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The dreaded dress code question


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So...I've done 45+ cruises on 8 different lines, but, later this summer, we will be doing our first on HAL. When we started cruising, I packed my tuxedo for every cruise...as every cruise line had formal nights--which were complied with as a standard. More recently, enforcement and custom seem to have fallen off on many cruise lines. On Oceania, we have never had formal nights--every night is "Country Club Casual". On Celebrity, they've gotten rid of formal nights in favor of something called "Evening Chic" nights--which definitely relax the standards.

 

This coming summer, we are doing back-to-back cruises in Europe on RCCL, then flying home and turning around 5 days later to fly to Montreal to pick up the Maasdam. Since it is our first RCCL cruise in two and a half years, I've been paying close attention to the threads on the RCCL boards about dress codes--and it seems thy still have Formal Nights, but enforcement seems to have relaxed substantially...so, rather than the tux, for that one (or, really, those two), I am packing what I call my "faux formal"--black dockers pants with a black blazer and black/white stripped dress shirts. But, having not cruised with HAL, I am really not sure what to expect. I have read on various boards here on Cruise Critic that HAL has also done away with formal nights...but has something called a "Gala Night".

 

It was near impossible finding anything about this on the HAL website as they have no visible link to FAQs. Finally, I located a section called "New to Cruising" and found some FAQs there (Of course I chuckled: I am hardly "new to cruising"!)...and found this under "What to Pack":

 

"What should I pack? Pack as you would for any resort. Cruise vacations are casual by day, whether you're on the ship or ashore. The suggested attire for most evenings is resort casual; slacks and collared shirts for men, and casual dresses, slacks and informal evening-wear for women. On gala nights women usually wear a suit, cocktail dress or gown and men wear a jacket and tie, dark suit, or tuxedo."

 

It sort of sounds a whole lot like how "Formal Night" has long been described on some cruise lines (Yes, I know that anything short of a tux is not really formal, but most cruise lines have always allowed for a dark suit and tie in lieu of the tux). So...Is that all correct and current? How is it enforced and what is the current custom among HAL cruisers? Should I expect to see most men in tuxedos or dark suits? How many "Gala Nights" should I expect on my 7 night cruise? I take it that on the other nights, my standard khaki dockers and collared golf shirts are acceptable? Thanks...

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A few will dress up on gala nights but you will be fine with your faux formal. I have only been on one RCI cruise and in my experience a few more got dressier on HAL. You will likely have two gala nights.

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You will be totally fine with your "faux formal" outfit on Gala nights. The dress codes have certainly changed over the last few years, and now all that's "required" is a collared shirt and long pants. Soon it will be robes which must be kept closed during dinner service. :eek:

 

DH loves to dress up, so he'll be taking his tux on our next cruise, and I'll continue to bring my sparklies and heels.

 

Smooth Sailing! :) :) :)

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For the Main Dining Room:

For Gala Nights, gentlemen are asked to wear a collared shirt, slacks, no jeans. Probably 2 Gala Nights on a 7 night cruise. There will likely be a few men in tuxes and you are certainly welcome to wear formal attire if you enjoy that, but you will be in a small but handsome minority. Most men will wear a dress shirt and jacket, some will wear a tie, many will not have a jacket, a few will have a collared golf shirt.

 

On Smart Casual nights which will be all the non-Gala nights, collard shirt and long pants including jeans is acceptable attire. Enjoy, m--

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There is no dress code any longer on HAL ships. There are two "gala nights" that encourage those who do like to dress for the occasion to continue enjoy doing so. And have a reason for special formal portrait photo remembrances from their cruise too. Maybe one third of passengers still like to dress formally for those nights.

 

However, the new casual dress standards for comfort that we now see everywhere are the prevailing mode of dress for the majority of HAL passengers. Which is ironic, because today's dressy fabrics and comfortable, packable formal wear for men has never made going "formal" easier.

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You will be totally fine with your "faux formal" outfit on Gala nights. The dress codes have certainly changed over the last few years, and now all that's "required" is a collared shirt and long pants. Soon it will be robes which must be kept closed during dinner service. :eek:

 

DH loves to dress up, so he'll be taking his tux on our next cruise, and I'll continue to bring my sparklies and heels.

