If you’re taking your first cruise with MSC you may be wondering what the dress codes are, and to what extent the dress codes are enforced.
MSC does have formal nights which they call gala or elegant nights but these aren’t the only nights where dress codes are in place.
In this post, we will explore all guidelines in place in regards to dress codes onboard.
What Is The Dress Code on an MSC Cruise?
The evening dress codes on MSC cruises range from ‘casual’ to ‘elegant’ depending on the night. On relaxed nights the only restrictions are no shorts or swimwear in the main dining rooms. On ‘gala’ and ‘elegant’ nights, the dress code suggests a collared shirt for men and a dress or blouse/trousers combination for women.
That said, the dress codes on MSC cruises aren’t very strictly enforced.
Daytime Dress Code
What Is The Daytime Dress Code on MSC Cruises?
The daytime dress code on MSC cruises is incredibly relaxed. The only dress code rules are that swimwear cannot be worn inside the ship and guests must wear shoes.
Even the cruise lines which have strict evening dress codes rarely have dress codes enforced during the day. Guests are free to wear almost anything onboard during the day.
There are a few things which you’re not allowed to wear onboard:
- Swimwear usually can’t be worn inside the ship, guests must be dressed. In reality, if you are covered in a towel or robe and want to quickly get back to your room, as long as you don’t pass through any restaurants or bars you’ll be fine.
- Shoes must be worn at all times in the ship and on the top decks
As far as dress codes go MSC is one of the most relaxed cruise lines. Almost anything goes. If you were to wear something particularly offensive or inappropriate you may be asked to remove it but generally speaking if you are dressed, this is good enough.
MSC doesn’t have any rules about not wearing costumes onboard.
There aren’t any specific dress codes for excursions with MSC but some excursions may come with dress code suggestions.
Some excursions may require things like walking boots and for some excursions, you may need to bring things like hats or swimwear. This depends entirely on the excursion that you choose to take.
If there is anything you need to remember to bring or wear during an excursion this will be clearly told to you at the time of booking and when you receive your tickets.
What Is The Evening Dress Code on MSC Cruises?
MSC has two main dress codes that apply to the ship.
The first is a formal gala or elegant dress code which applies only to the main dining room on certain nights of the cruise.
The second is a more relaxed casual dress code which happens the rest of the time.
Evening Dress Code – Formal Nights
MSC has two types of ‘formal’ nights.
The first are called ‘gala’ nights and these usually involve a special menu in the main dining room by a Michelin starred chef. They also usually include the opportunity to have photos taken with the captain.
The second type is an ‘elegant’ night.
Elegant nights on MSC are almost identical to the gala nights apart from there is no special menu and there isn’t normally a chance to have photos taken with the captain.
Apart from this the experience onboard is generally the same. The dress codes are identical for both nights.
The dress code for gala nights is as below:
For Gala evenings, the dress code is more formal. We suggest a tuxedo, dinner jacket, or dark suit and tie for men and a dressy outfit, formal gown, or cocktail dress for women. – source.
The above explanation is taken directly from MSC’s UK website.
What does this mean in practice?
Most men on MSC cruises will wear a collared shirt with smart chinos/trousers.
Jackets and ties are optional although you will see a lot of people wearing these. Some guests will dress up and wear a tuxedo or full suit but this isn’t required.
Patterned shirts and national dress are also worn so don’t be afraid to be creative!
The majority of women on MSC cruises will wear a smart looking dress or skirt/blouse combination.
Trousers and a blouse are also acceptable!
Almost any style, color, and pattern is okay. Most women wear sandals/heels or flat shoes and it’s always a good idea to bring a shrug/cardigan/cover-up because it can get quite cold in the main dining room.
How Many Gala/Elegant Nights Are There?
MSC are able to change the number of dress codes at any time but generally speaking the following guidelines apply:
Cruises Between 3-5 Nights: 1 Gala Night
Cruises Between 6-13 Nights: 1 Gala Night and 1 or 2 Elegant Nights
Cruises Over 14+ Nights: 1 Gala Night and 3 Elegant Nights
If you are cruising for under 5 nights there will usually only be one ‘formal’ style night.
This is usually the gala night instead of the elegant night to give the guests the opportunity to have photos taken with the captain.
On a 7 night cruise, you will usually find one gala night and one elegant night, this will increase as the cruise gets longer.
To learn more about MSC’s formal nights, including where the dress code applies, check out this post:
Evening Dress Code – Informal Nights
On all nights which aren’t gala or elegant, the dress code on board will be casual.
On casual nights I often just wear the clothes that I’ve been wearing during the day. There are a few things which aren’t allowed such as swimwear or shorts in the main dining room but apart from that, you are free to wear almost anything.
The dress code for the casual night is as follows:
For informal evenings, we recommend summery dresses for women and a lightweight jacket for men. – source.
