18/03/2013...2:27 pm

Cunard relaxes its dress code?!

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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.

–Sue Bryant

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  • Dave Horton

    This is a move forward, whilst it is important to retain the qualities that make Cunard what it is they must also look at what other cruise lines are doing to attract paying passengers otherwise it will go they way of many British institutions and die as their clientele ages and also dies.

    I cruise (go on holiday!!) to relax and enjoy myself so am happy to accommodate a few formal nights (or not depending on my mood) so need an alternative, not a tiny bit of the ship but most so long as I leave the dress up brigade alone, the idea for smart casual is the way forward, retain some smartness but not too stuffy.

  • Hello,
    Should certainly shift to comfortable and casual, complete agreement, with the tie choice.

    In fact even a First Class for those who want to show off to one another, with the rest of the Ship, including an outside view forward, for the very smart, but Casuals.

    Personally, would not board a cruise ship without my Jack Wolfskin, black denims, grey casuals.

    None of which are particularly cheaper.Looks like i may just be taking Shots of the Magnificent Cunarders.

    Anyway, is grace and Beauty in a person, maybe not just a matter of what someone wears.


  • Audrey Shore

    Good news for us about informal nights but I think a tie unnecessary on informal nights. So many people spend their working life in jacket &tie and going out at home every night would be more relaxed. Makes the dressing up nights more special.

  • I love the elegance of Cunard -evocative of cruising in days gone by.It’s an experiece like no other .To dumb it down is a sacriledge-there are plenty of casual ships for those who do not wish to dress up .

  • martin haywood

    although we are fortunate to be able to be in queens suite & queens grill, we were very disappointed that the evenings dress code was regulary violated later in the lower decks around public areas & the theatre. men were to be seen in shirt & braces in later evening & mens dress was often of a poor standard on decks 2 & 3. during the day. as we have cruised with cunard for 9 years now, it is easy to see how standards have already slipped with no policing of dress code around the ship. we have recently returned on queen elizabeth having travelled through the south pacific & new zealand, a most wonderful cruise. martin & jay haywood.

  • Janet Clark

    We are attracted to Cunard because of the Dress code. If standards are lowered, I feel Cunard will lose it’s edge and become just like all the rest, instead of being ‘ a cut above ‘.

    • I entirely agree with you, we are just packing to go on Christmas cruise on the Elizabeth, and I have packed smart tops for the evening, as well as formal wear, and my Husband has packed his ties etc., and DJ, I think it is lovely to dress up in the evenings, and shall be very sorry to see it go, Eleanor

  • The thought of sitting opposite a hairy throat for dinner fills me with horror. Please keep the tie or similar – possibly polo neck – requirement. There are opportunities on board for informal wear. Once dress code is relaxed it is easy for it to descend into inappropriate wear. I’ve seen shorts and t-shirts increasingly on occasions in the self service restaurants of the Queens and can see that happening in the main restaurants too. It would put me off sailing.

    • what puts me off is a bunch of stuffy people thinking they are better than the rest because they have a gown or tie on.. get a grip.. worry about yourself and not what others are wearing..

  • Perhaps Cunard are hoping that we who love to dress up, as a mark of respect to the cruise environment, our fellow cruisers, our spouses and for ourselves, will die off as quickly as possible.

  • Why I do not understand why I love Cunard I guess we will need to look for another cruise line.

  • We enjoy Dress Code as it is and always will.

  • jack robinson

    Hi. a good move by cunard my wife and i have cruised on many different cruise lines and on cunard QM2 world cruise 2012 and other cunard ships more relaxed casual nights a must.

  • I think that this move by Cunard was simply to make them more competitive; many of the larger cruise lines are enticing a much wider age range among their guests now, and younger people do tend to prefer to dress more informally.

    With this change, they have definitely caught the attention of new and experienced cruisers.

    Furthermore, if anyone did still want to wear a tie, there’s nothing stopping them, right?

  • Ben Jericho

    My wife and I are taking our first cruise in August this year. After a couple of rows about dress code and me saying if I had to wear a jacket, I wasn’t going tieless and her insisting other lines were happy with polo shirts, I was pleased to see her proven wrong when she checked the brochure. Now I read that the rules are being relaxed. Well blow that for a game of monkeys. If I mistakenly wear a dickie bow on casual nights, am I bothered? And if my interpretation of casual is blazer with chinos but still wearing a tie, what will happen to me? I think walking the plank and keelhauling were outlawed some time in the 1990s.

  • Ben Jericho

    I’m still going to wear a tie when I take my first cruise in August. Casual isn’t compulsory. I’ve seen people doll up at Butlins and thought good for them for making the effort. Live and let live.

  • good news! maybe you will get some “real” people on your ships now instead of a bunch of stuffed shirts!

  • David Parker

    Some passengers need to fly to embarkation point. Airlines are all reducing allowable number of cases, weights and sizes. Full formal dress takes a lot of valuable space. Relaxing definition of formal must be the rule for the future.

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