I just learned the other day Princess is sending out questionnaires regarding formal dress and formal evenings. We haven't been privy to receiving such, guess 225 days sailing with them isn't sufficient. However, it appears Princess is trending toward  going the Celebrity route too.

On formal nights we really haven't ever witnessed anybody ever being asked to leave or not enter a MDR due to inappropriate dress. With the exception just recently on Princess in a specialty (extra charge) restaurant when they asked a fellow to leave due to the short sleeve polo shirt he had on. On the same cruise Princess had been reminding everyone, when they made phone reservations, in that restaurant, that it was a formal night and formal wear was required, no compliance no reservations. We had never ran into that before.

It appears to me that the entire industry is playing coy with this issue. Heretofore dress codes were sort of stated like this "On festive formal evenings, women usually wear cocktail dresses or gowns and men usually wear business suits or tuxedos. In order to complement your fellow guests, we ask that you observe the suggested dress code throughout the entire evening."  So, guests dressed inappropriately while sitting with others in formal garb felt guilty. Now, the language runs something more like this for the same evening "For gentlemen, collared shirts and slacks are required in all fine dining restaurants." No more guilt.

But we have to ask ourselves, is this dress requirement such a big deal for us, more and more frequently while trying to eat dinner in the MDR we sit there waiting and watching a harried flurry of activity by the understaffed help forging a losing battle trying to keep up. Makes dressing up in my tux on formal nights and trying to dine there a joke. The mass market cruise lines have been toying with the idea of eliminating the MDRs for a while now. Maintaining a memorable dining experience in the MDR is very expensive when compared to operating the buffets. What is happening is that many lines are reducing both service and kitchen staff in the MDRs rendering the dining experience marginally undesirable, while bolstering the cuisine quality and service levels in their specialty (extra charge) restaurants.

Marketing experts suggest the industry is caught in a dilemma here. On the one hand most of their guests prefer a significant reduction in formality and quality over what traditionally has been offered for the entire cruise experience. On the other, a minority of their guests, demographically older, prefer the manner of sailing they are accustomed to. But more importantly, to do away with the old means losing the opportunity to cultivate a culture of younger cruisers to the older style of cruising. Putting the entire industry in a vulnerable posture if and when competition and technology alter leisure vacation preferences and the new mass market fad of cruising looses appeal.