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Norwegian Cruise Dress Code Explained (NCL)

Norwegian Cruise Dress Code Explained (NCL)

Have questions about a Norwegian Cruise Dress Code? Wondering what to wear on a Norwegian cruise? Keep reading to find out all the answers.

Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links which means if you click through and make a purchase I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

While most cruises will have similarities when it comes to dress codes depending on the length of cruise and the itinerary. However one of the cruise lines whose dress code rules are very different is Norwegian Cruise Line.

Norwegian Cruise Line is known for its freestyle dining concept. This means that there are not set tables, dining times, and perhaps most uniquely no formal nights.

In this guide I will look at specific Norwegian Dress Codes as well as tell you what to wear on Norwegian cruises with outfit inspiration.

Note: this NCL Dress Code guide is concerned with Norwegian Cruise Line rather than Norwegian as in Norway the country. For a guide on what to wear on a Norwegian cruise / Norway Cruise check out this post.

And if you are traveling on another cruise line be sure to check out our other specific cruise line dress codes posts:

  • Carnival Cruise Line Dress Code
  • Celebrity Cruises Dress Code
  • Disney Cruise Line Dress Code
  • MSC Cruises Dress Code
  • Princess Cruises Dress Code
  • Royal Caribbean Dress Code

What is the Norwegian Cruise Dress code?

Norwegian Getaway Cruise Ship in Dock
Norwegian Cruise Dress Code

In most places and most of the time Norwegian Cruises operate a cruise casual dress code. This is comparable to resort casual wear.

The NCL website states:

Dress cruise casual anytime during the day, in the buffet and in most speciality restaurants. For women, it includes summer and casual dresses, skirts, regular or capri pants, shorts, jeans and tops. Khakis, jeans, shorts and casual shirts are fine for men. Swimwear is acceptable at the buffet and outdoor restaurant, but a shirt or a cover-up and footwear are required. 

NCL website

As such you will see a range of clothes being worn from maxi dresses and sun dress to capri blouses, pants and shorts and t shirts for women.

And for men a range of wear from t shirts, polo shirts and shirts paired with shorts and trousers to smarter chinos and sports jackets with shirts in the evening.

The only real exception to the freestyle cruise casual dress code on Norwegian is in relation to bathing suits and eateries. Being topless or in swimwear is not permitted in the buffet restaurant of any restaurant for that matter for hygiene purposes.

Also it is worth pointing out that on some Norwegian cruise ships there are certain speciality restaurants which will have a dress code. The dress codes aren’t particularly strict and the only item I have seen enforced is the no shorts rule. This is certainly true for the Le Bistro and Ocean Blue restaurants on Norwegian Cruise Line.

And on some Norwegian cruise ships shorts will only be allowed in the main dining room if they are “dress shorts”. Keep reading for a more thorough guide on where and when you can’t wear shorts on a Norwegian Cruise Line.

Other than that you can wear what you like, however most people who dine at these restaurants will stick to a smart casual dress code. We will give you some outfit inspiration for what to wear on a Norwegian Cruise later in this post.

FAQs About Norwegian Cruise Dress Code

Norwegian Getaway Cruise Ship in Dock
Norwegian Cruise Dress Code

But before we get into our outfit inspiration for what to wear on a Norwegian Cruise we will first answer your frequently asked questions about the NCL cruise dress code.

Are there formal nights on Norwegian Cruises?

No, there are are no formal nights on Norwegian cruises. There are also no gala nights on NCL as there are on other cruise lines.

However there is usually one “Dress Up Or Not” theme night on a 7 night cruise. These areb basically dress-up nights. This is not an obligatory formal night as on other ships, however some people will use this as an excuse to get dressed up.

These nights usually also coincide with the Norwegian Night Out theme night which runs later in the evening and are usually held on one of your sea days. If your itinerary has no sea days, it will usually be held in the middle of your cruise itinerary.

They are never held on embarkation day or the last night as on these evenings passengers are not likely to have their luggage with them.

In my experience of cruising NCL, which I have been luckily enough to experience a few times, I have found that how many people choose to dress up on the Norwegian’s Night Out varies greatly. However if I had to put a figure on it, I would say that people dress up around 50% of the time.

Do people dress up on NCL?

However just because there are no formal nights on Norwegian Cruises doesn’t mean that people do not dress up on NCL. It is just personal taste whether people want to or not.

What to wear to Dinner on Norwegian cruises?

So what should you wear to dinner on a Norwegian Cruise? Firstly it is always worth checking your daily cruise compass (for first time cruisers this is your daily cruise schedule and itinerary that will be delivered to your stateroom). This will tell you whether it is a casual night (like on embarkation day) or is a Norwegian’s Night Out theme night (not obligatory).

Do different Norwegian cruise line ships have different dress codes?

Although all ships on NCL operate a cruise casual dress code, there are some variations on rules on different ships.

