Apart from smoking and tipping, there are very few other topics which spark debate like what to wear onboard. It seems that everyone and their great aunt has a view on whether you should dress up onboard.
Which is why when Cunard – regarded as the most formal of all the lines – announces today that it is “loosening” its dress code for the non-formal nights all hell breaks loose.
Within three hours of posting the news on our sister Facebook site we had 61 comments and counting; some for, some against.
MD Peter Shanks first floated the idea on the Cruise Critic message boards about a month ago, in response to a question by billyvegas which asked (quite pointedly):
“Are you going to Kill the Cunard that most returning guests know and love by reducing the Formality of the dress code?”
To which Shanks responded: “I can certainly reassure you that Cunard will not give up our Formal Evenings.”
But he added: “I sense as we go forward, whilst maintaining the Formal nights then we may see the Elegant Casual approach becoming more popular and a chance to relax as we would going out with friends at home.”
This was confirmed today with a press release from the line which stated that the strict policy of a jacket and tie at all times would be “loosened”.
So what was a slightly confusing dress code for the remaining nights – a mixture of ‘elegant casual’ (jacket but no tie for men) and ‘semi-formal’ (jacket and tie for men, cocktail dresses for ladies) – have now been replaced with plain ‘informal’, which means men must still wear a jacket but a tie isn’t required.
OK so this is hardly radical stuff, and I doubt we will see anyone walking around in shorts, flip-flops and string vests anytime soon. However, it does mark a significant shift for what many regarded as the last bastion of traditional cruising.
So is this a naked play to attract new to cruisers and get hip with the times?
Back to Peter Shanks on the boards in response to a question from charliedarlymple who asked: “As your loyal customer base ages, do you plan to make any changes in order to market the Cunard brand to a younger generation of cruisers?”
Shanks replied: “We have a growing number of younger guests coming to Cunard Line – but we focius on making the experience appeal to a wide range of ages. In the summer we see a lot of younger families – our Childre’s Clubs are terrific – but we do not go out to really attract families – they find us thankfully.”
So over to you – should Cunard be admired for moving with the times? Or has it lost touch with its core values?
Let us know what you think.
What not to wear on your next cruise.