will be times when,minimally, you will need to wear a sports jacket and/or a tie. Sophisticated travelers still enjoy dressing occasionally for a special gala dinner. Every study shows this is true. Regent Seven Seas does not have any formal nights on cruises of less than 16 days. Seabourn, Hapag-Lloyd, Crystal, and Silversea certainly do. Sea Dream is yachting-casual so you can do a cruise without bringing a sports jacket.
Lines that cater to European travelers tend to be dressier. There is a trend toward a more casual approach to dress and it is a fact that the new President of Silversea is the former President of Regent Seven Seas who introduced a relaxation in the dress codes. So, we expect, change is coming.
But we want you to be realistic. When you choose to vacation on a ship with sophisticated luxury travelers, there are going to be evenings when you need to dress up and people will judge you by your attire. The alternative is to simply say “it isn’t worth it” and doom yourself to a travel life of mediocrity.
You would not want to do a world cruise without accepting the need to bring formal clothing. You would feel very much out-of-place, sort of like someone with a graduate degree attending a Trump rally.
These are the lines that currently have “Formal Evenings”: Hapag-Lloyd – Silversea – Crystal – Seabourn
We hope we have not been too rough on you. We just want you to face these decisions realistically. Oceania is a fine non-inclusive line with some wonderful itineraries that offers the kind of casual dress code that we think you can embrace. But given that they must appeal to both an older American and European demographic, the five-star lines tend to be more formal than you might be anticipating. A good consultant will surely be able to help you further regarding matters of dress. If not, just contact one of the Kardashians.