For instance on the last Norwegian cruise ship I went on onboard, the Norwegian Getaway, dress shorts were allowed in the Taste and Savor dining rooms, however were not permitted in the Manhattan dining room. This rule is also present onboard the Getaway’s sister ships the Norwegian Breakaway.

Also some of the newer ships like the Getaway, Breakaway and the Norwegian Prima, there are some speciality restaurants such as Le Bistro and Ocean Blue that have a no shorts policy and generally operate a loose smart casual dress code.

What to wear in NCL speciality restaurants?

Ocean Blue restaurant sign on. Norwegian cruise ship
What to wear on a Norwegian Cruise Ship (NCL)

Some of the speciality restaurants on NCL Will have different dress codes to the main dining rooms. It tends to be stricter.

They will enforce a no shorts policy, with the exception on children under 12.

Generally speaking men are expected to wear collared shirt, closed-toed shoes and either pants/jean or speciality restaurants. However ripped jeans and distressed jeans are not permitted.

For women these translates to slacks or jeans, dresses, skirts and tops. Therefore although smart casual is stated, what this translates to is pretty broad.

Can I wear shorts on Norwegian Cruise Line?

MAn in shorts and shirt on a cruise ship
Best cruise wear for men (men’s cruise outfits)

Shorts are permitted in many of the Norwegian Cruise Line public spaces including the pool deck, bars, and if they are dress shorts in some, though not all of the main dining rooms.

However shorts are not permitted in the Manhattan dining room or in speciality restaurants.

Therefore if you want to wear shorts on Norwegian Cruises we recommend packing at least one smarter pair of dress shorts along with casual shorts i.e. denim shorts, khaki shorts and cargo shorts). This way you will have shorts that can be worn both during the day and in the evening on NCL cruises.

Can I wear jeans on NCL?

Yes jeans are permitted on NCL in most places. However there are some restrictions on the types of jeans.

For instance ripped jeans and distressed jeans are not permitted in speciality restaurants. For this reason we recommend packing a mix of smarter jeans alongside your ripped jeans if you want to pack these for daytime wear.

Also depending on the destination of your cruise will depend on the suitability of jeans in terms of cliate.

What to wear on Norwegian cruises

Woman on beach in shorts looking at a Norwegian Cruise SHip
Norwegian Cruise Dress Code / What to wear on a Norwegian Cruise (NCL)

Please note: there are no laundry facilities on any Norwegian cruise ship. Therefore unless you are happy to pay for laundry on the ship, it is important to get the number of outfits you pack right. For guidance on how much to pack for specific length cruises check out the posts below:

What to wear on Norwegian Cruises during the day

Casual attire is perfectly find and recommended for day times during your NCL Cruise. Up on the pool deck you will see people wearing bathing suits and beach covers, however these are not allowed in the restaurants.

And in other public areas people will dress for the weather i.e. casual shorts and t shirts or on a cold weather cruise jeans and tees.

You will also find many women wear maxi dresses and resort casual outfits all around the ship.

What to wear on NCL at Night

As NCL operates a cruise casual dress code on all nights you will see a variety of outfits. However in my experience on many Norwegian cruises I have found most people will wear a casual or smart casual outfit.

This means maxi dresses and sun dress for women. Or capri pants, trousers or skirts paired with either a blouse or smarter t shirts.

Most women will also ahve a cardigan or a pashmina with them at night on a NCL cruise as the air conditioning is quite strong.

While most men will opt for dress shorts with t shirts, polo shirts and shirts (either long sleeve, short sleeve or even Hawaiian). Or chinos and smarter trousers with the same.

For more inspiration on the best cruise wear for men check out this post.

The only place shorts are not permitted is in speciality restaurants and sometimes one of the main dining room.

And on the dress up or not nights, people will either dress up or not. Some people will wear ball gowns or cocktail dresses for women, and tuxedos or button down shirts and jackets for men. However this will not be everyone so you do not have to do this if you don’t want to or are worried about overpacking.

What to wear on shore excursions

What to wear on shore excursions will really depend on what and where the shore excursion is.

If it is a city or local beach, then you can stick to your casual dress code. However if you plan to visit a religious building or more cultural site it is worth checking out the local guidance.

For what to wear on a Caribbean Cruise check out this post.

What Not to wear on Norwegian Cruises

So now you have some outfit inspiration here are some things on our what not to wear list for Norwegian cruises. The items on this list are either becaise they are not permitted by the cruise line or advice from ourselves.

Baseball Caps in Restaurants

Baseball caps are not considered acceptable attire in any of the NCL restaurants however are fine during the day on the pool deck and other public spaces.

Ripped and Faded Jeans in Restaurants

If you want to wear jeans in restaurants on NCL ships they must be neat and in good repair.

Tank tops in Restaurants for Men

Men are not permitted to wear tank tops in any Norwegian restaurants per the Norwegian rules. However tank tops for women are fine.


These are a safety hazard and therefore not allowed on any cruise.

And there you have our ULTIMATE Norwegian Cruise Dress code guide. But if you have a question we haven’t answered please leave us a comment below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.