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About to take my first-ever cruise to Alaska, and reading tips online I found this:

http://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=545

The article was run of the mill, but the reader comments afterwards had me laughing out loud, literally.

Scroll past the boring article stuff and read the posts by "Pete Dsergeant" and "s2000rob". Be sure to click "more" and read the ENTIRE Pete Dsergent post. What a hoot.
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The cruises I have been on all have a few formal nights where a coat and tie are expected of men. Some go on cruises for special occasions like anniversary or honeymoon. The cruise line usually does a big business having professional photographers take pictures for sale to passengers. Getting photos made as part of the dress-up night is a common practice for some, but it is optional.

Most cruise lines require shirts and shoes in the formal dining rooms and exclude shorts and jeans. But all serve the same menu buffet style on the top deck where shorts and jeans are allowed. Most will do room service. You do not have to participate in formal night if you wish to avoid it.
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I'm retired when I we on our Alaska cruise and really don't have a black suit to my name these days. I worn a casual suit and pants, but I had a great time. I really don't care what people wear on their vacations.

The Alaskan cruise you'll love it. I got see blue ice, watch bears walk through a lodge area we were dinning at and dig for gold at one of the tours. The food was outstanding with a low-sodium meal for me and the entertainment was exciting.
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SOme cruise lines have no formal nights (including a handfull of pretty high end ones). On most others that do, either a tuxedo or a suit is fine (though a sports jacket and tie would also be fine as long as it is not too garish). That said, there is no law against coming to a dress wedding in a tee shirt and sneakers and saying that you feel fine and doing the same during a formal night on a cruise will likely make a similar impression.

Jeff
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One of my goals in retirement was to never wear a tie again. So far (11.5 years) I've been successful except for a wedding. Taking a suit on a trip just to wear to a few dinners would be, for me, an ethical violation, not to mention a moral outrage.;) And if you're going to include some non-cruise travelling, it's an extra suitcase to lug around or ship home.

--fleg
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That said, there is no law against coming to a dress wedding in a tee shirt and sneakers and saying that you feel fine and doing the same during a formal night on a cruise will likely make a similar impression.

But come to my funeral improperly dressed at your peril. I'll have spies in place who know people who know people in Jersey. Just sayin'.

I love the look of the ship's public areas on formal nights, but that's why they make chocolate and vanilla. I'm sure part of my attraction to black tie is that even if you bought your dinner suit at Omar the Tentmaker's Big & Tall, it's impossible to look fat in it.

Phil
Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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I compromised on our current trip. We brought tux/gown on the cruise eastward across the pond and then stashed the suitcases in Amsterdam. At the end of the summer, before we are shipping westward across the lake, we are picking up our bags from the hotel. In between, we are traveling light (but I still have a suit along - gives me a bunch of options, and the wife has a decent dress as we are taking an intermediate cruise and may hit the odd "rug joint" restaurant in between).

Until I retired last year, I generally dressed pretty informal in my office. The exceptions were when I was either meeting customers or competitors (and even there, I dressed differently, depending on the effect I was trying to establish).

The best way I heard it expressed:

A local Brooklyn dapper "gentleman" of Sicilian extraction told me once in confidence that his sainted mother gave him sage advice that he followed all his life to good effect - "Dress British and think Yiddish"

He was respected by all he did business with. (Only in New York :-)

Jeff
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That said, there is no law against coming to a dress wedding in a tee shirt and sneakers and saying that you feel fine and doing the same during a formal night on a cruise will likely make a similar impression.

I disagree with your analogy.

Some folks have to "dress up" all the time and when they go on vacation prefer to dress as casually as possible. Quite different than accepting an invitation (and going) to a "dress wedding".

I've been on a number of cruises and the only "formal night" on some of them was the Captain's dinner. I simply wore a black skirt as opposed to slacks. No big deal. And lots of the folks there (both men and women) were not "dressed up" at all.

Christina
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I have been going on cruises for over 20 years now, and the bottom line is that times change and people change.

The first few cruises that I went on, it was very rare to see somebody at dinner on a "formal" night who was not dressed as suggested. There were also a couple of nights where the dress was not formal, but also not casual. That would be sport jackets for men and pant suits for the women, for example.

The last couple of cruises that I was on, there were people at dinner in clothing that looked like what I wear to mow the lawn. Wrinkled shorts, tennis shoes, and wrinkled t-shirts.

I would prefer having people follow the cruise line guidelines, but I would also prefer people to obey traffic signals, not have a basket full at the express line,,etc. None of that is going to happen any time soon.

The bottom line is $$$. The cruise lines do not enforce their own guidelines because they don't want to offend anyone and lose business. It's not just the dress code; it also applies to debarkation, excursons, etc.
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