Coming to a ship near you in 2020…the dress police | Travel Research Online


Coming to a ship near you in 2020…the dress police

At one point in time, cruising used to be an elegant affair. In fact, travel in general used to be an elegant affair. I remember always dressing up to fly when I was a kid. And my dad, even into his 90s would never be caught on a plane without a sport coat. As travel has become commoditized, casual became the norm. Sweats and yoga pants are de rigueur it seems. And cruising is not exempt. Formal nights evolved into “please don’t wear your bathing suit and at least put on a shirt” nights. And so it goes. But, did you hear about Carnival’s new policy on “offensive” clothing?

Recently, the cruise line updated their policy and outlined it on their FAQ sheet.

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 innuendo/suggestions. In addition, clothing/accessories should not promote negative ethnic or racial, commentary, or hatred or violence in any form.

This will be interesting to follow.

I am not sure how Carnival will enforce this we now live in a world where virtually anything is considered offensive to someone. Of course there are some obvious ones—those are the ones we all have known about for decades. But a t-shirt showing support for law enforcement may be offensive to someone. A simple shirt with an American flag can be offensive to others. Will a Washington Redskins fan be given the boot for his or her loyalty? It seems every week there is something new to be offended about.

The symbol many of us have always known to signify “ok” is now offensive because some white supremacists have used it. It also was used a sophomoric game that got several Cadets and Midshipmen in hot water at the Army-Navy Game in December. After an investigation, it turned out that they were indeed playing the game; but not before many were offended and it became national news.

But how to enforce it? And to what degree?  The cruise line says that crew members will be on the lookout for offensive messages and ask the passenger to change. How this will be received is anyone’s guess at this point. But, by putting this in the form of a policy, Carnival technically has the right to disembark a non-compliant passenger. You might argue it is a violation of your first amendment rights; but I am not sure they apply to a ship in international waters that is flagged in Panama—ask a maritime attorney.

Time will tell how this all shakes out (if it even proves to be a big issue), but with the change in policy, this is another point where travel professionals can shine. Make sure you let your clients know that the MAGA hat may get them on a one way ticket back home. A well informed traveler is the best traveler and it is our job to make sure they know what to expect. And, the conversation before the cruise is a lot easier than the one on the pool deck while watching the belly flop contest!

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