Is Royal Caribbean’s Dress Code as Strict as You Think? A Quick Guide

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Have you ever wondered if cruising with Royal Caribbean means packing a suitcase full of ball gowns and tuxedos? As a regular Royal Caribbean guest, I’m here to give you the lowdown on how strict, or lenient, the dress code really is. 

Whether you’re wondering what to wear for formal nights, the main dining room or just generally around the ship, read on to find out what to pack and what you can leave behind.

The Royal Caribbean dress code is relatively relaxed. While there are formal and smart casual attire guidelines in the main dining rooms, these are not strictly enforced around the ship.

Most venues on the ship offer a more laid-back dress code, allowing guests to choose from a range of dining options if they prefer not to dress up. Overall, the emphasis is on guest comfort while maintaining a sense of occasion where appropriate.

A smiling mother and daughter duo enjoying their time together, seated in the elegant dining area of a Royal Caribbean cruise, embodying a warm, family-friendly atmosphere.
My Mum and I in the Main Dining Room

Formal Night Dress Code

Formal nights on a Royal Caribbean cruise are a chance to get a bit dressed up, although the guidelines aren’t too strict. For men, wearing a collared shirt and smart trousers will suffice. Women can choose from a range of options like dresses or a smart blouse and trouser combination. If you’re wondering what exactly to wear or want more details, you can find out more about Royal Caribbean’s formal night here.

Men need to wear a shirt with a collar and smart trousers, while women have a range of options from smart dresses to trousers with a blouse. You don’t have to go all out with a tuxedo or evening gown, but some people do enjoy dressing up a bit more.

The whole idea is to have a bit of fun while looking nice. There are photographers around to take photos, so you can remember how great you looked.

Recommended reading: Royal Caribbean Formal Night: What to Expect

Main Dining Room Dress Code

The dress code in the main dining room varies according to the night’s theme, be it casual, smart casual, or formal. On casual nights, it’s important to note that shorts, tank tops, swimwear, and flip-flops are not permissible attire for dinner. The final night of the cruise is often a casual night, accommodating guests who’ve likely started packing away their more formal clothing.

While formal and smart casual nights do have specific dress codes in the main dining room, guests who prefer a more relaxed atmosphere have the option to dine in other venues, like the buffet, where the dress code is more lenient.

The main dining room on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, featuring a grand chandelier as the centerpiece, with multiple levels of balconied seating. The elegantly set tables and warm lighting create a luxurious dining experience.
Main Dining Room on Navigator of the Seas

Smart Casual Dress Code

On smart casual nights, the attire falls somewhere between the laid-back vibe of casual nights and the elevated elegance of formal nights. While you don’t have to pull out your tuxedo or evening gown, a collared shirt for men and a dress, blouse, and skirt or trousers for women are good choices. If you’re a fan of jeans, opting for a smart, dark-coloured pair is perfectly acceptable.

The timing of smart casual nights isn’t disclosed in advance, but you can easily find out on the Royal Caribbean app or the paper ‘Cruise Compass’ provided. If you’re on a short 3-4 night cruise, you generally won’t encounter a smart casual night. For cruises lasting 5-7 nights, expect one smart casual night, and anticipate two on cruises of 8-13 nights. 

Any cruise over 14 nights will typically feature up to three smart casual nights. The flexibility of the dress code means you can transition effortlessly from one style to another, depending on the night’s theme.

A cheerful mother and daughter posing together on Navigator of the Seas, standing by the railing with a colorful geometric-patterned wall in the background, capturing a moment of vacation joy.
A smart casual look with my Mum on Navigator of the Seas

Theme Night

If you’re on a Royal Caribbean cruise that lasts four nights or more, you might enjoy theme nights. These special nights make the trip more fun and let everyone dress up and participate in activities based on a certain theme.

Theme nights are just special evenings where the entertainment is built around a fun theme. You might get to enjoy an evening where everyone wears black and white or maybe a night where everyone dresses up like it’s the 1980s.

You won’t know about the theme nights until you’re actually on the ship. But once you’re on board, you can check the Cruise Compass. This is a daily guide that will tell you all about what’s happening, including any theme nights.

The themes can vary, but some you might see are:

  • Black and White Night: Everyone dresses in black and white.
  • Decades Night: Pick a decade, like the ’50s or ’80s and dress the part.
  • Country Western: Think cowboy boots and country music.
  • Masquerade Ball: A fancy evening where you can wear a mask.
  • Toga Parties: A fun night where you can wear a toga.

On one of my cruises, we had a Hawaiian night. We didn’t know about it before we left, but luckily we had some suitable clothes packed, just in case. 

It’s a good idea to pack some clothes that you can easily adapt for a theme night. That way, you’re ready to join in, whatever the theme turns out to be. However, if it’s not your thing, there is no expectation to join in.

Packing a versatile range of clothing that can be adapted to fit a theme at short notice is a good idea. That way, you’ll be ready to join in the fun, no matter what the Cruise Compass has in store for you.

A couple stands outside the 'Jazz on 4' club on a Royal Caribbean cruise, ready for a theme night, the man in a tropical print shirt and the woman in a patterned dress, both smiling and anticipating an evening of music and entertainment.
Dressed up for the theme night outside the Jazz Club

Casual Dress Code

Under the casual dress code on Royal Caribbean cruises, the atmosphere is laid-back and easygoing during the day. You’re welcome to wear whatever you find comfortable, be it shorts, jeans, or casual tops.

However, a couple of guidelines are in place for everyone’s comfort and safety. Shoes should be worn at all times, and while swimwear is the go-to choice for the pool deck, it’s not suitable for other areas of the ship. Just adhere to these simple rules, and you’ll be all set to enjoy your day.

A relaxed couple sits on the golden-lit steps inside the 'Oasis of the Seas' cruise ship, surrounded by the gleaming chrome and glass of the ship's modern interior, enjoying their casual vacation time.
A casual look on Oasis of the Seas

Pool Deck Dress Code

When it comes to the pool deck dress code on Royal Caribbean cruises, the focus is on casual and comfortable. Swimwear is encouraged for swimming or sunbathing on the pool deck, but it’s not suitable for other parts of the ship. In addition to your swimwear, you can wear shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops to stay cool in the sun. 

If you plan to venture away from the pool deck, such as the Windjammer Buffet, make sure to change into more appropriate clothing. If you turn up just to grab a quick bite to eat in swimwear, with a towel wrapped around you, you will be turned away. Make sure you put on some clothes to cover up. 

A woman lounges on a sunbed by the poolside on 'Liberty of the Seas', with the tranquil blue sea in the background, enjoying the sunny ambiance of a relaxing cruise vacation.
Poolside on Liberty of the Seas

Wrapping It Up

So, do you really need to pack a suitcase full of ball gowns and tuxedos for a Royal Caribbean cruise? As you’ve seen, the answer is a clear ‘no’. The dress code on Royal Caribbean cruises is more about making sure you’re comfortable while still giving you the chance to spruce up if you wish.

We’ve covered everything from what to wear on formal nights to the more relaxed attire for the pool deck and the unexpected fun of theme nights. The key takeaway is that you have options. Whether you want to go casual or dress to impress, you’ll find a place on the ship where you’ll fit right in.

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I'm Hannah and I've been cruising for as long as I can remember.

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