Before I took my first Royal Caribbean cruise I was a little confused about the dress code. I knew that Royal Caribbean had ‘formal nights’ but had no idea what the dress code actually meant in practice. Royal Caribbean have recently started referring to ‘wear your best’ nights which may be a replacement for the traditional formal nights.
In this post, you’ll find dress code guidelines for all parts of a Royal Caribbean cruise and we will look into if the dress codes are actually enforced.
What Is The Dress Code on a Royal Caribbean Cruise?
There is no specific day time dress code on a Royal Caribbean cruise. The dress codes for dinner range from casual to formal depending on which night of the cruise it is. Guests will be told in advance about the dress codes that are in place.
Daytime Dress Code
What Is The Daytime Dress Code on Royal Caribbean Cruises?
You’ll be pleased to hear that there isn’t a specific dress code when it comes to onboard dress during the day. Cruisers are invited to wear whatever they feel comfortable in. This is pretty standard within the cruising industry, even the cruise lines with the strictest evening dress codes do not have dress codes during the day.
Royal Caribbean does have a few restrictions such as:
- Guests must be wearing shoes at all times
- Guests cannot wear swimming costumes/bathing suits around the ship
As long as you are wearing clothes, you’ll be fine! Some cruise lines do have rules about not having any fancy dress/costume dress onboard but Royal Caribbean doesn’t have this as a rule. If you were wearing a t-shirt with an offensive slogan you probably would be asked to get changed but that is about it.
The dress code for excursions may vary depending on what the excursion involves. You will be told if there is a specific dress code at the time of booking. You may be required to wear certain things like comfortable shoes/coats/jackets if your excursion is in any way physical.
What Is The Evening Dress Code on Royal Caribbean Cruises?
Royal Caribbean cruises have three main dress codes which apply to the evenings onboard the ship. ‘Formal’ nights have the most dress code restrictions, ‘Smart Casual’ do have some dress code restrictions but are less formal. ‘Casual’ nights have almost no dress code (but still a little)!
Evening Dress Code – Formal Nights
Formal nights are a chance for you to wear your favourite dress or your tuxedo. The dress code isn’t particularly strict but some guests really do make an effort. I saw guests wearing amazing long gowns and having photos taken around the ship. I actually had some taken too!
Professional photographers are located around the ship and will be more prevalent on formal nights. It is free to have photos taken by the photographers around the ship, these are available for purchase at the photo centre.
I LOVE how colour co-ordinated this photo from Denise is!
The dress code for formal nights is as below:
Formal: Make it a night out in your best black-tie look – suits and ties, tuxedos, cocktail dresses or evening gowns. – source.
The above definition comes directly from Royal Caribbean.
What does this actually mean?
Men: The minimum requirement for men on formal nights is that men are meant to wear a collared shirt and smart trousers. A tie isn’t necessary. Jeans/trainers would not be allowed on formal nights. Chinos would be acceptable as long as these are smart.
Women: Any smart dress or trousers/blouse combination would be acceptable. Don’t worry particularly about the length if you do decide to wear a dress or skirt. As long as the dress/skirt isn’t particularly short it would be acceptable. It isn’t a requirement to wear a full-length gown although many do.
We cover what children should wear later in the post.
How Many Formal Nights Are There?
The maximum amount of formal nights on any Royal Caribbean cruise is 3. This is just a guideline and it could change, however, it generally seems to be adhered to.
Cruises Between 3-5 Nights: 1 Formal Night
Cruises Between 6-13 Nights: 2 Formal Nights
Cruises Over 14+ Nights: 3 Formal Nights
If you are cruising for 3-5 nights you’ll usually find the formal night on night two. Cruise lines very rarely have formal nights on the first night because not all guests will have their suitcases. When embarking a cruise you’ll give your luggage to a porter and it’ll arrive later in your room. You usually have your suitcase within a couple of hours but on occasion may have to wait until after lunch.
For more first-time cruise tips, including what you must park for embarkation day, check out this post: 67 Cruise Tips from 67 Cruisers.
Evening Dress Code – Smart Casual Nights
Royal Caribbean cruises also have smart casual nights. I like to think of these as a halfway between formal and casual nights. The dress code is similar to that that you might wear to a restaurant at home.
Smart Casual Nights
The dress code for smart casual nights is as below:
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. – source.
What does this actually mean?
Men: The dress code does mention collared shirts but these aren’t strictly necessary. You could probably get away with wearing a polo shirt on a smart casual night or a plain t-shirt with a nice blazer or jacket. As long as you are looking clean, presentable and like you’ve made a little bit of effort you’ll be fine.
