I recently returned from my first Cunard cruise and the dress code was a shock! (I’ve had quite a few comments saying that I shouldn’t have been shocked. It wasn’t the dress code itself that was so shocking but I am more used to freestyle dining and had no idea that the dress code applied ship wide). For some reason, I had assumed that it was just in the dining rooms, however, the dress code applies in all public places after 6pm, asides from the buffet.
I had no idea how seriously some people take the dress code. I recently was on cruise critic forum where I saw a women say that her holiday would be ruined if another guest took off his jacket while at dinner! Madness.
As a general rule of thumb I would say that anything you would wear to a wedding is suitable for Cunard’s formal nights. A wedding/prom outfit seemed to be the ideal look. I saw some gorgeous dresses and some very impressive head pieces, I don’t think it is possible to be overdressed for the formal nights.
For men, the dress code is a dinner jacket, tuxedo or dark suit. 95% of people seemed to stick to this when I was onboard. Anybody who didn’t really did stick out. I doubt the staff would say anything unless you were extremely scruffy but you probably would get some evil stares from fellow guests. Apparently, men can also wear national dress and army uniforms although I didn’t see any during my time onboard.
(A photo of me and my brother on a formal night >>)
Women really go all out on formal nights. It is a brilliant chance to dress up. I saw many floor length gowns with lots of sparkles. For my 7 night cruise I bought 3 dresses which I would call ‘nice’ dresses. They took up most of my suitcase! I also brought a couple of smaller shrugs to keep me warm. I did find the dining room to be a little chilly, I suppose they have to have it that way as the men aren’t meant to take off their jackets. I brought a pair of smart sandals and one pair of black heels which I wore on the formal nights. The dress code seems to be quite traditional in the sense that women all seem to wear dresses/skirts, but if you don’t want to that is completely fine. Just make sure that you have a smart pair of trousers and a dressy top/blouse.
- Dresses (long or short, but think elegant)
- Skirts/Trousers with nice tops/blouses/shirt
- Smart sandals/heels or flats
- Small shrug to keep your warm
- Bling up your outfit with any jewellery that you have, a cruise is the perfect opportunity to go a bit mad and try new things. Why not try wearing something you’d never normally wear. You won’t see anybody that you know!
To me, informal = jeans. THIS IS NOT CUNARD’S DEFINITION. Informal nights onboard Cunard are still more formal than most formal nights on other cruises. They certainly are a lot more formal than I would ever dress in my normal day to day life. The only real difference with informal nights is that men can wear a normal suit and can take off that dreaded bow tie (phew!). Women can put down the prom dress and pick up one which is almost as nice… maybe a little bit less sparkly. Think an evening out instead of a wedding. I honestly didn’t see much difference between the formal and informal nights, maybe that’s because I rarely cruise with formal dining and as a result it all seemed a bit posh for me!
Around the ship.
When walking around the ship in the day time I did not make any special effort to dress up. Most of the time I was in my jeans. As long as you are wearing clothes then there doesn’t seem to be any issue. I still would think twice before wearing anything particularly skimpy or revealing though.
Dress code for afternoon tea.
I believe there is a dress code for afternoon tea although it didn’t seem to be enforced. I managed to get into afternoon tea wearing shorts (although I don’t think you are meant to) oops! Onboard the Queen Victoria afternoon tea was in quite an open area so you could just sit down and be brought tea and cakes. I didn’t feel pressure to dress up at afternoon tea as I did in the main restaurants.
Would I do it again?
I did enjoy dressing up and having my photograph taken. It was interesting to walk around the ship and see what everybody else was wearing. I saw some very interesting hats and fascinators. However, I did find the dress code annoying in the sense that it applied in all public areas. I am more comfortable in jeans and not being able to wear them after 6 for a whole week was tough!!
For a week of less I would definitely consider cruising with Cunard and dressing up for dinner, however I don’t think I would like to dress as formally for any great length of time. Cruising Cunard was a really interesting experience, to read more about my adventures with Cunard click here: 8 things I wish I knew before cruising with Cunard.
In regards to clothing, I would say wear what makes you feel happy and confident. There are some guests which take the dress code incredibly seriously but they probably aren’t going to be looking at you anyway… After all, it is your holiday! Enjoy yourself.
Have you ever taken a Cunard cruise? Please let me know what you thought of the dress code in the comments 🙂