 

Smooth Sailing! :) :) :)

 

(bold is mine) Thank you SO MUCH for planting that visual in mu head!!!! :eek:

 

To the OP, your faux formal will work just fine and is more than is required. It's impossible to predict what level of dress you will see on your cruise. Definitely very few tuxes. But beyond that it really varies from one cruise to another. Some posters report seeing very few jackets in the MDR; others say most men wore jackets to dinner.

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There is no dress code any longer on HAL ships.

That is absolutely not true. There certainly is a dress code in the evening on Holland America ships. Compliance is something else altogether, though, as is enforcement.

Most nights smart casual is the code, meaning shirts with collars for men, and long pants. The code for women is a similar level of dress.

Gala nights have a minimum level the same as the other nights, but people are encouraged to dress up more.

OP, your "faux formal" sounds fine.

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On our last 21 day cruise, there were only a handful of men dressed in tuxedos. And only a few men wore jackets and ties or suits.

The majority of the men wore slacks and a collared shirt on Gala Nights -- and that includes the specialty restaurants.

Ladies wore nice slacks or skirts with nice tops or dresses.

HAL's dress code has become very relaxed.

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That is absolutely not true. There certainly is a dress code in the evening on Holland America ships. Compliance is something else altogether, though, as is enforcement.

Most nights smart casual is the code, meaning shirts with collars for men, and long pants. The code for women is a similar level of dress.

Gala nights have a minimum level the same as the other nights, but people are encouraged to dress up more.

OP, your "faux formal" sounds fine.

 

There is no dress code; only guidelines which are not mandatory nor enforceable. So it depends on how one defines the terms. I stand by my statement ... there is no dress code.

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There is no dress code; only guidelines which are not mandatory nor enforceable. So it depends on how one defines the terms. I stand by my statement ... there is no dress code.

 

 

Don't kid. Yourself, I have certainly seen people turned away at the door for wearing all manner of inappropriate attire. And this on HAL in the last 3 cruises. They are very polite but firm.

 

 

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We did a 1 wk Carib cruise on Eurodam at the beginning of March. I read about the new dress code and we packed accordingly. My husband didn't bring a suit or sport coat. He wore dress pants and a long sleeve button down dress shirt (tucked in). He felt under-dressed in the MDR on the 2 Gala nights. Most people were dressed more formally. Our table mates were unaware of the new policy when I told them that it had changed recently. They were polite about our attire, but clearly felt that we should have dressed up more.

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We did a 1 wk Carib cruise on Eurodam at the beginning of March. I read about the new dress code and we packed accordingly. My husband didn't bring a suit or sport coat. He wore dress pants and a long sleeve button down dress shirt (tucked in). He felt under-dressed in the MDR on the 2 Gala nights. Most people were dressed more formally. Our table mates were unaware of the new policy when I told them that it had changed recently. They were polite about our attire, but clearly felt that we should have dressed up more.

 

 

Slacks and a Dress shirt is absolutely perfect, even the fashion police can have no complaints!

 

 

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From the "What to Wear" FAQ on the HAL website:

 

Q: Did HAL change their dress code?

A: Yes, some refinements were made to improve consistency and the policy now reads:

 

  • Most evenings smart casual attire is appropriate. Shorts, pool/beachwear, distressed jeans and men’s tank tops are best left to the daytime and are not permitted in fine dining restaurants.
  • Gala Nights evoke the grand traditions of cruising as guests dress to impress for special events on board, including our five-course gourmet dinner in the Dining Room. For gentlemen, collared shirts and slacks are required in all fine dining restaurants.

So I think that counts as a "dress code."

 

Here's the link to the complete discussion on the HAL site:

http://www.hollandamerica.com/cruise-vacation-planning/PlanningAndAdvice.action?tabName=Cruise%20Preparation&contentMenu=Baggage,%20Packing%20%26%20Dress%20Code&contentSubMenu=Is%20There%20A%20Dress%20Code%3F&WT.ac=pNavLP_AlreadyBooked_bx_WhatToWear_btn

 

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I am packing what I call my "faux formal"--black dockers pants with a black blazer and black/white stripped dress shirts. But, having not cruised with HAL, I am really not sure what to expect. I have read on various boards here on Cruise Critic that HAL has also done away with formal nights...but has something called a "Gala Night".

 

I think that your faux formal sounds fabulous! I'm going to mention that look to my DH. He could carry it off, I think. Thanks for the idea!

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That is absolutely not true. There certainly is a dress code in the evening on Holland America ships. Compliance is something else altogether, though, as is enforcement.

