Cruise holidays are often considered highly luxurious, thanks to an opulent offering on board ranging from boutique hotel-style cabins to world-class entertainment. Most of these are included in the ticket price, but those seeking something a little extra can pay for exclusive experiences.
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However, even customers who fork out a little extra for these events must abide by certain rules, failure to do so could even see them turned away at the door.
Speciality experiences range from world-class dining in ritzy restaurants with limited capacity to seats at special shows and performances.
With the added ticket price comes an expected elevated air to these events.
This is why a dress code policy is often enforced by cruise companies.
Speaking to Express.co.uk Darren Birch, brand manager at river cruise company Emerald Waterways explained: “Large ocean cruisers often hold black tie and cocktail events to build a sense of grandeur, and enforce a dress code which complements this.”
Meanwhile, Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor, Cruise Critic adds that these experiences are often treated as “special occasions” on board.
Online booking agent Supercruises point out that the dress code specified largely depends on what type of exclusive event passengers are attending.
“Dress codes depend entirely on the type of cruise you have selected as well as your preferred activities and evening events,” said Supercruises.
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“However, it’s highly recommended that you research into the dress code of the cruise line you have chosen to travel with before setting sail.”
One of the most popular speciality experiences for cruisers are exclusive restaurants.
They can vary from specific cuisine to menus crafted by famous chefs, sometimes even providing the opportunity to rub shoulders with a culinary star.
“Many ocean cruise lines stipulate dress code policies, particularly during mealtimes.
“These differ depending on the line in question, with traditional lines imposing some of the strictest dress rules on the seas,” explains Darren.
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“Ocean cruise dress codes normally prohibit shorts and beachwear in dining venues, and encourage men to wear trousers and shirts, and women dresses, during mealtimes.
“These rules are amped up during formal nights, whereby a full tux may be required to dine in a specific venue.”
Though dressing up may seem a chore for some, Adam says they really add to the experience, but the clothing standard does vary across cruise operators.
“At dinner, most cruise ship speciality restaurants tend to be ‘smart casual’ – nice outfits for women and collared shirts and smart shoes for men,” he explains.
“In some upscale speciality restaurants, such as Disney Cruises’ Remy, every night is dress-up night, and jackets are always required for men while the women dress in evening attire.
“For the most part, you can dine at any restaurant as often as you like, provided you are able to get a table.
“The exception would be lines that put a restriction on reservations, usually because certain ships only have one or two extra restaurants. “
Though some strict cruise operators might turn a customer away if they show up in casual attire, Darren doesn’t think any cruise line would refuse to honour a passenger’s booking.
He said: “Ocean cruise lines have their own policies when it comes to dress code and acceptable attire, and often these vary between dining venues.
“It’s highly likely that a passenger would be turned away from a restaurant if they weren’t adhering to the dress code, and either asked to dine somewhere else or go back to their room and change.”
While dress codes for exclusive experiences might be common at sea when casual cruisers might benefit from a river option.
“On river cruises, however, guests are typically free to wear what they want around the ship, at all times of day. All we ask is that passengers pack a pair of comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for the time of year, as the weather can vary greatly along the rivers of Europe,” explains Darren.
“The main difference between our dress code policy and those of ocean cruise lines is that we trust our passengers to wear appropriate, comfortable clothing. Our guests are mature and cultured travellers who know how to dress for life on board without being told; we want them to be able to fully switch off, relax and immerse in the experience.”
He says the difference in dress codes largely comes down to the number of extra stops river cruises schedule in for intrepid explored.
“With regular shore excursions, comfort is of the essence. Walking shoes and comfortable clothing are encouraged over formalwear,” he says.
“We don’t believe in telling our guests what they should wear on their holiday.
“With so many experiences to enjoy on a river cruise, adhering to a dress code is the last thing we want travellers to be focussing on.
“River cruising is an experience-led form of travel.
“Destinations, excursions and culture are the highlights, as opposed to a programme of on-board entertainment found on many ocean cruises.”
The type of cruise you embark on, as well as the additional experiences you choose, it largely a matter of taste.
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