In an effort to avoid guests being made to feel uncomfortable, Carnival Cruise Line has put into place a new dress code policy.
In essence, the new rules, as outlined in an updated section of the line’s Frequently Asked Questions section, ask passengers to think twice before wearing something that might be deemed inappropriate.
What Not To Wear
Brand ambassador John Heald addressed the new addition to the FAQ on his Facebook page in response to a comment left by a cruiser earlier in the week. The original comment from a disgruntled cruiser indicated her intent to wear “disgusting and lurid shirts.”
Asked if someone on board would prevent the woman from going through with her plan, Heald hoped the woman would change her mind, but made it clear that if she didn’t, someone would step in.
He then explained that “in the past few days” a change had been made to the Frequently Asked Questions page on Carnival’s website which specifically addressed this issue.
The new section, listed under the “What To Wear” section of the FAQ, reads: “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.”
A Slippery Slope
While the vast majority of those who voted in Heald’s accompanying poll said that they agreed with the idea, the comments section beneath raised several concerns, specifically regarding the words “may be considered offensive” and how this rule would be enforced.
To be sure, the question of what could/should/will be deemed offensive is one worth pondering, especially in an age where it often seems someone is offended by everything. People routinely complain, on Carnival and other cruise lines, about comedians whose material they found offensive.
And while it’s relatively safe to assume that Carnival’s intent is to prevent people from wearing obscenity-bearing T-shirts, what about body-bearing thongs which some might not want their children (or themselves) exposed to? And that’s before you get into the ridiculously tricky questions surrounding politics or religion, both of which crop up regularly on clothing items.
As for the question of enforcement, several in the comments section pointed out that it’s far easier to make rules than it is to impose them. Cruise lines often take strong stances when it comes to things like chair hogs or making sure people wear proper attire to the dining room on formal night, but enforcement of these rules is haphazard at best.
Despite skepticism in some corners, Heald, when asked directly if this policy would be enforced, responded, “Yes indeed it will be, strongly.” How and by whom, however, is another matter entirely.
Imagine being the crew member whose job it is to tell the very large, muscular man — who has been enjoying his CHEERS! package all afternoon — that a fellow passenger has taken offense to his T-shirt, and could he please change out of it immediately?
The Best Of Intentions
Like so many things in life, this whole situation could be resolved if people simply showed a modicum of respect toward one another on both sides of the issue. Members of what a friend of mine calls the “pearl-clutching, panties-in-a-bunch” squad could try not letting their feathers be quite so easily ruffled. And maybe, just maybe, those on the other side of the argument could think twice before wearing something they know is going to get under the skin of some people.
As for Carnival, they’ll likely find themselves caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, with their well-intentioned policy on a collision course with the realities enforcing it will entail.