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  • Writer's pictureLizzy and Laura

P&O Cruises - Dress Code Guide

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

If you spend a lot of time on various cruise groups on the internet, you'll know that dress codes are always a bit of a contentious topic. Making sure you stick with the dress codes onboard can feel quite daunting if you haven't cruised before, as some peoples interpretation of those dress codes will be different to others. However on P&O, the dress codes are the same across the fleet and they do not apply during the daytime.

We think that P&O is a relatively formal cruise line. If you've cruised on some of the American cruise lines before, such as Princess or Carnival, you'll probably find P&O a more formal experience. We've found that the majority of people tend to stick to the dress code and even though it doesn't apply to under 18's, you'll see lots of children getting involved too.

There are two main evening dress codes on a P&O Cruise, so we'll take you through what they are and show you some examples of what we've worn for each of them.

Evening Casual

This is P&O's main evening dress code and guests are encouraged to "dress as you would for dinner in a nice restaurant". Quite a vague description, which is open to interpretation as one person's idea of a nice restaurant would be different to another's. For us, the point of this dress code is to interpret it how you'd like to. We've all got a different style and that's fine! There are some rules to adhere to, including no tracksuits, football shirts or trainers. Shorts are also prohibited in the dining rooms, and in most bars with the exception of on some ships when in the Caribbean. Recently, guests onboard Arvia have shared that on evening casual nights tailored shorts can be worn anywhere other than in Anderson's, Sindhu, Epicurean and The Crow's Nest. Exceptions like this, will always be detailed in the Horizon.

We tend to wear dresses or skirts, the type of thing we'd wear to go to a bar, or eat out on an evening at home. We only wear dresses because that's our preference, not because that's what's expected. We've seen plenty of women onboard wearing smart trousers and dark denim with nice tops that look great too. Footwear wise, we wear sandals or a smarter flip flop, regardless of the weather it always feels appropriate to wear sandals on holiday. We've also seen others onboard wear ballet pumps, court shoes and loafer style shoes.

For men, it would usually be smart jeans or trousers (chinos seem to be a popular choice) and a shirt. We've seen polo shirts worn onboard too without any objections. There are some rules around denim. P&O will only allow dark denim, and nothing that's ripped. This rule is rarely enforced, but you never know when someone might decide to!

Black Tie

This is the dress code that applies to P&O's Celebration night. It appears to be the dress code that causes the most debate and we've seen many people worry about what to wear.

We don't have many black tie events at home, so we love the opportunity to dress up and for us, its part of what makes cruising special. If it's not for you, there are plenty of bars that you can go to onboard where you don't need to follow the dress code. The buffet is always dress code free, (apart from no pool wear) and you can also enjoy an evening meal from any of the casual dining venues such as Taste 360 and The Quays on Iona/Arvia, as well as The Beach House, the poolside grills and pizzerias across the fleet.

We have a few dresses that we alternate between for P&O's Celebration Night. We've been lucky finding some great deals and have also repurposed dresses that we've purchased for other events such as weddings. P&O suggest a cocktail dress or ball gown and we've definitely seen a wide range of both onboard. We've also seen some lovely jumpsuits, and smart trousers with sparkly tops. If you aren't comfortable in a dress there's nothing to worry about, you won't be alone in wearing an alternative.

For men the guidance is either a tuxedo, DJ or suit that includes a jacket and tie. The jacket is definitely the important part and we have heard of people being turned away from the main dining room when they haven't been wearing one. On our February 2023 Azura cruise, there was actually a collection of jackets that the maître d' would be able to give to men who had arrived without one.

How many black tie/celebration nights will we have?

The number of black tie nights will vary slightly depending on which ship you're on and if there are any special occasions during your cruise. As a general rule onboard Iona and Arvia, you will have 1 black tie or celebration night for every 7 days of the cruise. On every other ship in the P&O fleet, it will be 2 black tie nights for every 7 days. If you're on a cruise that's shorter than 7 days, you will still have 1 celebration night.

When and where do the dress codes apply?

Dress codes apply after 6pm and they are usually enforced in the majority of bars and restaurants on P&O ships. If you're not sure, you'll see signage outside the bar explaining what the dress code for that venue is, so you won't be caught out. The venues differ on each ship. The list below showing which venues adopt the evening dress code, was taken from the P&O website -

Arcadia Main Dining Restaurant, Intermezzo, The Crow's Nest, Meridian, Sindhu and Ocean Grill restaurants.

Aurora Main Dining Restaurant, Anderson’s, The Crow's Nest, Alexandria, Medina, Sindhu and The Glass House restaurants.

Arvia Main Dining Restaurant, The Crow's Nest, Meridian, Zenith, The Epicurian, The Chef's table, Green &Co and Sindhu restaurants.

Azura Main Dining Restaurant, Blue Bar, Planet Bar, Meridian, Peninsular, Oriental, Sindhu, The Glass House and The Epicurean restaurants.

Britannia Main Dining Restaurant, The Crow’s Nest, The Epicurean, Meridian, Peninsular, Oriental, Sindhu restaurants.

Iona Main Dining Restaurant, The Crow's Nest, Opal, Pearl, Coral, Aqua, The Epicurian, The Chef's table and Sindhu restaurants.

Ventura Main Dining Restaurant, Red Bar, Metropolis, Cinnamon, Saffron, Bay Tree, Sindhu, The Glass House and The Epicurean restaurants.

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