Disney Cruise Line OKs shorts in dining rooms

By Tom Stieghorst
Disney Cruise Line is saying yes to shorts in the dining room, a break with the cruise industry's tradition of reserving a part of the ship for formal dress in the evening.

While much of the cruise experience has become less formal — with ties and jackets often optional for men — passengers clad in shorts, flip-flops, T-shirts or swimsuits are still unwelcome in the dining room on most ships.

Now, Disney has axed the language on shorts in its guidance to prospective passengers.

"It was a change that resulted from the guests," said Disney Cruise Line spokesman Mark Sadowski. "We started hearing more and more that's what they wanted."

Agents said the change is not so much revolutionary as evolutionary, at least on Disney cruises.

"I've seen shorts being worn in the dining room," said Millie Pagan, owner of a Cruises Inc. in Orlando. "I don't see it as much of a change other than they're putting it in black and white."

Pagan said that for passengers concerned about decorum on a Disney ship, she recommends the second seating at dinner, which doesn't draw as many small children.

"They're usually very happy," she said.

She said clients who take a Disney cruise generally don't consider formal dining a big priority.

"Disney is a kids' ship," she said. "It's not Holland America, where if a gentleman goes to the dining room and he doesn't have a jacket, they'll find him one."

Sadowski said that to incorporate the change, Disney is simply deleting language in passenger communications and on its website that refers to shorts as inappropriate for the dining room.

He said the prohibition in the past was observed. "Normally, if we have a dress code, we would enforce it," he said.

Disney said that trunks and other swimwear will continue to be off-limits for the dining rooms.

Passengers looking for more tradition at dinner will still have the premium restaurants on Disney ships, although they do have a cover charge, and seating availability is limited.

The adults-only Remy, on the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream, as well as Palo, the upscale Italian restaurants found on all four Disney ships, will remain a shorts-free zone.

Men are asked to wear dress pants and jackets at Remy, but jackets are optional at Palo. Women's attire for Remy is a cocktail dress, pantsuit or skirt and blouse. A dress or pantsuit is proper at Palo.

Monica Pollack, a Cruise Planners franchisee in Franklin Lakes, N.J., said the change will mean that many Disney cruisers can delete long pants from their packing lists.

"I see a lot of customers who feel that suitcases nowadays are a problem with travel," she said.

That is particularly true, she said, for families, because children tend to complicate the packing task, "I kind of find it convenient," she said.

Pollack, who was the top producer for Disney at Cruise Planners last year, said the line's relatively high price point should help keep the dining room from looking too dressed down, even with people wearing shorts.

"Not just anybody can go on a Disney cruise," she said.

Other cruise lines with large family followings differ on shorts in the dining room. Norwegian Cruise Line allows shorts for adults and "nice shorts" for kids. Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and Princess Cruises inform passengers that shorts are not appropriate.

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.
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