Carnival Cruise Line makes a controversial dress code decision

People who cruise love to debate dress codes. 

Some folks get outraged at what people wear to the pools as there seems to be a wide definition as to what type of bathing suit counts as appropriate for family-friendly pools.

In other cases, people like to get worked up over what people wear in the various dining rooms. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean have pretty loose rules and sometimes they don’t even enforce the ones they do have.

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The hottest debate topic may be the dress code for dinner in the main dining room and at the various specialty restaurants. Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean both require that men wear long pants, and closed-toe shoes, and they do not allow hats.

Shorts and sandals are theoretically banned, but on a practical level, neither cruise line enforces the rules which seem to outrage some passengers. That same group of people that get angered by what other people wear also tend to get mad when people don’t observe formal nights, a tradition fewer people now abide by as bringing suits and cocktail dresses on a ship is no longer something many passengers consider a vacation.

There are a number of other dress code rules that Carnival and Royal Caribbean have on the books but only sometimes enforce. One of those rules, and Carnival’s decision to enforce it, became a bit contentious on Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald’s Facebook page.

Carnival ships are generally very casual.

Image source: Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival explains a difficult dress code decision

Heald often shares emails he gets from passengers who are angry about something it does not seem worth getting angry about. In this case, he posted an email to his Facebook page about what one passenger considered a dress code violation.

Message: I know you are not responding to people because of your fan cruise but something needs to be done NOW! I am on the Carnival ——- with my 12-year-old son. Look at this photo and tell me why Carnival thinks it is OK to allow this “ lady” to wear this T-shirt?! If you were confronted with an offensive T-shirt like this what would you do if your daughter was with you? I have reported this to guest services front desk. I showed them the photo on my phone. I was told they would inform security. I saw the lady two hours later wearing the same shirt. NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE. If nothing is done I will tell her to remove the shirt myself.

Heald shared Carnival’s official policy.

“Let me start by saying that we do have the following policy that is clearly stated in the FAQs,” he posted.

All guests are expected to ensure their clothing and accessories are respectful to fellow guests. Specifically, items worn during the cruise should not contain any message that may be considered offensive or contain nudity, profanity, sexual innuendos/suggestions. In addition, clothing and accessories should not promote negative ethnic or racial, commentary, hatred, or violence in any form.

“And we are enforcing this, we really are,” he wrote. “The reason I am highlighting this post is that it was confirmed by the ship that the lady was asked to please not wear the T-shirt. It did indeed contain a swear word. Her shirt said ‘F*** Cancer.'”

Carnival’s passengers speak up

Heald clearly shared the exchange to show that not every situation where someone gets offended is the same. His followers agreed as over 1,300 people commented on the post.

Some supported the cruise line following the letter of its laws.

“While I agree with the text on the shirt, we still have to respect and support Carnival’s rules at all times,” Robert Patricia Leija wrote.

Many people, however, supported the sentiment of the shirt and thought that the complaining mom was being ridiculous.

“My mother passed away from cancer as well as many relatives from both sides of the family and friends so I understand the meaning behind that lady’s t-shirt. The mom missed a teachable moment with her 12-year-old and instead chose to bring a lot of attention to something she wanted to keep out of sight. I am sure her 12-year-old has heard just about every swear word under the sun by now,” posted Pam De Marco.

That seemed to be a common sentiment.

“My dad passed away from cancer and they had these shirts at the clinic he went to. Most patients took one and wore it proudly! It’s how they felt! It’s not the best word and I understand that but that’s where mom explains the situation,” wrote Kendra Browder Morgan.


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