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Conundrum

Okay I’ve got a puzzle for you travel sleuths ... my father does.not.fly. My mother is trying to get him to England for a tour next year and is looking at a transatlantic cruise there/back. He has never been to Europe and this is their best last chance given their ages and his travel limitations. With the cruise there are formal nights ... what do they do with all the formal wear if they then transfer to a packing light tour? Do you have any other suggestions for traveling to Europe from the US if one doesn’t not find the skies friendly? It’s not fear - it’s anxiety and panic attacks. He was a salesman and missed out on many trips in his life due to this affliction. Looking for any and all suggestions.

Posted by
1213 posts

Formal nights are a thing of the past on most cruise lines. Cruises are now very casual.

Posted by
8203 posts

I'd probably pack a smaller suitcase for their formal wear. Once they are on the tour they can tell the bus driver they just want to leave that in deep storage for the remainder of the tour and they won't pull it off every time.

Are they taking the Best of England? One issue will be that you leave the bus in York and take the train in to London. They will have to manage that extra bag on to and off of the train themselves including getting it TO the station. We walked as a group from the hotel to the station but if they can't manage the extra bag they might tell the guide (the night before) they want to pay for a taxi to the station in York.

If they are considering the Villages of Southern England, then they will have the bus til the final day.

Would your Mom consider doing the tour on her own if the cruise doesn't work out? They are great for solo travelers. Trust me on this!

Posted by
64 posts

Bob - Agree in most cases but it’s the Queen Mary 2 and they claim to have one of the most rigorous dress codes 3 black tie/gowns for transatlantic from NYC.

Pam - Villages - love this suggestion to stow baggage! Mom has travelled on two RS tours w/o Dad but would like to take one with him. He is so much fun and would really enjoy seeing another part of the world. She’s willing to try anything.

Posted by
6 posts

We have done quite a few cruises and also decided to match up a Transatlantic and a transpacific cruises with land tours. Formal nights on cruises are not as formal as they used to be. DH was fine with dark pants, long sleeved shirt & a tie. I wore black pants & a slightly dressier top with a pashmina that I use for anything from a scarf to a picnic blanket. If they don't want to do formal nights, they can choose to eat at the buffet, which normally serves the same food as the dining room but does not have a dress code. On our transatlantic cruise they only had three nights that were "formal". We saw people in all styles of dress.

This way of getting overseas was very relaxing - and not THAT much more than the cost of a flight! Just be sure the last port of call is convenient to train travel to the tour start city or you will still be looking at a short flight to their final destination!

Hope this helps.

Posted by
650 posts

A retired couple on my RS Ireland tour a few years back did the Queen Mary to and from Southhampton for the same reason. If your father ends up doing this, he won't be alone. Not sure how they dealt with formal nights. Personally, I would do what I do on Alaska cruises and find another dining option on the ship.

Posted by
6 posts

Did not know it was the QM2 - I know when we were on Holland American on the spur of the moment and did not have formal wear, they gave my husband a jacket at the maitre'd's station. He was told he did not even have to put it on if he did not want to, but just carry it over his arm. Perhaps Cunard does the same?

Posted by
200 posts

At least on Holland America and NCL, we don't do the formal nights but instead, eat at the buffet where you are not required to dress up.

Posted by
6321 posts

There are always options on a large cruise ship for dining other than the main dining room. Skip the formal nights in the main dining room and dine casual those nights. You can dine in your room or at a more casual venue those nights. Unless you really want to dress up skip the additional luggage for formal wear.

Posted by
6515 posts

The separate suitcase for formal wear is an excellent idea. They also could ship it home when they arrive in UK. Or do as recommended, deep storage saving money and effort. This problem can be solved!
We shipped wedding clothing ahead to South America as the formal wedding we were attending was at the end of a long trip that involved very casual hiking clothes, etc. Then shipped it all back. We used International Priority Mail to ship it there from USA , not too bad,$65. I think. Look at DHL and FedEx, British Post if they want to ship it home instead of using tour’s deep storage.