Most nights smart casual is the code, meaning shirts with collars for men, and long pants. The code for women is a similar level of dress.

Gala nights have a minimum level the same as the other nights, but people are encouraged to dress up more.

OP, your "faux formal" sounds fine.

 

Don't kid. Yourself, I have certainly seen people turned away at the door for wearing all manner of inappropriate attire. And this on HAL in the last 3 cruises. They are very polite but firm.

 

 

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I totally agree. Of course there IS a dress code.

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Are the specialty restaurants also formal on Gala (aka Formal) nights? I know on Princess they are casual no matter what night it is. Trying to determine our options since we don't like to dress up.

For the ninth?? time, you DO NOT have to "dress up"! Slacks and a collared shirt are (still) fine!

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Are the specialty restaurants also formal on Gala (aka Formal) nights? I know on Princess they are casual no matter what night it is. Trying to determine our options since we don't like to dress up.

 

Some people need to chill, ignore them. ;)

Unlike some other cruise lines, HAL specialty restaurants have the same dress code as the MDR every night.

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There may be a dress code, but in many instances it is ignored by the matre'd or his assistants. On a recent Oosterdam cruise in December, there was a large (400 pax) political group, and on Gala nights, (and all other times) they wore their tacky, logo emblazoned Tee-Shirts in the MDR, even on Gala nights. These were not "Polo-type" shirts, just plain old cotton tee-shirts, no collars. The waiters were noticing, but the group manager was speaking to the matre'd and nothing was done. It appears that money talks, and any dress codes walk.

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I think your faux formal sounds fine if that's what you want to wear ... Both my hubby and I have worn jeans on gala nights without issue.

Just be comfortable with how you choose to dress ...it's your holiday and your choice . :cool:

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I think your faux formal sounds fine if that's what you want to wear ... Both my hubby and I have worn jeans on gala nights without issue.

Just be comfortable with how you choose to dress ...it's your holiday and your choice . :cool:

Jeans! Unbelievable... how lovely for you!

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Don't kid. Yourself, I have certainly seen people turned away at the door for wearing all manner of inappropriate attire. And this on HAL in the last 3 cruises. They are very polite but firm.

 

 

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Tank tops and baseball caps? You are right -no bathing suits or terry robes either. I would love to hear what actually got turned away. Let's just use the Crystal "dress code" for their formal night - black tie optional.

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As a reminder THERE IS A DRESS CODE:

 

It is clearing spelled out in the link. And the words right from the website:

"Question : is there a dress code

Answer: Yes "

 

Please feel free to follow the link and read the specifics. There are apparently folks posting who do not believe the rules apply to them. Be Courteous to your fellow passengers and try to at least meet the minimum requirements.

 

Directly from the HAL website:

 

Guest Attire

 

Q: Did HAL change their dress code?

A: Yes, some refinements were made to improve consistency and the policy now reads:

Most evenings smart casual attire is appropriate. Shorts, pool/beachwear, distressed jeans and men’s tank tops are best left to the daytime and are not permitted in fine dining restaurants.

Gala Nights evoke the grand traditions of cruising as guests dress to impress for special events on board, including our five-course gourmet dinner in the Dining Room. For gentlemen, collared shirts and slacks are required in all fine dining restaurants.

Q: Why the change from “Formal” To “Gala” night?

A: To many, the “Formal” term was misleading as it implies a specific type of dress (black tie or tuxedo) that has never been a requirement. “Gala” still implies festive or dressy without misleading guests to bring attire the majority of guests don’t wear.

Q: What about ladies’ gala attire?

A: Dressy attire is appropriate. Dresses, skirts, and slacks are all acceptable.

Q: Are a jacket and tie required for men?

A: Jacket and tie is the preferred attire in all fine dining restaurants on Gala Nights, though it is not required. Guests without a jacket and tie were allowed in the fine dining restaurants before the new wording so this is not a policy change.

Q: Are jeans allowed?

A: Jeans without holes, tears or embroidery are welcome on most evenings in all restaurants, but on Gala Nights jeans are only allowed in the casual dining restaurants.

Q: Can I wear shorts in the main dining room?

A: Not at dinner. The dining room is considered a fine dining restaurant and shorts are not permitted.

Q: Is the dress code the same on Grand Voyages?

A: Yes. The policy applies to all Holland America Line voyages.

 

 

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