Cruise passengers anger over Cunard decision to make on board dress code more casual

Cunard’s controversial decision to relax the dress code on its ships has sparked a series of complaints among passengers, who have accused the cruise line of ‘dumbing down’.

Cruise fans who enjoy the old-world charm of Britain’s most traditional liners have taken to online forums to debate the news that Cunard is changing its evening-wear options from ‘formal’, ‘semi-formal’, and ‘elegant casual’ to simply ‘formal’ and ‘informal’.

There will now be just three formal nights a week on Transatlantic voyages and two during Mediterranean and Scandinavian cruises.

While some remain unsure about what ‘informal’ will actually mean, others are angry at what they see as standards being lowered on some of the last traditionalist ships in the cruise industry.



Longstanding tradition: Cunard’s ships have always been loved for their formal atmosphere and proud history

Writing on the forum, a passenger calling themselves Lucky White Feather said they were ‘disappointed’ at the decision, particularly as they often plan their mix of formal outfits very carefully.

The cruise fan continued: “We left behind a long period of expensive ‘loyalty’ on another cruiseline when it dumbed down its dress codes so much, it felt like we were paying all that money to eat in somewhere like a Macdonalds outlet…can’t call them restaurants.

“Because we save up hard to take cruise holidays as we consider them to be a “something special” holiday. We look forward to the chance to ‘dress up’ while we are enjoying dinner/show/dancing every night etc…something we never have an opportunity to do at home.”

The decision has left many passengers wondering where else they could go for a more formal experience if their fears are realised and Cunard becomes a more casual cruise company.

Cunard dress

Controversy: Passengers have accused Cunard of ‘dumbing down’

Another user, calling themselves 3rdGenCunarder responded: “I understand how you feel. But where are you going to look? As far as I can tell, Cunard is the most formal line out there.”

While word zz said: “I agree 100%. It will be interesting to see how formal the ambiance stays once this is brought in.

“The formality isn’t the be all and end all for us, but it does make Cunard feel very different from the Celebrity and Princess cruises we’ve been on. They were much cheaper too; is a Cunard without the dominant formality still worth the premium it charges?”

Other users were more positive about the change, saying it wouldn’t stop them dressing formally in a tie and jacket.

As far as the four or five ‘informal’ nights are concerned, Cunard has stated that ties are optional but jackets will still be required.

Cunard ship

Proud history: Cunard ships are famed for their lavish decor

Peter Shanks, Cunard’s president and managing director, said: “The glamour of dressing to the nines is a hallmark of travelling with Cunard, and distinguishes us from the mass of cruise operators where dressing up has become a thing of the past.

“In a world where everything seems to tend towards the casual, Cunard is proud to give passengers the opportunity to put on their best bib and tucker and bring an extra special sense of occasion to an evening at sea.

“On other nights, we aim to loosen the tie – making it optional – but we will still require men to wear a jacket.”

On formal nights, those who do not want to dress up will not have access to all the dining options on the ship. They will be restricted to the buffet restaurants and Winter Garden and Garden Lounge bars.

However, some cruisers wonder if the rules will be upheld.

User 3rd GenCunarder said: “If you don’t dress for formal nights, your options are the buffet, one lounge, one bar. Does anyone really think they’re going to stop someone not dressed for formal night from entering the Queen’s Room?”

The changes will be brought in across the ships from April and May this year.



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