Nothing can divide a group of people more than the infamous formal night attire debate. My love for formal night normally depends on the type of cruise that I am on. Cruise ship formal nights do not have to be a deal breaker. For example, I am less likely to bring a gown on a 3 night Bahamas sailing because it is more of an informal sailing. Today we are going to break down formal attire by brands and category. This post will be everything you need to know about cruise ship formal nights.
Family Brands/Low Cost Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Line: They call their formal nights “Cruise Elegant.” This means dress slacks, dress shirts and an optional sport coats for men and cocktail dresses, pantsuits and elegant skirts and blouses for women. You can dress up more if you’d like. You can always opt for the buffet if you don’t want to dress up.
Royal Caribbean: Formal attire includes suits and ties or tuxedos for men and cocktail dresses and evening gowns for women. I have not seen this first hand, heavily enforced onboard. On longer sailings where you have 1+ formal nights I’ve seen button ups/polos with slacks on men in the main dining room. The Windjammer buffet does not require formal attire on formal nights.
NCL (Norwegian): There are no official formal nights, but “Norwegian’s Night Out” is the line’s is optional on the sailings. They do not have a recommended attire suggestions.
Disney Cruise Line: This is a very casual family oriented line. They have theme nights like Pirate night which is fun for a family. The line does have “Dress Up” nights on longer sailings. This is defined as dress shirts, slacks and jackets for men and dresses or pantsuits for women. The buffet onboard does not require formal attire.
Mid Level Brands
Celebrity Cruises: This line doesn’t necessarily do a formal night. They have what is called “evening chic.” This is different than most lines. formal attire including jackets and ties for men is welcomed but not required. This might include pants (including designer jeans) with a dress shirt or sweater, sports coat or blazer for men. For the ladies a cocktail dresses or skirts or pants with an elegant top for women. Buffet dining is exempt from this.
Princess Cruises: Princess has a combination of “smart casual” and formal nights on their sailings. Formal attire is tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits for men and evening gowns, cocktail dresses or elegant pantsuits for women. Ladies, why not dress like a princess on Princess Cruises! Eating in the buffet does not have restrictions on formal attire.
Holland America: This line has a couple “evening galas” like other lines in this category. On these nights formal dress includes a dark suit, tuxedo or jacket and tie for men, and cocktail dress/gown or dressy pantsuit for women.
MSC Cruises: They call their formal nights “evening galas” on this line. The main dining room requires men to wear suits or jackets with ties and women in cocktail style dresses.
Viking Ocean Cruises: This line does not have formal nights. The recommended dress code in the evening is “elegant casual.” According to them the suggestion is trousers and collard shirts for men and for women, dresses, or skirts or slacks with sweaters or blouses are recommended. Jeans are not allowed unless in the buffet.
Upper Mid Level Brands
Cunard: Are you ready for your dress like Jack Dawson to have dinner with Rose moment? The formal nights are called “Gala Evenings” on this line. These require formal dress and are often themed (Black and White Ball, Masquerade Ball, Roaring Twenties Ball, hat-focused Ascot Ball). Formal attire includes tuxedos, dinner jackets or formal dark suits for men and evening or cocktail dresses for women. I think this is what people think of when they think of cruise ship formal nights.
Oceania: This brand doesn’t necessarily adhere to a typical formal night. They recommend a country club elegant. This includes button-down shirts and slacks for men and dresses, nice pants or skirts and tops for women.
Crystal Cruises: This line has black tie optional nights. That means jackets (dark suits with ties or tuxedos are recommended), and formal cocktail dresses/evening gowns/dressy evening separates are recommended for women.
Azmara Cruises: This premium line does not have formal nights. They state that formal attire is not required. The overall evening attire recommendation is resort casual.
Regent Seven Seas: Most sailings are an elegant casual consisting of is trousers and collard shirts for men and for women, dresses, or skirts or slacks with sweaters or blouses. On longer sailings gowns, cocktail dresses, dark suits or tuxedos are suggested.
Silversea: This is a premium line so I’m sure this tidbit of information comes at no shock. Tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits for men and gowns/cocktail dresses for women.
My Outfits and How to Dress on a Budget
I love dressing a variety of ways depending on my sailing for formal night. The gowns that I’ve shown are beautiful and I always receive a town of compliments. Both of these dresses were under $105 on Amazon! I’ve purchased some of the other dresses from Torrid on sale or even from Burlington Coat Factory. You can easily look chic without breaking the bank on cruise ship formal nights. I’ll put some links down below.
They great thing about cruising is there is a type of cruise line that can please just about anyone. I will be posting a youtube video with some formal night outfit tips very soon so make sure you subscribe to my channel below. Cruise ship formal nights can be a lot of fun if you like to dress up. If you don’t like to dress up, there are options that would better fit your cruising needs.
Which cruise line formal night scheme do you prefer?
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/haleewithaflair
Links to Dresses:
Black Evening Gown: https://amzn.to/2wY8ylp
Blue Off Shoulder Gown: https://amzn.to/2xFbqE3
White Off Shoulder Cocktail Dress: https://amzn.to/2yuXdtJ