What does this actually mean?
Any t-shirts or shirt would be acceptable for men.
Technically speaking, shorts aren’t allowed in the main dining room but jeans are okay. Hoodies, sweaters, and jackets are also appropriate.
For women, a pair of jeans and a t-shirt would be perfectly appropriate.
Alternatively, any dress/skirt/trouser combination would be more than okay. Sneakers, sandals, heels or flat shoes would all be appropriate.
Generally speaking: As long as you are clean and dressed, you’ll be okay!
How Many Informal Nights Are There?
Informal nights are every night which isn’t a gala or elegant night.
If you are cruising for 7 nights and have 1 gala and 1 elegant night you can expect that the other 5 nights onboard will have informal dress codes.
Will I Know Ahead of Time About The Dress Codes?
The dress codes for dinner are usually only made available the night before when your daily schedule is placed in your cabin.
Your daily schedule is a program of the day’s events which is placed in your cabin each night during the turndown service.
It’s also possible to view the daily schedule using MSC’s app.
If you are cruising with MSC I would strongly recommend that you download the app, it is free to use and has lots of useful functions. You can even look at the menus ahead of time!
Dress Codes For Children
When it comes to children they are also expected to adhere to the formal night dress codes.
That said MSC’s dress codes are already very relaxed and for children, these are relaxed even further.
I would not worry too much about what your children will wear on an MSC cruise, you definitely won’t be turned away from the dining room due to what your children are wearing.
Adults are not allowed to wear shorts in the main dining room but children can definitely get away with breaking this rule.
Most young boys will wear chinos/a shirt or t-shirt. Some do dress up with bow ties and jackets although this is definitely not a requirement. Again, as long as they are dressed and clean, you will be fine.
Most girls will usually wear a dress or shirt/trousers. Almost anything is okay.
The way that MSC are so relaxed with dress codes is one of the primary reasons why I consistently recommend them as being one of my favourite cruise lines for families.
To find out the other reasons, and which other cruise lines I recommend, check out our recommended cruise lines page: Best Cruise Lines For Families (Tried & Tested, Pros & Cons!)
Dress Codes in Speciality Dining Restaurants
Most of MSC’s specialty dining restaurants don’t have strict dress codes.
The majority of guests do dress nicely when going to a specialty restaurant as opposed to the main dining room as it’s generally seen as a bit of a treat!
Passengers tend to go to specialty restaurants for birthdays, anniversaries or just to experience the specialty restaurant.
Is The Dress Code Ship Wide on MSC Cruises?
The formal night dress codes apply only to the main dining room. Guests wanting to avoid the dress codes can do so by eating in other restaurants.
The informal dress code applies everywhere else on the ship.
Is The Dress Code Ship on MSC Cruises Enforced?
This is a difficult question. I’ve never seen the dress code be strictly enforced but I have only cruised with MSC 3 times. To answer this question I decided to ask the lovely members of our Facebook group.
96% of people described MSC’s dress code as relaxed!
I think the results speak for themselves!
Only one person said that they found the dress codes to be formal, the rest said that they either felt that the dress codes were relaxed or that the other passengers were treating the dress codes as if they were relaxed.
Other Dress Codes:
Some MSC cruise ships do have ropes courses, when taking part on the ropes course it is advised that you wear closed-toe shoes.
I had so much fun on the ropes course on the MSC Meraviglia in January, it was FREEZING but so much fun.
To learn more about the ropes courses, including the waiver that you have to sign, check out this post: MSC Meraviglia: Ropes Course and Waterslides
On all MSC cruises, MSC have themed evenings.
These themed evenings come with suggested dress codes although guests do not have to take part.
I often see people worrying about the fact that they don’t have an outfit to fit a certain theme, you don’t need to worry about this! In my experience, it is a very small proportion of guests that fully embrace the evening’s theme and you will not look out of place if you don’t.
Examples of MSC’s themed evenings include things like: 70s, white, country, pirate.
There isn’t any way to know ahead of time which themed evenings your cruise will have although similar cruises do seem to have the same theme nights.
For example, if the MSC Meraviglia is completing 7 night Mediterranean cruises and one has a white party and a 70s party, chances are the other cruises on this itinerary will too.
Do You HAVE To Dress Up On an MSC Cruise?
If you don’t want to take part in any dress codes or formal nights on an MSC cruise you don’t have to.
Casual dress is always acceptable in the buffet and public areas of the ship, the only guidelines are that passengers don’t wear swimwear and have shoes on at all times.
More Dress Code Examples from our Facebook group members:
A huge thank you to you all for sharing these with us. I love seeing your smiley faces!
If I didn’t include you PLEASE don’t take it personally, I would love to include every photo but we had loads of photo submissions.
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