Women: Any dress/skirt or trousers/blouse combination would be suitable. I do always find it’s easier to dress to the dress code as a woman, it’s easy to dress up a simple outfit with jewellery or shoes. If you were wearing smart, dark coloured jeans I think that this would be okay. Blue jeans probably would look out of place but a nice pair of black skinny jeans paired with boots or heels would be perfect!
How Many Smart Casual Nights Are There?
The maximum number of smart casual nights on any cruise is 3. Some short cruises won’t have any smart casual nights at all. If you are cruising on a cruise which is 3 or 4 nights in length you will just have one formal night and the rest will be casual.
Cruises Between 3-4 Nights: 0 Smart Casual Nights
Cruises Between 5-7 Nights: 1 Smart Casual Nights
Cruises Over 8-13 Nights: 2 Smart Casual Nights
Cruises Over 14+ Nights: 3 Smart Casual Nights
Royal Caribbean doesn’t advertise ahead of time when the smart casual dress code will be in place. It is relatively easy to switch between casual and smart casual so I don’t think this is a problem. Each night of your cruise you’ll get a ‘cruise compass’ in your cabin. This is a little leaflet which will tell you everything that is going on the next day, the dress code for the next night will be included on the cruise compass.
Evening Dress Code – Casual Nights
Casual nights are the most relaxed nights that you’ll find on any Royal Caribbean cruise. That said, there are still some things that you cannot wear. The first night of every cruise will be a casual night.
The dress code for casual nights is as below:
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. – source.
This dress code applies to the main dining room on casual nights and to the windjammer buffet on all nights.
At dinner in the main dining room on a casual night you cannot wear the following:
- Tank tops
- Flip flops
The last night of your cruise is also almost always casual night. This is because guests have usually packed at this point and it is much easier to wear casual clothes. On the last night of your cruise, you will leave your suitcase outside of your cabin in the corridor. This will be taken away by the crew and the next time you see it will be on land when you disembark.
Dress Codes For Children
Children are expected to adhere to the dress codes although I doubt very much that they would be challenged unless they were wearing something really scruffy. Teenagers would be expected to dress in accordance with the dress codes.
For boys: Generally speaking, boys would probably be fine to wear a polo shirt and chinos on the formal/smart casual nights. This, of course, does depend on the age of the child but if the child in question is under the age of 10 or so this would be fine.
For girls: Any dress/skirt or smart trousers/top would be fine. The main thing is to look presentable and like an effort has been made.
Some families love the opportunity to dress up and I’ve seen small children wearing full tuxedos and bow ties which are adorable. On casual nights anything goes for kids.
Dress Codes in Speciality Dining Restaurants
Most of Royal Caribbeans specialty dining restaurants do not have a strict dress code. They will often not adopt the ‘formal night’ dress code even on formal nights which means that they can provide a great alternative for those not wanting to dress up for dinner.
Many people do of course dress up to go to dinner at the specialty restaurants though. Guests will often book a specialty restaurant for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary.
Is The Dress Code Ship Wide on Royal Caribbean Cruises?
The dress code only applied to the main dining room. On some other cruise lines, for example, Cunard, the dress codes will apply ship-wide but this isn’t the case with Royal Caribbean.
Is The Dress Code on Royal Caribbean Cruises Enforced?
Only 4% of Royal Caribbean cruisers stated that they felt as though the dress codes onboard were enforced. The dress codes onboard have become more relaxed in recent years and the degree of enforcement has decreased.
If you were wearing something completely ridiculous you might be turned away but I’ve never seen anybody be turned away or heard any stories of anybody being turned away.
I decided to ask the Royal Caribbean Cruises Facebook group this very question, the group has over 110k members to I thought this would be a good place to get an overview. I think the data below speaks for itself.
A whopping 200 answered ‘no’ with only ’12’ answering yes! 63 people just answered with ‘who cares’ which suggests to me that the dress codes aren’t really respected.
Other Dress Codes:
Ice Skating – If you are going ice skating onboard you will need to have long trousers/pants and socks. This one definitely is enforced because it is for safety reasons. If you don’t have both of these you will not be allowed to skate. I actually have never been ice skating on a Royal Caribbean cruise although I did see the ice show on the Independence of the Seas, it was INCREDIBLE.
Do You HAVE To Dress Up On a Royal Caribbean Cruise?
No, you don’t have to dress up at any point in your Royal Caribbean cruise if you don’t want to. Royal Caribbean does have formal and smart casual nights where there is a dress code in the main dining room but cruisers are able to eat in the buffet or other dining venues without adhering to the dress code.
Where To Next?
If you’re considering your first cruise, or would just like to learn a little more about cruising, this post is a brilliant place to start: 67 Cruise Tips From 67 Cruisers.
If you have any cruise questions or stories/photos you’d like to share, please join us in our Facebook group!
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!