By Published On: 26 Oct 2022

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The Cunard dress code is considered to be the most traditional of all luxury cruise lines. The dress code ranges from casual to formal. However, what you wear depends on the time of day and the activities you have planned. 

The dress code

Most guests on a Cunard cruise wear casual clothes in the morning and afternoon, but at night they like to dress up. This is especially so on formal nights which include themed balls.

Yes, there are formal nights on all Cunard cruises. These are known as Gala nights. There is at least one formal night on every cruise.

No, the Cunard dress code doesn’t require a tie unless it is a Gala night. On those occasions a tie or bow tie should be worn.

No, you can dress in Smart Attire in the these venues:

  • The Lido Restaurant
  • The Golden Lion pub
  • The Yacht Club
  • Cafe Corinthia
  • The Garden Lounge
  • The Casino

The number of Gala nights depends on the length of the cruise. Voyages of 7-days or less typically have one Gala night, while longer voyages include two or more Gala nights.

Dress in casual resort-wear, or the robe supplied in your stateroom or suite.

A couple dressed in Smart Attire, according to the Cunard dress code.
Smart Attire includes open-neck shirts and blouses.

What to wear during the day – the daytime Cunard dress code

Days spent on board Cunard ships are leisurely, so you should wear clothing that feels comfortable and relaxed. 

Cunard suggest casual-wear in public areas during the day. For women this includes T-shirts, shorts, slacks, blouses and dresses. Men can wear T-shirts, shorts, jeans or shirts. 

Attire on the open decks is even more relaxed. Swimsuits and sarongs are always acceptable around the pools. However, it’s worth noting that you can’t wear a swimsuit in any dining venue. So if you want to eat in a restaurant for breakfast or lunch, be sure to allow time for a quick change in your stateroom or suite.

What to wear on Cunard shore excursions

What you wear on a shore excursion depends on various factors including the climate, cultural sensitivities and the activities you might undertake. However, the rule of thumb is to ensure your clothing is comfortable. Also, be prepared for unexpected changes in the weather.

Shore excursions in warm climates usually only require light fitting clothing. Also, we recommend a broad brimmed hat for protection from the sun.

In cool weather you should wear more clothing. Long pants, sweaters or knits are all recommended, as well as scarfs and even puffer jackets. It’s wise to wear layers, so you can peel off between outdoor and indoor environments.

Cultural sensitivities will also impact what you wear on a shore excursion. Indeed, some cultural or religious sites have strict dress codes. So you might need to wear clothing that covers your arms, legs or head. Consult the Cunard shore excursions desk if you are unsure about what to wear.

The evening Cunard dress code

Evenings on a Cunard cruise have a sense of occasion with a dress code to match. After 5:45pm the dress code will be either Smart Attire or Gala. The dress code will be posted in the Cunard newsletter known as the Daily Programme.

The Daily Programme newsletter on Queen Elizabeth.
The Daily Programme explains the on board dress code.

Smart Attire

On Smart Attire nights ladies wear blouses and skirts or stylish trousers and dresses. On the other hand, men dress in trousers with a collared shirt. A jacket and tie is optional. Cunard liken it to the sort of thing you’d wear to a stylish restaurant or the theatre.

Gala (formal)

On Gala (or formal) nights ladies should wear an evening or cocktail dress, smart trouser suit or formal separates. Men should wear a dinner jacket, tuxedo or dark suit with either a tie or bow tie.

However, it’s worth noting that Gala nights may also adopt a theme. Cunard invite you to embellish or tailor your attire according to the theme. These themes include:

  • Black and White
  • Red and Gold
  • Roaring 20s
  • Masquerade Ball

The Gala nights and their themes will be posted with your booking information in the My Cunard online portal prior to your cruise.

Black and white

Cunard encourage you to join the monochrome theme with evening wear in full black or white, or patterns that combine black and white.

Red and Gold

Add a red bow tie or sparkling gold accents to embrace the theme. Alternatively, gentlemen may don a red dinner jacket while the ladies wear a red or gold gown.

Roaring 20s

A simple hint of the theme is all that’s required. For instance, an art deco printed pocket square or a feathered slide in your hair. On the other hand, you can go all out with a flapper dress or braces and a trilby.

Masquerade Ball

Gala attire meets Venetian Carnivalle. Whatever you decide to wear, bring along a mask to match.

Most guests like to dress up on Gala nights, but you don’t have to. If you’d prefer a more relaxed evening you can wear Smart Attire in The Lido Restaurant, The Golden Lion pub, The Yacht Club, Cafe Corinthia, The Garden Lounge or The Casino.

More information on the Cunard dress code can be found at the Cunard website.

About the Author: Jason Kerr

Jason is the founder and Managing Editor of The Luxury Cruise Review. He has a passion for travel, a weakness for espresso coffee and a love of Greek cuisine.


  1. Victor R Boreham OAM 22 Nov 2022 at 14:41 - Reply

    The comprehensive explanation of suggested dress codes is most helpful.

  2. Teresa Angeloni 23 May 2024 at 06:37 - Reply

    I’ve been searching for months in regards to what to wear for breakfast and lunch on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth. Glad we can wear shorts with a nice top and men can wear shorts with a jersey. Takes some of the pressure off. Don’t want to feel stuffy all day. Thanks for the info. Very helpful.

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