Posted by
8203 posts

Oh great! Villages will be easier to manage. I'd also suggest they have that stay stowed bag marked in some way - either a strap, a colorful and different tag, something so the bus drive will key in on it. The drivers are awesome which your Mom knows if she's been on her own.

Posted by
276 posts

When eating in the formal dining room most wear nicer clothes, men in slacks, (golf pants would be fine) button down collared shirts some with sports coats, women in dresses or nicer pants with fitted tops, capris and sandals work, jewelry to dress things up, nicer shoes no active wear or flip flops. On captains night most wear glitzier outfits. You can rent glitzy outfits for captains night. Or skip it by eating at the buffet where shorts, tees and flip flops are fine.

I like to cruise. If given the opportunity I'd choose the transatlantic cruise over flying every time. Hope he goes.

Posted by
7400 posts

Are the black tie events mandatory, or is it just a matter of if one attends one must dress per code?

I would skip the formal wear events and not encumber myself with the extra clothes/luggage

Posted by
8293 posts

The so-called formal nights on the QM2 are indeed formal, but you needn't have your dinner in the dining room on those nights. There are only 2 formal nights on a Transatlantic crossing, and if you want to opt out, just have dinner in the Lido restaurant or order from the menu for room service. So if the parents are concerned about it and the formal wear required, they needn't be.

Posted by
4660 posts

Interesting link highlanderct posted to Cunard's idea of "smart attire." If bright red shoes are OK for men, then all bets are off as far as I'm concerned. Looks like your parents could get away with the kind of sensible clothes they'd want on the England tour, without being thrown overboard getting there, as long as they choose alternatives to the "formal" venues on those few formal shipboard nights. Personally, I wouldn't pack a sports coat like the guy is wearing (with his red shoes), so maybe they'd exile me to the buffet.

If they really want to dress up on board, then Pam's idea makes the most sense (as do all her ideas). Shipping the fancy clothes home won't work if they have to go back on the same ship with the same dress code.

This reminds me why we stay with NCL and other "middlebrow" lines that let us dress comfortably. But, sadly, only Cunard offers regular transatlantic service.

Posted by
1171 posts

I stayed in London pre and post tour this year (RS Germany). I stayed in a business type hotel and was able to leave a bag in their baggage check room for 2 weeks. I did email them first to confirm this was possible.

Posted by
3173 posts

Do you have any other suggestions for traveling to Europe from the US
if one doesn’t not find the skies friendly?

Yes. Find out if your father truly wants to travel to England. If not, encourage your mother to go with a friend and not drag your father.

Posted by
30 posts

Cunard's QM2 has "White Star Luggage Service". They will ship a suitcase back to the USA for you when you arrive in Europe. Not cheap, but much better than lugging around an extra suitcase

Posted by
2888 posts

For better or worse, Cunard ships are most certainly different, in that they still maintain and enforce a more traditional dress code, unlike the mass market lines. And they have actually relaxed the dress code in the last year or so. Before that there were formal nights informal nights (often on the first and last nights), and semi formal nights that required gentlemen to wear jacket and tie. On dressier nights, guests opting to dress informally were not permitted in tthe theater.

It's up to your parents whether or not to bring formal wear with them. We greatly enjoyed the gala nights. Having the bus driver stow the extra suitcase for the duration of the tour seems the perfect solution, since you would need it for the cruise back to the States.

Posted by
7530 posts

Or, have Cunard stow it on the ship if they are taking the QM2 back to the States, too. Once in England, they may want to do some more traveling on the Continent.

Posted by
128 posts

I, personally, would not want to skip the formal nights. I think on this particular crossing that will be a special event for them.
Your father can rent formal clothing packages through the cruise line. Then they can divide your mom's formal wear between their bags and it won't be too bad.
I hope they have a wonderful time.