Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald regularly addresses questions of dress code and formality in the Main Dining Room. On the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings during World War II – D-Day – Heald has definitively addressed the issue of military uniforms and whether or not they are appropriate.

This comes in response to a guest’s inquiry and a unique perspective on seeing military uniforms while on vacation.

“Why does Carnival allow men to wear military uniforms on a cruise?” the unidentified guest asked. “The last thing I want to see on a cruise vacation is a military uniform while dining.”

Carnival Cruise Line Pajamagate (Photo Credit Melissa Mayntz / Cruise Hive)

The guest, who notes that they were not born in the US but have lived in the country for more than 30 years, explains that while sailing on the newly revamped Carnival Legend, three “retired aged” men were wearing US military blue uniforms in the restaurant.

“Why is this allowed? There might be different memories connected with uniforms from different cultural backgrounds,” the guest attempted to explain. “Regardless of your service…, it is very possible that whilst wearing this uniform in the restaurant, you may be seen as an ambassador to the current US regime and its political decisions and presence.”

“That could easily put you in a position that you don’t necessarily agree with. Why [does] Carnival allow this to happen? We’re on vacation. They should not be allowed to wear their uniform. It brings back to a reality that [guests] are trying to get away from, so I’m not just speaking for myself. What does cruising have to do with war? Let me answer that, John Heald, the answer is nothing.”

The guest then implies that Heald’s response may impact whether or not they choose to cruise with Carnival again.

Before replying, Heald did check with Carnival Cruise Line’s executives to ensure the cruise line’s policy permits wearing military uniforms – it does – and he also made inquiries with staff members on Carnival Legend. The three gentlemen wearing the uniforms are cruising together to celebrate their retirement from their respective careers in US military service.

After gathering that information, Heald shared his official position on the issue.

“My first reaction is DON’T LOOK! JUST DON’T LOOK!” Heald said with great vigor. “Eat your food. If they’re over there in uniform look over there or look over there!”

Heald noted that his response – with appropriate arm-flinging gestures in different directions – is admittedly unprofessional. He acknowledged that the guest’s individual circumstances may have a different perspective on military service, but cruising brings everyone together for great fun, no matter what their backgrounds.

“To all the men and women who have served, if you wish to wear your dress blues, yes,” Heald said, confirming that military uniforms can indeed be worn in the restaurants. “If it does upset you to a certain extent, I understand. Please just look away, don’t let it spoil your cruise.”

Heald later asked commenters on his popular Facebook page to weigh in on whether or not military blue dress uniforms should be permitted. With more than 1,900 comments, the response was overwhelming that yes, such uniforms are perfectly acceptable, just as other travelers should wear what makes them comfortable.

Carnival Legend Heroes Bar

It should be noted that Carnival Cruise Line does have a dress code, though its language could be subject to wide interpretation.

“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,” the guidelines read. “In addition, clothing and accessories should not promote negative ethnic or racial, commentary, hatred, or violence in any form.”

Unfortunately, the idea of what is considered “respectful” and “offensive” can vary greatly for different individuals, particularly as society becomes more and more sensitive to different issues and perspectives.

Read Also: Carnival Cruise Line Honors Military Women During Miami’s Fleet Week

It is difficult for any cruise line to balance all guests’ preferences, and it may become necessary to more carefully define what is “offensive” in clear and precise terms, as well as to clarify what clothing, such as military dress uniforms, is permitted.

Carnival Cruise Line is well-known for honoring active-duty military personnel and veterans from all nations and all branches of service. The cruise line is gradually adding the Heroes Tribute Bar & Lounge to its ships, offers a special Heroes American Pale Ale that raises money for veterans, and gives away a free cruise to a military member every month.

Furthermore, Carnival is a proud supporter of Operation Homefront and all it does to help active-duty military families as well as veterans. For example, the recent auction of custom-made Carnival Jubilee cowboy boots raised $25,000 for the non-profit organization.

In July 2023, Carnival Cruise Line also expanded its Military Appreciation Gathering to a full Military Appreciation Day on all North American sailings, offering more opportunities to thank and acknowledge military members of all ranks and branches.

All veterans, active-duty personnel, and other military members should always feel comfortable wearing their uniforms onboard Carnival cruise ships, if they wish to do so.

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